Monday 24 July 2017

Excellent read - S. J. Parris' Treachery

Treachery (Giordano Bruno, #4)Treachery by S.J. Parris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent read akin to Stephen Saylor's Gordianus the Finder series. The style is similar as the the premise. However, rather than a murder mystery in Roman times it is set in Elizabethan England. The author conveys a great sense of the period with its slums at one end of society and nobility at the other. Treachery is set in Portsmouth with Sir Francis Drake about to lead an expedition to the New World for plunder. However a suicide on board requires investigating and Bruno, an Italian philosopher is on hand to delve into the seedy depths of Elizabethan Plymouth. The scrapes come thick and fast for an excellent read. 

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Wednesday 19 July 2017

Power of the Sword by Wilbur Smith

Power of the Sword (Courtney #5)Power of the Sword by Wilbur Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great tale set in post First Word War South Africa. This is the 5th Courtney book. It's hard to say who the main character is as the tale switches between so man. There is even a mention of Nelson Mandela. The tale centers on the Hanai diamond mine and Centaine and her son Shasa. Once again Smith's knowledge of Africa brings the tale alive. His knowledge of its history in this turbulent period also makes for a very readable tale. At over 800 pages it is value for money and still a page-turner, mainly due to the easy to read narrative rather than an exciting plot. There are several characters to hate and the main one for me was Manfred De La Ray, although Smith also manages to create a little sadness for this character as well. Superb writing.

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Wilbur Smith's The Quest: Epic Read

The Quest (Ancient Egypt, #4)The Quest by Wilbur Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent book, but borderline historical fiction and tending to fantasy. Still, an excellent read. This is the fourth in the series involving Taita, the once slave who is now more of a mystic/warlock. There's lots of mysticism and set in ancient Egypt that works really well but the reader has to suspend some belief. The journey is certainly epic as Taita seeks the source of the Nile and the reason for years of drought. There's giant, killer toads and an ancient goddess to contend with. Smith's descriptions are beautiful and his knowledge of Africa brings the books alive. A great read for historical fiction (with some tongue in cheek) and fantasy fans alike.

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Saturday 1 July 2017

Falling Down a Hole - With Style.

One weekend, in winter, on exercise with the territorial army, I was walking along a hill top near Loch Striven. It was completely dark even though it was early evening. The ground was gently undulating and long shadows were cast by the bright lights from below, and I mean bright lights. There is a base at the bottom of the hill and floodlights illuminated it. It was almost too bright to look down the hill.

Walking wasn't too hard, but I was carrying a large pack for the weekend ahead and a rifle. I stepped out onto what I thought was a shadow and promptly fell about six feet down a hole. I landed heavily on my knees and given the weight I was carrying I was amazed something didn't break. Being a good soldier I was still carrying my rifle, surprisingly!

Strewth. The pain. My knees were agony.

It took a moment to realise what had happened. I was kneeling by the side of a burn. Looking up the steep sides I saw where I had fallen from and it was quite a tumble. Rising, I clambered up the slope hoping no one had noticed. I was really embarrassed. The lights below had cast very dark shadows and what I had mistaken for a slight dip in the ground was in fact a not too deep ravine with a burn at the bottom.

Being the officer in charge of the platoon I did my best to ignore what had happened but snickering from behind revealed that others had seen. Damn. There goes my reputation...again.