Profile for Ian Riley > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Ian Riley
Top Reviewer Ranking: 469,286
Helpful Votes: 5

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Ian Riley (Shanghai, China)

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World
In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World
Price: £5.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating history of the beginnings of Islam, 11 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The victors write history. Holland argues that is exactly what happened with Islam. To understand the context for this. he takes us on an arduous and colourful journey through the struggle between the Byzantine and Persian empires of late antiquity. The sudden emergence of Arab power in 630 AD becomes more understandable. Holland explores the variations of early Muslim beliefs and the gradual definition of orthodoxy.

This is a fascinating exploration of a poorly understood era. Holland questions the location of Mecca, the nature of the Qur'an, the source and purpose of the hadiths. His conclusions are not as revolutionary as his questions seem to promise, but are no less satisfying for that.

A great read.


The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco da Gama
The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco da Gama
Price: £3.08

4.0 out of 5 stars An enthralling tale of a brutal time, 24 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Although the Portugese have a reputation as particularly harsh colonials, I had not appreciated the extent of the cruelty and violence that accompanied the exploration and exploitation of the East. Cliff paints a vivid picture of a harsh and violent time and some of the iron willed characters who were responsible for Portugal's maritime empire.

The book puts the European discoveries and exploration of both the Americas and the Indies in the context of a much older story: the conflict between Islam and Christianity, especially in the Iberian peninsula and North Africa.

Cliff does justice to his characters' virtues while not shying away from their flaws and crimes. I liked this balanced and well written history.


Writing on the Wall: Social Media - The First 2,000 Years
Writing on the Wall: Social Media - The First 2,000 Years
Price: £4.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting context for understanding today's social media, 26 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Before picking up this book, I had assumed that social media was a modern phenomenon. However, Standage argues persuasively that this is not so and traces its history back to Roman times.

I found some of his anecdotes a bit dull and his general style is rather earnest. Nonetheless, it


A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China
A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China
Price: £8.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating analysis of the fall of Bo Xilai, 2 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
While we may never know for certain what happened, the authors paint a believable picture of the events and conspiracies behind the headlines. This book makes compulsive reading for those interested in understanding Chinese current affairs.


Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy Book 2)
Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy Book 2)
Price: £6.64

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful sequel, 27 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A book to savour. Mantel develops her characters with great depth and subtlety making this a compelling, hard-to-put-down read. She seems at times to almost have fallen in love with Cromwell-the-competent-yet-kindhearted, yet manages to retain sufficient distance to keep him credible.

Highly recommended. I look forward to the next book.


The Wolf Sea (The Oathsworn Series, Book 2)
The Wolf Sea (The Oathsworn Series, Book 2)
Price: £4.05

4.0 out of 5 stars A slow start to another good tale, 25 Mar 2013
The interweaving of the story of the Oathsworn with the wars of the Eastern Roman empire made it a bit slow and heavy to start with. But as the story develops it becomes more and more compelling and captures the reader in the desperate struggle of the Oathsworn to put their destiny on the right track.


Viking 1: Odinn's Child
Viking 1: Odinn's Child
Price: £3.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More a travel book than an adventure, 12 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
From the very start, this book felt like a copy of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon novels in the use of an old man to retell his tale. Since I liked the Saxon novels, I didn't hold that against this book, but the story is very slow to develop and lacks action. By the end it had become a chore to read.

Our hero travels from Orkney to Iceland to Greenland to Canada and back again, finally ending up in Ireland. Along the way he looses his friends, family and acquaintances at an alarming rate. In addition to the lack of action, the lack of appealing characters also undermines the enjoyment of reading this book.

I won't be buying the second volume.


Page: 1