another book about the French revolution, this time focused on the political processes that led to the Terror of 1793-94 and the famous show trials (Kanother book about the French revolution, this time focused on the political processes that led to the Terror of 1793-94 and the famous show trials (King, Girondins, Hebertists, Dantonists etc) and mass executions that culminated with the fall of Robespierre and the final showdown of strength between the Paris Commune and the government as it was (the Commune which was the ultimate support of Robespierre tried to save him, but this time the Convention managed to defeat it and in the process and much less well known than the deaths of Robespierre and his few close associates - executed close to 100 - about 2/3 - of its members, executions that ultimately allowed the Thermidor regime to consolidate its grip on power and swiftly get rid of all others associated with the Terror who didn't change sides fast enough - as a note, after this the main threat to the Thermidor and Directorate government that succeeded it will be the Royalist quarters of Paris and Napoleon's rise to fame will be in crushing those with artillery for the regime)
well written and quite compelling, showing again how when order breaks down even with the best of motives, rumors and the least setback (of which there will be inevitable some) will lead to the extremists with the loudest voices and simplest explanations "we are great but we were betrayed" swiftly rising and eventually even if not directly taking power (as here Robespierre faults and all was still a legalist and believer in the Convention - "his" Convention maybe but still - and channeled the Commune, while executing their most extreme representatives like Hebert, while Marat was killed before he could take full power), they would still force the government to do their bloody bidding until stopped by force
short - 20 dictators and their families in about 300 odd pages - but entertaining and well researched; the one part I am quite familiar (the Ceausescushort - 20 dictators and their families in about 300 odd pages - but entertaining and well researched; the one part I am quite familiar (the Ceausescus and their 3 children) with was remarkably well done in the allotted 15 pages - sure some nuance was lost (Nicu's reputation was a bit exaggerated, most likely by intention and Zoe's tribulations were somewhat understated), but all in all, very well done
recommended for a fast and informative read ...more
starts quite interesting and promises a lot delivering for the period immediately following the Ides and until Mutina and Octavian's ascendance, the tstarts quite interesting and promises a lot delivering for the period immediately following the Ides and until Mutina and Octavian's ascendance, the triumvirate and the proscriptions, but then it kind of sputters as it tries to cover way too much (all of Augustus reign) for the choice of detail level in the first part...more
entertaining and flowing like a novel - mostly about the social war, but also the backstory and the Marius and Sulla conflict; marred by tons of typosentertaining and flowing like a novel - mostly about the social war, but also the backstory and the Marius and Sulla conflict; marred by tons of typos and by occasional inconsistencies (mostly due to the original sources used)...more
very readable flowing like a novel; while presenting the general (and generally well known facts) story and continuing a few decades beyond the deathvery readable flowing like a novel; while presenting the general (and generally well known facts) story and continuing a few decades beyond the death of Gengis with an outline of what happened with the Mongol Empire until its split in 4 essentially different states, the book is very clear and articulate without going into hyperbole or judgement; brutal and benefiting of temporary military superiority as well as of squabbling enemies in the west and a divided and weaker than usual Chinese colossus in the East, the quick rise of the Mongol empire is shown here in quite a lot of detail, but also it is shown clearly how such an empire could not have lasted for intrinsic reasons
the best of what I read or tried to on the subject and highly recommended ...more
#9 has Telamon (card Poverty) pov again as in 3 (and she appeared in 2 and 6) and then offers a similar mixture of banter, intrigue and breathless act#9 has Telamon (card Poverty) pov again as in 3 (and she appeared in 2 and 6) and then offers a similar mixture of banter, intrigue and breathless action, adding just a little more clarity to the overall story and ending at another good stopping point; instead of more I would just quote two scenes - first from the beginning, with Telamon just sentenced to death in an Eastern fortress for spying for the West and due to be hanged in the morning - the paragraphs below are quintessential KJ Parker:
"She sat down on the bed and waited. Some time later, the door opened and the chaplain came in. He was a tall man, thin, bald, somewhere between sixty and seventy; he wore nothing but a tunic, for security reasons.
“I want to confess,” she said.
He hadn’t shaved recently, and there were crumbs in the folds of his tunic. “Of course,” he said, and perched on the end of the bed.
She looked at him for a moment, then said, “I have committed murder, theft and arson. I have lied and carried false witness. I have wounded and practiced torture, both physical and mental. I have forged documents, including sacred and liturgical records.”
His face didn’t change. He nodded.
“I have blasphemed and ridiculed the articles of the faith. I have preached heretical doctrines. I have neglected to assist fellow craftsmen in their time of trial.”
He closed his eyes, just for a moment. Then he opened them again. “I understand,” he said. “Your sins are forgiven.” He stood up and knocked three times. The door opened. The guard stood aside to let him pass; as he did so, he drew the sword from the guard’s scabbard and stabbed him in the throat, at the junction of the collarbones. The guard dropped to the floor; the chaplain stuck his head out of the door, then came back into the cell. “All clear,” he said.
She nodded. “Thanks,” she said."
The second paragraph from the thick of the action after another cool twist (and with some info edited to avoid spoilers while I insert some non-spoiler explanation for the missing text) is another example why I love the author's work:
“I’m under orders, same as you are, you know that. **** (the very risky thing Tel and the character talking had just done) was important. Sooner or later, someone was going to try and do it; the East, the West or us. If the East or the West did it, ***** (something our bosses wouldn't like). More likely, given the quality of their personnel, they’d try and do it and f..k it up **** (and unpredictable but fairly bad things would happen). So we had to do it, quickly; and now there’ll be **** (good things for our side). Joy in heaven?”
“If you say so,” she said. “But you should’ve told me. Even if you didn’t know right from the start, you should’ve told me earlier, not just out of the blue like that.”
