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Mr. Duncan Macfarlane (Glasgow)

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Valour (The Faithful and the Fallen)
Valour (The Faithful and the Fallen)
by John Gwynne
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes Celtic and Jewish myths and makes an original and compelling world out of them, 24 April 2014
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Building and improving on the first book this sequel continues to weave something new out of ideas taken from Celtic myth and the Jewish Talmud and Torah. As in the first book there is one regrettable sentence which is a cliche out of a bad Hollywood action movie, but the rest is excellent.


Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory Has Shaped Modern History
Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory Has Shaped Modern History
by David Aaronovitch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

13 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ironic that Aaronovitch is so dishonest he engaged in a conspiracy to post fake 5 star reviews by himself and friends, 24 April 2014
Anyone considering buying this book should be aware that the author has admitted to a conspiracy involving writing fake 5 star reviews of it himself and getting his friends to do the same.

He then made claims about how he supposedly had to do this to counter lots of one star reviews from people who hadn't read the book - which turned out to be false. One star reviews only started appearing long after the 5 star reviews and from people who had had time to buy and read the book.

This shows you about how far you can trust anything he writes.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2015 4:12 PM GMT


Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen)
Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen)
by John Gwynne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, drawing on Celtic myths but highly original and well written, 9 Feb. 2014
Enjoyed reading this a lot. It draws on Celtic myths but develops them in highly original ways. It's never entirely predictable and it was easy to identify with some of the characters. Towards the end it started to make me feel queasy and even before that there is a sense of foreboding - but this is all intended by the writer. My only criticism is that it's a bit bleak at times, though not so bleak as e.g George R.R Martin's Game of Thrones and unlike Martin he doesn't kill off quite all of the characters you started off identifying with.

Every bit as good as George R. R. Martin, but not quite the same style of writing or atmosphere.

I'll add one other very, very minor criticism. Did not like the last paragraph of the book which was too much of a cliche and didn't fit with the rest of the book, but the rest of the book is a masterpiece.


The Daylight War (The Demon Cycle, Book 3)
The Daylight War (The Demon Cycle, Book 3)
by Peter V. Brett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every bit as good as the first two books, 20 Dec. 2013
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After having read this book i can't understand all the reviews claiming it was worse than or greatly different from the first two books. It carries on the story from the first two books and adds lots of new revelations and uncertainties. Like the second book it covers events from the points of view of a wider range of characters than the first book, but does so well. It does go into a bit more detail than the first two books but there is still plenty of action and intrigue. I was turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next right till the end. Looking forward to the next two.


The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1)
The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1)
by Peter V. Brett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly original and inventive and well written too, 11 Oct. 2013
Right from the start this book combines action with subtlety , originality and inventiveness. It's not just generic fantasy, the entire world is based on original ideas. The characters and their interactions are very believable. The book also creates a strong atmosphere of communities feeling isolated and under siege. The only thing I was disappointed with was that this seemed to be a single book on its own when i first read it. Glad to find out it's become the first in a trilogy and looking forward to reading the others when they arrive.


Countdown to Crisis: Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran
Countdown to Crisis: Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran
by Kenneth R. Timmerman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very well written fiction based on a biased interpretation of threadbare claims posing as facts, 11 Oct. 2013
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This book is very well written fiction which is based on the most threadbare and dubious versions of the facts.

The main theory of this book is that Iran and Hezbollah are actively aiding Al Qa'ida. The "evidence" provided to back this claim up is incredibly weak. For instance testimony by Bin Laden's former bodyguard is given as evidence. Yet even Timmerman admits this bodyguard was facing a possible death sentence by lethal injection on charges of being involved in Al Qaeda's US embassy bombings in Africa. So the bodyguard had every motive to tell his captors anything they wanted to hear. That's assuming he wasn't also tortured into doing so, which given Human Rights Watch's reports that the Bush administration had a tacit policy of torture, would be a very big assumption.

To be fair Timmerman does admit facts like these (well that the man was facing a death sentence, not that the Bush administration was overseeing torture) while failing to draw the obvious conclusions from them.

From this book you would think that Al Qaeda on the one hand and the Iranian government and Hezbollah on the other are great friends and allies, when in fact they're bitter enemies - hardline Sunni extremists who think Shia are "false Muslims" who should be killed (Al Qa'ida) versus Shia fundamentalists.

From this book you would think that the Iranian regime were just itching to commit national suicide by getting nuclear weapons and using them on nuclear armed Israel and then facing nuclear or conventional obliteration from the US and its allies. In fact many Israeli analysts like Professor Martin Van Creveld, as well as many American's, like Bush's former commander in the Middle East General John Abizaid, say that past Iranian behaviour shows they are anything but suicidal as a regime and that if they wanted nuclear weapons it would be for the same reason Israel and the US have them - as a deterrent against attack by their enemies.

If you're looking for a wild and exciting tale which backs up neo-conservative foreign policies, this is your book. If you're looking for facts from any reliable source and fairly objectively reasoned conclusions based on them, look elsewhere.


