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review 2017-10-08 14:10
Legend of Love: Muse of Epic Poetry - Callie - Lisa Kessler

*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Lisa Kessler in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way.

 

I'm completely in love with this series, and I'm waiting anxiously for each and every book in this series. The second book in this series takes the story further, by introducing a new Guardian, Hunter, but also by making the villains more evil and scarier, maybe even a little bit deranged.

 

Hunter is an interesting choice for a Guardian. I like how his military career was portrayed and how it played into his role as a Guardian. I also liked the fact that he didn't have the same gift as Nate, so I'm assuming each Guardian will have different gifts. I'm also assuming that their gifts are somehow tied to what the Muse they're protecting.

 

Callie was a great heroine. I like how she dedicates herself to working with military men and women, to help them heal from traumas from being in war zones. The thing I liked most about her is that she's not perfect, she has a little bit of a wildness in her, due to her Muse, that she tries a lot to keep under control.

 

I liked Callie and Hunter together, they make a great team, and I liked the little glimpse into Mel and Nate's future. The pacing was great, and there were a few developments in the overall story, that of some really deranged people trying to keep the Muses from opening up the Theater of the Muses, that I'm very curious to see how it will play out in the future books.

 

All in all, a great book and one that any urban fantasy lover should add to their TBR piles.

Source: rubys-books.blogspot.com
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review 2017-08-26 14:26
Legend of Love: Muse of Epic Poetry - Callie - Lisa Kessler

Legend of Love by Lisa Kessler is the second book in the Muse Chronicles series. If I were to make a comparison with the previous book. I would have to say this my favourite.


What the story is about.

Legend of Love is Callie O’Connor’s story. Callie is a woman of adventure, but when the muse epic poetry came alive within her, her life was never the same. To escape the effects of what her muse does to her she moved across the country and took a job as a civilian psychologist for the Navy while leading her sister muses in their quest to reopen the Theatre of the Muses. She is determined to stay single and made a pact to remain dateless and single until the theatre was completed. However, she never counted on meeting Hunter Armstrong, a Navy Seal, who is determined to break down her barriers and do his best to protect her from the evil at hand.

The Story

The story picked up from where book one left off. The threat to the muses is not over. Instead of weakening, it intensified. The Order of the Titans are determined to put an end the inspiration of this generation, that means killing the muses, and Callie is on their radar.

The story began on a strong note and maintained that pace to the end. We learn more about The Order of the Titans. Based on their actions, I would say they are fanatics, which makes them deadly. However, I found them to be inefficient in their quest to kill the muses.

The theme that intrigued me most about this series was how Greek mythology was incorporated with present day events. The intensity of the action scenes kept me glued to the pages. My eagerness to discover how the events would unfold kept me turning the pages.

I loved how the romance unfolded. Callie and Hunters’ connection was instantaneous, which I expected due to the legend surrounding the guardian and his muse. However, the romance developed at a pace that was befitting the characters. I appreciated their attempts at getting to know each other before rushing into the carnal aspect of their relationship.

There was a particular scene which I found emotional. Reading that scene made me feel sad but placed a smile on my face.

The Characters
Character development was well executed. Callie’s past is riddled with secrets and as a result, she is scared to get close to Hunter. She believes she would cause heartbreak for any man she gets close to and so getting involved with Hunter was out of the question.

Hunter is a troubled soul. He joined the military to help his family. However, his duty to his country prevented him from sharing in important events in their lives. Added to that, he is struggling with the guilt of leaving behind a team member during his last deployment. Meeting Callie would bring changes to his life in ways he never anticipated.

I loved Callie and Hunter together. He helped her to move past her fears and seize her destiny. With Hunter, she learnt she need not fear who she had become. She helped him to see that he need not feel guilty about his family or his friend.

Conclusion/Recommendation
I thought this was a great addition to the series. I can’t wait to see what next the author has in store for this series.

