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G. Napier
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Logitech OEM S120 Black Speakers (2.0)
Logitech OEM S120 Black Speakers (2.0)
Offered by Vebox Direct Computing
Price: £16.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 9 July 2014
They do exactly what they need to do.


Harbinger Chronicles: Retribution
Harbinger Chronicles: Retribution
Price: £7.26

5.0 out of 5 stars I had the pleasure of reading the story and would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes a good tale of ..., 9 July 2014
In the interests of full disclosure, I should start by mentioning that I was the artist commissioned to do the cover illustrations for this book (and also for 'The Harbinger', the first instalment in the series). I had the pleasure of reading the story and would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes a good tale of adventure, especially in the medieval fantasy genre, complete with sinister sorcery, poignant episodes, brutal battles comradeship and sibling rivalry. I thought the characters were well developed, and the scenes were often very atmospheric, suspenseful and engrossing. The plot focusses on prince Alexander's quest to track down the murderer of his brother, little suspecting that his arch enemy has dark designs threatening the lives of the prince's own nearest and dearest. The general portrayal of a kingdom entering a period of turbulence, with a royal family torn by internal divisions and with evil supernatural forces at work in the wider world is also well conveyed.


Jerusalem: The Biography
Jerusalem: The Biography
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An essential history, 16 Jan. 2014
A very good book, either for dipping into or for a grand overview. Very useful for filling in the episodes in the city of Jerusalem's long history that may be less well known, for example the Byzantine and Ottoman eras.

Very informative, bringing to life the people and atmosphere of the different ages. Engaging, evocative tone, sometimes almost gossipy, helping to plunge the reader into the seductive, sordid, sacred and sectarian past.

The treatment of the factions is indeed remarkably even-handed, especially considering the author's family involvement in the later history of the city. Clearly a huge amount of work went into this epic tome. Th fact that the paperback does not include the footnotes and sources is repeatable. (These can be accessed on the author's website).


The Vampyre
The Vampyre
by Tom Holland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Gothic novel, 10 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Vampyre (Paperback)
A great Gothic novel, and indeed memorable. I read it ages ago, and recently found it rewarding to revisit (having read much more about and by Byron in the interim). An intriguing blend of fantasy and reality, with poignant episodes, mystery, horror, passion and drama. Very good characterization, both of sympathetic and villainous personalities. I am also fond of novels where the author demonstrates depth of historical knowledge. Holland's fictitious premise meshes so well with the real history that you almost wonder whether he might not have been on to something...


Marks of the Forbidden (Defenders of the Earth Book 1)
Marks of the Forbidden (Defenders of the Earth Book 1)
Price: £2.33

5.0 out of 5 stars A ripping yarn, 4 Feb. 2013
A well, paced, unusual and exotic story of a man whose destiny is decided before his birth. He is taken out of his ordinary life and thrust into a world of myth, power, intrigue, adventure, and no little eroticism. The Defenders of the Earth are an ancient order of chosen ones, knowers of secrets and commanders of superhuman abilities. The goddess-like ladies who induct Daniel into the mysteires of the inner temple are quite a creation. They are not sugary sweet angels, either- they are not lightly to be crossed! The ideas in this book have great potential for development and if the others in the series live up to this promising start them they will be well worth a read.


The Knights Templar
The Knights Templar
by Helen Nicholson
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for Templar enthusiasts., 16 May 2009
This review is from: The Knights Templar (Paperback)
A very good book, all told, based on original research and beautifully illustrated throughout. Dr Nicholson avoids the speculative aspects which fuel much popular interest in the Templars, but that may be counted a strength in her work. It is scholarly yet accessible, and explores a subject fascinating enough without the embroidery of later myth-making and wishful thinking. Even so, there is a chapter looking at the development of Templar mythology after the Order's demise (a subject covered more fully in Peter Partner's 'The Murdered Magicians'.)

One contention of Nicholson's that I found questionable is that the Templars would likely have been brought down even without the action taken in France by King Philip the Fair, on account of their risky political meddling in Cyprus. There again by raising this point the author does focus attention on the fact that the suppression of the Knights Templar was not a purely French affair. I gather that her latest book, 'The Knights Templar on Trial', will tackle the ultimate fate of the Templars in Britain, and it is most eagerly awaited.


