Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Seduced By Moonlight - Laurell K. Hamilton

Seduced By Moonlight - Laurell K. HamiltonSeduced By Moonlight (Merry Gentry #3)
Laurell K. Hamilton
Ballantine Books
Copyright: 2004

The product description:
 I am Meredith Gentry, P.I. and Princess Merry, heir to the throne of Fairie.
Now there are those among me who whisper I am more.
They fear me even as they protect me. And who can blame them?
I’ve awakened the dazzling magic that’s slumbered in them for
thousands of years. But the thing is, I can’t figure out why.

My aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness, is no longer distracted by her usual sadistic hobbies. Her obsession has turned unwaveringly to me. The mission to get me pregnant and beat my cousin Prince Cel to the crown is taking longer than expected. Even though I spend each night with the Queen’s Ravens, my immortal guards, no child has come of our decadent pleasures. But something else is happening. My magic courses through me uncontrollably. And as I lock my half-mortal body with their full-Sidhe blooded ones, the power surges like never before.

It all began with the chalice. I dreamed of it, and it appeared, cool and hard, beside me when I awoke. My guards know the ancient relic well—its disappearance ages ago stripped them of their vital powers. But it is here with us now. My touch resonates with its force, and they’re consumed with it, their Sidhe essences lit up by it. But even as they cherish me for this unexpected gift, there are those who loathe me for it. Me, a mongrel, only half fey and part mortal. The Unseelie court has suffered for so long, and there are some who would not have it weakened further by an impure queen. My enemies grow in number every day. But they do not know what I am capable of. Nor, for that matter, do I. . . .

In Seduced by Moonlight, Laurell K. Hamilton brings the dark, erotic reign of the immortal fey to a startling new depth. Full of sensuality and the consuming anticipation of latent powers unleashed, this world of gods, shapeshifters, and immortal souls is unveiled in all of its supreme magnificence and its treacherous deceits. 
Remember back when I reviewed A Kiss of Shadows, the first book in this series and I noted the lack of violence compared with the Anita Blake books? Forget I said that. Forget I even thought it. I'm shaking my head at myself on that one after reading Seduced By Moonlight.

At any rate, Seduced By Moonlight, the third book in the Merry Gentry series, following on A Caress of Twilight was another "couldn't put it down" book - up to the point where I was forced to by the need to recharge my Kobo. Then it was right back into the read.

This book has very little to do with the "real" world as it were, being much more focused on the politics of the Seelie and Unseelie courts and also on the interpersonal relationships centering around Merry. And believe me, that is enough to keep the book going and fascinating! However, I'd say this series might not be for everyone. There are quite a few points where it gets pretty graphic - both sexually and in terms of violence. By this point though, that shouldn't be much of a surprise to fans of Laurell K. Hamilton's writing.

As I said, this book is quite focused on the interpersonal relationships and politics of the Faerie courts. On top of that though, there's other things and powers at work. Merry doesn't have a clue what's going on and neither do her guards - or us for that matter. That was one of the aspects of the book that really gripped me on this read through - watching the lot of them coping with the unexpected.

Lots of questions left for the next book too (A Stroke of Midnight). I really want to get into reading that one, but at the same time I'm kind of feeling like I should go back to some of the other books I've got on the go, so no idea of what I'm going to be reading next.

One thing I found really neat at the end of Seduced by Moonlight - this one may just be me and my love of research though - is that Laurell K. Hamilton has included a list of the books she's used in researching the Merry Gentry series. Given that I'm currently hunting (or trying to) down material on British mythological creatures and beings for an idea/project of my own, I'm very happy to see this right now. The next thing on my to-do list is going to be googling the various titles and finding more information on some of those books. Thanks!

Believe it or not, one of my favorite things to see in a novel (esp. historical fiction) is a listing of research sources when appropriate. All too often for me, reading a novel with a basis in fact (or mythology as in this case), I get quite curious about the reality of the situation - such as it is. Seeing what the author has used for source material can be quite intriguing.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Caress of Twilight - Laurell K. Hamilton

A Caress of Twilight - Laurell K. HamiltonA Caress of Twilight (Merry Gentry #2)
Laurell K. Hamilton
Ballantine Books
Copyright: 2003

The product description:
“I am Princess Meredith, heir to a throne—if I can stay alive long enough to claim it.” After eluding relentless assassination attempts by Prince Cel, her cousin and rival for the Faerie crown, Meredith Gentry, Los Angeles private eye, has a whole new set of problems. To become queen, she must bear a child before Cel can father one of his own. But havoc lies on the horizon: people are dying in mysterious, frightening ways, and suddenly the very existence of the place known as Faerie is at grave risk. So now, while she enjoys the greatest pleasures of her life attempting to conceive a baby with the warriors of her royal guard, she must fend off an ancient evil that could destroy the very fabric of reality. And that’s just her day job. . . .
After finishing my read-through of A Kiss of Shadows the other day, I rolled right into A Caress of Twilight, ending up finishing this one in just over a day as well. Currently I'm well into the third book in the series, Seduced By Moonlight, with books four through seven waiting on my Kobo.

On this one I found myself comparing main characters - mostly Merry Gentry - to the lead characters in some other urban fantasy novels I've been reading lately: the Anita Blake books, Mercy Thompson from Patricia Brigg's books and to some of the female leads I remember from a few different paranormal romance novels. Of course, the one she's the most like is Anita Blake - it makes a lot of sense as both characters are written by the same author. And yet, in some ways the world Merry Gentry lives in feels closer to that of the Mercy Thompson books than the world Anita Blake lives in - probably the wider presence of the Faerie world.

The other things I kept thinking about as I was reading A Caress of Twilight were about how much the need for secrecy can change the story-plots. In most urban fantasy novels/series the supernatural is either completely secret or sometimes partly known about, but public knowledge is still a newer thing. The Merry Gentry novels are really the first series I've seen where it seems that the supernatural side of the story has been publicly known about from the distant past, and it's interesting how that knowledge changes the whole fabric of the story. Trust/distrust, politics (current and past) along with treaties, again current and past all shape the world the characters move through. However, much of the human politics is at a very very background level. Most of the politicking going on in these books - at least in these first ones - is inter-fey, and the lengths they'll go to can be quite shocking.

I'm also enjoying watching Merry figure things out about herself, her past, those around her and her ever-varying relationships - something I've grown rather used to from Laurell K. Hamilton is the variety of relationships her characters engage in - and what they're willing to do at need. However, I suspect that this aspect of her books is not for everybody.

Definitely though, I recommend reading A Kiss of Shadows before reading A Caress of Twilight or any of the later books in this series - the background knowledge is more or less a requirement.