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review 2016-08-03 17:10
Massacre upon Massacre
The Nibelungenlied - Unknown,A.T. Hatto

 

Well, maybe it isn't the case that the entire book is about people being slaughtered, but when you reach the end it certainly feels like it, with the last quarter of the story involving a huge revenge slaughter in the Hungarian king's home. In fact it appears as if, with the exception of a couple of people, nobody actually comes out of this story on top – and the thing is that other than being a bit of a pompous git, Siegfried didn't do anything wrong, and while revenge against his murderers may not be the best response, Kreimhild was entirely justified (in a certain sense) to seek justice for Siegfried's murder (and also the fact that she was pretty upset that Hagan took all of her treasure – it is was certainly a LOT of treasure – and dumped it in the Rhine).

 

Anyway, it wasn't all that hard to actually pick a book to read in Germany, particularly since I have this habit of reading a book that has come from whatever country I am visiting. Okay, that isn't necessarily easy for a lot of places (Singapore for instance, unless it is the Lonely Planet Guide to Singapore, but that doesn't technically count as a book), but when it comes to Germany, picking the Nibelungenlied (translation being 'the Song of the Nibelungens) was pretty much a no-brainer, especially since it completely slipped my mind the last time I was in Germany (though that was only for a couple of days, and even then I ended up reading Gunter Grass – I also have some Herman Hesse though since I only have one more day here I doubt I'll be able to get through Sidhartha – though I'll give it a shot).

 

Anyway, continuing with the theme, I found myself in a 19th Century Palace a few kilometres outside of Bonn called Schoß Drachenburg (which is located halfway up a mountain known as Drachenfels), and inside this palace there is a room known as the Nibelungenzimmer, and while there were chairs in the room, there was a rope between me and them so I couldn't actually sit down and read the book, so instead my brother took a photo of me standing up:

 

 

And here is a photograph of one of the paintings (though please forgive my photographic skills – they suck, though not as much as my French).

 

 

Anyway, enough of my travels and onto the book. A couple of years ago I saw this awesome miniseries based on the Nibelungenlied (the IMDB link is here), however having now read the book I have realised that while it was somewhat loosely based on the original epic (as was Wagner's opera, though since I have never seen it, nor know of the plot, I can't really comment), the story seemed to be somewhat different. The thing is that apparently Tolkien based a lot of his material for Lord of the Rings on this story, though as far as I am aware there wasn't any rings mentioned (though in other versions of the story a cursed ring actually plays a very big role). Also, a lot of the material that we are familiar with, such as Siegfried slaying the dragon and bathing in his blood, occur before the poem begins and are only relayed to us through a Hagen's tale.

 

 

Anyhow, the story is about how Siegfried comes to Burgundy and married Kriemhild (without ever seeing her, but it was traditional in the Middle Ages that the groom never sees the bride before the wedding night, which seems to be a tradition that has been passed down to us, that is the groom cannot see the bride in her wedding dress otherwise it will bring bad luck to the marriage). Gunther, the king, hears of how Brunhild of Iceland is seeking a suitor, as long as the suitor can defeat her in battle. However Gunther has no chance of accomplishing the feat, and gets Siegfried to do it while wearing a cloak of invisibility. After the wedding, Gunther discovers that he cannot consummate the marriage because Brunhild keeps on beating him up, so Siegfried once again does his stuff, but it is suggested that Siegfried also consummates the marriage on Gunther's behalf (despite the fact that he promised not to).

 

The story finishes off with Kriemhild and Brunhild having a row at the front of the church and Kriemhild insulting Brunhild by revealing the truth, and as a result it is agreed that Siegfried must die, so while on a hunting mission Hagan, a confidant of Gunther's kills Siegfried by throwing a javelin into his back, in the section that wasn't hardened by the dragon's blood because a leaf fell onto it while Siegfried was bathing. As a result, Kriemhild leaves and remarries, however for the rest of the book plots her revenge, which ends up in a huge massacre in her new home, and she also ends up meeting a rather nasty end.