Illustration 101 - Streetwise Tactics for Surviving as a Freelance Illustrator
Illustration 101 - Streetwise Tactics for Surviving as a Freelance Illustrator
by Max Scratchmann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.64

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On Illustration but not Illustrated..., 15 Mar. 2009
I've only started looking at this so it's too early to rate it. I must remark on the irony of it being about illustration yet they didn't give any work to an illustrator! It begins: 'We live in an age where images are cheap abd ten-a-penny. An art director can slip a stock-art CD in her Mac and illustrate a piece of work faster than it takes her to reach for the phone and ring you up.' (Her...?) So far so depressing. That's exactly what happened with this book! What images it does contain are of the direst stock/clip-art type imaginable. It's also annoying that nearly every other page is entirely blank save for a single-line quote, most of which are hardly relevant or helpful, eg. Oscar Wilde's 'fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months' Or Steve Wright's 'Have you ever noticed how wrong numbers are never engaged?' To add insult to injury, these pages are accompanied by a very bad graphic of a boy's head with a pen stuck through it! What a waste of trees! I know this book is only about the nuts and bolts of freelance work but it would have been nice to have had some proper illustrations, or at least not to have to suffer the cheesy clip art, with the same poor-quality graphic reproduced over and over again.


The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud
The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud
by Julia Navarro
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could be better..., 3 Mar. 2009
'Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud' has a central premise that involves a 2000 year old conspiracy of men who have their tongues cut out, so as not to betray their secrets under torture. This seems silly to me. (Such an amputaion would make these wretches more conspicuous than anything else, and any inquisitor worth his salt could still force them to write things down, point things out etc...!)

The book's characters tend to be poorly developed and their motivations are seldom credible (for example a pagan king of Edessa is given no real reason for hating his mother, nor for caring about where the early Christians have hidden the shroud). The historical knowledge on display is cursory, for both the First Century and the Middle Ages. The bits concverning the Templars at lest set them in their Crusading context. However (as with Jack Whyte's 'Knights of the Black and White') the way dramatic events are often only described in dialogue between characters (rather than actually depicted) is clumsy and unliterary. 'Brotherhood' generally lacks vivid imagery, and one is hardly transported to the different times and locations.


Mary Magdalen: The Essential History
Mary Magdalen: The Essential History
by Susan Haskins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.43

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating, but ideological, 27 Oct. 2008
This is a very strong work, looking at the evolution of the legendary figure of Mary Magdalene over the centuries. From on the enigmatic disciple who features as the discoverer of Christ's tomb in the New Testament, the account moves through the medieval icon of the sinner saint, to the Magdalene's place in popular culture (not including the Da Vinci Code craze which was yet to come at the time of publicatin). It covers the subject in some depth, is well illustrated and well researched. It is heavy on substance and avoids conjecture or conspiracy theories.

The book has two flaws: firstly it takes for granted that Pope Gregory the Great was in error in identifying, or, as Haskins presumes, 'conflating' the character of Mary Magdalene with the penitent sinner from Luke's Gospel chapter 7 and the Mary of Bethany from John 11, both of whom were said to have anointed Christ's feet and wiped them with her hair. (I think this matter should still be treat as an open question. I have yet to find any ancient text placing Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany in the same place at the same time). Secondly the book dwells too heavily - and repetitively - on the Church's historical chauvinism. Haskins expresses the rather extremist view, that the Penitent Magdalene figure as promoted by the clergy, was a propaganda instrument, cynically used against her own gender. (Just how exactly does it advantage cynical men to encourage women to suppress their sexuality? One has to wonder.) It also seems rather inconsistent to refute the idea that the Magdalene could ever have been unchaste, and yet to embrace her as an archetype for sexually active yet still virtuous womanhood.

The author's work is overtly polemical and she becomes guilty of exploiting the Magdalene as propaganda in her own cause, the ordination of women in the modern Catholic Church. One may very well agree that this would be a positive development, but the book would function better as a history if it was less steeped in ideology. These things aside, this has to be one of the best books on the whole history of Magdalenian devotion, and is the essential history for anyone with an interest in the subject.

Incidentally it's ironic that the book discusses the controversy on whether there was one `Mary Magdalene' or three different women: there is only one book but it seems to have three titles! On the cover it is called `Mary Magdalen: The Essential History', whereas inside it is subtitled `Myth and Metaphor', and here on Amazon it is `Truth and Myth.' Odd.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 14, 2010 5:24 PM BST


The Holy Blood: King Henry III and the Westminster Blood Relic
The Holy Blood: King Henry III and the Westminster Blood Relic
by Nicholas Vincent
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.09

4.0 out of 5 stars A scholarly work, 19 July 2008
An interesting and well-written work which sheds light on Christian religious life towards the end of the era of the crusades. It tells a true story of Holy Blood that the Knights Templar were involved with, and for which there is real evidence. That the relic never enjoyed wide popularity in England perhaps indicates a latent mood of scepticism that may also account for flagging interest in the cause of the crusades in this period.


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