Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rumours of my death...

... have been greatly exaggerated...

...just back from a few weeks in the sun (Agios Gordios, Corfu), where it certainly put the British "summer" in contrast - sunny every day, 35+C temperatures (on one memorable day we had a 45, and it was still 30+ at 9 in the evening...!)...  but these things never last, and all too soon it was over and we return to grey sky's and rain...  but at least we get a curry...

...for the first time this year I took the Netbook with me so there wasn't really a need to take the pocket wargame set of previous years - I got my fill via the ongoing American Civil War campaign that DG and I continue to fight...  Battle Chronicler provides the "table", and I took a copy of the Regimental Fire and Fury Quick Reference sheet...  didn't even need dice, I used Excel to generate numbers...  worked very well, the only downside being that for a large game the small screen doesn't help - but it's all achievable...

Huge numbers of books read, but regrettably (??) while all of them were hugely enjoyable, none of them were educational!

I started with the new paperback from Angus Donald which is the third in his hugely imaginative Robin Hood "Outlaw Chronicles" series (see my previous reviews here) - set at the end of the 3rd Crusade, this covers the events surrounding Richard's imprisonment by the Duke of Austria, and has an interesting slant on the Blondel story.. Richard’s slim hope of salvation rests on one man – a former outlaw, a vengeful earl, a man who scoffs at Holy Mother Church...  yup, Robin Hood...  superb, looking very much forward to the next book...  9/10...
Moved on to this next which was given to me by my Dad after he'd finished it...  for one reason or another this seemed to be a very Crusade/Medieval holiday..  despite a truly hokum premise (secret order comprising the descendants of the  families of Jewish priests expelled from Israel by the Romans) this was a good yarn... covers the start of the Templar's as the first ever order of warrior monks...  enjoyable but don't get me started on them discovering the Ark of the Covenant in a secret underground room under the Temple Mount... He is good on middle east politics and warfare though...  7/10..  good enough that I utilised the superb Kindle and downloaded the second volume from my sun bed...  brilliant thing...

 ..another Kindle freebie by a completely unknown author...  one of the things I like about the Kindle is that ability to download these free books and give them a try..  if you don't like it you just delete it and move on...  this however was very good...  the story of an Irish Catholic and how he's recruited to the IRA...  trained as a sniper with an Armalite, betrayed, helps to train ETA volunteers, and what happens when he's captured...  very good...  8/10
 So time for a change from the un-remiting diet of Medieval hack and slash and I fund this on the free library shelf in one of the (excellent) restaurants ...  Wilbur is....  Wilbur....  he never changes..  all his male heroes are solid testosterone, all his female leads are beautiful....  and he does some of the best baddies...  for this book (his latest) he does Somali pirates... of all the books I read this one was the best premise for a nice little skirmish campaign....  6/10

This was a Kindle freebie recommended by some of the guys on one of the sailing forums I frequent (Christine Kling - "Surface Tension") and a good read - the fact that it was free was a bonus but I enjoyed it so much I bought number two in the series anyway (from the same sun-bed!). Seychelle Sullivan (the heroine) is the owner/skipper of a salvage tug based in Florida...  the night she takes in tow the luxury yacht skippered by her ex-boyfriend should mean that she's financially secure, but actually marks the start of some seriously bad times...  7/10

Seychelle Sullivan returns, this time her life takes a turn when her tug intercepts with a swamped fishing boat in the Gulf Stream - inside the boat are a murdered woman and a little girl in a white dress. The girl is Haitian, and the story is set against the background of people smuggling.... 7/10

There are others in this series, I'll definitely be returning for more, Ms Kling writes a good yarn...

...another Kindle freeby....  used to read these when I was little...  superb.. William does the best irony of anyone I know... 8/10 

I'm a big fan of the BBC version (with Kenneth Branagh) so thought I would try the books - this is another series I will return to...  having read it I was very impressed with the production of the BBC series- they really have got the feel of his books just right...  and unlike other books, I was even more impressed by Branagh's depiction.. he is Wallander... anyway...  more illegal immigrant action, nascent right wing nationalism, and Wallander needs to find the killers before it all goes pear shaped..  8/10

Second volume of the "Knights of the Black and White"/Templars trilogy - this one is set 20+ years later, and the Templar's have gone 'legitimate'...  despite being a little 'Crusaded' out by now I enjoyed this one - if anything a little more than the first volume as he had turned down the volume on the hokum knob... what we get is a straight forward story of the 3rd Crusade, from both sides, with some interesting and insightful description of the difficulties faced by the heavily armoured knights when trying to do battle with Saladin's lightly armed horse... 7.5/10... PS. Still got no idea what they did with the Ark they discovered in the first book...!

One of the things I noticed about this holiday is how many restaurants had free lending libraries - little'un found me this one though (she clearly knows me!), glad she did as this was an excellent read...  set around the time of Hastings, it describes the events at the end of Edwards life, the rise of Harold Godwinson, and the invasion by the Normans that culminated in Hastings....  Hereward in this book is a bit of a tearaway, but is bought to his 'good side' by the efforts of friends, wife and a monk who he rescues from a truly epic Viking mercenary called Redteeth....  the book ends with Hereward taking to the fens to start his fight back against the Normans- it promised to be a good series!  8/10

...ten books in two weeks - not bad!


  1. Off to Greece this weekend. I'll be bringing some historical books for the week - some of yours look good.

    45 degrees though!

  2. Phil - it was "interesting" but you soon get used to it.. you find everything slows down in terms of pace, you seek shade almost automatically, and anyway it's dry heat which is much easier than UK heat... and there's always Mythos to get you through!

  3. Sounds like you had a great holiday. An excellent book review, I've got a few of these in my reading pile, gotta finish A Dance with Dragons first!

  4. How very tedious for you... all that samey samey weather No British variety Rain, Wind ,Hail, Sun - often all on the same day and all you get is tedious samey sunshine poor chap.

  5. Welcome back, Steve! Some good book reviews there. I read the Wilbur Smith last year and...yes...not much to say really! I thought the premise of the denouement was ridiculous (i.e. a boat so huge you can hide a small army in it without anyone noticing), but it had its moments.

    Best wishes


  6. I'm in Cowes myself, where the weather is rather worse than usual and certainly not 45 degrees, thank goodness... 10 books in two weeks is impressive. I must try the Jack Whyte one again as I gave up on it because of the "20 years later" aspect... I liked his Arthurian books though..

  7. Interesting mix of books there. Can't see me reading that many without the wife complaining of neglect!

  8. Grimsby - I only got away with it because she read even more books than I did! :o))