“Would you believe me if I told you I was specifically ordered not to?”
Yes, as it happened, because she knew how their minds worked. “Do you always obey orders?”
“Yes,” he said. “Nearly always.” He took a deep breath, then said, “Assuming, which is not admitted, that I’ve behaved really badly, will you forgive me?”
overall another superb installment that makes me want the next one asap, while in the meantime i will be rereading again parts 1-9 to pick up more clues given what happened in this one...more
read about 50 pages and this one jumped to the top of my reading pile as it not only moves, but has an interesting style that is not quite the usual pread about 50 pages and this one jumped to the top of my reading pile as it not only moves, but has an interesting style that is not quite the usual plain vanilla of space opera - and when a less usual style works for me, it tends to work big time so to speak, but of course it is still early
finished the novel and while it did not maintain the level of the first pages (basically it devolved into new godlike tech against godlike tech against godlike tech - essentially 3 sides though - with a lot of my tech is bigger and better than yours, so basically very fantasy like with tech substituted for magic, so becoming quite predictable), the style was interesting and the narrative power strong enough to keep me reading till the 600 odd page end which completed well the present story-line though obviously leaving more for the sequel(s)
overall pretty good space opera of the fantasy my magic is better than yours type (with tech as magic) but with a style that is more emotional than the usual plain vanilla of the genre and which worked well for me...more
another one that moves well though it is plain vanilla writing but nothing wrong with that as long the story and characters are there
finished this andanother one that moves well though it is plain vanilla writing but nothing wrong with that as long the story and characters are there
finished this and it was quite entertaining though it had a bit too much of the old pulp (planets move in and out alliances like people in and out crowds, now there are 100, next 50, next back to 70 etc, one man can control the fate of the worlds by becoming a modern equivalent of an alien god etc) in new clothes (all gender, sexual orientation etc) feel
the novel has narrative energy, an interesting enough story-line and competent writing, so if you enjoy space opera and can suspend disbelief for the pulp tropes, I would definitely recommend it...more
Excellent ending to the Belgrade siege adventure of Tom Swan and arguably the best (and one of the longest both in pages and content/action) of the 13Excellent ending to the Belgrade siege adventure of Tom Swan and arguably the best (and one of the longest both in pages and content/action) of the 13 to date; many moments to remember but Tom meeting the Sultan was the best imho
Next another series titled Tom Swan and the Last of the Spartans seems to be in the cards for early next year and that is obviously an asap - one issue (not unusual in longer series with one main hero) I am curious how the author will handle is Tom's continual rise in the world ...more
wants to be the most innovative sf of the year (and to pick up where sf giants IM Banks and Jack Vance left off by their passing) and it mostly succeewants to be the most innovative sf of the year (and to pick up where sf giants IM Banks and Jack Vance left off by their passing) and it mostly succeeds, though the prose is yet not as polished and elegant as Vance, nor as energetic and powerful as Banks, but considering it is a debut, I would say that the author is by far the most exciting new sf writer in a long time
the story-line(s) which end at mostly tbc points (though some could be construed as cliffhangers) intertwine in ways that make sense only towards the end, so I strongly recommend to persevere through what is a fairly abrupt introduction of the milieu of the Firmament (the artificial habitats under Amaranthine rule), Prism Investiture (the multitude of polities under the races of the prism - human variations evolved/genetically constructed across millennia which the Amaranthine used/helped/fought with/gave technology and which in time spread across space wherever they could) and the Amaranthine (original humans, quasi-immortal as they do not age biologically and have various powers, but they tend to go mad a few thousand years after their 10th millennium when they become part of the elite, the so called, "perennials"; currently we are ~14 k years in the future and the Amaranthine still dominate while having a quasi-democratic, quasi-autocratic polity based on age which is challenged by an enigmatic figure - Aaron the Long life or the Pretender - claiming to be the oldest of all)
quite a few notable characters, including Lycaste who is our most immediate introduction to the prism races and the one with most pages, though until mid-book we do not even realize that/what kind of Prism he is, Sotiris, the most respected of the Amaranthine, Ghaldezuel, a Lacaille knight (the most ambitious Prism race which tried for supreme power not long ago, but was defeated in a 200 year long war by the Amaranthine and its Prism allies, defeat that impoverished the Lacaille, but also empowered other Prism races who may be even more dangerous and rapacious) with an agenda, Lycaste's companions and more
the story-line follows three threads - Lycaste's life (which is to start the uneventful one of an owner of a far away estate in a thinly populated province where nothing really happens at least this is what we and he believe, though among many other things, humanoid birdlike servants, naturally growing food and the ability to change skin color to reflect moods/status show things are quite weird), Sotiris's odyssey in Amaranthine space and more generally, the pretender (Aaron)'s saga seen through various Amaranthine response to it (this includes the casual destruction of a habitat and more) and a mysterious artifact wanted by many
highly, highly recommended and the one new series I am really looking forward to see where the inventiveness of the author takes it, while I expect his writing will only improve and the juggling of intertwining stories, multiple (and quite distinct) pov's and locations will proceed more smoothly...more
following The Assyrian (who is half Greek and tells the story of his life to his Greek great grandchildren at the venerable age of 97, ~610) after hisfollowing The Assyrian (who is half Greek and tells the story of his life to his Greek great grandchildren at the venerable age of 97, ~610) after his exile in the first of the series (exile ~680 when he was ~25);
wanderings, intrigue, exotic societies, intrigue, battles etc, the novel has all the ingredients that made the subgenre successful and this one rolls from the first page and is considerably less predictable than its predecessor, so I liked it a lot and was engrossed by it until the end
for once, a superb novel, highly, highly recommended even now, 25+ years after its publication ...more