Arsenal 2- FC Koln 1

24 07 2011

Those of you living under a rock may not have noticed that there was a match yesterday…

Granted it was only a pre-season friendly against FC Koln but I for one was very pleased to find that somewhere along the line Sky have decided to gift me ESPN without telling me…Thanks lads ūüôā

The final result on the day was 2-1 to the Gunners and it was a fairly pleasing game to watch. Now I am sure that some smart arse (or two) is going to jump in and remind us that Cologne are hardly Barcelona; that may well be the case but this is a side that finished 10th in the Bundesliga and can boast the likes of¬†Lukas Podolski,¬†Michael Rensing¬†and¬†Milivoje Novakoviń欆so by the same token they are hardly Hangzou Greentown either…

We started with what looks like it could be pretty close to our first X1 minus a couple of obvious absentees – Sagna and Fabregas. Nasri played and didn’t look too pained to be there earning his miserly wages and more interestingly I got to have my first proper glance at new boys Gervinho and Carl Jenkinson.

Jenkinson had a pretty good match throughout and to my mind looks like he should be stepping straight into the first team, he looked good on and off the ball, is tall (6’2 ) and strongly built and unlike a certain Mr Eboue seems more than able of delivering a good final ball into the box. The only thing that marred his otherwise great performance was an unfortunate own-goal that he is not likely to forget in a hurry.

I’m sure mos fans will agree with me that Gervinho looks like he may well be the real deal… well actually they probably wont, what with being the bitter, miserable sorts that most gooners are these days.

His movement and positioning were very good, he has pace to burn and unlike certain member of our team actually knows how finish, his first goal came thanks to a superb pass from young Jack Wilshere who turned in yet another excellent performance furthering yet again my own view that he could well help bridge the gap should Cesc head off this year.

For his second goal in the red and white shirt it was Walcott who turned provider with a neat pass which Gervinho did well to finish whilst bundling himself over the keeper in the process.

Watching Gervinho’s pace and movement reminded me just how much we have a missed a certain TH14 in recent years both for the aforementioned movement and hopefully the shedload of goals that he is going to bang in with reckless abandon.

In the words of the manager “He has shown his qualities. He has quick movement behind [the defence], the timing of his movement is great and he is easy to find. We have seen what he can bring to the team and he contributes to the high pace we have in the team.”

Roll on next weekend and the Emirates Cup….

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The Magician’s Guild – Trudi Canavan

20 12 2010

The Magicians' Guild (Black Magician Trilogy, #1)The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi¬†Canavan

Seeing as the story revolves around a pre-teen child who has no knowledge of her magical abilities but ends up being whisked away to a magicians guild and ends up being pretty much the top of the pile there were always going to be similarities drawn between this book and the Harry Potter series.

I really can understand how on the face of things it all seems a bit of a coincidence. Especially when in the second book of the trilogy we discover that the real enemies were believed defeated years ago but¬†are back in secret and it will take huge sacrifice to defeat them…

Ok so I lied – ¬†the similarities aren’t just on the surface. This really does read in parts¬†like a mild re-write of some of the HP books.

But that didn’t really detract from my overall enjoyment, not just of this book but of the trilogy as a whole. The story is different enough that you don’t feel like you should just be replacing the name Sonea with that of HP himself and for the most part is well written, if a tad simplistic.

The class issues that Canavan brings up are a little bit clumsy and play out much as expected but even so it is a nice touch and helps keeps things fresh when otherwise you could be about to swap the Magicians Guild for Hogwarts.

There are however two big problems for me that keep me from scoring this book higher and unfortunately they carry on pretty much through out the latter installments of the trilogy.

Firstly there is the characterisation which is a little bit lacking on occasion.
The principal characters are surprisingly two-dimensional and formulaic and you never really find yourself building any attachment to them or indeed giving two hoots as to whether they all die in a fire.

This is a real shame as there is plenty of potential to really build some tension between the main protagonists right from the start.

 One prime example of this is the relationship between Sonea and her friends in the slums; it is obvious that Cery, one of the thieves, has strong feelings for Sonea but rather than build this up into anything too deep or emotive Canavan has the character dismiss his own feelings and cast them aside quite casually over the space of two or three paragraphs.

The second big issue that I have with this series is that I never really get a sense of immersion into the world the story is set in.

The slums and the guild are outlined reasonably well but even they are rather thin on detail and everywhere else we venture is so sketchily outlined that you are squinting to see it.

I am not asking for Tolkien like levels of detail about every blade of grass crushed underfoot but I would like to feel some sense of connection.

If I had to give an example of a fantasy writer who manages to pull this off to perfection it would have to be Terry Pratchett; on one hand I haven’t a clue what colour the second daffodil to the left of the buttercup and indeed don’t want to know¬†was but on the other hand I can walk the streets of Ankh Morpork in my head without having to fill in huge chunks of blank canvas.

When I read that Sam Vimes stops and buys a sausage in a bun off of C.M.O.T Dibbler I can not only see Sator Square where they are standing I can smell the sausage.

In contrast to this I can read that some Bolhouse¬†(a pub in Sonea’s¬†world) is about to be destroyed by marauding Sachakan magicians (the bad magicians)¬†and I really couldn’t give two figs. I haven’t a clue about the place in question other than the mere fact that it is a kind of pub and that they better have insurance.¬†

I am probably coming off sounding more displeased with this series than I mean to; it really isn’t bad but I feel that it lacks depth and a bit of originality and I am hoping that Canavan’s next installments will give me a bit less Potter and a bit more sense of her world and what she wants the reader to see.

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