Any book I've bought more than once has to be at the very least a decent read - and this is my second purchase of A Caress of Twilight. I last read it back when the book first came out. Long enough ago now that the read was almost as though I'd never read it before.

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Kiss of Shadows - Laurell K. Hamilton

Well, the first book read and reviewed in 2018 is not one I would have expected. I'd have thought the first book might have been either David Weber's The Honor of the Queen or the companion book to The Crown.

A Kiss of Shadows (Merry Gentry 1) - Laurell K. HamiltonA Kiss of Shadows
Laurell K. Hamilton
Ballantine Books
Copyright: 2002

The product description:
Meet Merry Gentry, paranormal P.I., and enter a thrilling, sensual world as dangerous as it is beautiful, full of earthly pleasures and dazzling magic, and ruled by the all-consuming passions of immortal beings once worshipped as gods . . . or demons.

Merry Gentry, princess of the high court of Faerie, is posing as a human in Los Angeles, working as a private investigator specializing in supernatural crime. But now the queen’s assassin has been dispatched to fetch her—whether she likes it or not. Suddenly Merry finds herself a pawn in her dreaded aunt’s plans. The job that awaits her: enjoy the constant company of the most beautiful immortal men in the world. The reward: the crown—and the opportunity to continue to live. The penalty for failure: death. 
I know I read this back when it first came out. I can't say if I ever reread it. It's definitely been a while though - there's no review for a previous read here. It's also been long enough that while I remembered the occasional scene from the book, I couldn't remember any of the story beyond the very broadest of strokes. At any rate, I got the itch to reread and bought the first two books in the series (A Kiss of Shadows and A Caress of Twilight) from Kobo a couple of days ago. I started reading yesterday and finished the last twenty pages or so today. In other words, I couldn't put the book down for long at all.

It's not as important with e-books but I remember the original cover, red and black, and I distinctly prefer it to the new cover shown here. It was a cover less likely to raise eyebrows and garner comments from those around I think (part of the reason I've gone e-book for Laurell K. Hamilton's books this time).

On this read I found myself comparing the world that Laurell K. Hamilton has created with the similar(ish) world created for the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Very similar, and yet very different. Both start from a similar mythological base but they take the worlds in such different directions. I do think that if you like the one you'll like the other however.

I'm definitely enjoying the window into a world generally viewed as the "bad guys" and "evil" in a lot of other books (Mercedes Lackey's SERRAted Edge series comes to mind). A world where they're not entirely good, but not all evil, just trying to live as anyone else would be.

The one thing about this series (which is also true of the Anita Blake books by the same author) which might not be to everyone's tastes is that the books are very frank about  sex and relationships. Or maybe it's just me that found that a bit shocking the first time I read the series. On the other hand, at least with the first book there weren't quite as many "vivid/gruesome" scenes as I noted in my review of Guilty Pleasures (from the Anita Blake world).

Either way, I really enjoyed the read this time. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I more or less read a book in one day like that. I think it's been a while though, at least based on the last couple of years worth of reviews I've posted here. More often I've been having trouble finishing books - or if I do finish them, it's been after such long breaks that I've forgotten the first half of the story.

Laurell K. Hamilton has created an interesting world to go along with Meredeth Gentry, one where we've only just scraped the surface and there are depths yet to be discovered, both in the characters and the world they inhabit.

Almost immediately on finishing A Kiss of Shadows I've rolled into A Caress of Twilight, and also bought the third book in the series, Seduced by Moonlight. Definitely enjoying the re-reads.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

More new Tolkien books I've discovered!

Just what my poor budget needed - New Tolkien books (or at least new-to-me) to dream about buying. Yes, I've found a couple more books I'd love to add to my collection. First off is the newer of the two books:

I hadn't known that Verlyn Flieger was publishing another collection of her essays on Tolkien last month, but what a nice surprise!

There Would Always Be A Fairy Tale: More Essays On Tolkien - Verlyn FliegerThere Would Always Be A Fairy Tale: More Essays On Tolkien
Verlyn Flieger
Kent State University Press
Copyright Date: December 2017

The product description:
Devoted to Tolkien, the teller of tales and co-creator of the myths they brush against, these essays focus on his lifelong interest in and engagement with fairy stories, the special world that he called faërie, a world they both create and inhabit, and with the elements that make that world the special place it is. They cover a range of subjects, from The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings and their place within the legendarium he called the Silmarillion to shorter works like “The Story of Kullervo” and “Smith of Wootton Major.”
From the pen of eminent Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger, the individual essays in this collection were written over a span of twenty years, each written to fit the parameters of a conference, an anthology, or both. They are revised slightly from their original versions to eliminate repetition and bring them up to date. Grouped loosely by theme, they present an unpatterned mosaic, depicting topics from myth to truth, from social manners to moral behavior, from textual history to the micro particles of Middle-earth.
Together these essays present a complete picture of a man as complicated as the books that bear his name―an independent and unorthodox thinker who was both a believer and a doubter able to maintain conflicting ideas in tension, a teller of tales both romantic and bitter, hopeful and pessimistic, in equal parts tragic and comedic. A man whose work does not seek for right or wrong answers so much as a way to accommodate both; a man of antitheses.
Scholars of fantasy literature generally and of Tolkien particularly will find much of value in this insightful collection by a seasoned explorer of Tolkien’s world of faërie.
Verlyn Flieger has been a noted name in Tolkien scholarship for quite a few years now, having edited a number of editions of Tolkien's shorter works including On Fairy Stories, Smith of Wootton Major and The Story of Kullervo, as well as publishing quite a selection of books on Tolkien and his writings, including Splintered Light, Green Suns and Faerie, and Interrupted Music, most of which I have to admit I have yet to read (although all of the books listed here are in my collection).

The other book is the expensive one - but one I'd love to have nonetheless:

A Companion to J.R.R. TolkienA Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien
Ed. Stuart D. Lee
Copyright: 2014

The product description:
This is a complete resource for scholars and students of Tolkien, as well as avid fans, with coverage of his life, work, dominant themes, influences, and the critical reaction to his writing.
  • An in-depth examination of Tolkien’s entire work by a cadre of top scholars
  • Provides up-to-date discussion and analysis of Tolkien’s scholarly and literary works, including his latest posthumous book, The Fall of Arthur, as well as addressing contemporary adaptations, including the new Hobbit films
  • Investigates various themes across his body of work, such as mythmaking, medieval languages, nature, war, religion, and the defeat of evil
  • Discusses the impact of his work on art, film, music, gaming, and subsequent generations of fantasy writers
Looking through the table of contents on this one is like going through a "who's who" of Tolkien scholarship. There are chapters by John Garth, Tom Shippey, John Rateliff, Verlyn Flieger, Mark Atherton, and Dimitra Fimi among many others.

