Saturday, 21 December 2013

Happy Holidays and See You in the New Year!

Hi everyone,
Will not get time to blog anything else for the rest of 2013, so I wanted to swing by and wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season and New Year.
See you all in 2014!!!
Best Wishes,
Medieval Mayhem (Terri)

Monday, 16 December 2013

Sure Is A Bloody Aftermath: THE SPLINTERED KINGDOM by James Aitcheson

Splintered Kingdom by James Aitcheson
In this, the second instalment of the Bloody Aftermath of 1066 series by James Aitcheson, we meet our hero again in happier times. Only this book is set against the Welsh Marches and a backdrop of violent reprisal against the Norman invasion, so happier times be damned. 
The story begins with our hero nicely settled. Something I think he deserves after the life of upheavals he led in book one.
 A lord of his own manor, he is living out his days in a rural idyll. The fields full to bursting with crops. The mill wheel turning in the stream. A woman to warm his nights and his heart.

Not very interesting really is it? For an action adventure? Well, I kind of liked it. Was looking forward to a story about our hero making a life for himself. Defending all that is his from raiders and whatever ill wind blew his way..
But, as with all rural idylls in action adventures, they are smashed apart and torn asunder. Rural idylls are for the light-hearted. And being light hearted was never this books intention. Didn't you learn that in book one?

Rural idyll is replaced by a bloody battle for survival. Not only in war against new and old enemies, but in personal battles against men who should be allies.

After a while, this book was dense with action. Battle after battle. Swords clashing. Disastrous bivouacs. Armies against armies. Urban warfare. And so on and so forth.
I confess, despite liking the book a lot, some of the long fight scenes I had to skim read and that is the reason I could not squeeze this book to the full 5 stars. In my opinion, some of the protracted battle scenes could have been less so. Of course others will disagree. Those who love battle sequences will relish this read to its climax.

If battles and fight scenes in historical fiction are your poison, then you are going to love this book. If you are like me and prefer battle or fight scenes to take up minor parts of a book, then you may not love the book entirely, but I still suspect you will like it a lot for, outside of the battles, it has plenty to offer.

I liked the first book of this series. It got raw sometimes and there was much room for improvement, but I found here in Book two, this rawness was not present. A much more refined read..
 The author has fine skill and a bright future in the genre of historical fiction if he chooses to stay in it

- MM

Monday, 9 December 2013

For Your Eyes Only: LIONHEART by Sharon Kay Penman

Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman
What rating does one give a book that was not only not read to the end, but was only read to 60 pages? Only on special occasions do I actually give a rating to a book if I have not made it to around 100 pages - or in the case of a book the size of this brick - roughly 250 pages.
This is one of those special occasions. I learned enough about this book in those 60 pages to write a 10 page review. But I won't of course. That would be beyond excessive and more than a little obsessive.

I am writing this review and giving this book a star rating, despite my lacklustre effort in reading the book, for those who know me. For those people, consider this review for your eyes only. Let me explain my 1 star and my reasons for disliking this book so much. For those who don't know me, just ignore my review.

First cab off the rank. The book isn't about Richard the Lionheart. It is about the personal relationships and lives of those around him. Now, when I pick up a book called 'Lionheart' I expect the book to be about him. I expect the author's fictional biography of Richard the Lionheart. I don't know when Richard becomes a regular feature of the story, but he wasn't around nor a feature of those first 60 pages and I have it on good authority that he isn't around in any 'biographical' sense for a long time in the book. then when he is, it is from afar.

Other things I didn't like about this book. It is entirely too feminine for me. It is what I call a 'lady book'.
These kinds of books that are about personal relationships and feminine details don't work for me. Feminine details like, how she wears her hair, how glorious she looks that day, what gorgeous silks she has in her coffers, where she keeps her jewellery, how everyone is beautiful who should be beautiful and everyone is ugly who should be ugly, inner most thoughts of women about their husbands and girlfriends and babies, how every woman on woman scene is like the girls from Sex in the City meeting at their favourite cafe or nightclub.

I found the writing feminine. There is no doubt that this book is written by a woman for women. And those kinds books always make me run for the hills. The only reason I decided to try this one was because it was a group read in my group and because every now and then I have people trying to tell me how good Penman is and how her books aren't romance or lady book.

Finally I have first hand knowledge and I can say...I came, I saw, and I found out for myself that these books by Sharon Kay Penman will never be to my tastes.
I understand they are to others, that they are well loved, but for me personally, they are not to my tastes.

- MM

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Earth, Water, Wind & Fire: STONEHENGE by Bernard Corwell

Stonehenge by 
Bernard Cornwell
This month in the Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction Group on Goodreads, the Ancient Group Read book is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell.
I read this book a couple years back and loved it. Gave it five stars.
Inspired by that Stonehenge book of the month read, I decided to post my review (written in September 2010).


It really has me baffled that some people don't like this book. I found it enthralling and captivating.
There was something about Bernard Cornwell's version of these bronze age people and their mystical and monolithic Stonehenge, that captured my imagination and I felt stirred by both them and their pristine, unpolluted environment.

They were innocent and gullible, ignorant and sweet, yes, even at their deadliest or maddest. They are unblemished by a modern world. Their existence is aligned in every way with nature and the elements. Everything was an omen or an augury. If a bird lit from a tree, they watched it to see where it headed, if a swan lifts from the waterway into the sky, they stop to watch it's direction in hopes of anticipating the future. They wear 'sea monsters' teeth on sinew around their necks, and dress their ring ditches with animal and human skulls to ward off people and spirits alike. They are a deep and cerebral people.

While this life may sound restrictive to you and I, everything has a meaning and a meaning in everything, I think it was beautiful to read about and I felt more connected to pre history than I have ever been before.
And all this due to the wizened hand of a master author?

I had some trepidation going into this book because of the mixed reviews on Goodreads, but I should have known Cornwell would not let me down, *he hasn't yet after all, why should he now?
Reading this book was an experience for me and I wish I had not put it off for as long as I had.

Thankyou Bernard Cornwell.

*NB: When I said in the review that 'he hasn't yet after all, why should he now' well, if only that were still true. I have since read a couple Cornwell books that I did not like, but that comment in that review of 2010, was true at that time.

- MM