This book was not at all what I expected - how could I have gone so long being unaware that The Man in the Iron Mask is only the vehicle for everythinThis book was not at all what I expected - how could I have gone so long being unaware that The Man in the Iron Mask is only the vehicle for everything else that happens to the musketeers? Poor Philip was content/resigned to his imprisonment until Aramis decided to try to use him to unseat the corrupt King Louis - when that failed, Philip ended up in the iron mask and then disappeared from the story.
There was a sad inevitability to everything that happened to Aramis and poor Porthos after the failed attempt, and D'Artagnan was torn between his sworn duty and his friendships.
This was not really a 4* read for me - I got lost too often in the wordy, flowery, and off-topic conversations and explanations - but it was so much more than 3* so there you are!...more
Czech freedom-fighters, rebelling against Hitler's takeover of their country, attempted to assassinate his #1 man in Czechoslovakia. In retaliation, HCzech freedom-fighters, rebelling against Hitler's takeover of their country, attempted to assassinate his #1 man in Czechoslovakia. In retaliation, Hitler orders the elimination of a Czech village - men and teen boys are executed, women and girls are placed in concentration camps, and the town is burned, bulldozed, and wiped out of existence. The town was Lidice. All of this is factual - this book itself is fiction based on these facts, and follows the young Milada who is dragged into Hitler's 'Perfect Aryan Race' idea because she is blond and fits all the facial measurements dreamed up by the purists (this program also existed) I always thought they only focused on Germans who fit this concept of perfection, but the goal here was to 'Germanize' them and wipe out any memories of who they had been, so Milada became 'Someone Named Eva'
This is a heart-rending story of civilian victims of war, but also an uplifting story of the indomitability of the human spirit. I highly recommend this book!...more
This surprised me by being a very enjoyably-readable tome of the life and times of Queen Victoria. The author succeeded (with me) in making this a verThis surprised me by being a very enjoyably-readable tome of the life and times of Queen Victoria. The author succeeded (with me) in making this a very well-documented accounting of Victoria the person and woman as well as Victoria the queen. We see her as a girl, trained and manipulated for potential political gain by others. We see her relationships with her mother, with her half-sister Feodora (who she loved devotedly all her life), and especially with her husband Albert, the absolute love of her life (and the devastation his death brings to her).
In the course of telling all these personal details of Victoria's life, the author covers the political happenings, the wars, the people who served in British government - much of it told through excerpts from letters, diaries, & other documents. I was especially enthralled with the letters between Victoria & Albert, which put me in mind of the correspondence of John & Abigail Adams - in both cases showing personal love along with total participation in political/national life....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this well-researched study of two queens of the same generation, ruling in neighboring monarchies on the same island - a rare occI thoroughly enjoyed this well-researched study of two queens of the same generation, ruling in neighboring monarchies on the same island - a rare occurrence in the world of the 16th century that held that the natural order of things required a male ruler. But instead of making them kindred spirits and supportive of each other, this rarity instead made them life-long rivals, and eventually led to the imprisonment and execution of one of them.
Mary Stuart was queen from birth, and thus was surrounded by excessive flattery and praise. She grew up in false security, and since she was never challenged, she was basically unaware of her own capabilities. And her youth, and the political manipulations by others, worked against her.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, was in danger for much of her youth - with Henry VIII for a father, and his penchant for divorcing, imprisoning, executing his wives, their children were often in jeopardy. The lessons she learned from her childhood were that her fate lay largely in her own hands and in how she conducted herself.
At the very beginning of this book, the author tells us that Elizabeth believed in self-discipline and sacrifice, while Mary valued pleasure over duty. In the course of the following 400 pages, she presented historical facts and details that proved this again and again. For all her charisma - and it was apparently quite awesome - Mary's self-centeredness led to grief time after time, with tragic results....more
An aerial corps is a very important aspect of warfare, but instead of airplanes we have the Dragon Corps taking part in the Napoleonic Wars. This is aAn aerial corps is a very important aspect of warfare, but instead of airplanes we have the Dragon Corps taking part in the Napoleonic Wars. This is a fantasy historical that does a good job of making everything sound 19th century except the dragons; even when they're working with/interacting with dragons, the characters sound and act like 19th c. people, and there are some looks into 19th c. society.
I really liked the emphasis on the dragons - their varieties of breeds, their personalities, their ability to teach humans how to work with dragons instead of just treating them as flying horses to be broken to harness. I also loved the way the author had Temeraire be the one to encourage Lawrence, the reluctant academic, to read - well, the dragon couldn't hold the book or turn the pages, so Lawrence had to read to him! I also enjoyed seeing Lawrence's character development; he was not an especially likeable hero at the beginning, at least to me, but as he acknowledges his prejudices he changes his thinking and behavior accordingly, and not coincidentally, becomes more of a leader.
Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy....more
This book is a gem! It is meant as a reference book for those reading works of fiction written in/about victorian times, but I also enjoyed it as someThis book is a gem! It is meant as a reference book for those reading works of fiction written in/about victorian times, but I also enjoyed it as something (mostly) very interesting to read a chapter or section at a time - just pick something interesting out of the Table of Contents and read away. Or go to the very extensive Glossary to find the explanation of a word or term that has been driving you crazy in that novel you're reading.
I had fun reading this, and some sections were a lot more interesting than I expected. And I especially liked the numerous references the author made to many of the classics written in that era. Since I had just finished "Great Expectations" those references really 'jumped out' at me, and invariably gave me a better understanding of the meaning or law behind things such as the indenturing of apprentices (and also why the document was called an indenture). I know, I'm a word nerd, but I love stuff like this!...more
I'm really glad that this was not required reading in high school or college, or I might have had those memories getting in the way of my total immersI'm really glad that this was not required reading in high school or college, or I might have had those memories getting in the way of my total immersion in this book. I did see a movie version many years ago, so it was not an unknown tale. I chose to listen to the book rather than sit down & read it, so I was able to continue the story even while physically doing those mindless tasks. I think that actually helped me concentrate more on what was happening to the characters and to the countries, and to be even more appalled at the mindless frenzy and violence of the French Revolution - not to mention the lengths that the human being will go to in retribution. It has happened too often throughout history....more