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O Level overtures

Every year, hordes of fresh minds are benumbed by the dry, uninspiring essay topics handed out by the merciless O level examiners. In trying to prepare their students for the English Language tests, the teachers are compelled (at least we think so; no sane teacher could deliberately choke off a student's imagination) to drive a nail into the creativity coffin by clipping off anything that goes against the specifications. This week, we illustrate how some writers at RS managed to pass the exams.

Q*: Describe a person you admire. The five paragraph essay format should be followed and the word limit restricted to 450 words approx. (Proper indentation and margins should be adhered to).

The man inside of me

Book Review

Storm Warning

THERE is always a sense of trepidation that engulfs fans as they draw near the end of a trilogy or a series. It's all blood-pumping, war-crying, adrenaline-rush as you realise, this is the end. The very end. The one you've been waiting for. Starting Storm Warning is no different.

We pick up pretty much where the Mage Winds trilogy left off, with the vast armies of the Eastern Empire swallowing up half of the war-torn Hardorn. The archenemies Valdemar and Karse, who share the border with Hardorn, have formed a shaky alliance to meet this threat. The centuries-old magical protection that prevented magic in Valdemar is lifted and finally there are Herald-mages again. Heralds, as you may recall, are a noble breed of do-gooders chosen by Companions [spirit-like beings that take the form of white horses] that serve Valdemar. The alliance also includes Rethwellan, the Shin'a'in of the Dhorisha Plains and the magically gifted Tayledras clans.

When the Empire finds their systematic, almost Roman-esque method of conquering countries halted halfway through Hardorn for some reason, the Emperor Charliss assigns Grand Duke Tremane, one of the candidates for the throne, to take the country, with the promise of the crown, should he succeed in the conquest and prove his worth.

Meanwhile, Sun-priest Ulrich and his novice and assistant Karal, journey to Valdemar as the envoys of Solaris, the new Son of the Sun and High-Priestess of Karse. There, Karal at least, must face all the things one faces when trying to be chummies with the people you have hated and feared for all your life. He meets An'desha, the Shin'a'in Adept that had been possessed by the Dark Adept Falconsbane. An'desha is plagued by his memories of Falconsbane's possession. He is afraid of his own emotions, gripped by a paranoia that the monster may still act through him. All of this time, he has a premonition that something very very bad is about to happen. And boy, is that something scary! Hint one: it is an echo of the past.

Lackey has always been a very black and white writer. Her ideas of good and evil are very distinctive. Here, at last, we have the shift into the gray area. The Empire, ambitious though it may be, is not necessarily evil. They do what they have to do. There is the usual distrust between two enemies that are eyeing each other while gearing up for a fight, when Lackey just catches everyone by surprise with this new threat of hers. Here's hint two: it's neither good nor evil. It is “natural”.

Another thing that is very interesting about this book is the twin perspectives of God and science. While on one hand we have Solaris, who, by all accounts, was appointed her post by Vkandis Sunlord's direct interference. We have already met the Shin'a'in Goddess that very actively shows herself in the previous books. But now, we also have mathematicians and people who call themselves [Surprise!] engineers. It will be interesting to see how the whole thing plays out.

Do we have a battle? We still have two books to go. Does Storm Warning disappoint? Not really. Is Lackey worth a read? Where have you been, kid?

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

Sacking Terry

Righting the Grievous Wrong?
Was John Terry disenfranchised from his right to the England national football team captaincy? Reading Osama Rahman's article last week, anyone not knowing about the incident might think so. Judging from an impartial point of view, the writer thought Fabio Capello was being too harsh by stripping Terry of his captaincy when some clemency from the Italian disciplinarian was needed. I am totally shocked to know how Osama Rahman censures the Italian coach.

In fact what the writer's calls a 'brief moment of erroneous judgment' from the former England captain is a blatant breach of a lifetime of trust and loyalty of Terry's wife on her husband. And don't forget Terry is also a man who, aroused by his prurient impulses, managed to obliterate his image of being a magnanimous father to debris in mere moments. Whenever the licentious behaviours of celebrities are made public, the world can only deplore their acts. But this time, the diatribe delivered by Capello's action within his jurisdiction has sent a message to the society that even if laws can't punish the guilty; someone can always right the wrong. Children who idolize football players will know for instance, their heroes can't be role models in every aspect of life.

Osama Rahman ponders on the possible effect of this incident on England's performance in the World Cup. But if John Terry is the professional that everyone thinks he is, can he not accept this punishment and move forward to help England win the coveted title? Besides the main difference between the England team which failed to qualify for Euro 2008 and the current team is Fabio Capello himself. With the Italian manager at the helm, it is difficult to imagine team England divided by the issue of captaincy.

Dropping Terry from the national team is an absurd idea that goes way beyond Fabio Capello's jurisdiction. Osama Rahman is probably an avid supporter of the England national team and a big fan of John Terry. That's why his interpretation of Capello's decision is biased to say the least.

By Nayeem Islam



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