 

This is one of those stories that literally contains everything – dragons, treasure, immortal heroes, and some incredibly bloodthirsty battles. Actually, the story of Siegfried is interesting because there is a reflection of Achilles' immortality – in fact as we are probably aware, Achilles was made invulnerable when his mother bathed him in the Styx, however because she held him by the ankle, that was the part that was vulnerable – and was also how he was killed (though there is no mention of Achilles' invulnerability in The Illiad). The other interesting thing is the similarities as to how the both died – Siegfried was killed when a javelin was thrown into his back, while Achilles died by having an arrow shot through his ankle (though how anybody could actually die by having an arrow shot into their ankle is beyond me, unless the wound became infected, and if that was the case then this would be a very painful way to go). In a way these attacks could be considered somewhat cowardly, based on the era, as people would fight up close and personal, and an honourable warrior was one who would fight in hand to hand combat. In the case of the Nibelungenlied, javelins were not used to kill people, they were used to hunt animals, however considering the nature of these two warriors, such an attack was probably the better way of being able to successfully taking them down.

 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d9/Siegfrieds_Tod.jpg

 

The other interesting thing is the nature of the blood feud. There are plenty of movies about some guy who is angered by a bad guy and then goes out of his way to hunt down and kill them. I guess it is best summed up with Liam Neeson's line “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you”. Okay, he was actually rescuing his kidnapped daughter, but it is still reflective of the nature of the revenge tale in out modern world – vengeance is justified, and nothing will happen to you if you will seek it (though this is not always the case, but it is certainly how Hollywood portrays it). This is not the case in our older literature – we see this is the case in the Nibelungenlied; Kreimhild certainly doesn't come out of it on top, or even in one piece – in fact everybody dies. I suspect that it has a lot to do with our modern perception of the world – if we are wronged then justice should be done, and if the authorities won't do it, then we should take it into our own hands.

 

In fact it is the nature of our litigious and rights based societies. First of all we never want to accept responsibility if we don't have to, and in fact we are brought up as being told that we are good. We are also conditioned to live in a comforted world, a world where if our house burns down then the insurance company will pay for it, or somebody else will. If we are injured then the first thing we do is look for somebody else to blame, despite the fact that it may have been through our own stupidity. In a way we should be looking back at these old epics and being taught that revenge doesn't always come out on top – in fact both sides end up loosing, particularly when a person's entire life is focused on seeking revenge, and seeking compensation for the perceived wrong that has been done to them. In any case, when we do consider the story, we must also remember that the characters aren't the most perfect examples of humanity, since they engage in lies, deceit, and one-upping of each other – I guess this is a prime example of our failings as humans, and that in the end, if we are left to ourselves, it is all going to end up in one bloody mess.

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1711794331
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review 2015-11-03 03:04
A Mythological Pirate Raid
The Voyage of Argo - Apollonius of Rhodes,E.V. Rieu

Well, here I am sitting at home, on a public holiday, writing a review of a book that I have just finished. Well, maybe I should be out doing something else, but sometimes just sitting at home with a hot cup of tea is just as enjoyable. Anyway, apparently there is a horse race on today, a race that apparently stops a nation. So, while everybody else is gathering around food and joining in office pools to get the chance of maybe winning some money, I am going to continue to sit here, on the second year in a row when I don't have to participate in this national event (seriously, it's a horse race) and actually do something that I enjoy doing. In fact if I don't find out who wins that race (though the Guardian app on my phone will no doubt tell me) it is going to be some knowledge that is simply going to have very little effect upon my life.

 

Anyway, the first thing that I have to say about this version of the book that I read, particularly since I just read another review where the writer suggests that the American cover of a certain book is a lot worse than the original cover (I've noticed that with some books, particularly the Discworld novels – the Kirby covers are so much better than the American covers), is that I found the cover to be rather boring. Basically it is a stone carving of Jason. This cover is so much better:

 

Argonautica Cover

 

 

Though I don't remember any scene in the book where the Argo actually flies.