I think I'm going to class this one as "expensive, but worth the cost - eventually".

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Unread Tolkien Books - 2018

I'm a Tolkien collector - see the various Tolkien lists I have on my blog (here, here and here), but I've ended up buying the books faster than I can read them. There are unreviewed books on those lists that I have read, although they were read before I started All Booked Up.

 Unread Books 2017 - Tolkien List:

  1. Hobbitus Ille - J.R.R. Tolkien - Fiction
  2. The Annotated Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien - Fiction
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Reader's Guide - Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull - Non Fiction
  4. The History Of The Hobbit: Mr. Baggins - John Rateliff - Non Fiction
  5. The History Of The Hobbit: Return To Bag-End - John Rateliff - Non Fiction
  6.  Tolkien: A Celebration - Joseph Pearce - Non Fiction
  7. The Battle For Middle-Earth - Bonnie Rutledge - Non Fiction
  8. The Ring Of Words - Jeremy H. Marshall - Non Fiction
  9. The Children of Hurin - J.R.R. Tolkien - Fiction
  10. On Faerie Stories - Ed. Verilyn Flieger - Non Fiction
  11. The Tolkien Legendarium - Ed. Carl Hostetter - Non Fiction
  12. Splintered Light: Logos And Language In Middle-Earth - Verilyn Flieger - Non Fiction
  13. Green Suns and Faerie - Verilyn Flieger - Non Fiction
  14. The Fall of Arthur - Ed. Christopher Tolkien - Poetry
  15. Beowulf - Ed. Christopher Tolkien - Fiction
  16. The Art of The Hobbit - Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull - Non Fiction
  17. Interrupted Music: The Making Of Middle-Earth - Verilyn Flieger - Non Fiction
  18. Master of Middle Earth - Paul Koch - Non Fiction
  19. A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings - Lin Carter - Non Fiction
  20. A Tolkien Compass - Jared Lobdel - Non Fiction
  21. J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century - Tom Shippey - Non Fiction
  22. The Gospel According To Tolkien - Ralph Woods - Non Fiction
  23. There And Back Again: J.R.R. Tolkien And The Origins of The Hobbit - Mark Atherton - Non Fiction
  24. Tolkien: A Celebration - Joseph Pearce - Non Fiction 
  25. The Story of Kullervo - Ed. Christopher Tolkien
  26. The Art of the Lord of the Rings - Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull - Non Fiction 
  27. Tolkien - Raymond Edwards - Non Fiction
  28. The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun - J.R.R. Tolkien - Ed. Verlyn Flieger - Fiction (Poetry) 
  29. The Song of Middle-Earth: J.R.R. Tolkien's Themes, Symbols and Myths - David Harvey - Non Fiction 
  30. J. R. R. Tolkien: A Secret Vice - Tolkien on Invented Languages - Eds. Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins 
  31. The Oxford Inklings: Lewis, Tolkien and Their Circle - Colin Duriez - Non Fiction, Biography
  32. Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies To Hobbits - Dimitra Fimi - Non Fiction

Non Fiction Unread Books of 2018

My Unread Books List 2017 - Non Fiction:

