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Ronald Boyd (Glasgow, Scotland)

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The Bruce Trilogy: "Steps to the Empty Throne", "Price of the King's Peace" and "Path of the Hero King" (Coronet Books)
The Bruce Trilogy: "Steps to the Empty Throne", "Price of the King's Peace" and "Path of the Hero King" (Coronet Books)
by Nigel Tranter
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nigel Tranter - Scottish National Treasure, 25 Oct 2012
I have read most of the books by the late and still missed Mr. Tranter.

He was, in addition to being a wonderful storyteller and historian, an absolute gentleman. I have two letters from him in my house which demonstrate both his friendliness and warmth.

I first read The Bruce Trilogy over 20 years ago, and I still have that copy, though like Robert in the story, it has become more than a bit battered and worn.

Still, the text is undiminished and the perfect example of majestic historical fiction. By the end of the book, I felt a genuine sense of loss. The only other trilogy I've read which left me with the same feeling at the end was Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles trilogy.

I read books now by some of the so-called stars of modern historical fiction, and a few are of genuine high quality (Anthony Riches is my modern favourite). So many are dire.

Mr. Tranter to my mind the father of modern historical fiction.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific value replacement for HP Laptop charger, 3 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I ordered this product for one reason only: my existing charger for my HP laptop failed. I spent a little time looking at replacements online, some were (to my mind) over-priced, some were second-hand HP products, which is fair enough, but I was looking for a new product and wasn't bothered whether it was genuine HP or not. I came across this product from PowerGen, and based on the fact it was new, was very competitively priced (delivery free) and even came with car charger adapter, I had to try it. The delivery was prompt and, well, there's not a whole lot you can write about a laptop charger really - the most important thing is it worked perfectly with my HP laptop, which is now useable again thanks to this charger. What I can say is that the product is exactly as described and I am very glad I bought it, and would recommend the seller to anyone. Overall buying experience is 100% positive.

Fortress of Spears (Empire)
Fortress of Spears (Empire)
by Anthony Riches
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Riches fails for the first time..., 22 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The first two books by Mr. Riches concerning Centurion Corvus are of an un-typically high standard. It would be rude to name names, but Mr. Riches' first two books are richly superior to the books of other - much more famous - writers of historical fiction.

Characterisation was key in the first two books. Plot came second, providing a platform for the brilliant, careful development of wonderful, distinct characters. Mr. Riches took his time. This is the opposite of many other books in the historical fiction genre, where plot comes first by a long shot.

Mr. Riches holds up Pressfields 'Gates of Fire' as his bar, and in his first two books he didn't fail.

In his third book, I feel he has failed. Or at least stumbled.

Sorry, but in the third book, he has apparently decided that we know the characters well enough, and it is time for some turbo-charged plot.

From other writers, this change wouldn't register. From Mr. Riches, it jars considerably.

The plot whistles along so fast that I felt disconnected from the characters.

Worse, the killing of a great character gained nothing. It was pointless. Marcus feels bad for a dozen or so pages, then apparently forgets about the loss of this person. Dubnus, well, we aren't even blessed with his reaction. As I say, it gained nothing in terms of plot or characterization that I could discern.

And we know Marcus is a deadly swordsman, but defeating six Celtic warriors alone? That scene for me drifted towards fantasy.

I love the first two books, and I return to them.

Don't see me returning to this one.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2012 6:32 PM BST

Insurrection (Insurrection Trilogy)
Insurrection (Insurrection Trilogy)
by Robyn Young
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm rooting for Robyn...but Mr. Tranter has already aced this story, 11 Sep 2011
First of all, it is sweetly refreshing for a work of historical fiction to be centered on a period of Scottish history.

Scotland's history is powerfully vivid, bloody and dramatic, and lends itself well to tales of fiction.

It is also very much ignored.

Honestly, how many more heroic-soldier-of-the-Roman-empire-who-is-at-heart-decent-and-despises-the-empire stories can we take??

All those Romans. Being heroic. Whilst they oppress and enslave other races.

Anyway, Robyn's first Robert Bruce novel (that's Robert Bruce or Robert de Brus and not Robert-the-Bruce, unless you're eight years old) is quite different in style from her Brethren series: yes, the hero is Scottish, but the writing style is much cleaner. I enjoyed the Brethren series, it was presented in fascinating detail; however reading the books was like - initially - wading through treacle. The plotting in Insurrection is as strong as in the Brethren books but happily not as convoluted.

Insurrection, in terms of prose, is much cleaner.

I enjoyed it.

However, I cannot in all honesty say that Robyn has improved upon the epic books written by the sadly missed Mr. Nigel Tranter.

Mr. Tranter - God bless him - was of course the master at bringing the heroes of Scottish history to life.

I wish Robyn a lot of success (truly I do, I love that her heroes are Scottish) but in her first book of the story of Robert I of Scotland, she has not yet scaled the heights of Mr. Tranter.

I love Nigel Tranter books and I am deeply appreciative of Robyn Young books.

I want to love Robyn's books too.

I'm rooting for you, Robyn.

The Green Berets [Blu-ray] [1968] [Region Free]
The Green Berets [Blu-ray] [1968] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ John Wayne
Price: 8.85

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The greatest war movie ever made..., 14 Feb 2011
Heh, only kidding.

But what is it, this film?

