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False God of Rome (Vespasian)
False God of Rome (Vespasian)
by Robert Fabbri
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars false god of Rome Rome a history told by Caligula's horse, 7 Feb 2014
A suet Suetonius of a novel here Caligula does his Caligula thing which despite the decadence makes a rather boring Rome in a rather boring book
Vespasian has the only good scenes robbing the tomb of Alexander the Great ( fabbri's description of which owes more to the 1963 movie Cleopatra )
this is the novel where we reach the point where the real life Vespasian had his toga filled with ordure - enough said
a poor third volume in what was initially an excellent series by a new upcoming historical novelist


Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North (Warrior of Rome 5)
Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North (Warrior of Rome 5)
by Harry Sidebottom
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars wolves of the North This Ballista misses its target by a Roman mile, 7 Feb 2014
I have read so many series sequel historical novels that I recently put down this latest volume Harry Sidebottom Ballista saga because I thought I had already read it before !!
I had not- it just seemed plot wise I had!!

Despite promise of Romans travelling to the ends of the civilised world fighting barbarian hordes in a a barrow wight haunted wolves of the plain wasteland of cruelty revenge and magic all I can say is the story is as flat as the steppe it is set in !!

This is a crib and clip show of a novel
rather too many pages of "Ballista remembered Arete, " "Ballista remembered the Suanian witch of Hecate "
Maximus recalled all that had happened since his days as a gladiator and Calgacus thought back to his Caledonian childhood" than any real plot focus

Everyone is quoting so much Anglo Saxon and remembering their barbarian roots that I expected Baliista and co to meet characters from the novels of Tim Severin and Robert Lowe coming in the opposite direction like the scene from Shawn of the Dead

What plot there is among this trite weary novel a year in a "there and back again" journey to the Heruli Barbarian kingdom is for Ballista and his travelling companions to be stalked by a Greek tragedy obsessed serial killer who is signposted too early as a recognised member of their own group( and although the serial killer chase will spill out into the next novel) here it only has the purpose of eliminating lesser characters from previous Ballista books


Strindberg's Star Wallentin, Jan ( Author ) May-24-2012 Hardcover
Strindberg's Star Wallentin, Jan ( Author ) May-24-2012 Hardcover
by Jan Wallentin
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Nul points for this star, 14 Jun 2013
strindbergs star jan wallentin
a first novel starts well with the discovery of a preserved corpse deep underground, perhaps centuries old found in a mine covered with words of Hell and Norse curses then moving quickly to real events in the 19th century a treasure filled lost city in the desert and a ill-fated balloon expedition to the North pole

then the whole novel turns into overdone Swedish meatballs !!

bringing in immortals in league with Nazis killing to keep the secret of a hole found in the arctic leading to a new beginning for civilization clues known only to the sub genre plot insert Dan brown professor and lady friend chased by mysterious organisations across exotic settings such as Dalarna, kymlinge and ypres before ending in an explosive ending equal to an explosive ending in anything by David gibbons or Matthew Reilly

Strindbergs star is best read from the start but sadly tails off and although not the first nor best I have read in the expanding genre Scandinavian archaeological thriller I would recommend it to pass the time and look out for more by the same author


The Shadow Prince
The Shadow Prince
by Terence Morgan
Edition: Paperback

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars dook of york, 14 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Shadow Prince (Paperback)
follow on from the master of bruges and reusing much of the later section of that novel the shadow prince is told the first person narrative of Richard of York one of the princes in the tower and saved from the villainous Tudors
here Prince Richard is nice but dim a rightful king of england pretending to be Perking warbeck a tournai merchants son pretending to be a rightful king of England and like the master of bruges full of stiff dialogue and medieval potentates taken from Morgans extensive non fiction historical research.
The lost prince goes to sea as a lad and have adventures in Africa and a pre columbus new world before deciding to declare his royal origin at the courts of kings likewise depicted as nice but dim before raising the eventual if historically brief standard of revolt quickly defeated changes his mind about being king and surrenders to the villainous Tutors and becoames part of yorkist folklore as the last Plantagenet not the best of The many many Yorkist pretender novels but interesting and as always with Morgan informative and detailed down to the last chapter


The Master of Bruges
The Master of Bruges
by Terence Morgan
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars this is Pimlico not Burgundy, 14 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Master of Bruges (Paperback)
the master of bruges
the first in terrance morgans series of novels and suffers from transferring too much of a extensive non fiction bibliography into a turgid typical historical novel short chapters ease the storyline but the books hero is a particularly dull drawing master painter Hans Merling. This adds some medieval colour but on the whole Merling is too familiar in his friendly relationship with his royal patrons and despite the great events merely face paints some promise of a typical wars of the roses novel for example i found myself rerreading his involvement in the last days of Ducal burgundy and Yorkist England and was not suprised by merlings playing a last chapter guilty central role in the murder of the Princes in the Tower and the death of a princess in the forest