  1. Women In Medieval Society - Ed. Susan Mosher Stuard (History)
  2. The Lady In Medieval England 1000-1500 - Peter Coss (History)
  3. The History of the World in 100 Objects - Neil MacGregor (History)
  4. The Zero Mile Diet: A Year Round Guide To Growing Organic Food - Carolyn Herriot (Gardening)
  5.  The Crusader States - Malcolm Barber (History)
  6. Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades - Johnathan Phillips (History)
  7. Alexander The Great - Philip Freeman (History, Biography)
  8. The Rise And Fall of Ancient Egypt - Toby Wilkinson (History)
  9. The Ruin of the Roman Empire: A New History - James J. O'Donnell (History)
  10. Atlas of Medieval Europe (History)
  11. The Axe and the Oath - Robert Fossier (History)
  12. A Short History of the Middle Ages - Barbara Rosenwein (History)
  13. The Grand Design - Steven Hawking 
  14. The Last Apocalypse - James Reston Jr. (History)
  15. Medieval Households - David Herlihy (History)
  16. Special Sisters: Women In The European Middle Ages - Arthur Fredrick Ide (History)
  17. Medieval Costume And Fashion - Herbert Norris (History)
  18. Sex, Dissidence And Damnation: Minority Groups In The Middle Ages - Jeffrey Richards (History)
  19. Daily Living In The Twelfth Century (History)
  20. Cathedral, Forge And Waterwheel - Francis And Joseph Gies (History)
  21. Medicine And Society In Later Medieval England - Caroline Rawcliffe (History)
  22. Londinium - John Morris (History)
  23. The Archaeology Of Roman Britain - R. G. Collingwood (History)
  24. Londinium - John Morris (History)
  25. The Archaeology Of Roman Britain - R. G. Collingwood (History)
  26. Women in Early Medieval Europe 400-1100 - Lisa M. Bitel (History)
  27. An Illustrated History of its First 12000 Years: Toronto edited by Ronald F. Williamson (History)
  28. Becoming Modern In Toronto: The Industrial Exhibition - Keith Walden (History)
  29. The Complete World Of The Dead Sea Scrolls - Phillip R. Davies, George J. Brooke and Phillip R. Callaway (History)
  30. Dictionary Of Mythology
  31. Hadrian - Anthony Everitt (Biography)
  32. The Inheritance Of Rome - Chris Wickham (History)
  33. The Ties That Bound - Barbara Hanawalt (History)
  34. Making A Living In The Middle Ages - Christopher Dyer (History)
  35. The Art Of Medieval Hunting - John Cummins (History)
  36. Eleanor Of Aquitaine - Alison Weir (Biography)
  37. Growing Up In Medieval London - Barbara Hanawalt (History)
  38. The Lost Capital Of Byzantium - Steven Runciman (History)
  39.  Readings In Medieval History - Patrick Geary (History)
  40.  The Real Middle Earth - Brian Bates  (History)
  41. Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada - James Delgado (History)
  42. The Medieval World - Eds. Peter Linehan & Janet L. Nelson (History)
  43. Europe And The Middle Ages - Edward Peters (History)
  44. The Age of the Cathedrals - Georges Duby (History)
  45. A History Of Private Life I (History)
  46. A History Of Private Life II (History)
  47. The Peasantries Of Europe - Ed. Tom Scott (History)
  48. Law And Life of Rome - J. A. Crook (History)
  49. The Temple And the Lodge - Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh
  50. The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception - Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh
  51. The Battle Of Salamis - Barry Strauss (History)
  52. The Knights Templar - Piers Paul Read - Non Fiction (History)
  53. The Lost Tomb Of Alexander The Great - Andrew Michael Chugg (History)
  54. Rome And Jerusalem - Martin Goodman (History)
  55. The History of Britain - Simon Schama (History)
  56. Caesar - Adrian Goldworthy (History, Biography)
  57. The Fall Of The Roman Empire - Peter Heather (History)
  58. Xenophon's Retreat - Robin Waterfield (History)
  59. Isabella - Alison Weir (History, Biography)
  60. An Imperial Possession - David Mattingly (History)
  61. The Peloponnesian War - Donald Kagan (History)
  62. Augustus: The Life Of Rome's First Emperor - Anthony Everitt (History, Biography)
  63. Cicero - Anthony Everitt (History, Biography)
  64. God's War - Christopher Tyerman (History)
  65. Life In A Medieval City - Francis and Joseph Gies (History)
  66. Life In A Medieval Castle - Francis and Joseph Gies (History)
  67.  Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson (Biography)
  68. Armies Of Heaven - Jay Rubenstein (History)
  69. Sea of Faith - Stepehen O'Shea (History)
  70. Beyond Book Indexing - Ed. Dianne Brenner and Marilyn Rowland (Indexing)
  71. The Medieval World Europe 1100-1350 - Friedrich Heer (History)
  72. The City in the Greek and Roman World - E.J. Owens (History)
  73. The Greek World After Alexander 323-30 B.C. - Graham Shipley (History)
  74. A Great And Terrible King: Edward I And The Forging Of Britain - Mark Morris (History, Biography)
  75. Cleopatra - Stacy Schiff (Biography, E-book, History)
  76. Antony and Cleopatra - Adrian Goldsworthy (Biography, History)
  77. Cleopatra A Biography - Duane W. Roller (History, Biography)
  78. Cleopatra the Great The Woman Behind The Legend - Joann Fletcher (History, Biography)
  79. Cleopatra The Search For The Last Queen Of Egypt - Zahi Hawass and Franck Goddio (History, Archaeology, Biography)
  80. Cruelty and Civilization: The Roman Games - Roland Auguet (History)
  81. Nova Scotia Shaped By The Sea - Lesley Choyce (History)
  82. Ancient Cities - Charles Gates (History, Archaeology)
  83. Getting In TTouch With Your Horse - Linda Tellington-Jones (Animals)
  84. Greek Art and Archaeology - John Griffiths Pedley (History, Archaeology, Art)
  85. Roman Art - Nancy H. Ramage and Andrew Ramage (History, Art, Archaeology)
  86. Fighting For The Cross - Norman Housley (History)
  87. The Middle Ages: Everyday Life In Medieval Europe - Jeffrey L. Singman (History)
  88. A Medieval Miscelany - Judith Herrin (History)
  89. Gothic Art: Glorious Visions - Michael Camille (History, Art)
  90. Early Medieval Art - Lawrence Nees (History, Art)
  91. Great Harry's Navy - Geoffrey Moorhouse (History)
  92. Ghost On The Throne - James Romm (History)
  93. Blueprint Crochet Sweaters - Robyn Chachula (Crochet)
  94. Elizabeth The Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch - Sally Bedell Smith (Biography) 
  95. Dr. Radcliffe's Library: The Story of The Radcliffe Camera in Oxford - Stephen Hebron (History)
  96. The Material Culture of Daily Living in the Anglo-Saxon World - Ed. Maren Clegg Hyer and Gale R. Owen-Crocker (History, Archaeology)
  97. The Real Jane Austen: A Life In Small Things - Paula Byrne (Biography)
  98. The Iron Ship: The Story of Brunel's ss Great Britain - Ewan Corlett (History)
  99. Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600-900 - Sarah Foot (History)
  100. Women, Crusading And The Holy Land in Historical Narrative - Natasha R. Hodgson (History) 
  101. How To Plan A Crusade - Christopher Tyerman (History)
  102. The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1: Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen - Robert Lacey (History, Biography)

Unread Primary Sources - 2018

Unread Books 2017 - Primary Sources List:

  1. The Histories - Herodotus - Non Fiction (History)
  2. The Peloponnesian War - Thucydides - Non Fiction (History)
  3. Greek Lives - Plutarch - Non Fiction (History, Biography)
  4. Roman Lives - Plutarch - Non Fiction (History, Biography)
  5. Beowulf - Trans. Seamus Heany - Poetry
  6. Anthony And Cleopatra - Shakespeare - Fiction
  7. Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare - Fiction
  8. Richard III - Shakespeare - Fiction
  9. The Comedy Of Errors - Shakespeare - Fiction
  10. All's Well That Ends Well - Shakespeare - Fiction
  11. Troilus And Cressida - Shakespeare - Fiction
  12. Henry IV Part One - Shakespeare - Fiction
  13. The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer - Poetry
  14. The Saga of Grettir The Strong - Fiction
  15. The Conquest Of Gaul - Julius Caesar - Non Fiction (History)
  16. Metamorphosis - Ovid - Poetry
  17. Greek Lyric Poetry - Trans. Sherod Santos - Poetry
  18. On Sparta - Plutarch - Non Fiction (History)
  19. A History Of My Times - Xenophon - Non Fiction (History)
  20.  Roman Poets Of The Early Empire - Poetry
  21. Troilus And Criseyde - Geoffrey Chaucer - Poetry
  22. Medieval English Prose For Women - Eds. Bella Millett & Jocelyn Wogan-Browne - Non Fiction 
  23. Josephus - Non Fiction (History)
  24. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English - Non Fiction
  25. The Life Of Christina Of Markayte - Trans. C. H. Talbot - Non Fiction
  26. Lysistrata/The Clouds  - Aristophanes - Fiction (History, Play)
  27. Pausanias Guide to Greece Volume One Translated by Peter Levy - Non Fiction (History) 
  28. The Landmark Arrian - Non Fiction (History)
  29. The Crusades A Reader - Ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt - Non Fiction (History)
  30. Women's Writing In Middle English - Ed. Alexandra Barratt - Non Fiction (History)
  31. The Landmark Hellenika - Ed. Robert Strassler - Non Fiction (History)
  32. Chronicles of the First Crusade - Ed. Christopher Tyerman - Non Fiction (History)
  33. Everyman And Medieval Miracle Plays - Ed. A. C. Crawley - Non Fiction
  34. Juvenal The Sixteen Satires - Trans. Peter Green - Poetry
  35. Aeschylus II - Play
  36. Euripides I - Play
  37. Sophocles II - Play
  38. Reading The Middle Ages - Ed. Barbara Rosenwein - Non Fiction (History)
  39. The Song of Roland - Poetry
  40. Rome And Italy - Livy - Non Fiction (History)
  41. The Early History of Rome - Livy - Non Fiction (History)
  42. Odes and Epodes - Horace - Poetry
  43. Joinville And Villehardouin Chronicles of the First Crusade - Non Fiction (History)
  44. The Book Of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades - Usama Ibn Munqidh - Non Fiction (History)
  45. The Book of Margery Kempe - Non Fiction (Autobiography)
  46. Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management - Non Fiction (Cooking)

