This, to me, was the darkest of the volumes so far. It is said the G.R.R Martin based his story on the Wars of the Roses. This one reads more like KinThis, to me, was the darkest of the volumes so far. It is said the G.R.R Martin based his story on the Wars of the Roses. This one reads more like King Steven and the anarchy. Nevertheless the complexity is here and the interest is unrelenting. Yet again once opened I could not close it until it was finished....more
What can I say without merely repeating myself. Like the first two volumes this one never disappoints.I read it without stopping, an advantage of haviWhat can I say without merely repeating myself. Like the first two volumes this one never disappoints.I read it without stopping, an advantage of having no one cracking the whip over me and when I finished I put it down only to pick up part 2 of A Storm of Swords....more
I read this volume as obsessively as I read the first. When I finished it I was comforted by the fact the story continued and I could move on to the nI read this volume as obsessively as I read the first. When I finished it I was comforted by the fact the story continued and I could move on to the next volume. I blessed my decision to buy the boxed set so that there was no hiatus involved with continuing....more
Amazingly complex, spellbinding. I couldn't put it down. When I finished it I was cosoled only by the fact there were six more volumes to go. This serAmazingly complex, spellbinding. I couldn't put it down. When I finished it I was cosoled only by the fact there were six more volumes to go. This series has become my greatest obsession since Lord of the Rings so many years ago....more
Tom Fleck is the story of a boy who wants to be his own master. A boy who is not content to dream but sees his chance to get the cash to set up on hisTom Fleck is the story of a boy who wants to be his own master. A boy who is not content to dream but sees his chance to get the cash to set up on his own and sets about trying to make his dream come true. He needs money to buy cattle but in the times in which he lives where the population are divided into master and serf this requires extraordinary guile and some courage. But there is more, for in the course of pursuing the money he needs Tom Fleck, a master of the hunting bow for all his youth, finds himself conscripted into the army being mustered to fight the army of the Scottish king.
Border reavers are the advanced guard of this army, coming south across the border to settle some scores of their own. Here one starts to get the flavour of the lawlessness of border warfare.
The story culminates in the bloody battle of Flodden field to say more would be a spoiler.
Some, famous, authors write about historic battles as if they were writing for ‘Soldier of Fortune’ magazine. The battle is page after page of slaughter, blood and gore. Harry Nicholson does not do that. Whilst not downplaying the tragedy of warfare he also tells it like I for one believe it was, maybe is, a time of confusion, where few knew what was happening and which way things were going until in the end one side found itself in possession of the field and the other side found themselves running for their lives. Where the prevailing emotion besides fear was puzzlement at why it was necessary to kill people who were strangers.
I liked Tom Fleck for its realism, I liked Tom Fleck himself for his sensible compassion. I was a little uncertain when one of his dilemmas was solved in a way that would have done credit to Jane Austen. That apart I really liked this book and recommend it to all who want to get the feel of Tudor England from a working mans viewpoint. ...more
There are many authors amongst the Goodreads membership who have already sorted their issues with editing but I suspect there are also many readers whThere are many authors amongst the Goodreads membership who have already sorted their issues with editing but I suspect there are also many readers who perhaps one day hope to burst into song as published authors. They will still have important isssues to address.
Helen Hollick,Historical Novelist and Goodreads member and Jo Field, Historical Novelist and professional editor have combined their skill and experience and have produced a small and inexpensive book aimed at the new writer. I bought it on Kindle, I've read it and in my view it is an admirable book for all new, aspiring writers of fiction. I recommend it as a first primer in making your story presentable. When the Triton was a raw gem Helen took pity on me and introduced me to Jo to try and turn it into a 'Literary Diamond'. If you have read and enjoyed either the Triton or the Halig Rood, blame it on Helen and Jo. If you haven't enjoyed either, blame it on me....more
My first reading of this book was somewhat disjointed as there were things going on at home which distracted me for long periods of time. And so, whenMy first reading of this book was somewhat disjointed as there were things going on at home which distracted me for long periods of time. And so, when things started to settle down I went back and read it again. I am glad that I did.