The critics hated it, no doubt in great part due to John Wayne's politics (as you probably are aware, the Big Man didn't much like communists). So I think it's not unfair to say their dislike of the big fella's right-wing views clouded their judgement, but only to an extent.

It's not a great film. What it is, is a perfect example of the standard fare Duke was putting in the picure houses by the mid-to-late sixties (the exceptions being the wonderful True Grit and the top drawer El Dorado). Think of this film as 'Hellfighters', 'cept the team are in the army this time (most of the main cast of Hellighters are in The Green Berets).

It's not great, it's not terrible, it's pretty much made for John Wayne fans (of whom there are legion, and - unlike some - they don't obsess over trivial mistakes Duke may make when he's pretending to be a soldier, they just want to see Duke beat the baddies).

So if you're looking for biting, sad anti-war fare like Platoon or Full Metal Jacket, this isn't for you.

On the other hand, if you want an hour or two's entertainment watching arguably the most recognizable film star ever going through his schtick, then you'll like this.

Oh, and the blu-ray transfer is excellent in most places.

PS. When is The Quiet Man getting it's blu-ray day? Or The Cavalry Trilogy? We want to know!!!

Holy Warrior (Outlaw Chronicles)
Holy Warrior (Outlaw Chronicles)
by Angus Donald
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent enough read, but hardly original..., 20 Aug 2010
Just finished 'Holy Warrior', liked it well enough as a decent historical novel, and I was certainly happy to buy into the idea of Robin Hood as a cold-hearted murderer rather than the gay (original meaning) chap with the green tights.

Couple of things though...

1) The 'mafia' references. I know the tagline on the first book was 'Meet the Godfather of Sherwood Forest' but some of the references had me rolling my eyes. Regular mentions of Robin's 'familia', Little John's role as Robin's 'enforcer', the first book having Robin's brother Hugh as basically his 'consigliere'.

Worst of all though was near the end of 'Holy Warrior', after a particularly powerful and dramatic development, when Alan advises us that certain folk 'now sleep with the fishes'.

Que much rolling of eyes. Angus - please stop doing this, it's very distracting and quite silly.

2) The Scottish character, Sir James De Brus. It's cringeworthy when Alan has a chat with this character, and the character speaks like he just walked off Paisley Road West, Govan, Glasgow. This is a Scoto-Norman knight, the Bruces hadn't even been in Scotland for 100 years and already they speak like Rab C Nesbitt! The author has clearly taken the same 'How to Write Scottish and Irish Characters in Novels' course that Harry Sidebottom took for his mainly excellent 'Warrior of Rome' series. In those fine books, the Irish character prefixes every sentence with the word 'sure', as in, 'Sure, but isn't it a lovely day to be fighting Persians.' The Scottish character in the Sidebottom books is dour, sour of face, a bit anti-social, but has a good heart. The Scottish character in 'Holy Warrior, is dour, sour of face, a bit anti-social, but has a good heart...

All in all, a decent enough page turner, but with some unintentionally funny moments.

by Bernard Cornwell
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Alas, this is the most boring Cornwell number since Stonehenge..., 13 Sep 2009
This review is from: Azincourt (Hardcover)
The historical research is no doubt flawless.

The plot is based on a battle that a champion Little Englander like Cornwell could probably cry over, so much would he enjoy lavishing his prose upon.

The result?

Easily the most boring Cornwell book since 'Stonehenge 2000BC'.

No doubt lots of other Little Englanders will weep strong silent tears whilst reading this tedious tale of Old England's derring-do, but the truth is that this book is the Cornwellian equivalent of The Emperor's New Clothes: everyone is gushing over what a simply spiffing book this is, when in reality it's truly yawn-inducing.

Remember, this is the man who gave us the 'Warlord Trilogy', which I defy anyone to read and not be affected.

But Azincourt is a self-indulgent piece of dull pulp.

You can do so much better than this Mr. Cornwell!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 2, 2011 5:01 AM GMT

Elvis Presley - Aloha From Hawaii (Deluxe Edition) [DVD]
Elvis Presley - Aloha From Hawaii (Deluxe Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Elvis Presley
Offered by Global_Deals
Price: 64.99

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elvis: Big, Bold and Brash in Hawaii, 28 July 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Finally, a special edition of this wonderful concert. I have the heavily edited US version, so to see this in it's entirety is tremendous. The 5.1 DD sound is excellent, uncanny at times when E is speaking to the crowd. It's as if you're in the hall. Picture quality is good too, with the gaudy background blackened out most of the time. Elvis sings very well, though very differently from TTWII. His voice here is deeper, darker, richer. He also limits his movements - perhaps he considered them unsuitable for a global audience. Just one tiny gripe - I can't help be disappointed at Suspicious Minds, he looks as if he's dying to execute his outrageous gyrations but can't bring himself too. But anyway, the show is great and well worth the price. 'I'll Remember You' is my favourite song here. Now that we have this show, the 68' Comeback show, and TTWII all given the special treatment, can we PLEASE PLEASE have Elvis On Tour 72 refurbished? Drop all the interviews, the shots of cars, roads, signs, airplanes, etc and just re-master the images and sound of the man singing on stage, and edit them together, that would make a killer concert DVD. And what the hell, re-do the 77' concert as well. So what if he's fat, it's still Elvis, and Elvis fat is cooler than most other entertainers slim. Come on you EPE/BMG/Warner Bros guys, two more concert tours to re-master, make the set complete, whaddya say?

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