Unread Fiction Books - 2018

My Unread Fiction Books 2017:

  1. Star Wars: X-Wing Omnibus 3 - Michael Stackpole (Graphic Novel)
  2. A Flame In Hali - Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross (Fantasy)
  3. The Fall of Neskaya - Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross (Fantasy)
  4. Zandru's Forge - Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross (Science Fiction)
  5. Masters of Fantasy (Anthology)
  6. Sword and Sorceress XV - Ed. Marion Zimmer Bradley (Anthology)
  7. Sword and Sorceress XIV - Ed. Marion Zimmer Bradley (Anthology)
  8. Sword and Sorceress X - Ed. Marion Zimmer Bradley (Anthology)
  9. Sword and Sorceress VI - Ed. Marion Zimmer Bradley (Anthology)
  10. Sword and Sorceress IX - Ed. Marion Zimmer Bradley (Anthology)
  11.  Rocket Ship Galileo - Robert Heinlein (Science Fiction)
  12. Falls The Shadow - Sharon Kay Penman (History)
  13. The Reckoning - Sharon Kay Penman (History)
  14. Sword and Sorceress I - Ed. Marion Zimmer Bradey (Anthology)
  15. Sword and Sorceress V - Ed. Marion Zimmer Bradley (Anthology)
  16. Sword and Sorceress VII - Ed. Marion Zimmer Bradley (Anthology)
  17. Against The Odds - Elizabeth Moon (Science Fiction)
  18. Alexandria - Nick Bantock 
  19. Morningstar - Nick Bantock 
  20. Gryphon - Nick Bantock 
  21. Lord of the Two Lands - Judith Tarr (Fantasy)
  22. Variable Star - Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson (Science Fiction)
  23. Zoe's Tale - John Scalzi (Science Fiction)
  24. The Forgetting Room - Nick Bantock 
  25. The Venetian's Wife - Nick Bantock 
  26. The Museum At Purgatory - Nick Bantock
  27. Shadow Of The Swords - Kamran Pasha 
  28. The Forest Laird - Jack Whyte (Historical Fiction)
  29. American Vampire - Scott Snyder, Steven King (Graphic Novel)
  30. A Game Of Thrones - George R. R. Martin (Fantasy, e-book)
  31. Queen By Right - Anne Easter Smith (Historical Fiction)
  32. Dreams of Joy - Lisa See (Historical Fiction)
  33. Rosemary and Rue - Seanan McGuire (Fantasy)
  34. By Fire By Water - Mitchell James Kaplan (History)
  35. Heaven To Wudang - Kylie Chan (Fantasy)
  36. Stalking Darkness - Lynn Flewelling (Fantasy)
  37. Traitor's Moon - Lynn Flewelling (Fantasy)
  38. The Empire At War Vol 1  (Graphic Novel, Science Fiction)
  39. The Empire At War Vol 2 (Graphic Novel, Science Fiction)
  40.  The X Factor - Andre Norton (Science Fiction)
  41. Star Gate - Andre Norton (Science Fiction)
  42. Stargate SG1 Do No Harm - Karen Miller (TV Tie-in, Science Fiction)
  43. Stargate SG1 Relativity - James Swallow (TV Tie-in, Science Fiction)
  44. Stargate SG1 The Morpheus Factor - Ashley McConnell (TV Tie-in, Science Fiction)
  45. Stargate SG1 The Cost of Honor - Sally Malcom (TV Tie-in, Science Fiction)
  46. Stargate SG1 A Matter of Honor - Sally Malcolm (TV Tie-in, Science Fiction)
  47. Stargate SG1 Roswell - Sonny Whitelaw and Jennifer Fallon (TV Tie-in, Science Fiction)
  48. Stargate SG1 Alliances - Karen Miller (TV Tie-in, Science Fiction
  49. Masks of the Outcasts - Andre Norton (Science Fiction)
  50. Stargate SG1 The Price You Pay - Ashley McConnell (TV Tie-in, Science Fiction) 
  51. The Renegade - Jack Whyte (Historical Fiction)
  52. The Guardian - Jack Whyte (Historical Fiction)
  53. Written In My Own Heart's Blood - Diana Gabaldon (Historical Fiction)
  54. An Echo In The Bone - Diana Gabaldon (Historical Fiction)
  55. A Breath Of Snow And Ashes - Diana Gabaldon (Historical Fiction)
  56. In The Shadow Of The Banyan Tree - Vaddey Ratner
  57. The Light Between The Oceans - M. L. Stedman
  58. The Third Gate - Lincoln Child 
  59. Equal Of The Sun - Anita Amirrezvani (Historical Fiction)
  60. The Lake Of Dreams - Kim Edwards 
  61. The Forest - Edward Rutherfurd (Historical Fiction) 
  62. The Second Empress - Michelle Moran (Historical Fiction) 
  63. The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill (Historical Fiction)  
  64. Tempest: All New Tales of Valdemar - Mercedes Lackey (Fantasy) 
  65. Cold Welcome (Vatta's Peace) - Elizabeth Moon (Science Fiction) 
  66. Written In My Own Heart's Blood - Diana Gabaldon (Historical Fiction)
  67. Seven Stones To Stand Or Fall - Diana Gabaldon (Historical Fiction) 
  68. The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane - Lisa See  
  69. A Bear Called Paddington - Michael Bond 
  70. Pathways: All New Tales of Valdemar - Mercedes Lackey (Fantasy) 
  71. Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World Of Mercy Thompson - Patricia Briggs (Fantasy) 
  72. Thunderlord - Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross (Fantasy)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

New and new to me books.

I've had the pleasure over recent weeks to get back into book-buying, and as a result I've discovered an interesting selection of upcoming books, newly released books and books that are just plain new to me. Some of these I have in my hands, some are books I've seen but not yet bought, and some are books that have yet to be released. All of them look interesting.

