Book Review: Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson 

Words of Radiance, impossible as it seems, has managed to surpass the dizzying heights of Way of Kings

… a conglomeration of exquisite world-building, unpredictable characters and sweet, sweet magic. 

Words of Radiance, impossible as it seems, has managed to surpass the dizzying heights of Way of Kings. The characters are better developed, and the magic system is gradually melding with the plot. 

The build-up is just as lengthy as in Way of Kings, but the climax is far more intense. There are numerous plot twists, not at the middle, but at the very end of the book. 

The plot deals with a great number of themes: betrayals, hate, morality, and honor. The plot is incredibly complex, relying heavily on the multiple blurred protagonists and villains and a lot of myth and lore. 

The characters, despite their awesomeness, are greatly flawed. This is not a good vs evil book. The actions of the supposed protagonists lie somewhere between perceived good, and outright selfishness. This means the characters aren’t particularly G.R.R Martin-grey. They’re judged based on their perceptions of their own deeds. It makes for a seemingly character-driven plot line. 

The best part of the book is the magic. Quite simply, this is the best book of magic I’ve ever read. I can say confidently that the magic system of Stormlight Archive is the best I’ve ever seen in Fantasy Fiction. And it’s only going to get better! 

Jay and Oh – Episode 03- Smartmouth 

Three years ago... 

I met Jane on a Friday, in Fulani History class. She was already late for the class when she ran in, panting slightly. Naturally, she drew the attention of half the class as she tried to quickly get settled down. 
“Why are you late to my class, Miss…”, Professor Grim drawled.
“Jane, ma. Jane”, she replied. 
It occurred to me that there was not a hint of panic in her voice. She was calm, not something you would expect of a Varsity freshman having to face the ire of a generally-dreaded-by-all Professor. 
“You haven’t answered my question, Miss Jane. I’m not fond of repeating myself ”, said Grim. 
“I’m sorry”, she said hurriedly. Then more slowly, “I woke up late, to be honest. I couldn’t have gotten here any earlier. It won’t happen again.”
And just like that, the new girl landed herself in trouble. There are two things you don’t do as regards Professor Grim. You don’t speak to her unless she first speaks to you. And you most certainly have to address her by her title of “Professor.” Simply put, you have to regularly punctuate every sentence you say to her with the honorific. Always, without fail. 
I unconsciously sucked in breath sharply. I turned to face the Professor, who was quietly observing the new girl. Suddenly, it went through my mind that something important was going to happen that day. I dismissed the thought, without a thought. 
Professor Grim began to walk towards Jane. Her slow, short steps echoed in the soft clack-clack sound of her heels clattering the floor. The class death quiet, all eyes turned to the back of the lecture room where Professor Grim stood facing Jane. She had crossed the distance between the podium and Jane in the time it took between a few heartbeats. 
Stunned, I watched on, as fascinated with the sure drama about to unfold here as other members of the class were. 
They stood a few centimetres from each other, with Professor Grim glaring in an evil, yet cool look. That meant big trouble. Jane stood opposite, trying to look anywhere but at the angry Professor standing right in front of her. 

“And who do you think you are’, asked Professor Grim cooly, “coming in late,  and disrupting the concentration of my class? Are you so rude and uncouth as to address me in such a manner? Perhaps, I should ask you to leave my class”
Here I must commend Jane. She took this all in without flinching, where lesser people would be cringing in fear. Despite the show of bravery, her face took on a haunted look as she frantically searched the eyes of members of the class. Her eyes were questioning, hopeful for someone to mouth a few words to her on how to placate the Professor. Most people turned their eyes away, afraid to meet her eyes, perhaps afraid that exchanging glances with the new girl would somehow bring down the ire of the Professor on them. 
Slowly, her eyes turned to mine, and everything slowed down. 
I found myself unable to tear my gaze away from her, so pleading did her eyes look. I mouthed the magic words to her. A series of emotions ran through her face, from understanding to, gratitude and determination. 
She visibly steeled herself and faced the Professor. 
“I tender my deepest apologies, Professor. I regret my thoughtless words, and humbly seek your forgiveness.” 
“Professor”, she adds a split second later.

 Professor Grim watched the new girl’s pathetic show of humility with a chilling coldness. It was a blatant show of insubordination, Jane’s apology was. I half-thought the Professor would somehow obliterate her on the spot, what with the way she was looking at her. 

After a few tense moments of Jane staring at the floor, and Professor Grim staring daggers at her, the Professor draws smoothly away. 
“Settle down”, she said dryly. 
Adding a threat to the dismissal she said, “Come late again to my class and you won’t be writing Fulani History exams, I can promise you that. With that ringing in the ears of everyone in the class, Jane certainly most of all, she headed back to the front of the class to continue her teaching. 

