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BEAU GESTE: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY (Annotated and With Active Table of Contents)
BEAU GESTE: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY (Annotated and With Active Table of Contents)
Price: £0.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the recommended version and not for those who are offended by imperialist fiction, 28 Jun. 2014
This trilogy was a favourite of mine when I was a teenager - the self-sacrifice, the (highly-improbable) plotting and probably above all the splendid telling in the voice of British colonialism (which just seemed romantic then) and the constant interweaving of French terms, which gave these books their distinctive appeal.

Two caveats: firstly if you are at all sensitive about the racism of the times when these were written or set, then save yourself a visit to the doctor for high blood pressure and just don't read them. The effortless superiority of the English characters - only matched by those of the French or a couple of comic Americans - the frequent racial slurs - "a dying Arab goum--they are always dying of fatigue these fellows, if they have hurried a few miles," and denigratory terms, including the unrepeatable n-word.

Second: this version has not be proofed enough to include ANY italics. When I come across a book with foreign language material in it, I expect that it will be italicised. This version - about whose annotations I cannot speak - has failed to italicise anything, neither the French phrases which are so much of flavour of the Foreign Legion novels. The examples can't have the italics in, so I've used an underline before and after words which should have been italicised - both for emphasis and to mark foreign phrases:

"The vile assassination of a gallant _sous-officier_. . . . And by one of his own men. In the very hour of glorious victory. . . . _One of his own men_--I am certain of it. But why? _Why?_ "

Amazon sells separate editions of Beau Sabreur and Beau Ideal which seem (from the free samples) to have the italics in place. For Beau Geste itself, you can buy what may be a better version from Google or download it in html form from Gutenberg Australia and convert it via calibre.

3 stars for being the text of a minor classic. 2 stars lost 1 for the typography and one for the unnuanced prose.


Visions of Distant Shores: An Andre Norton Collection (Seven Andre Norton novels in one volume!)
Visions of Distant Shores: An Andre Norton Collection (Seven Andre Norton novels in one volume!)
Price: £0.99

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but, 4 July 2011
I'm passing judgement on this book without having read it - a practice I usually deplore.

However, I think that potential readers should check out this volume:

The Ultimate Pulp Fiction Collection - Part 3 (65+ Works)

which has twice as many Andre Norton titles (including "The Defiant Agents" and "The Time Traders") and also a large collection of H Beam Piper stuff - though the latter looks bigger than it is, since many of the "stories" are short stories. Still there's some quite good stuff in there.

What I can't comment on is the quality of the presentation in either volume. I bought all the H Beam Piper stuff separately before I knew about this volume (which is one reason I'm warning others!) and the linkage in that is OK.

Oh, yes and you also get some Jack London and Raphael Sabatini - if that makes any difference. My guess is that is won't! Still lots more Andre Norton is probably worth the extra money (it's £1.72 as opposed to 71p for this volume) on its own, and the H Beam Piper has one or two classics in it.


1001: Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
1001: Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
by Julia Eccleshare
Edition: Paperback

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good idea, 7 April 2011
I'm reviewing this book without reading it - which is something that I generally disapprove of very much. I'm doing so because I used the Browse feature and discovered one thing about this book which should be flagged:

THIS BOOK SHOULD HAVE A SPOILER ALERT!

It will tell you about "the <adjective> ending where .." Useful if you want to read someone else's opinion about a book you know. Still do you want the story given away to a child whose exploring for books they might enjoy?

Perhaps you read children's books yourself for fun - do you want to know the ending of newer ones you haven't read yet - maybe you've not tackled Philip Pullman's masterpiece yet. Shall I tell you what happens in the end?

It's good to have things described to encourage you to read, but some of the labels are a bit odd also - why is "The Wind in the Willows" flagged for "8+"? Meanwhile "To Kill a Mockingbird" is included in this list of "children's books", although it is a book for adults, despite being told from the point of view of a child. Children need to be made aware of the problems of society, but I'd not include rape in a "children's" book.

It's also good to have some non-English stories included

I think I'd go elsewhere for what good, and just leave what's unsatisfactory behind.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 28, 2013 5:41 PM GMT


A Sudden Wild Magic
A Sudden Wild Magic
by Diana Wynne Jones
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but, 20 Feb. 2011
Very little that Diana Wynne Jones writes is less than well-crafted, but I think that she has never quite hit her stride with books aimed at an adult audience. It's almost as though she is writing about adults, and with an adult audience in mind, but with the range of characters and plots and language which have served her so well in writing for the "Young Adult" market. The bright toddler, who has got to the language stage where he makes sense to his mother, but not anyone else, is a case in point. The humour resonates with parents and grandparents, but the range of emotion with that of those who haven't strayed into parenthood.