This book like a pyramid is resting on a very solid base of research and scholarship although there is nothing of dry scholarship about it. It is a story of fallible humans, some good, some bad, in conflict with each other through lust, greed and ambition. This takes place against a background of an embryo civilisation in conflict with the seasons, the hazards of extremes of climate and surrounding enemies.
This is not the Egypt of the Pharaoh’s or of the building of the Pyramids or of a great and rich empire. This is the Egypt from which these things grew. The story is a complex weaving of reckless passion, cunning plotting and inexorable fate. The Ma’at of 'the way' which, fate like, encoils and entraps those deviating from the true path.
If you want to know what early Egypt, from which grew the Egypt we know of, might be like. If you want to read a good yarn that starts light and ends darkly you will enjoy this. I can say no more without spoilers giving away too much.
As an aside because the author appears too modest to say so here you might like to know this book was a Historical Novel Society editors choice....more
This is a mystery set in a fascinating period of Ancient Egyptian history. The dissenting monotheistic sun-worshipping world of Pharaoh Akhenaten hasThis is a mystery set in a fascinating period of Ancient Egyptian history. The dissenting monotheistic sun-worshipping world of Pharaoh Akhenaten has fallen. Egypt has returned to it's traditional Gods. The city of the sun, Akhenaten's capital, lies in ruins and is occupied by a royal expedition sent to assess its usefulness as a source of architectural quality stone.
The discipline of this party of priests, police and soldiers is disturbed by rumours of ghosts and noises in the night. There are murders and the danger of mutiny.
Of the trilogy of Ancient Egyptian tales by Diana Wilder that I have read, this is my favourite. She has captured the flavour of the aftermath of tumult where heresy and dissent have been overcome and toppled by the forces of reaction. The excellent afterword is manna to feed the curiosity of non-Egyptologists aroused by this well researched story. Her writing style is lyrical and evocative of the ruined and failed but magnificent city by the Nile.
Once again the message that can be taken from this story of ancient times is applicable to our own. We do not have to look far to the east to see a parallel innovation overturned by a return to tradition.
In addition to the riveting action in the surrounding ruins this is a cracking good mystery with betrayal and vengeance at its heart. I would recommend this to lovers of Ancient Egyptian yarns and mysteries alike. ...more
This is the sequel to The Axe, the Shield and the Triton. For those who felt frustrated by the cliff hanger at the end of that book, all the answers arThis is the sequel to The Axe, the Shield and the Triton. For those who felt frustrated by the cliff hanger at the end of that book, all the answers are here. I personally like this book, why wouldn't I, I wrote it? But I have not rated it. I don't think it proper for authors to rate their own books. I include this note because Goodreads wants a review here. Well this is all I have to say. Reviews are for readers, not authors....more
This book was a doorway into an area and feature of the Dark Ages that was previously closed to me. Fascinating details about the critical differencesThis book was a doorway into an area and feature of the Dark Ages that was previously closed to me. Fascinating details about the critical differences between the Catholic and matriarchal Celtic churches concerning subjects as momentous as the date of Easter(sic) which led to the destruction of the native home grown church and its replacement by a patriarchal alien power structure.
It is also brave enough to tackle the internal mental landscape of those charismatic leaders of the time, destined for Sainthood.
A fascinating book shedding light on an obscure but critical time in the history of post-Roman Britain....more
This is a story set during the decay of ancient Egypt when the loosening of central control leads to a weakening of tradition; where authority leachesThis is a story set during the decay of ancient Egypt when the loosening of central control leads to a weakening of tradition; where authority leaches away; where the mighty of the land start to fear the growing power of the greedy and ambitious. The story conveys an oppressive feel of the crumbling of society. The protagonist is a soldier of some authority, the commander of 1000 with only a derisory 20 to command. He has the duty to protect the Pharaohs tomb builders whilst corrupt Necropolis police purportedly protect existing interments against tomb robbers.
He is running out of stores for his men, as central authority seems powerless to support him. He finds himself adrift amongst fearful subordinates, who are afraid to disclose what it is that frightens them, whilst a brutal murder encourages this fear. To add further spice to his situation he finds himself under sporadic attack by superior numbers of savage foes from the desert with looting and tomb robbing on their minds.
