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What Are You Reading? July 2013

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Mon July 15th, 2013, 11:50 am

Well, I've finished Stormbird. I enjoyed it and would say that it's entertaining and as usual with Con Iggulden it's strong on pace and story telling. There is a lot of fighting as you would expect. I'd like to have seen more of Margaret of Anjou on the page and domestic scenarios, but that's my reader taste coming into play and not a reflection on the novel which will mostly do what it says on the tin for the author's fans (who may become fed up with Margaret's moments even if to me they were some of the best bits). I know nothing about Margaret of Anjou, so can't comment on whether or not her personality is correctly portrayed, but she comes over as a thoroughly decent sort of girl and then a young woman who has to find her backbone if she's to survive. If I had to bet on it, though I'd say Iggulden's portrait of her is probably skewed towards nicey-nicey and not the real deal. But it's good as a story.
I think that anyone knowing their history from the period may have to suspend their disbelief, and I suspect that fudging and glossing over frequently happen in order that the history doesn't get in the way of the story. In some ways the style reminds me of Ken Follett while being a lot better than Follett. I'll certainly read the next one in the series, and that's generally a test of whether or not the author's done their job!

Now onto Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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princess garnet
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Post by princess garnet » Mon July 15th, 2013, 8:51 pm

The Queen's Vow by CW Gortner (paperback ed)

annis
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Post by annis » Mon July 15th, 2013, 8:53 pm

As I think i mentioned elsewhere, Iggulden is quite upfront about his MO in reshaping history to suit his stories. If you're familiar with a period it's likely to drive you spare, but if you just want a rattling good yarn with a historical flavour he's your man (as his book sales attest!)

Because I'm reasonably familiar with Roman history I had to give away his Emperor series, but being not so familiar with th dynasty founded by Genghis Khan I coped better with his Conqueror books.

Quite amused by all the excitement about the outing of JK Rowling as Robert Galbraith, author of Cuckoo's Calling. I read this book a month or so back and thought it pretty good - a nice period piece with lots of noirish atmosphere and engaging characters. Am I being cynical, though, in wondering if if one of JK's publicists might have been wanting to boost sales with a bit of orchestrated mysterious tweeting? Although reviews were very positive, sales certainly weren't in Rowling's usual stratospheric bracket - till now :)
Last edited by annis on Mon July 15th, 2013, 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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red805
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Post by red805 » Mon July 15th, 2013, 9:11 pm

Halfway through The Outpost by Jake Tapper, a gripping & raw account of American troops in a remote Afghanistan military post from 2006 - 2009. Not my usual historical fiction or thriller, this was recommended by a friend & it is excellent so far, but tough to take in all the real life death & puzzling military decision-making too. I would highly recommend it if you have an iron stomach.

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Mon July 15th, 2013, 10:43 pm

[quote=""EC2""]Well, I've finished Stormbird. I enjoyed it and would say that it's entertaining and as usual with Con Iggulden it's strong on pace and story telling. There is a lot of fighting as you would expect. I'd like to have seen more of Margaret of Anjou on the page and domestic scenarios, but that's my reader taste coming into play and not a reflection on the novel which will mostly do what it says on the tin for the author's fans (who may become fed up with Margaret's moments even if to me they were some of the best bits). I know nothing about Margaret of Anjou, so can't comment on whether or not her personality is correctly portrayed, but she comes over as a thoroughly decent sort of girl and then a young woman who has to find her backbone if she's to survive. If I had to bet on it, though I'd say Iggulden's portrait of her is probably skewed towards nicey-nicey and not the real deal. But it's good as a story.


[/quote]

I can believe that portrayal of her, actually. Will definitely have to read this one.
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/
http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/blog/

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JaneConsumer
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Post by JaneConsumer » Mon July 15th, 2013, 11:49 pm

[quote=""EC2""]Well, I've finished Stormbird. I enjoyed it and would say that it's entertaining and as usual with Con Iggulden it's strong on pace and story telling. There is a lot of fighting as you would expect. I'd like to have seen more of Margaret of Anjou on the page and domestic scenarios, but that's my reader taste coming into play and not a reflection on the novel which will mostly do what it says on the tin for the author's fans (who may become fed up with Margaret's moments even if to me they were some of the best bits). I know nothing about Margaret of Anjou, so can't comment on whether or not her personality is correctly portrayed, but she comes over as a thoroughly decent sort of girl and then a young woman who has to find her backbone if she's to survive. If I had to bet on it, though I'd say Iggulden's portrait of her is probably skewed towards nicey-nicey and not the real deal. But it's good as a story.
I think that anyone knowing their history from the period may have to suspend their disbelief, and I suspect that fudging and glossing over frequently happen in order that the history doesn't get in the way of the story. In some ways the style reminds me of Ken Follett while being a lot better than Follett. I'll certainly read the next one in the series, and that's generally a test of whether or not the author's done their job!

Now onto Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier.[/quote]

Thanks for this. I may have to order from the UK after all. :)

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JaneConsumer
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Post by JaneConsumer » Mon July 15th, 2013, 11:51 pm

[quote=""annis""]Quite amused by all the excitement about the outing of JK Rowling as Robert Galbraith, author of Cuckoo's Calling. I read this book a month or so back and thought it pretty good - a nice period piece with lots of noirish atmosphere and engaging characters. Am I being cynical, though, in wondering if if one of JK's publicists might have been wanting to boost sales with a bit of orchestrated mysterious tweeting? Although reviews were very positive, sales certainly weren't in Rowling's usual stratospheric bracket - till now :) [/quote]
You're not the only cynic. :) i had the same thought. Worked out well for all. But Im glad to hear its a deserving book.

JenniferLovesRoxi
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Post by JenniferLovesRoxi » Tue July 16th, 2013, 12:28 am

I am reading The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley. I am about 15% of the way through it and so far so good.

annis
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Post by annis » Tue July 16th, 2013, 4:22 am

I should clarify that when I say A Cuckoo's Calling is a period piece, I don't mean that it's set in the past, more that it has a nostalgic flavour of the past in its style, rather more like an Agatha Christie than say, an Adrian McKinty. Maybe a touch of homage to Conan Doyle's Dr Watson in its hero- an ex-soldier seriously wounded in Afghanistan turned private eye certainly has a familiar ring about it!

A good read, though I notice a lot of reviewers officiously offended at having been "hoaxed" suddenly slagging it online (hello- hasn't any famous author ever used a pseudonym before?) - even though many of them clearly haven't even opened its pages!

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sweetpotatoboy
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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Tue July 16th, 2013, 4:34 am

[quote=""annis""]
Quite amused by all the excitement about the outing of JK Rowling as Robert Galbraith, author of Cuckoo's Calling. I read this book a month or so back and thought it pretty good - a nice period piece with lots of noirish atmosphere and engaging characters. Am I being cynical, though, in wondering if if one of JK's publicists might have been wanting to boost sales with a bit of orchestrated mysterious tweeting? Although reviews were very positive, sales certainly weren't in Rowling's usual stratospheric bracket - till now :) [/quote]

I feel the same. What was the point in publishing under a pseudonym if the plan was to reveal the true author in order for more than a handful of copies to be sold?
Would have been much more interesting if it had sold really well and it was only then revealed some time later who actually wrote it.

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