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Apr. 11th, 2016

Dear Boys

The Mizuho High School men's basketball team was non-existent when Aikawa Kazuhiko transfered from Tendouji High. Mizuho had only four members in the team after the previous coach left when he was attacked by one of the players, Fujiwara Takumi. The team was banned from competing in any tournament for a year as a consequence.
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Dancer's Lament by Ian C. Esslemont

Set in Li Heng, this first installment of the Path to Ascendancy series follows the story of Dorin Rav, an ambitious young assassin, who is stumped by an elusive young mage proving to be an annoyance. An earthquake in the Seti Plains exposed a cave and Dorin wanted to be the first to discover its secrets. To his dismay, he learned someone has been lurking about in the shadows. No one has ever beaten him yet until now. He watched for a time, waiting for the person to appear. When he finally got inside the cave he found that it was occupied by a talking corpse and a monkey-looking thing. To Dorin's surprise, the person he was following was just standing behind him. A young Dal Honese mage, Wu, who professed he was the one following Dorin. When they got out of the structure, the mage Wu suddenly disappeared. Since then, Dorin called the mage his rival and vowed he would find and eliminate him.
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Apr. 8th, 2016

Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by Edward M. Berens

Perhaps the most popular source for Greek and Roman mythology is Edith Hamilton's book. However, Hamilton had covered only the stories that are already popular and did not emphasize the different versions from various sources. EM Berens's Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome offers a wider variety of stories, is more organized and has a lot of material that are not included in Hamilton's.

The book included the various myths of Greece and Rome and is organized according to the most important figures to the demi-gods and mortals. The first part is about the creation of the world according to Greeks. The last part is about the Trojan war and its aftermath.

Those already familiar with most of the Greek and Roman myths will find a lot of new information in the book not cited in others. If, however, you wish to find analyses of myths, this volume can serve as a starting point for further research. I like this book more than the popular ones because of its breadth and organization. The narration isn't littered with words to make the stories more attractive than they already are.

Rating: 10 out of 10

The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion by Sir James George Frazer

The Golden Bough was first published in two volumes in 1890. It is a must-read for those interested in comparative mythology and the study of religion.

Sir James George Frazer attempted to explain the succession of the priests of Diana in Nemi known as the King of the Wood. The succession is unusual for its violence. The priest who represented Virbius (or Hippolytus) must stand vigilant lest someone attack him and take his place. To understand this problem better, the author delved into the history of magic, examined ritual and mythology and cited various beliefs and practices from across the world that were similar in function.

He first examined the principles of magic; tree worship; the different taboos particularly those taboos involving the nobles; religious ceremonies; the fertility cults, etc.

The King of the Wood at Nemi was "probably regarded as an incarnation of a tree-spirit/spirit of vegetation and is endowed with the magical powers to make trees bear fruit, crops to grow, etc. His life is governed by a system of precautions or taboos to guard against the influence of demons and sorcerers. But the value attached to his life necessitates his violent death as the means of preserving it from inevitable decay of age/avoid natural death or old age to transmit his life to his successors."

The point of the book is to show that religions or cults were about the worship and occasional sacrifice of a sacred king. It can also be seen in the book that mankind has progressed from its use of magic to organized religion to science in understanding life and the world.

I do not recommend this volume to those who only have a casual interest in mythology. The Golden Bough can be tedious for someone with only a passing interest or little to no knowledge about myths and rituals. The author could fill up pages just enumerating dozens of examples about a particular event or object.

If you have a fair knowledge of world mythology or want to further your studies however, The Golden Bough is a must-read. It is often cited in various comparative mythology and anthropology books so why not read it first-hand.

Rating: 8 out of 10

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

The Mistborn Vin released the power in the Well of Ascension even after the mist spirit that tried to help her and Sazed before had wounded Elend Venture so she would keep the power. The prophecies of the Hero of Ages claimed that a savior would one day find and then give up the power in the Well. Believing this to be the right thing, Vin released the power to save the world from the Deepness. But the prophecies were tampered with. A force named Ruin was trapped in the Well and in its desire to destroy the world it had altered the Terris prophecies so that the Hero will be tricked into releasing it. Elend was saved when Vin gave him a nugget of pure Allomancy which contained the power of Preservation, Ruin's opposite. It turned Elend into a Mistborn.
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(no subject)

A year after the events in Mistborn: The Final Empire, what remains of the Lord Ruler's empire is disintegrating. The people have not known any other ruler for centuries. It seems like the freedom from a tyrant is not something everyone wanted after all. Even after Elend Venture ascended to the throne, the Central Dominance is still in chaos. After hearing rumors about the Lord Ruler's stash of atium, two armies lay siege to the capital Luthadel.  One is led by Elend's father, Straff Venture, while the other is led by one of the many kings who declared themselves sovereign in the Western Dominance after the Lord Ruler's death. As if the situation isn't bad already, the Mistborn Vin and her friends are not yet aware that a third army is on its way.
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Apr. 4th, 2016

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God

High school freshman Daimon Kaito is a genius when it comes to solving puzzles. One day he received a strange device along with an invitation from a person named Minotaur to solve a puzzle in a ruin. He was accompanied by friend Itou Nonoha who, although not as good with puzzles like Kaito, managed to help him in dangerous situations. At the center of the maze, Kaito found a bangle which helped him solve the problem within a short time. The bangle is known as Orpheus which glows whenever Kaito is forced to solve an impossible puzzle.
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Neo Angelique Abyss

This is the first installment of the spin-off of the Angelique series and is based on the Neo Angelique game. Set in Arcadia, monsters called Thanatos appear to torment the lives of people. Only the Purifiers have the ability to fight these creatures but very few of them exist.
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Nobunaga the Fool

There are plenty of adaptations of Oda Nobunaga's life. The themes are usually explorations of Nobunaga's character either as a hero or a villain. Not surprising as Nobunaga's visions and actions can be viewed in many different ways. In Nobunaga the Fool, he has a reputation of being impulsive and brash. Set in two fictional worlds named Eastern and Western planets, Nobunaga the Fool included famous names in world history who battled for peace by controlling lost technology known as sacred treasures.
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Ore Monogatari!!

Romance anime usually has a formula and that is why Ore Monogatari!! is like a breath of fresh air. Not only is it told from the point of view of a male protagonist, the lead characters are quite unusual too.
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