The class continued as if the disruption had never occurred. Midway through the final fifth of the period ,I took permission to go use the male toilet. My tummy was rumbling like a smoking crater, ready for eruption. It must have been a result of a certain proteinous meal I consumed earlier that morning. By the time I got back, the class was already over. People were exchanging greetings with one another, and the class was in a mini-uproar. It distantly occurred to me that the new girl was nowhere in sight. Brushing aside the thought, I moved to my chair to retrieve my books and bag. Picking up the white paperback History of the Fulani by Professor Samirah Grim, I noticed something written on the back of my book. It was in flowing script penned in black ink. I read it, initial surprise gradually turning into amusement. The script read:

“Thank you! I can’t believe that snotty Professor almost had me. You saved me back there, and you have my thanks. By the way, your dressing is totally horrifying. You don’t wear formal trousers on sneakers. You wear jeans!”

“Thank you! I can’t believe that snotty Professor almost had me. You saved me back there, and you have my thanks. By the way, your dressing is totally horrifying. You don’t wear formal trousers on sneakers. You wear jeans!”

Yours truly, J.

I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. It appeared the new girl was not just cheeky and smart, but daring and unpredictable as well. 
When I think about when I first started liking Jane, although I was unaware of it at the time, I realise it was from that minute after reading her message penned on my book.

“Jay and Oh”- Episode 02-” Brown”

I could stare at those twin brown pools for hours, not just admiring their beauty, but wondering what secrets they hide.

“Are you going to say something” she asks, breaking the awkward silence. 

You see, Jane knows full well I’m not a very churchy person. Being the spiritual lady she is, she tries to drag me with her to church every now and then. It doesn’t help that I drink alcohol as well; it’s the perfect excuse for her to preach God’s gospel to me, sullenly muttering about the indecency of drinking alcohol, which by the way occurs freely in nature and is in a way God’s own gift to man. She doesn’t see it that way though. 
I shuffle my feet in apparent discomfort and say, 
“I just didn’t feel like it”. 

A low “Oh” is all she says in reply. 
Eager to move the discussion on to safer waters, I change tack and say, 
“So, Jane, I don’t think you came on a surprise visit just to make me feel guilty about not going to church today. What’s up? Would you like something to eat or drink?”
She looks at me through narrowed eyes and says smugly, 
“Feeling guilty now, are we?”
Her demeanour suddenly changes and she says more softly, her gaze penetrating. 
“You should be attending church, you know that. Will you come to church with me next Sunday?”
Her eyes are all pleading, and her voice suddenly seems too smooth, too soft and just like that, my heart begins to thud. 
She doesn’t know it yet, but I’d do almost anything she asks of me directly. It irks my sensitive ego to be so biddable, but at this very moment, hearing that soft sweet voice, it’s like I’ve been put under an Imperius Curse. 
So as not to make my inner weakness evident, I slowly avert my eyes and pretend to think about the request. Turning back to face her, I try to sound patronisingly haughty but obviously, I fail. 
“Okay” is all I can bring myself to say. 
The smile that slowly spreads across her face is almost worth the dread that’s slowly working its way across my chest, the dread of lengthy, boring sermons, and  humdrum programs. And did I mention the tedious worship and praise sessions? I swear, my knees always ache like hell after standing for more than 30 minutes, clapping to the boring, hebetudinous rhythm. 
I sit beside her on the bed and watch as she picks up her smartphone and begins checking her social media updates and notifications as she’s apt to do between conversations. As usual, I begin staring at her face. 
For you to understand why I have such a soft spot for Jane, you need to know how she looks. Jane has brown eyes. Not black, not contact-lens-grey or hazel, but actually brown. The brown changes shade somewhere in her outer iris, creating a band of otherworldly golden-brown around her pupil, giving her a rather striking look. I could stare at those twin brown pools for hours, not just admiring their beauty, but wondering what secrets they hide. Jane has a broad nose, very unlike my pointy one. Further down, I can safely say that Jane has spectacular lips. The kind of full lips that make lusty eyes wet with even more lust. Her facial features are framed by an oval face. The background is a skin of mid-chocolate-brown tone. 
She seems engrossed with her phone. I take in her face, over and over again until I can see her face even when my eyes are closed.
Slowly, as if by an invisible hand, my face begins to draw close to hers, a human magnetic field, north pole drawing toward south pole as my eyes search out her lips, my mouth moving closer, slowly, searching.

”Jay and Oh”- Episode 01

She cracks open the door and peers in. 