I'm going to start with one I now own and am looking forward to reading (once I finish my current non-fiction read - Material Culture of the Anglo Saxon World):

Women, Crusading and the Holy Land - Natasha R. HodgsonWomen, Crusading and the Holy Land in Historical Narrative
Natasha R. Hodgson
Boydell Press
Release date: 2007

The blurb:
Narratives of crusading have often been overlooked as a source for the history of women because of their focus on martial events, and perceptions about women inhibiting the recruitment and progress of crusading armies. Yet women consistently appeared in the histories of crusade and settlement, performing a variety of roles. While some were vilified as "useless mouths" or prostitutes, others undertook menial tasks for the army, went on crusade with retinues of their own knights, and rose to political prominence in the Levant and and the West. This book compares perceptions of women from a wide range of historical narratives including those eyewitness accounts, lay histories and monastic chronicles that pertained to major crusade expeditions and the settler society in the Holy Land. It addresses how authors used events involving women and stereotypes based on gender, family role, and social status in writing their histories: how they blended historia and fabula, speculated on women's motivations, and occasionally granted them a literary voice in order to connect with their audience, impart moral advice, and justify the crusade ideal.
I have a fascination with medieval history, but a particular interest in women's and everyday people's roles in that world - how everyday life is shaped and in daily living. I'm sincerely hoping that this book will cover some of those interests. Based on the description, it should. As I said earlier, I'm really looking forward to this read - but I refuse to abandon the book I'm currently reading to start this one.

The next book on my list is another one that I haven't started reading yet: the newest Mercedes Lackey anthology that came out last week. To be honest, I have yet to finish last year's offering (Tempest: All New Tales of Valdemar).

Pathways: All New Tales of Valdemar - Ed. Mercedes LackeyPathways: All New Tales of Valdemar
Ed. Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright: December 5, 2017

The product description:
The eleventh anthology of short stories set in Mercedes Lackey's beloved Valdemar universe features stories by debut and established authors and a brand-new story from Lackey herself

The Heralds of Valdemar are the kingdom’s ancient order of protectors. They are drawn from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages—and all are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and more. These inborn talents—combined with training as emissaries, spies, judges, diplomats, scouts, counselors, warriors, and more—make them indispensable to their monarch and realm. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horse-like Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. The Heralds of Valdemar and their Companions ride circuit throughout the kingdom, protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.

Now, twenty-three authors ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm.

Join Janny Wurts, Elisabeth Waters, Michele Lang, Fiona Patton, and others in twenty-four original stories, including a brand-new novella by Mercedes Lackey, all set in Valdemar, where:

A young woman without any of the Heralds’ Gifts must see a Companion safely delivered to Haven....

A Herald must revisit the mysteries of his childhood to save his own young family and combat a threat at the very heart of Valdemar....

A Hawkbrother flees for his life, trailed by a mysterious bird that prophesizes a dire future....

A mage must choose whether to steal a priceless artifact and be branded a thief and traitor, or let his country fall to magic that could prove far more deadly....
It's hard to believe that this is the eleventh book in this series! It is, though, and from what I've seen online, the book does contain some of the recurring characters that have become a staple of previous anthologies. I have to admit though that I'm not sure which ones they are at this point. I need to finish reading the previous anthology first.

The new season of The Crown came out last week, and I've discovered that there is a companion book to go with the first season now - and possibly the second as well. This is a book that I'd like to get my hands on sooner or later.

The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1: Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen (1947-1955)The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1: Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen (1947-1955)
Robert Lacey
Crown Archetype
Copyright Date: October 2017

The product description:
The official companion to the Emmy-winning Netflix drama chronicling the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, and starring Claire Foy and John Lithgow, The Crown by Peter Morgan, featuring additional historical background and beautifully reproduced archival photos and show stills

Elizabeth Mountbatten never expected her father to die so suddenly, so young, leaving her with a throne to fill and a global institution to govern. Crowned at twenty-five, she was already a wife and mother as she began her journey towards becoming a queen.

As Britain lifted itself out of the shadow of war, the new monarch faced her own challenges. Her mother doubted her marriage; her uncle-in-exile derided her abilities; her husband resented the sacrifice of his career and family name; and her rebellious sister embarked on a love affair that threatened the centuries-old links between the Church and the Crown. This is the story of how Elizabeth II drew on every ounce of resolve to ensure that the Crown always came out on top.

Written by the show’s historical consultant, royal biographer Robert Lacey, and filled with beautifully reproduced archival photos and show stills, The Crown: The Official Companion: Volume 1 adds expert and in-depth detail to the events of the series, painting an intimate portrait of life inside Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. Here is Elizabeth II as we’ve never seen her before.
The description certainly makes this look like an intriguing book - with a mix of archival materials and materials from the show/sets.

And now back to medieval history, with another book on the Crusades to add to my collection. Christopher Tyerman has a good reputation as a historian and I own other books of his - though to my shame, I've only read one of them to date, even though I've owned the other for at least a decade now. This one I've ordered, but it has yet to arrive - expected in January.

How to Plan a Crusade: Religious War in the High Middle Ages - Christopher TyermanHow to Plan a Crusade: Religious War in the High Middle Ages
Christopher Tyerman
Pegasus Books
Copyright: October 2017

The product description:
A spirited and sweeping account of how the crusades really worked―and a revolutionary attempt to rethink how we understand the Middle Ages.
The story of the wars and conquests initiated by the First Crusade and its successors is itself so compelling that most accounts move quickly from describing the Pope's calls to arms to the battlefield. In this highly original and enjoyable new book, Christopher Tyerman focuses on something obvious but overlooked: the massive, all-encompassing and hugely costly business of actually preparing a crusade. The efforts of many thousands of men and women, who left their lands and families in Western Europe, and marched off to a highly uncertain future in the Holy Land and elsewhere have never been sufficiently understood. Their actions raise a host of compelling questions about the nature of medieval society.

How to Plan a Crusade is remarkably illuminating on the diplomacy, communications, propaganda, use of mass media, medical care, equipment, voyages, money, weapons, wills, ransoms, animals, and the power of prayer during this dynamic era. It brings to life an extraordinary period of history in a new and surprising way. 16 pages of color illustrations.
Another one I'm looking forward to reading. I think though, that I've been acquiring books faster than I can read them - and I've been doing this for years now.

And, another book on order that I'm waiting for. It's supposed to arrive any day now though. Dimitra Fimi's Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits. Dimitra Fimi is the author/editor of the hardcover edition of A Secret Vice, and also wrote two chapters in the Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds (which is where I was first exposed to her works).

Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits - Dimitra FimiTolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits
Dimitra Fimi
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright date: 2008

The product description:
Fimi explores the evolution of Tolkien's mythology throughout his lifetime by examining how it changed as a result of his life story and contemporary cultural and intellectual history. This new approach and scope brings to light neglected aspects of Tolkien's imaginative vision and contextualises his fiction.
I'm looking forward to this read too - but when I'll get to it... I've got quite a few unread books on Tolkien in my collection already.