A courageous, battle proven, general, his failure to appreciate the full extent of the growing dissent to tradition places him in deadly danger. Contrary to Pharaoh’s Son the mystical elements here tip this novel over the edge, from historical fiction to historical fantasy. If you are not a HF purist and are also able to enjoy historical fantasy, enjoy this. Diana Wilder has penned an evocative novel of a crumbling civilisation, where the dutiful strive against the odds to hold society and tradition together. A suitably heavy atmosphere permeates this yarn conveying the despair and confusion of the struggle to maintain normality when norms and mores are in flux and it is hard to distinguish enemies from friends.
This story is a conundrum in a setting that to many is already mysterious, that of ancient Egypt.
Diana Wilder peels back the veil shrouding this socieThis story is a conundrum in a setting that to many is already mysterious, that of ancient Egypt.
Diana Wilder peels back the veil shrouding this society of 3000 years ago. She peoples it with a royal household inhabited by engaging, understandable and believable characters.
Many mystery novels are predictable; the solution broadcasts itself in a way that is a spoiler from quite early on. This is not such a novel. The mystery here is a page-turner where overlapping layers of the unexplained unfold gradually toward a denouement as, without the aid of anything more than intelligent observation and simple research, the protagonists struggle to unravel the riddles of murder and sabotage within the great Temple of Ptah in ancient Memphis. The reader is left, however, with one enigma, which s/he must decide, or leave as unexplained. This serves the purpose of sprinkling a little of the supernatural and mild validation of the religious beliefs of ancient Egypt. It increases the tension and adds a further layer to the mystery and its possible resolution.
There is an authenticity about the Egypt of this book, which comes from extensive research coupled with a love of the place and time frame.
A very satisfying read, which will engage lovers of both mystery and ancient settings who want a story evoking the alien feel of the age in which it is set, yet which convincingly demonstrates those threads of common humanity that link ancient civilisations with our own. ...more
I have spread my reading of this book over a very long time. At first I was not sure I would finish it. The research is so comprehensive and the charaI have spread my reading of this book over a very long time. At first I was not sure I would finish it. The research is so comprehensive and the characterisation so factual and un-dramatic I felt I was reading a history book rather than an historical novel. And then it grabbed me and I finished the latter half of the book in two days. We all know the end of the Hastings story and the author uses this knowledge as the backdrop against which the characters move inexorably towards their fate. The primacy of fate in the downfall of Harold II is clearly described: the role of Hildebrand of Sovana with his Norman friends in influencing Pope Alexander II; the resentments over the spoils of Stamford Bridge slowing the progress of the Northumbrians and leading to the desertions of the western Fyrd. Each of these lesser known hammer blows racks up the sense of pre-ordained doom until in the end when all is lost there is a sadness and an overwhelming ‘if only’. The definitive novel for those interested in the currents driving down poor ill starred Harold II, potentially the best king England never really had. ...more
I admire the research and scholarship that has gone into the writing of this book. I am aware that the author is one of the greats of the historical nI admire the research and scholarship that has gone into the writing of this book. I am aware that the author is one of the greats of the historical novel and that I am out of step with almost all other reviewers. I didn't like the book as story telling. I found the characters two dimensional with neither passion nor compassion. I could neither relate to the protagonist nor understand his motivations. For those reasons I found this a bland read. Gibbon breathes more life into his characters.
The problem is in the writing style of the author. I found the same problem with the Little Emperors where the wife of Felix was a totally unbelievable character.
In my view this author paints great scenery but peoples it with cardboard actors. ...more
I started to read this book with high hopes that it would fill in many gaps for me in relation to an area of the Dark Ages about which I know little.
II started to read this book with high hopes that it would fill in many gaps for me in relation to an area of the Dark Ages about which I know little.
I was disappointed. There are some references to ancient sites but little hard fact from their archeology. There is much speculation drawn from far eastern Shamanism. Some of the 'evidence' for beliefs and practices is drawn from the books of Lord of the Rings which as far as I'm aware, having read them more times than I care to remember, are novels not works of scholarship although of course written by a leading scholar in matters Anglo-Saxon.
I am sorry that I was not convinced I certainly wanted to be. I feel I finished with no better an appreciation of Dark Age beliefs and practices than when I started. I was interested in what ordinary people believed less so in speculative spirit journeys of apprentice shamans....more