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Bryan Ford

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The Return of John Macnab
The Return of John Macnab
by Andrew Greig
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Highland Gem, 6 Sept. 2011
This is a gem of a book. The original Buchan novel 'John McNab' is well worth a read as well both as a good old fashioned boy's adventure story and because it helps to inform and enrich the reading of Grieg's book.
'The Return of John McNab' is much more than an modern re-hash of the original tale. It is a beautifully crafted piece of fiction that spirits the reader off into a contemporary highland adventure.
The sense of place, the flawed and fiesty characters and the sheer quality of grieg's writing make this a book with the page turnability of a thriller but with writing of poetic quality which flows and paints the story vividly.
In essence this is (as is the Buchan novel), a great, ridiculous, adventure story but surprisingly convincing and engaging from the start. Less of a tale just for the boys, the female characters are much more developed and this is a book which has wide appeal. And there is everything here, warmth, hunour, sadness love and action aplenty and all written with a style and flow that readers of Grieg's non-fiction work will find familiar.

Dermot Somers: Collected Short Stories
Dermot Somers: Collected Short Stories
by Dermot Somers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth dipping into, 6 Sept. 2011
I recently dipped back into this book which I first read several years ago. Sommers has been around mountains and mountaineers enough to have observed the various types of character that are drawn to wild and high places and he has the literary skill to bring them to life on the page.
There are tales of youthful adventure and of the desperation of unfulfilled ambition. There is the odd ghost story, a bit of humour and stories that explore the obsession, loneliness and disatisfaction that often seems to drive some people who travel off the beaten track.
Readers who have experience of climbing or of the mountains will recognise the traits of some of the characters either in themselves or in acquiantances. This can make for sometimes affirming, other times thought provoking and perhaps melancholy reading.
Many although by no means all of the stories are set in Sommers native Ireland.
There aren't too many books that use the short story and the context of the mountains in this way and along with Ann Sauvy Sommers is at the top of this sub-genre.
This is a book that you can dip into time and again. The quality of the writing and the flavour of the world of climbing and adventure it evokes make it well worth having on the shelf.

Lions of the Grail (Savage Book 1)
Lions of the Grail (Savage Book 1)
Price: £1.99

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Historical Thriller, 4 Sept. 2011
The Holy Grail, the Templars and the intrigue that they epitomise has been very much in vogue with novellists in recent years and I wondered if this would be more of the same.
I was pleasantly surprised to find this a well balanced novel which feels fresh and original.
Hodgkinson manages to share his enthusiasm for and knowledge of the period by delivering a good plot with memorable characters worthy of any decent thriller.
By the time you find yourself in Carrickfergus Castle with underdog hero Richard Savage, the story has its hooks in and it clips along at a good old page turning pace.
There is something here for anyone who likes an action packed adventure story with a decent helping of love, betrayal, murder and mayhem making it a good read regardless of the historical context.
Peppered throughout the story however, are little titbits of historical fact and imagery that help to both inform the reader and conjour up a notion of medieval life.
The story acknowledges many of the themes that have characterised the British, Irish and particularly Northern Irish psyche for centuries; a crises of identity and divided loyalties haunt virtually all of the main characters on some level.
I'm not an avid reader of this genre of fiction so comparisons don't come easily but I reckon that if you like the writing of Bernard Cornwell you'll like this.

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