“Is this Oye’s room”?, a small, voice says.
I rise up from my phone thumbing and pause, staring at the doorway, seemingly entranced by the sound of her voice. 
“Come in, come in”, I say, remembering my manners after what seems like hours. 
She steps in, taking in the sight of my room in all its ghastly glory in one quick glance. I don’t quit staring, equally taking in, or rather drinking in the sight of her. She is dressed in a self-made gown- as always- a pretty blue black sleeveless dress with intricate patterns swirling around the front. The cut is so done as to not over-emphasis but rather give tiny, but tempting hints of the delicate curves underneath. She wears no accessories, save for a small yellow band on her left wrist. Her hair is done in a Fringe fix, and she wears a pair of heels that goes well with her fine dress. 
“Hello Jane”, I say, my mouth dry. 
She looks at me and smiles. 
“Hello, Oye”, she says sweetly. 
She moves gracefully from the doorway and walks toward me, closing up the gap until we’re mere inches away from each other. 
My heart begins to thump loudly, deep inside my chest. I lick my lips nervously and take an instinctive step backwards. She pretends to not notice my apparent discomfort and instead says, 
“Goat! I’ve been trying to reach you for the past 10 minutes! Where’d you put your phone?”
I glance down at my phone on my mattress. I dimly realise I must have dropped it somewhere in the moment of excitement/semi-unconsciousness between her walking in and the immediate present. 
I look back at her, “Must’ve been the bad network”. 
I try to sound angry, frowning my face slightly, hoping to achieve the proper effect.
” Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? ”, I demand. 

The truth is that I’m simply unprepared for this visit. It’s totally impromptu. I didn’t expect it. My bedsheets are terribly rumpled. Books , cables and clothes are lying around slapdash. I haven’t had my bath, although it’s nearly 2:00pm today, Sunday. At least, I brushed my teeth in the morning. I shudder mentally at the thought of having to face Jane with a smelly mouth. 
Instead of replying, she plops right down on my mattress, all the while looking at me. 
“I thought to surprise you”, she says, frowning ever slightly. 

“Well this isn’t a nice surprise”, I  immediately reply. Realising that didn’t come out right, I try to soften the blow of my hard words. 

” But then, I’m really glad to see you”

The spoken words work like a charm as her small, delicate lips immediately blossom into a smile. 

I grin stupidly, staring at her. 

“You look really good by the way. Your hairstyle suits you, really it does”

She absently runs a finger through her hair and replies innocently, “Why, thank you.” 

Everyone knows women are strange creatures. The smart thing to do right after that would be to ask her when she had her hair done. Girls like that sort of attention. So, like the smart boy I am, I ask, 
” When’d you get your hair done? ” 

Still enjoying the attention, she replies 

“Oh, I had it done yesterday.” 

I mentally add, “and I decided to come show off my new look today”. 

Everyone knows girls are a bunch of show offs. They purposely dress super-duper-fine and do stunning makeup just to befuddle the minds of guys. And just so you know, my mind is very much befuddled at this very moment. 
Finally beginning to recover my wits, I move swiftly to put the room in as much order as I can muster on such short/non-existent notice. All the while, I can feel Janet’s eyes on me. 
I finish my, ahem, cleaning in less than 5 minutes. Partially satisfied, I face her and say, 
“Sorry about the dirty and unkempt room, I just feel lazy today”
She waves a hand imperiously, dismissing my apology. 
“It’s alright”, she says. 

Like it’s not her fault she came at the wrong time. Imagine! I’m having to apologise for receiving an impromptu guest unprepared. Like I was supposed to be prepared for an impromptu visit in the first place. Women! 

Wisely, I hold my tongue, not trusting myself to give voice to my sentiments without risking her ire. I switch to another topic. 
“How was church service?”, I ask. 
I immediately realise my error, but it’s too late. 

You see, a lot of men make the mistake of thinking they are smarter than girls. That’s wrong, wrong thinking. Even God agrees that females are by far the cleverer sex. They excel at manipulation and are great at twisting conversations. 
“It was great”, she replies. Almost immediately, her eyes narrow dangerously, just as I expect. 
Slowly and quietly, she asks the dreaded question. I almost have to lean over to hear her words, but I don’t. I don’t need to. Because I already dug my grave a few seconds earlier. 
“Why didn’t you go to church today?”, she asks. 

I fall silent.

On Reading… 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

​Happy New Year!! As we make our New Year resolutions, taking into consideration all of the things we need in this life, let us also consider these… 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

The above quote is but one of many references to the importance and beauty of reading. Quite simply, it means that knowledge is acquired through reading, subsequently leading to greater achievements. 

The import of reading cannot truly be overemphasised, especially in a digital world where the culture of reading is dying a slow and painful death. Reading brings about intellectual enlightenment, which in turn leads to development. Reading unlocks the human mind, enhancing intellectual perception and interpretation of worldly matters. Reading greatly improves vocabulary… The list of pros of reading is infinite, quite endless. But yet, the culture of reading is fading fast. 

