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What Are You Reading? August 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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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Tue August 27th, 2013, 12:15 pm

Fallen Women by Sandra Dallas. Denver 1885, with a murder mystery to be solved. Enjoying it, though it isn't rocking my world. I have this really bad feeling I guessed the murderer in the first 100 pages. Time will tell if I'm right.
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

JenniferLovesRoxi
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Post by JenniferLovesRoxi » Tue August 27th, 2013, 3:39 pm

I started reading Women in the Wall by Julia O'Faolain this morning, after reading a few posts made by members of this forum recommending it. I've only read the first chapter but I can definitely already understand what was meant by the dark, gritty tone and feel of the book. I just hope that the fact that the book I finished last night was so amazing doesn't ruin this one for me.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Tue August 27th, 2013, 4:36 pm

Just finished Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. Started off really well and then for the last quarter of the book turns into a gallop toward the finish line with a stack of telling rather than showing. I didn't really get much of an idea of the character of Caleb either. Now off historical and onto Northern Lights by Nora Roberts - love her romantic suspense novels.
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

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annis
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Post by annis » Tue August 27th, 2013, 10:16 pm

Have just started Fire in the East, the first in Harry Sidebottom's acclaimed series set in the Roman Empire during the Third Century Crisis. A good read and Sidebottom really knows his stuff, but was a bit taken aback to find the hero Ballista (a Germanic warrior of the Angles now become Roman citizen), quoting a piece from the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. Surely Beowulf is thought be dated sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries AD? Whatever- several centuries ahead of the time inhabited by Ballista, anyway. Perhaps we're meant to assume that the Anglian tribesmen took the poem with them when they emigrated to post-Roman Britain? :)

Posted by EC
-onto Northern Lights by Nora Roberts - love her romantic suspense novels
Given Roberts' phenomenal output, her work is predictably rather uneven, but when she gets it right she's certainly hard to beat. Northern Lights is possibly my favourite of all her romantic suspenses.
Last edited by annis on Tue August 27th, 2013, 10:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Brenna
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Post by Brenna » Tue August 27th, 2013, 10:18 pm

[quote=""Vanessa""]I've just started Stormbird by Conn Inguldden, a book I've been sent to review.[/quote]

And what do you think?

Reading Howatch's Cashelmara which I did like better than Penmarric but I'm not sure I can get into Patrick's point of view. We will see how it goes.
Brenna

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lauragill
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Post by lauragill » Tue August 27th, 2013, 11:49 pm

[quote=""annis""]Have just started Fire in the East, the first in Harry Sidebottom's acclaimed series set in the Roman Empire during the Third Century Crisis. A good read and Sidebottom really knows his stuff, but was a bit taken aback to find the hero Ballista (a Germanic warrior of the Angles now become Roman citizen), quoting a piece from the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. Surely Beowulf is thought be dated sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries AD? Whatever- several centuries ahead of the time inhabited by Ballista, anyway. Perhaps we're meant to assume that the Anglian tribesmen took the poem with them when they emigrated to post-Roman Britain? :)

[/quote]

But the real events in Beowulf (the blood feuds between the Danes and their enemies, the Geats and whoever, etc.) that can be chronicled took place in the 5th-6th century A.D., so it's still wrong.
Last edited by lauragill on Tue August 27th, 2013, 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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annis
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Post by annis » Wed August 28th, 2013, 12:17 am

Posted by LauraGill
But the real events in Beowulf (the blood feuds between the Danes and their enemies, the Geats and whoever, etc.) that can be chronicled took place in the 5th-6th century A.D., so it's still wrong.
Yes, I know - was being a bit of a smartypants :) Guess Sidebottom was counting on not too many readers being familiar with the poem! Focusing on details like this seems nitpicky, but unfortunately when you know they're just plain wrong, these are the little things that throw you out of a story. A lot of the stuff Sidebottom throws in about the northern Germanic gods could be dodgy too and seems to relate more to Norse mythology than Anglian, though I guess northern Germanic and Norse mythology and customs are close relatives.