Here's a Tolkien book I really want to get my hands on:

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-EarthTolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth
Catherine McIlwaine
Bodleian Library
Release Date: July 2018

The product description:
He was an expert in medieval literature and Norse folklore, with a deep reverence for the power of myth. An accomplished translator, linguist, and philologist, who invented multiple languages of his own. A whimsical illustrator and a skillful storyteller. The father of modern fantasy literature, J. R. R. Tolkien was a master of world-building and a complex and brilliant figure.
            Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth explores the huge creative endeavor behind Tolkien’s enduring popularity. Lavishly illustrated with more than 300 images of his manuscripts, drawings, maps, and letters, the book traces the creative process behind his most famous literary works—The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion—and reproduces personal photographs and private papers, many of which have never been seen before in print.
            Six essays cover the main themes in Tolkien’s life and work, including the influence of northern languages and legends on the creation of his own legendarium; his concept of “Faërie” as an enchanted literary realm; the central importance of his invented languages in his fantasy writing; his visual imagination and its emergence in his artwork; and the encouragement he derived from his close friend C. S. Lewis and their literary group the Inklings.
            This volume assembles a wealth of original Tolkien material, shedding light on the extraordinary genius and imagination that brought us Middle-earth with all its Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Ringwraiths, Wizards, and, of course, Hobbits. Drawing on the archives of the Tolkien collections at the Bodleian Library and Marquette University, as well as private collections, this exquisitely produced catalog draws together the worlds of J. R .R. Tolkien—scholarly, literary, creative, and domestic—offering a rich and detailed history of this legendary author.
The author/editor of this book is the Tolkien archivist at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. What's of more interest - especially if you live in the United Kingdom - is that the Bodleian Library is holding an exhibition next year on Tolkien which this book is intended to showcase. I only wish I could attend.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Evolving understandings of racism, preferred terminology and historical fiction

I participated briefly in a very interesting exchange on Twitter on the term "gypsy" a week or so ago, mostly by reading the thread, but I did ask one question, one I'd love to get some more thoughts and answers on.

The question I was trying to ask, though I don't think I worded it very well then was about historical fiction. I'm asking it again here in hopes of getting some more responses and thoughts.

"How do you handle terms and attitudes that are now considered racist/inappropriate when dealing with a story set in a time when those attitudes were considered normal/acceptable?"

Personally, I lean on the side of authenticity - if the terminology or attitude was common in primary sources of the time then I don't see an issue with using it - if appropriate for the characters and storylines. Don't go using it just because you can. A fine line... But one that can be trodden I think. Examples include the Book of Negroes (TV series at least), and Outlander (books and TV series both).

I should note that the responses I got to the question when I asked it on Twitter ranged from "yes, authenticity is good, but add warnings so people can chose if they feel like dealing with the attitudes right now" to what felt like "don't write or read those stories. They're racist", though that was never actually said. A fair enough point, but doesn't that cut out most of the past then as fodder for writing?

At least if you don't want "modern characters in period dress" which is an issue I've felt with quite a lot of popular historical fiction, and those books tend to end up on my DNF pile pretty quickly. Not every character in a time period is going to be "enlightened" and "modern" by our standards. Is it realistic of us to expect that in our reading? and if so, doesn't that then construct false impressions of a particular time period?

I'm forever debating variations of this with people I know - mostly on topics of women's rights and legal standing in ancient Rome or Greece (I come down on the "that's the way it was, now how was it justified/accepted/understood in that time" side of the debate, vs. the "that's wrong, it never should have been that way, they're so backwards, how did we ever accept it" side of the debate, which to me gets in the way of trying to understand the way people thought and acted in the past).

This is a question I'm poking at a bit, trying to find an answer that works - I have dreams of one day writing a novel or two myself, and the ideas I have are mostly historically-oriented, so this is something I'm trying to figure out (around reading books about the times I'm interested in to try and lock down facts and ideas that I could use). Whether it'll actually happen or not, I don't know.

What solutions are there to this question? I'd love to know - and not actually being a writer, I'm sure I'm missing some ideas and options. Thing is, while I know I prefer "realism" in what I'm reading when it comes to historical fiction, I also don't want the books I like to be offensive to people either - thus trying to figure out the balancing act.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Judith Tarr blog post series

There's an ongoing series of blog posts by Judith Tarr, who wrote the e-book on Writing Horses: the Fine Art of Getting It Right, over on the TOR books website. This time the main thrust is what an alien society based on horses might look like. Makes for some fascinating reading, as she's been going on the topic for a few months now. What's more, the comment threads are just as interesting as the originating posts, which makes for a really nice treat in this day and age.

There are also some posts on other horse-related topics more geared towards fantasy writing and movies as well. I highly recommend any of her writings on the subject of horses, as well as her numerous novels.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover

Marion Zimmer Bradley's DarkoverMarion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover
Marion Zimmer Bradley
DAW Books
Copyright: 1993

The back jacket blurb:
Return to Darkover, planet of the Bloody Sun, with this collection written solely by the originator of this exotic world, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and including two entirely new stories never before in print. From the Founding to the Ages of Chaos, to the era of the Hundred Kingdoms, to the time of Recontact, travel through the history of Darkover with the writer whose work has inspired so many others to enter her world. Fight alongside the Free Amazons, master the powers of laran with those who work the matrix crystals within their secluded towers, feel the magical pull of the Ghost Wind, explore the mysteries of this long-lost colony with those who come from beyond the stars, and experience all the wonder of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover.
Well, I found myself reading this one a lot sooner than I originally anticipated. As I'd thought, I quite enjoyed it too - though I know I need to re-read some of the full novels set in the world of Darkover now. I'd forgotten just who Dyan Ardais was, and also a lot of the finer points around Camilla, Kyria and the other Renunciates.

Some of the stories I recognized right off - though I couldn't tell you which anthologies they were from originally. Others seemed to be new to me - specifically some of the stories about Hillary. I think a couple of those were published in this volume for the first time.

Believe it or not, one of my favorite things about an anthology like this one are the various notes that begin each section. Especially for a set of short stories set in an already established world, where I can learn a few more tidbits about how that world came to be, and the author's thought processes. Seeing the origins for some of the Free Amazons, for example.

I don't know if this would be a good book for someone who's not already familiar with the world of Darkover. I suspect it, like all the other anthologies of Darkover stories, is really more for the fans who already know the world, have some favorite characters or regions and truly wish to explore more.

For myself, I'm wondering if it's now time to do a Darkover re-read. Anyone interested?