True, there are many readers in the world today. Nevertheless, they are merely a small fraction of the whole that see reading as it truly ought to be seen, a way of living. 

In Nigeria today, reading is a dying culture. Even the unit of the populace-students- that should under normal circumstances be the advocates of the reading culture, see the activity as little more than a chore.  

Even the existing educational system does not help matters. Literature-in-English, logically a must in the curriculum of all students is restricted to only Arts students. Students in the Sciences and other disciplines are not exposed to and taught the importance of reading. 
There is also the problem of access to good, quality literature. Most of the available literature is either out of date or of a much lower quality. 

One could go on and on listing the reading problems of their society…the list is quite endless. The trick is to find effective solutions to scale the obstacle.

So, as you go about your daily business, think on these. .. 

A Word. . . 

…what causes these schemes to crash at some point is when too many people or everyone asks for their money at the the same time.

There’s something many Nigerians are currently involved in, something that not only promises, but more often than not delivers on its promise to increase the financial wealth of its participants (to varying degrees). 

In actuality, the entire thing is a clever ploy by some people to swindle an already poverty-stricken, and money-desperate population out of its money. It’s been called various names, MMM, iCharity, M. Givers, all depending on who’s in charge… Simple fact is that they’re all the same, known as Ponzi schemes to those in the know. A lot of participants are painfully unaware of how the scheme works; the perpetrators of any Ponzi scheme rely on the ignorance of participants or investors in matters of simple Economics. But for those of you who are considering participating or have already invested money in the hopes of doubling or tripling capital as the case may be, here’s a typical scenario of how a Ponzi scheme works:

John borrows #50 from Tolu on Monday with the promise that he will not only pay back the #50 owed, but double the money when paying back, an interest of 100%. John promises to pay the the money (plus interest), totalling a sum of #100 the following Monday. But rather than invest the money in some business in order to make profit, John goes to Kemi to borrow #100, promising her exactly the same thing he promised Tolu, 100% interest to be paid the following Tuesday. John then goes on to borrow money from many other people, promising promising to return the money at a later date, plus 100% interest. 

The following Monday, John pays  Tolu #100 as promised not with his money, but with Kemi’s #100! Tolu is happy and gives him another #50 to ‘invest’  for her.  The scheme goes on and on, and John pays people with money inadvertently  invested in his scheme by others! Frequently, he pockets some money, banking on the fact that there will always be new ‘investors’ with which to pay other ‘investors’. The scheme is also dependent on the fact that everyone will not not ask for their money back at exactly the same time! 

This mini-story best typifies how Ponzi schemes work. What causes these schemes to crash at some point is when too many people or everyone asks for their money at the the same time. It is inevitable, as it is a consequence of the greed of both the ‘investors’ and the organisers of the scheme. 

I have tried my best to explain how a Ponzi scheme works. For the the would-be participants and those currently participating… A word. 

To know more about Ponzi schemes and how they work, you can check out the links below 

Book Review: Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence 

I’ve put off reading this for so long, I’m beginning to regret not having read it all this while. 

Mark Lawrence has always had hype on his side, and now I know why. He writes like no one else, and I mean that quite literally. His brand of storytelling is like no other. His writing is so unique that I think I could very easily identify a piece by him, even if it was penned under another name. 

Prince of Fools chronicles the adventures of an overly carefree prince and his development into a more mature character, all in a setting that greatly resembles that of Medieval Europe, much like Paul Kearney’s Monarchies of God. 

Jalan is a typical 10th-in-line-to-the-throne prince, who lives a life of excesses, safe in the knowledge that he will never be called upon to shoulder the burden of rulership. Inadvertently, he is thrust into the epicentre of a storm that threatens to pull his entire world apart, used as a pawn in a deadly game of death, destructive, otherworldly magic…. and finds out that life is not all about food, drink and women. 

The development of Prince Jal is an interesting one, made all the better with the expert handling of the character by the author. His relationship with the Norseman Snorri is equally intriguing. 

The writing, while direct and quite straightforward, features many moments of hilarious, ironic, sarcastic and altogether literal creativity. It makes for a fine balance between seriousness and humour, as bouts of deadly seriousness are often punctured by moments of back breaking humour and sarcasm. 

The traits of characters is quite brilliant. It’s not easy to write antiheroes. I’ve read quite a number of books about antiheroes, and I can say that Mark Lawrence ranks among the very best in the subgenre of Fantasy with antiheroes. 

It’s a finely developed world. While it’s obviously a chip off Medieval Europe with slight modifications, I’m very much comfortable with it. 

The storyline is great. No POVs, direct and precise, just about enough magic, more than one antagonist, and lots of action. I expect more twists in book two, The Liar’s Key.