Total War Rome II (PC DVD)
Total War Rome II (PC DVD)

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible interface and abstract symbols for buttons put me off even starting a game of it, 8 Sept. 2013
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I pre-ordered this because i thought it was going to be a much improved version of Rome Total War. So far I've tried playing it twice and given up within 5 minutes before actually managing to do anything each time, because the interface is so bizarre with dozens of buttons with different abstract symbols on them. I can't even look at a unit's ratings without it taking several seconds to load up a separate screen and this is on my laptop which is quite high spec and less than a year old.

The abstract designs of unit cards are probably meant to look like ancient vase paintings but they just make it much harder to see what units you have in an army ( the style is also out of period - ancient Greek rather than Hellenistic Greek or Republican Roman, but that's a minor issue - main issue is they make it harder and more annoying to try to play the game).

The map is much bigger than it needs to be, resulting in lots of scrolling about (and no you can't zoom out enough to avoid it). There's a province system which merges several areas together into one province, but the provinces have nothing to do with the historical provinces.

It has Athens and Sparta in it as factions even though they are completely out of period and were minor cities of no significant power by the time even Republican Roman armies got to Greece. That probably wouldn't stop me playing it though if the interface wasn't so bad.

I might google mods in a few years once there's one worth playing but i simply can't be bothered trying to work out what all the symbols and buttons are nor with the time it takes to do anything at all in the original game. Maybe it'll turn out it's eventually a good game if you can be bothered going through all that. I can't be.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2013 1:11 AM BST


Warbreaker
Warbreaker
by Brandon Sanderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly original world with an interesting plot that keeps on surprising the reader, 20 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Warbreaker (Paperback)
As in Sanderson's other books the world, cultures, kingdoms and magic are highly original - and they aren't the same in each book. Those in Warbreaker are very different from those in The Way of Kings and those are different from Mistborn.

The plot is extremely interesting and well-written, with lots of sudden turns that make you realise things and various characters weren't at all how you'd thought they were - and do so entirely consistently with everything that you'd read so far and very convincingly. The writer manages to pull this trick off more than once.

In my opinion considerably better than the first Mistborn book (which i quite liked but found disappointing compared to Warbreaker and The Way of Kings) and every bit as good as The Way of Kings series.

As with the first Way of Kings book I wasn't entirely sure I liked it at the start, but after getting a few chapters in it was just as good as Kings.


The Way of Kings Part Two: 1 (The Stormlight Archive Book One)
The Way of Kings Part Two: 1 (The Stormlight Archive Book One)
by Brandon Sanderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - every bit as good as the first book, 20 Aug. 2013
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This is an excellent book - every bit as good as the original. I won't repeat everything about it as everything I wrote in my review of the first book holds for the second, but basically it's the most original fantasy i've ever read - really the first complete, coherent, original world since Tolkien's Middle Earth (and very different from it) ; the characters are highly interesting, believable and easy to identify with ; and it kept me constantly interested to find out what was going to happen next and what had happened in the past of the characters and the history of their world.


The Way of Kings Part One: The Stormlight Archive Book One: 1
The Way of Kings Part One: The Stormlight Archive Book One: 1
by Brandon Sanderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly original, extremely well written - fantastic book, 20 Aug. 2013
This is possibly the best fantasy book i've read and certainly the most original. The world and the races, creatures, cultures, languages, history and even weather and climate are all highly original, convincing and well thought out. While most modern fantasy is derivative of Tolkien, Sanderson creates a very different and wholly original world.

The characters are highly believable and complex. In some ways it's also like a fantasy detective novel, leaving you guessing at the full story and history which you gradually learn as you read. Each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character, as in George R.R. Martin's books, but Sanderson, while writing just as well as Martin in this book, doesn't have Martin's annoying habit of going into endless detail over minor and largely irrelevant details ; and the death count among the major characters isn't quite so depressing.

While in Martin's books you're wondering who is going to survive, in Sanderson's you're trying to guess what exactly is going on and what the history and future of each character, kingdom and the world will be ; and unlike in Martin's books the characters who are most admirable aren't always doomed to be brought down by their own honour, honesty and lack of sufficient deviousness and ruthlessness - it's more complicated than that. (Not that i'm doing down Martin here - his characters are complex and often change in surprising but believable ways - when they live long enough)

And unlike in Martin's books Sanderson's heroes are not all from powerful noble families - much of it looks at things from the point of view of the lowest and most exploited members of societies and their struggle to survive and improve things for everyone in their situation.

I actually put this book down and didn't bother finishing reading it the first time I started reading it because I just didn't like the first couple of chapters, thinking it was going to be about some invincible warrior who couldn't be defeated - and so quite dull. When I did finally read past that I realised what a fantastic book it was though and couldn't put it down.

There were one or two things that I wasn't sure were 100% believable even within the logic of the world, but these were minor points and this is still a fantastic book.


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