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Reviews Written by
Mr Gordon Davidson "Gordy" (Glasgow)

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The Eye Of The World: Book 1 of the Wheel of Time
The Eye Of The World: Book 1 of the Wheel of Time
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars High quality fantasy, 6 Aug. 2015
A very good fantasy novel and an encouraging start to this 14 volume epic. Although I suspect that the first book is a microcosm of the whole series, and although all the usual fantasy clichés are present, there is enough detail and excitement to keep it fresh.

The style is quite formal a la Tolkien but also like Tolkien once you become immersed in the plot it's no longer noticeable.


The Stranger at the Palazzo d'Oro
The Stranger at the Palazzo d'Oro
by Paul Theroux
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet, 21 July 2015
As a rule, I can't be bothered with short stories but Paul Theroux is one of my favourite writers so I decided to give this a go. It didn't disappoint apart from the African tale which was so boring I gave up on it after a few pages. The other stories are really good, delicious even. With a general theme of lost innocence they are slightly unsettling but the best literature often is.


The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
by Paulo Coelho
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.84

1.0 out of 5 stars Pantheistic nonsense, 21 July 2015
I can't believe the cover price of this "book" is £8.99. Thank goodness I got it for just 50p from a charity shop. (It wasn't worth it but at least the money went to a good cause).

There was brief moment around halfway through this book when, despite the almost insultingly simplistic prose, I was eager to know what was going to happen. I needn't have concerned myself. The book (or more accurately pamphlet) is merely a tract espousing pantheistic beliefs. It's about on a par with the panentheistic "books" peddled by Johnson, Vallotton and similar New Age "profits" in its length, quality of writing and all-round philosophical silliness.


From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 (Oxford History of the United States)
From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 (Oxford History of the United States)
by George C. Herring
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.46

4.0 out of 5 stars A good overview, 21 July 2015
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A good overview of the entire history of U.S. foreign policy. Very readable for such a broad subject. I was a bit suspicious of the author's tendency to give the various participants the benefit of the doubt on a whole raft of dubious and in hindsight misguided policies. However, his unequivocal condemnation of "Dubya" and Rumsfeld eased my mind on that score.


Cryptonomicon
Cryptonomicon
by Neal Stephenson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The various asides which attempt to create mathematical formulas for every day events are very entertaining and probably the bes, 17 July 2015
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Paperback)
A very unusual and quite enjoyable book that mixes lots of different genres together and almost pulls it off. There's plenty of humour and it has a high degree of farce running through it. Despite the characters being in extraordinarily dangerous situations, there's a general absence of tension so it doesn't quite make it into the thriller category.

The various asides which attempt to create mathematical formulas for every day events are very entertaining and probably the best bits of the book. The plot isn't helped by running in the past and present simultaneously and it is about 200 pages too long (that's about the point when I wished it would just wind up).

A little too flawed for 5 stars but well worth a read if you're looking for something a bit different.


India: A History
India: A History
by John Keay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

3.0 out of 5 stars A struggle, 8 July 2015
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
Although this is an informative book I have to say I rather struggled through it. There is too much of a focus on the early history of India (for my liking) which the author has cobbled together from various archaeological sources and religious texts. The sheer number of dynasties and the multiple and ever-changing administrative areas that have gone into the formation of the modern federation of India is quite mind-boggling and difficult to keep track of as the book meanders on.

The subject matter and timescales are just too vast to fit into a single volume.


Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914
Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914
by Max Hastings
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written account of the first year of the great war. From the politics which brought each of ..., 26 May 2015
A well-written account of the first year of the great war. From the politics which brought each of the protagonists into the fight down to snippets of information and quotes from ordinary people caught up in events utterly beyond their control, this book covers it all.

It's a whopping tome of a book but it does a good job of not becoming too repetitive.


Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette
by Lady Antonia Fraser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 1 May 2015
This review is from: Marie Antoinette (Paperback)
A sympathetic biography of one of history's most misunderstood women.

The level of detail in this book is quite astonishing but in no way does it make it boring. On the contrary, the accounts of the minutiae of court life are fascinating simply because they are so alien to us 21st century tweeters.

Highly recommended.


The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials)
The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials)
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Spell-binding, 13 April 2015
A super finale to a brilliant fantasy trilogy. What more can I say? Consistently better than Harry Potter. More interesting than Thomas Covenant. More straightforward than Thursday Next.

As well as just a great story, the book (trilogy) also has a fair bit to say on religion versus learning. Although I disagree with its obvious denigration of God's grace, I quite liked the point about hard-earned things being all the sweeter when it comes to our purely human endeavours.

Spell-binding.


The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials)
The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials)
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Acutely good, 6 April 2015
His Dark Materials continues in much the same vain. Dastardly villains (or are they?) vying for crucial artifacts against tenacious children and a motley collection of helpful characters. This time the action takes place across multiple worlds, which keeps things interesting.

This is a top quality production.


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