Monday, November 02, 2009

...and he's back...

In case you were wondering where I was, I can confirm that I've not passed from this mortal coil, but the family and I have only just got back from Scotland - apologies for the lack of posts in the interim but as you can imagine, the days were full, and (seemed to) mostly consist of eating and drinking, and since then, the days have been packed to the gunnels with "stuff" that really needed to be done..

Highlights for the week - in no particular order - were a day out in Edinburgh with the current Mrs Steve-the-Wargamer (a little shopping, a lot of eating and drinking, and a trip to Edinburgh Castle), a lovely walk from my Dad's place up the coast to a little village called Aberdour where I had a lovely pint here, a triumphant curry, and, perhaps the most anticipated event, the trip to the Bannockburn battlefield...

To be honest, the Bannockburn trip was a bit of a two edged sword - half good, and half disappointing - but I'll post separately on that....


On the reading front, based on the always excellent suggestions here, and on the Old School Wargaming Yahoo group, I dipped into "Ship of Rome" while I was up in Scotland. I'd persuaded my dad to buy it as he had some Amazon vouchers burning a hole in his pocket and, on the whole, he and I generally agree on our reading choices. Either way, he bought this, along with the "The Forgotten Legion" by Ben Kane, and as I was at a loose end having just finished my last book offered it to me for a read...

Now I'll be absolutely honest and tell you that I'm a bit all Roman'd out - it seems that every time you turn these days, military historical fiction is all set in the Roman Empire - and it kind of begins to be a bit samey after a while...

Well - rest assured - those of you who recommended it were right and the book is an absolute cracker... un-putdownable in fact!

The book is set in the early years of the Roman Republic (tick... the period of Roman history I'm most interested in), against a backdrop of the 1st Punic War and the conquest of Syracuse. This was Rome's first foreign venture, the first time its much vaunted legions had served over water and away from the mainland. The intervention of a major Carthaginian fleet hoever, immediately put the Roman forces on Syracuse in danger, as without control of the sea lanes between Syracuse and Rome the legions were in danger of being starved into surrender.

Against this background then we are introduced to the two protagonists - Septimus who is an ex Optio from the Legions transferred into the Marines in order to get promotion to Centurion, and Atticus a first generation Roman citizen of Greek descent, and captain of the Roman navy trireme that Septimus serves on.

The two are friends from way back, and although certain events serve to strain that friendship, their story is set against the birth of the Roman navy and the political in fighting the Roman Republic went through to get to the point where it had the will to build a navy. I found the story of Rome's struggle against the Carthaginian's to be absolutely riveting.. you learn about ship building techniques, tactics, use of the ram, marine fighting techniques, move ships under oar (using slaves - there's an excellent section on how far and fast ships could move at the various rowing rates) all against the background of a very entertaining story .. in a word, excellent... can't wait for the next one to come out in the new year.

Steve the Wargamer gives this one an eight out of ten.


...and so, with 125 miles under her belt (in my ownership), no collisions, no injuries, no (major) breakages, a store of new found knowledge, and I guess the more important lesson understood that I have a whole shed-load still to learn, "Papillon" came out of the water for the winter yesterday... I'd say that it was a brilliant season on the water, and I enjoyed every minute of it... to be honest the boat has paid for itself in terms of enjoyment in one season! brother in law and I had a fun time trying to get her on to the trailer (she came off it so easily... had I but known it would have been so difficult in the opposite direction I might have left here on it! Gazebo Plans) Suffice to say that it may be November, but Steve the Wargamer had to go swimming... and that water is quite cold...

...funniest sight of the day was bro-in-laws boots beginning to float towards the horizon... upright... with socks still in them..... you had to be there!

Either way - here she is - all tucked up, and chocked up, safe and sound... now the work starts to get her ready for the next season a mere five months away... I'll post on the progress every now and again....

...and that's it for now - I'm off to finish writing up the Bannockburn visit - in the next few weeks I have a concert to go to (would you believe I'm finally getting to see the guitar god Steve Hillage and the rest of the guys from Gong!), DG is coming down for Warfare in a couple of weeks, and while he's down we have the second game in the St Michel campaign to play, and in addition I'm just about to kick off the review of Mr Lincoln's War.. it's all go!


  1. Glad you enjoyed your Scottish trip.
    I know what you mean about historical fiction right now - I have the same problem with naval fiction in that appears to be a rash of new authors writing about the same ten years of the Napoleonic naval wars.

  2. Noticable too that both of you are reviewing Roman novels at the same time. Is it just a coincidence or is the UK market flooded with these books?

  3. ...flooded may be a good analogy... it may be of course that there aren't that many but once you notice you start to see them everywhere. I think not though as apart from this series, the Scarrow books, the Forgotten legion series, a whole raft of Manfredi books, there does seem to be a lot about.... Grimsby is right about Napoleonic naval fiction as well... I blame the publishing houses, no imagination, every one of them is looking for the next Bernard Cornwell/Patrick O'Brien but they don't look outside of a very narrow remit...

  4. It is the time of year to put the feet up, and enjoy an autumn reflection on the season just passed. A good book and a pint of slightly strong beer cannot help.

    Life seems to be good to you at the moment long may it continiue.

  5. Aberdour - hmmm, just along the road from Burntisland where my wife is from.

    Glad you enjoyed the break.


  6. As if there could ever be another O'Brian!


  7. This might interest you

  8. I always find putting the boat up for winter a bit melancholy - at least you'll have more time for modeling!

  9. All - I recommend a visit to that web link Moif left - looks like we may be in for a treat in the coming months...

    Miles - you're right - but the weather is already turning wet/cold/windy so she's safer where she is... and in addition I need the forestay looking at anyway - looks like it has some wear/breakage...

  10. In terms of Roman Naval Warfare, I suggest that you take a look at the ships on the following website:

    His rules are new . . . so I don't know anything about them . . . but the ships are way cool and they don't cost much, I'm constantly tempted by them.

    -- Jeff

  11. Steve,

    Could you please email me your Colonial rules too?

    My email is . . .

    -- Jeff