Walking in Pimlico
Walking in Pimlico
by Ann Featherstone
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars cor blimey trousers, 3 May 2013
This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Paperback)
the first novel from this lecturer in performance history and coauthor of the great study of the victorian clown i have read many of her articles and historical studies and re this novel say stick to the articles !!!

the story is dull and although full of can lacks plot the poor are pure mayhew the rich whiskers and corsets from the worst stories in the pearl
a sub tipping the velvet sub plot victorian gents and ladies with 21st values of gender and empire so stiff they are almost steam punk
a warning to dog lovers there is an incident of animal cruelty that to be honest ruined the novel for me


The Ghosts of Athens (Aelric)
The Ghosts of Athens (Aelric)
by Richard Blake
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts and city, 3 May 2013
Ghosts of Athens
seeing the title I was reminded of the Plinian ghost story of Athenodorus and expected more of the same- a whodunnit along the lines of steven saylor complete with moaning rattling chains and " dig here" ending revealing not a skeleton but a fresh corpse of a bearded foreign agent that we all knew as Silas the Innkeepers Daughter but was pleased it was not and this is down to Blakes specific talent as a storyteller
but for me the city of Athens is the most terrifying ghost
for horror more shades of Ingoldsby than of Stephen king the ghosts of Athens is a the latest in the Alaric series and a delight compared to the heavy Sword of Damascus
Although a couple of chapters are more in tone of scooby doo the overall story is filled with bones and substance
without giving away plot or ending I think it is the best of the Alaric books but had a feeling that old Alaric was (and this may be true of all the books) Old Uncle Toby telling us a Shandy shaggy Dog story


Science Without the Boring Bits: A Curious Chronology of Discovery, Invention and Wild Speculation
Science Without the Boring Bits: A Curious Chronology of Discovery, Invention and Wild Speculation
by Ian Crofton
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars fun science, 19 April 2013
science without the boring bits ian crofton
reading like the printout from a website a series of scientific anecdotes from the ancient world to 2010 from toxic bronze to aliens there is greater emphasis and more content post 1950 and much of the early science is Wacky Greek and Medieval theorists but it is ideal book for dipping into and while some stories are familiar in the history of science ie anything about Newton, St martins stomach or the Midwife Toad - the mathematical humour of the Awesome Ataman (1920) is worth the cover price alone


The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
by Mark Forsyth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

4.0 out of 5 stars words can be funny sometines, 19 April 2013
the etymologicon mark forsyth
There is a scene in the movie the Wrong Box (1968) where Ralph Richardson in the role of the pedant uncle hitches a lift on a Victorian horse and cart and immediately launches into the etymological origins of the word "whip" cut to the end of the scene with by now bored senseless carter and the pedant droning on about the etymology of every thing they pass on the road
this book is an attempt to repeat that scene
written by the inky fool blogger despite the red and gold lettered hardcover the etymologicon is simply a website in book format and part of a growing trend
however it is worth reading as like a website and to forsyths skill it is full of connections and amusing sections such as the links between shell, shell, shell and shell
despite its pocket book size there is only so much new you can get out of the original "Proto indo European" and as expected a lot of the amusing stuff is derived from the Anglo Saxon -crapper and hokum both find a place here


Rome's Executioner: VESPASIAN II
Rome's Executioner: VESPASIAN II
by Robert Fabbri
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars we are rome again, 19 April 2013
Romes executioner vespasian 2 by robert fabbri

second volume of fabbri's sword saga based around the young future emperor like its most exciting chapter in the book- the plot charges along like a galley at full ramming speed but gets becalmed far too soon
Fabbri is not a storyteller the Tiberius to Claudius era imperial family plot owes much as expected to the three great Roman historians Suetonius Tacitus and Graves
and he lacks the talent of other authors of historical fiction along the likes of Ben Kane, MC Scott and Douglas Jackson
there are too many scenes of torture which our hero regards with 21st century sensitivity and sharing a pitfall of all novels that take an historical figure as their central hero Vespasian walks with Balder like invincibility through all the Fighting Barbarians Dark alley Assassins and Mad emperors

Despite this predicable follow up to the excellent Vespasian 1 I hope fabbri continues with his vespasian series with planned books on the invasion of Britain and on to the Purple (prose not withstanding) and I will be certainly read volume three the false god of Rome perhaps to be expect no more than the court of mad emperor caligula rather than an early visit of Vespasian to Lloyd C Douglas Judea


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