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Crucible of War 1939-1945: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force Volume III

The Crucible of War 1939-1945: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force Volume IIIThe Crucible of War 1939-1945: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force Volume III
Brereton Greenhous, Stephen J. Harris, William C. Johnston, and William G.P. Rawling
University of Toronto Press
Copyright Date: 1994

The product description:
Some 40 per cent of RCAF aircrew who served overseas during the Second World War did so in RACF squadrons. This is their story. The first RCAF squadron to see action in the Second World War was No. 1 Fighter Squadron, later to be No. 401, which from 18 August 1940 participated in the Battle of Britain. The last, in a still active theatre, were Nos. 435 and 436, delivering supplies in Burma until late August 1945. In between, RCAF squadrons served in all the major commands and in most major theatres of war. They were engaged by day and by night in air-to-air combat, strategic bombing, photo-reconnaissance, anti-shipping strikes and anti-submarine patrols, close air support, interdiction, and tactical airlift supply.
The Crucible of War is divided into five parts: Air Policy, the Fighter War, the Maritime Air War, the Bomber Air War, and the Air Transport War. The authors break new ground by demonstrating the influence of senior RCAF officers in shaping the execution of Canadian air policy, and they show how senior RCAF officer were permitted to determine the pace of Canadianization of the RCAF.
Many operations are described in detail from a wide variety of documentary sources, among them the unsuccessful battle of attrition that resulted from Fighter Command's offensive over France in 1941-42, and the actions of the RCAF's No 83 Group in Second Tactical Air Force, which provided air support for the British Second Army. Overdue notice is accorded the anti-shipping strike squadrons of Coastal Command. No 6 Group's battle with German night-fighters is recounted within the framework of complex electronic measures and counter-measures developed by both sides.
The RCAF, with a total strength of 4061 officers and men on 1 September 1939, grew by the end of the war to a strength of more than 263,000 men and women. This important and well-illustrated new history shows how they contributed to the resolution of the most significant conflict of our time.
The other volumes in the Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force are Canadian Airmen and the First World War by S.F. Wise (available) and The Creation of a National Air Force by W.A.B. Douglas (out of print)
Right off the bat, I have to say I don't think I'm ever going to read this one cover to cover. World War II history isn't my specialty. However, that's not why I bought it. Instead, I wanted to find out more about some family history. And for that, Crucible of War does wonderfully. It's very thoroughly indexed by event, squadron, location, just about every possible way of searching something I can think of. And that's why I'm recommending it. If you want information on a particular squadron or group, this is a great place to start hunting. Of course, I'm also going to recommend throwing those same pieces of information into Google. I did that and that's how I found out about Crucible of War. I also discovered various other bits of records I'd never seen before at the same time!

I've found far more in this book though than I have in many others on the topic of the RCAF - probably because none of the other books I hunted in were quite this specialized. Given that it's not too expensive to buy, especially used, I'm going to strongly recommend it, especially if you have a good idea of the information you're looking for. I wish I'd discovered Crucible of War a couple of decades ago, as this particular project is one I've been working on off and on for at least that long. I'm probably going to continue hunting down information well into the future too.

I can also see this potentially becoming a bit of a reference work for my work as an indexer - I've had a couple of books now on World War II.

Found at the Thrift Store: Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover

Marion Zimmer Bradley's DarkoverMarion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover
Marion Zimmer Bradley
DAW Books
Copyright: 1993

The back jacket blurb:
Return to Darkover, planet of the Bloody Sun, with this collection written solely by the originator of this exotic world, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and including two entirely new stories never before in print. From the Founding to the Ages of Chaos, to the era of the Hundred Kingdoms, to the time of Recontact, travel through the history of Darkover with the writer whose work has inspired so many others to enter her world. Fight alongside the Free Amazons, master the powers of laran with those who work the matrix crystals within their secluded towers, feel the magical pull of the Ghost Wind, explore the mysteries of this long-lost colony with those who come from beyond the stars, and experience all the wonder of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover.
I'm pretty sure I've read most of these stories before, as they were published in a number of the Darkover anthologies that have come out over the years. Nonetheless, I don't own most of those books, so it'll be nice to have Marion Zimmer Bradley's stories collected together. I honestly have no idea of when I'm going to get around to reading this one however.

As I noted in my title, I found this one at a local thrift store, on a quick scan through their book section - something that's usually worth doing I find. I can't help but ask what your most recent thrift store/used bookstore find has been.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Arrows Flight - Mercedes Lackey

Arrow's Flight - Mercedes LackeyArrow's Flight
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright: 1987

The product description:
Follows the adventures of Talia as she travels the land as a Herald of Valdemar in the second book in the classic epic fantasy Arrows trilogy

Talia could scarcely believe that she had finally earned the rank of full Herald. Yet though this seemed like the fulfillment of all her dreams, it also meant she would face trials far greater than those she had previously survived. For now Talia must ride forth to patrol the kingdom of Valdemar, dispending Herald's justice throughout the land.

But in this realm beset by dangerous unrest, enforcing her rulings would require all the courage and skill Talia could command—for if she misused her own special powers, both she and Valdemar would pay the price!
Arrow's Flight is the sequel to Arrows of the Queen, Mercedes Lackey's introductory book in the world of Valdemar. It's also a book I've read and re-read many times. The most recent re-read can be found here. I should also note that I chose to re-read this one now for the Valdemar Reading Challenge that I run every year.

Either way, the last few times I've picked up Arrow's Flight, I've found more and more that there are parts of the book that irritate me a bit - mostly the fact that much of it seems to be misunderstanding central - and yet, each of those misunderstandings seems to build logically off the of the last. Of course, there are also plenty of amusing moments and we see Heralds on circuit in detail.

There were a few details that had me going "how is this supposed to work?" on this read through, one of which was the "fumigation bombs" that Kris and Talia use in the waystations. I couldn't help but think of the possibility of one setting the place on fire inadvertently if it landed in the wrong place/something had been knocked over and the like. Other than that, as someone else pointed out, much of the book is two people talking about a third person not currently with them - mostly foreshadowing for the third book.

Other than that, it was neat to see the Queen relaxing, and to get a first glimpse of Eldan, who we see primarily in parts of By The Sword, and also IIRC in Owlsight. I have to say, this is also the book that makes me want to hear some of the music described - namely Sun and Shadow. Think I'm going to have to head for YouTube to see if I can find some recordings of this or some of the other music that goes with the world of Valdemar. It's a bit hard to believe, but I've been reading these books for more than twenty years now, known about the music for a while, but never taken the time to go hunting for any of it before.

Arrow's Flight is definitely a "middle book" if you know what I mean, and sets up some of the situations for the third book, Arrow's Fall. Still, it's a read that I enjoyed, and I'm quite disappointed that part of the cover of my copy fell apart on this read. And I've since discovered that part of the cover on my copy of Arrow's Fall is missing too - I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the condition of my books.


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