Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Whats your Cut-Off Point ?

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.
User avatar
kodiakblair
Scribbler
Posts: 38
Joined: January 2012
Location: Falkirk,Scotland

Whats your Cut-Off Point ?

Post by kodiakblair » Mon October 21st, 2013, 6:40 pm

As the latest book in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series is out I started re-reading the others. Midway through book 3 I was struggling as two themes were endlessly repeated like a mantra. Now I understand the importance of these themes but every few pages was too much. Anyway 2/3rds into book 4 the main character throws away the chance to realise his goal on a whim of the heart.
Four books of him as a Warlord, Killer of Men, Shrugging of the loss of family, Betrayal then this. Utter Tosh !
Normally it's a character given modern views that does it now I can add a military man breaking his word on the eve of battle. There's more to it but I can't really gives details for fear of spoiling things for others.
At this point I don't even feel like just starting book 7 to see how it ends if indeed book 7 is the end. Lord knows how many Sharpe books Cornwells wrote.

Anyone else reach a point when you just scream " Enough "

annis
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4585
Joined: August 2008

Post by annis » Mon October 21st, 2013, 6:58 pm

Definitely, though usually with fantasy series that just won't decently die! Bk 7 isn't the last in the Saxon series, btw - looking at several major battles to come before Athelstan unites England at the Battle of Brunaburh (the cut-off point), there will be at least three to come.

I agree that the last few Sharpe novels have been a fairly formulaic and cursory gesture to fans begging for more, but did enjoy the latest Saxon tale. I do struggle to understand why Uhtred attracts such loyalty and affection when he generally comes across as a right bastard, though - perhaps you had to be there to see the heart of gold beneath the snarling exterior :)

It pays to remember that books in a series are written with at least a year's reading gap in mind. Reading them one after another is always going to result in a certain amount of tedious recapping/repetition of themes. I recently read Harry Sidebottom's Ballista series one after the other and even though it's uniformly excellent, I felt on reflection that I probably shouldn't have done that :(
Last edited by annis on Mon October 21st, 2013, 7:13 pm, edited 6 times in total.

User avatar
kodiakblair
Scribbler
Posts: 38
Joined: January 2012
Location: Falkirk,Scotland

Post by kodiakblair » Mon October 21st, 2013, 11:18 pm

I kinda had the feeling it would go to ten books Annis. I recently picked up Brunanburh a Casebook ( University of Exeter Press ) so how Cornwell and the scholars will gel remains to be seen.

As for Uhtred I don't find him bastard enough. A common failing in most HF, lives were short hard and brutal especially if the Sagas are anything to go by. I had the same problem with Sidebottom it was all going well then the Irish Bodyguard displayed an act of trust that never would have happened, when fleeing the enemy who leaves a prisoner behind that promises to lie what direction you went. Absolute nonsense.
Having said that the so-called Grimdark fantasies have the authors trying too hard. Robert Low hits the mark most of the time for me, 8 books in and no real " No Way " moments. 8 year old boys splitting skulls with axes took me right back to childhood reading " Egils Saga " Thanks Robert.

annis
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4585
Joined: August 2008

Post by annis » Wed October 23rd, 2013, 3:02 am

I'm a member of the Rob Low fan club, too. I think his novels work so well because they are steeped in the saga sensibility - no concessions to modern PC stuff. Older authors like George Shipway and Wallace Breem also excelled in keeping to period sensibilty instead of catering to modern qualms.

Was startled the other day to find a reader complaining that 40 year old Pliny in David Macbain's Roman Games married a girl of 14, and castigating the author because she found this disgustingly icky. Considering Pliny did in fact marry a girl of 14 and such a marriage was considered fine by the standards of the time I thought this a ridiculous complaint :( Should novelists be obliged to change historical realities for fear of offending? Surely that would defeat the purpose of writing HF, which is to give readers a taste of different times and places.

Irish Guards? Goldsworthy, maybe? Sidebottom hasn't ventured out of the late Roman Empire as a setting to date. Sidebottom is a class above Goldsworthy as a writer of historical fiction imo, but an enthusiasm for quoting extensively from ancient works, which is fine in one book, can become a bit irritating when you read all his novels at the same time.
Last edited by annis on Wed October 23rd, 2013, 4:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

Lucy Pick
Scribbler
Posts: 48
Joined: March 2010

Post by Lucy Pick » Wed October 23rd, 2013, 4:19 pm

Well, there you go --- a lot of things that happened in history were actually kind of icky.

User avatar
kodiakblair
Scribbler
Posts: 38
Joined: January 2012
Location: Falkirk,Scotland

Post by kodiakblair » Sun October 27th, 2013, 5:09 pm

Definitely was Sidebottom Annis. Maximus is Hibernian.

Wasn't aware Goldsworthy had started writing fiction. He certainly knows his stuff judging by his history books. Any recommendations.

Oh have you read Red Orm by Bengtsson. Great book. Totally agree with you about Breem and Shipway. Think when I find the Anti Slavery Roman Legionary be time to give up HF.

Enjoying The Pagan Lord though glad I stuck with it.

Cheers K.B

annis
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4585
Joined: August 2008

Post by annis » Sun October 27th, 2013, 6:09 pm

Long Ships is an old favourite :)

Goldsworthy has written a series set during the Napoleonic Wars - quite good but rather dry in style (reference here Mortimer on historians and historical fiction - I have to say that historians do struggle to get away from academia when writing fiction). Hard for anyone writing Napoleonic War novels to get away from comparison with Cornwell too, and many (like Iain Gale) are quite cheerfully and unashamedly derivative of Sharpe.

I did enjoy Pagan Lord, but I wanted to box Cornwell's ears for the Bebbanburgh tease :)
Last edited by annis on Mon October 28th, 2013, 12:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
kodiakblair
Scribbler
Posts: 38
Joined: January 2012
Location: Falkirk,Scotland

Post by kodiakblair » Sun October 27th, 2013, 9:51 pm

but I wanted to box Cornwell's ears for the Bebbanburgh tease :)

Secretly you knew it would be too good to be true.

I think I'm going to read Francis Hagan's The Arthuriad, which i've heard described as Karl Wagner and Robert e Howard do Arthur and " Utter Drivel ".
Some folks just shouldn't read HF i guess.

Anyways back to last 60 pages of Pagan Lord.

K.B

User avatar
JaneConsumer
Reader
Posts: 125
Joined: August 2008
Location: U.S.
Contact:

Post by JaneConsumer » Mon October 28th, 2013, 11:56 am

I quit the series after reading the 4th book twice to figure out what I missed while everyone around me was raving about it. lol

Life's too short. I liked Sworn Sword by James Aitchenson, but I haven't gotten to the second book yet. Maybe there's a third??

User avatar
emr
Compulsive Reader
Posts: 840
Joined: January 2009
Location: Castilla

Post by emr » Mon October 28th, 2013, 12:45 pm

[quote=""JaneConsumer""]
Life's too short. I liked Sworn Sword by James Aitchenson, but I haven't gotten to the second book yet. Maybe there's a third??[/quote]

Yup. Knights of the Hawk

I have this tendency to give up after 3 books unless the series is really really good. While reading The Last Kingdom I kept remembering that I am a couple of books behind with Chris Cameron and if I had to choose I'd go with Cameron. I may give Cornwell's second book a go but I don't see myself reading 7 books + unknown... uh
"So many books, so little time."
— Frank Zappa

Post Reply

Return to “General Discussion”