I did not like this as well as "Sunne" mainly because of its incoherence. There is a lack of focus which seems to rise out of the material itself. TheI did not like this as well as "Sunne" mainly because of its incoherence. There is a lack of focus which seems to rise out of the material itself. The story wanders back and forth with neither side earning my allegiance. I did not like Joanna at all. She is a bit of a liar and a fool, not a proper follower to Eleanor of Aquitaine. I fear I am not really all that fond of great love stories and do not believe in happy ever after. I am sorry for this; I had looked forward to other of her books, now, I do not think so. ...more
This is a work of surpassing dryness which came as a welcome antidote to the overheated romanticism of the novels (set in this same period) with whichThis is a work of surpassing dryness which came as a welcome antidote to the overheated romanticism of the novels (set in this same period) with which I have been lately afflicting myself.
Once past the endless chapters on the family connections of Eleanor Talbot, her husband and all their distant and collateral relations, the eternal definitions of property and descriptions of landscapes there is some material of interest. Eleanor herself never fully emerges from the obscurity in which she is veiled by history. Perhaps this is inevitable since women were generally of no great account in the fifteenth century but the efforts of Ashdown-Hill to make her a figure of more importance than she already was are somewhat laughable. He ascribes to her motives and behaviour which must remain speculative as if it were proven. Why did she not lodge a protest when Edward announced his bigamous marriage to Elizabeth Woodville? Ashdown-Hill provides a number of reasons which seem rather contrived but are plausible. What was her connection to which religious house or body? Our author declares she never became a professed nun but may have become a lay member of the Carmelites. "May have", "might be" and the like are the irritatingly repeated hall mark of this book. I will not get into the question of the identification of Eleanor's possible body or his speculation over the significance of her dental abnormalities. (If the body with the abnormality is really hers.) Just another, "it may have been".
Ashdown-Hill has another habit which drove me near distraction. He continually sprinkles his text with French and Latin phrases to no useful effect. He also quotes sources in Latin, translating the more obvious ones and leaving the tricky and harder ones in the original tongue. I am not sure if he is simply playing games or did not have the skill to read the more difficult passages.
There are a number of handsome coloiur plates depicting open fields upon which a given manor or castle stood, a castle wall showing a vanished garden with a long gone footbridge over which Eleanor might have walked, effigies of some of her relatives and the x-rays of what might be Eleanor's mouth which proves something or the other. Ashdown-Hill does not seem quite sure what it proves.
This is the only book yet available devoted completely to the story of Eleanor. And, like the little boy with with book on penguins, it told me more about her than I actually wanted to know. For bad writing and unconscionable padding of meagre material, this gets only two stars; for not being romanticised fiction about the characters involved it gets more than one star. Read this if you are avidly curious about Eleanor Talbot, otherwise wait for a better treatment of the subject....more
The series continues to engross me. I rated this volume down because of the confused and unsettled ending. I understand the use of cliff-hangers and tThe series continues to engross me. I rated this volume down because of the confused and unsettled ending. I understand the use of cliff-hangers and the like but this was simply abandoning the story in mid-stream with no promise of catharsis. It seriously annoyed me.
I must make mention of the fact that Martin has the unsettling habit of killing off characters just when you are beginning to know them well. This keeps the reader on edge to a certain extent but I am not sure I find it a proper stance for a writer of fantasy as opposed to a realist like, say Upton Sinclair.
I shall make a pause, if I can discipline myself, before starting book three (which is conveniently stored in my Kindle. I will probably fail because, irritated or not, I am hungry to learn more of the fate of these people. ...more
I am not rich enough in words to express my delight in this book. I was guided by another member of GR to this treasure and cannot begin to tell her hI am not rich enough in words to express my delight in this book. I was guided by another member of GR to this treasure and cannot begin to tell her how much I appreciate her suggestion that I read this.
The book is so rich in characters and plot twists that it is not possible to adequately summarize it. However, I will say that the writing is beautiful and the story mesmerizing. The descriptions of this wonderfully created world are enough on their own to make reading this worthwhile. Add in characters for whom the reader quickly begins to care and you have the recipe for a page turner. The heroes are appropriately flawed and the villains are black-hearted fools. What more can the high fantasy reader ask?
The plot holds frequent reminders of the Wars of the Roses as the struggle between the Starks and the Lannisters (sound familiar?) continues on its aeons long bloody course. There is also a taste of "Dune" in the relationships between the generations. The device Martin uses to keep the story going and the numerous threads all straight is to cut like a novelistic D.W. Griffith from person to person, revealing the events through separate sets of eyes. It is a startlingly effective technique. The final scene of the book is stunning. Although the principle element had been foreshadowed well before hand, the converging of the various plot lines makes it streak like a meteor into the mind.
I am almost breathless, having just finished reading this the first book of a series (whose length is not yet determined). I shall read another sort of book to freshen my mental palate before I burrow into "A Clash of Kings". It is going to be hard to set this continuing story and its vivid characters to the back of my consciousness, even for a little while. ...more
Alas, this is one of the lamer fictional accounts of the life of Richard III. Tyler-Whittle's concept of the man reminds me of a reflection cast in aAlas, this is one of the lamer fictional accounts of the life of Richard III. Tyler-Whittle's concept of the man reminds me of a reflection cast in a pool, somehow distorted and impossible to touch without destroying. He is a one-dimensional figure with no real blood in him. The book is oddly unbalanced with a great deal of time being given to the early days, yet with no suggestion of what Richard did or how he behaved to make the boys he met them love him enough to stay with him all his life and be willing to die for him.
One of the irritating things about this work is the lack of dates. Richard is a boy then suddenly he is all grown up and swinging a sword/axe. Except that we are never permitted to see any battles. We are told Richard won the hearts of Londoners by his courage but we are only told that, never shown it. The events after Edward IV is safe on his throne and onward are only skimmed. We are told Edward has changed but not how. In fact, that is the chief problem with this book, he keeps on telling and telling and telling and will not show a damned thing. His dialogue is dreadful as well.
There is another explanation for the death of Clarence, who is throughout a bloody nuisance. Cecily, the Duchess of York, has become a sort of prematurely aged Cassandra, all cryptic warnings and black draperies. Anne is a saint; Buckingham a cad, and Richard - oh dear Richard - is a crashing bore.
I think the author meant well, but he should have stuck to books on botany. Bah!...more