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Profile for Mr. Duncan Macfarlane > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Mr. Duncan Macfarlane (Glasgow)

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Vengeful Spirit (The Horus Heresy)
Vengeful Spirit (The Horus Heresy)
by Graham McNeill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly excellent with only a couple of bad Hollywood movie style scenes, 8 Nov. 2014
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Mostly really liked this book, other than one or two scenes which were like bad Hollywood action movie scenes and made no sense. They were just a couple of flaws in a well written book though. And unlike some of the previous books in the series, this one does advance the main plot.


The Widow's House (Dagger and the Coin)
The Widow's House (Dagger and the Coin)
by Daniel Abraham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Picks up the pace again and keeps revealing things are more complicated than you thought, 8 Nov. 2014
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The previous book was a bit slow, but this one picks up the pace considerably. The plot also keeps revealing uenxpected things, with the truth always a bit more complicated than i'd previously thought.


The Great Betrayal (Time of Legends)
The Great Betrayal (Time of Legends)
by Nick Kyme
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonably well-written and interesting, but some of the supposed "heroes" are utterly contemptible, 8 Nov. 2014
The first chapter is so "epic" that it becomes dull and uninteresting as each paragraph is more over the top than the last.

After that it becomes reasonably well written and starts off with an interesting plot. Unfortunately some of the main "heroes" of the book are anything but - petty, vain and willing to see any amount of avoidable deaths to fulfill their "destiny". They also seem to think that unnecessary wars are fine so long as it brings their family together. When one is finally killed late in the book, in a scene which is meant to be tragic, my only feeling was of satisfaction that at least he got what was coming to him.

There are at least a handful of characters who it is possible to identify with right to the end, but even they make some weird and questionable judgements.


Old Wine, Broken Bottle: Ari Shavit's Promised Land
Old Wine, Broken Bottle: Ari Shavit's Promised Land
by Norman G. Finkelstein
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very short, well argued, but difficult for Finkelstein to make a heavyweight analysis of a book as lightweight as Shavit's, 8 Aug. 2014
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This is a solid, but very short, critique of Ari Shavit's 'Promised Land'. It's just over 80 fairly small pages with quite large text - and even if you read all the footnotes at the end it's still very short. There isn't that much to it, because compared to historians like Benny Morris, whose work Finkelstein has covered in the past, Ari Shavit is a bit of a lightweight. Shavit has been mostly a comment columnist for newspapers and not a very coherent one, whereas Morris was a serious historian. When criticising Morris' work, Finkelstein was only pointing out the logical conclusions of the historical facts Morris had established in great detail from the sources - and Morris didn't gloss over facts, only try to avoid unpleasant conclusions. With Shavit there are very few facts and little or no coherent arguments at all.

Even with Joan Peters' 'From Time Immemorial' , which wasn't up to Morris' standard Finkelstein was able to check primary sources and show the didn't prove what Peters claimed they proved. Shavit doesn't even have sources for most of his columns.

I felt it should really have been combined with other books to be worth the price for such a short book. Finkelstein's earlier books demolished multiple stories from multiple sources at once. This one only deals with one and a relatively weak one.

Finkelstein does point out some facts that Shavit has glossed over and some of the inconsistencies in it, but if you've read some of Morris and Finkelstein's books you'll know most of it already.


The Death of Integrity (Space Marine Battles)
The Death of Integrity (Space Marine Battles)
by Guy Haley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars As subtle and well-written as the best of the Horus Heresy books, 17 July 2014
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Very well written and subtle book, on a par with any of the Horus Heresy books, though set long after them. There are several mysteries in the book, with the truth about each gradually revealed as the book goes on. Lots of political intrigue among the Imperials too - especially between the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Legions.


The Wazir and the Witch (Chronicles of an Age of Darkness)
The Wazir and the Witch (Chronicles of an Age of Darkness)
by Hugh Cook
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny, not predictable and with lots of serious insights into the best and worst of politics and human nature, 17 July 2014
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The first time I read this book it infuriated me, because its meant to be written by an insane character who frequently goes into long diatribes and veers wildly off topic to rant about things that enrage him. Once you accept it's written that way though it's both a very funny book at some points and has some very good insights into real world politics and human nature. The main plot may also be annoying the first time you read it. As in most Hugh Cook books the plans of the main characters rarely survive events, but it's certainly not predictable.


Pariah: Eisenhorn vs Ravenor (Warhammer 40000)
Pariah: Eisenhorn vs Ravenor (Warhammer 40000)
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but mostly just confusing and annoying to read until the last few chapters, 20 Jun. 2014
An extremely well-written book, but i found a lot of it annoying to read as you are given little or no idea what is going on at all until the last few chapters, after which it ends - and the sequels to it don't seem to be available (not written yet almost three years after the first came out? never going to be? not sure)


A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
by George R.R. Martin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and interesting character and plot development - but too long and slow, 10 Jun. 2014
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This book is every bit as well-written as the first three and there are very interesting developments of characters and the plot in more unexpected directions. However it is too long and too slow - the book could have been half or three quarters of the length and have been improved by the reduction.


A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
by George R.R. Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.14

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just as well written as his other books but far too slow and far too long, 10 Jun. 2014
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The quality of writing is just as excellent as any of the other books in the series, but it follows the trend of each book after the third becoming longer and slower than the last. There is excessive detail on trivial scenes like the appearance of a barge and river Tyrion is on lasting pages on end. It would be forgivable to make the book over 1,000 pages long if a lot happened in it, but the important plot events could have been fitted into a book half or a quarter of the length without losing anything. Perhaps Martin is losing any self-discipline on chapter and book length due to his success as a writer. Personally I feel publishers should be giving him some word limits and deadlines.


The Plot Against the NHS
The Plot Against the NHS
by Stewart Player
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.05

5.0 out of 5 stars What everyone should know about the dismantling of the NHS under Labour and Conservatives in under 150 pages, 10 Jun. 2014
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This is a short but devastating book which everyone in Britain should read. It gives detailed evidence of the dishonest way that governments of both main parties have set about privatising the NHS by stealth from Thatcher to the present. Most shocking are the Health ministers and advisers to ministers and Prime Ministers who have gone on to work as paid advisers to private healthcare firms. Blair's 'New Labour' government was as guilty here as the Coalition is today. The book reveals how deliberately misleading language like the "independent sector" has been used by Labour and Conservative ministers to hide their real meaning - private companies operating for profit.


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