Having said that, she still tells a good story. If you've read and enjoyed "The Merlin Conspiracy" or one of her other more recent books, then this is for you. If you're new to Diana Wynne Jones, then some of her other books are a better place to start. Try "Archer's Goon" (the blurb says it was made into a BBC series - when it that coming out on DVD?) if you don't object to the "YA" tag, or "Fire and Hemlock" for more difficult emotional issues. Best of all the wonderful "Homeward Bounders".


A Winter's Night - Live From Durham Cathedral [DVD] [2009] [NTSC]
A Winter's Night - Live From Durham Cathedral [DVD] [2009] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Sting
Price: £15.85

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good - if you can play it!, 5 Jan. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for my mother who thoroughly enjoyed it, even though she doesn't like Sting, because the visuals of Durham Cathedral are lovely. However, she had to find out how to re-jig her TV since the DVD is NTSC. Make sure your DVD player and your TV can play this version!


Walsh Sheila : Arrogant Lord Alistair (Signet)
Walsh Sheila : Arrogant Lord Alistair (Signet)
by Sheila Walsh
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Very competant Regency, 14 Dec. 2009
First things: this is the same book as "A Woman of No Importance", which is how Mills & Boon titled it in the UK. Me, I think the UK version a better title.

This is a very solid Regency from Sheila Walsh, who has a clear sense of character and produces sensibly-plotted stories in English which does not make you cringe, and she has a good sense of period.

Charity "inherits" her niece and nephew when their parents both die at the time of Waterloo. Unfortunately someone else has a claim on them - the grandfather who now insists that the children and their aunt must be separated. He tells his other son, Lord Alistair, to find them a home. Charity initially agrees, but she learns that the children are being mistreated and returns to them. She and Lord Alistair are now on a collision course. His father arrives and the two of them find themselves temporarily allies and until a story from the past emerges to change the lives of all of them.

Those for whom "Regency" is synonymous with "soft porn" (or even not-so-soft porn) are going to be disappointed, but Charity is an engaging heroine whose sense and maturity are a delight. Her commitment to the children is something you really believe in, and not just a plot device, and it is that which first wins her the respect of those around her. The hero is a little bit less well-characterised, but still a strong, but likeable character and the relationship between them is believable and satisfying.

The story is a little episodic (as is often the case with Sheila Walsh), but the very real virtues of the book would make it deserve 4 or even 5 stars if you judge it just against the dross so common these days.


The Tin Princess (Point)
The Tin Princess (Point)
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Paperback

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ruritania - Pullman Class, 19 Aug. 2002
"The Tin Princess" is what, on TV, would be called a "spin-off" from the Sally Lockhart novels - there are some familiar characters but the focus is elsewhere.
In reality this is Pullman's take on the Ruritanian novel, and is typically uncompromising. Take a small country stuck between great powers and would *really* happen? If someone who never expected to inherit a throne found himself on it, how well would he *really* cope? Fortunately Pullman's answers include the necessary addition of people with courage and determination, and (necessarily) a great deal more luck than anyone deserves, and you end up with a good story. Good enough to lead this reader to look for sequels, though they would be very difficult to do successfully.
There are disappointments - some readers will be upset that Sally Lockhart hardly makes an appearance. More seriously the character from whose view we see the story, Becky, is not really the heroine - that position belongs to the unlikeliest character in the book, the "Tin Princess" herself, Adelaide once the downtrodden skivvy from "The Ruby in the Smoke". Becky learns about life, romance and herself - a little - but many readers must feel a bit cheated in not having her given a story of her own as well. There is also a problem in that one of the strands of the story - a physically passionate love affair - has to be handled very allusively in a book sold to younger readers, though Pullman does an excellent job.
For fans of the Ruritanian novel, the problem lies in Pullman's unwillingness to suspend the rules of history or psychology for the benefit of royalty - or for little states with good scenery.
So readers need to be warned - put your preconceptions aside before you start. Having done that, you are in for a treat. The writing is skillful, the plotting masterly and the pace breakneck. Pullman's compassion for all his characters - including the unsympathetic ones - remains as persuasive as ever. He also plays fair with the reader - this is a very good story - not a lesson in historical morality.
But it would be nice to have more about Becky - another book maybe, Mr Pullman?


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