I'm sure you find this about Minoan culture too, and I'm sure you'd be driven nutty by the Raggatts' Bulldancers of Knossos now I look at it again some 15 years on!
Last edited by annis on Wed August 28th, 2013, 1:12 am, edited 9 times in total.

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Nefret
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Post by Nefret » Wed August 28th, 2013, 12:34 am

Ancestors of Avalon by Diana Paxson (And also... The Last English King by Julian Rathbone


It's been a while. So I'm reading to review on Goodreads.
Last edited by Nefret on Wed August 28th, 2013, 12:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
Into battle we ride with Gods by our side
We are strong and not afraid to die
We have an urge to kill and our lust for blood has to be fulfilled
WE´LL FIGHT TILL THE END! And send our enemies straight to Hell!
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lauragill
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Post by lauragill » Wed August 28th, 2013, 1:27 am

[quote=""annis""]Posted by LauraGill


Yes, I know - was being a bit of a smartypants :) Guess Sidebottom was counting on not too many readers being familiar with the poem! Focusing on details like this seems nitpicky, but unfortunately when you know they're just plain wrong, these are the little things that throw you out of a story. A lot of the stuff Sidebottom throws in about the northern Germanic gods could be dodgy too and seems to relate more to Norse mythology than Anglian, though I guess northern Germanic and Norse mythology and customs are close relatives.

I'm sure you find this about Minoan culture too, and I'm sure you'd be driven nutty by the Raggatts' Bulldancers of Knossos now I look at it again some 15 years on![/quote]

I haven't found too many novels about the Minoans. Of course, I can't fault Renault's Theseus novels, even though there are a few possible factual quibbles, because the quality of the writing is so excellent. But there are a few recently-published novels set in Minoan Crete that bother me, that I won't get into detail about here. I never criticize other authors who are still living and who might read this post.

It's mostly the self-published books I have issue with, and for reasons other than factual errors--and this is coming from a self-published author, mind you.

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Post by Carla » Wed August 28th, 2013, 11:40 am

[quote=""annis""]Posted by LauraGill


Yes, I know - was being a bit of a smartypants :) Guess Sidebottom was counting on not too many readers being familiar with the poem! Focusing on details like this seems nitpicky, but unfortunately when you know they're just plain wrong, these are the little things that throw you out of a story. A lot of the stuff Sidebottom throws in about the northern Germanic gods could be dodgy too and seems to relate more to Norse mythology than Anglian, though I guess northern Germanic and Norse mythology and customs are close relatives.

I'm sure you find this about Minoan culture too, and I'm sure you'd be driven nutty by the Raggatts' Bulldancers of Knossos now I look at it again some 15 years on![/quote]

Tacitus' descriptions of Germanic culture in Germania would be the best source for Ballista's likely cultural background; Ballista is a couple of centuries later than Tacitus but as far as I know there's nothing in between.

Some of the events and people in Beowulf can be reasonably attributed to the 5th-6th C, but the three central fights between Beowulf and Grendel, Grendel's Mother and the Dragon have a timeless quality. Perhaps the idea is that those parts of the Beowulf poem were based on myths and stories that had been around as far back as Ballista's time or even earlier. Which bits of the poem does Ballista quote? I can't remember now.

Tacitus doesn't give all that much detail about the Germanic gods, except for noting that the Angles worshipped a Mother Earth goddess. Ballista's Allfather is clearly based on the Norse Odin. Interestingly, Tacitus says that the mother goddess travelled around in a sacred wagon, and there's a story from medieval Norway, in one of the sagas of Olaf Tryggvason I think, about a fertility god (in that case, a male god, Frey) travelling around Sweden in a sacred wagon. So possibly some aspects of gods and belief were conserved/shared across a thousand-plus years and several hundred miles of distance. I didn't mind Harry Sidebottom drawing on Norse mythology for Ballista's beliefs; there's not much else, and he might as well start somewhere. I also rather liked it as a device for stressing that Ballista was an outsider in Rome.
Last edited by Carla on Wed August 28th, 2013, 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
PATHS OF EXILE - love, war, honour and betrayal in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria
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