 

Anyway, I'm sure we are all familiar with the story of Jason and the Argonauts, where Jason is commissioned by the king to sail to the Land of Colchis and steal this golden fleece, so Jason brings together a crew of heroes and makes the perilous journey. Upon arrival he is given some impossible tasks by the king, who then betrays him after Jason successfully completes them, so with the help of the king's daughter Medea they slay the dragon guarding the fleece and then both nick off back to Greece. In fact I remember watching this old 1963 movie in Ancient History in High School based on this story. The one thing that I remember from the movie, other than the pretty cool special effects, was the army of skeletons that came out of the ground whom Jason then fought to the death. However, the one thing that disappointed me is that the movie ended with them sailing off into the sunset – there was no homeward journey.

 

Anyway, one of the things I like about these modern translations of ancient texts are the introductions because they give you a pretty good rundown of the context of the story. However I have to suggest that I found the introduction in this particular edition to be pretty dull. Okay, Rieu did tell us how back in his student days pretty much nobody liked the Argonautica (and my Classics history lecturer also made a similar observation) and the lecturers would use parts of it as unseens confident in knowing that nobody would have read it. Mind you, if I was studying at Oxford back then, and caught on to this practice, one of the first books I would have read would have been the Argonautica (and I'm sure some of the students would have cottoned on to this as well).

 

One of the things we must be aware of though, when approaching these ancient stories, is that the characters simply do not exist in a vacuum. These stories aren't like our modern novels where the characters (generally) have no existence prior to the novel or afterwards, and everything we know about the character exists within the novel. Many of these ancient stories are based on well established mythology, so when an ancient would pick up and read one of these epics they would already have a pretty clear idea of the character that the epic is about. As such many of the authors were pretty restricted in how they would create their epics, and in many cases simply tweaked the characters, or explored certain aspects of their personality.

 

Okay, I would have to say that maybe I have been influenced by the attitudes of many of the scholars when it comes to this book because I would hardly say that it is one of my favourites. However, it is still a rollicking good adventure. In fact this story has everything – heroes, monsters, battles, betrayals, witches, and of course a treasure. What we must remember is that Jason and his crew are little more than pirates. Okay, he is given the task by a king (who in his mind considers this to be an impossible task, namely because he was warned in a dream to beware of the man with one sandal, and the man who happens to rock up at his gates with one sandal is none other than Jason himself – though why the king didn't just kill him is beyond me), but he is still simply travelling to another land with the explicit purpose of raiding it and carrying off its treasure.

 

The thing with the composition of the Argo is that, unlike the Odyssey, the crew are all heroes. Among the crew we encounter Castor and Pollux (or more precisely Polydeuces, though I prefer the name Pollux much better), the musician Orpheus, and of course Heracles. However Heracles does pose a bit of a problem because he is such a famous character that having him as a part of the crew creates the problem that, more likely than not, he is going to steal Jason's thunder. It's sort of like where you cast a minor actor in a leading role, and then have Patrick Stewart in the supporting cast – it generally doesn't work. However the myth deals with this by having the Argonauts accidentally leave Heracles behind near the beginning of the journey (though Apollonius does make a comment about this because it does seem to be a bit odd).

 

The story itself is very episodic, much more so than the Odyssey. On the journey up we have Jason and his crew go through various encounters, including getting waylaid by an island of Amazons who killed off all the men and then realised that they need men to procreate so decided that the Argonauts fit that role perfectly. We also have the story of the man who would sit down to eat only to have the harpies dive from the sky, steal all of his food, and then leave again. We have a similar structure on the return journey, though for a while the Argonauts are being chased by the Cholcians. However, once they hit the Mediterranean we suddenly find them taking a very similar route back to Greece that Homer did.

 

Rieu makes a bit of a comment about this, suggesting that despite the Greeks being very familiar with this region during Apollonius' time, to keep with the mythology of the setting, Apollonius purposely was not very accurate in his descriptions. I'm not really convinced that Apollonius did this on purpose, simply because he was writing about events back in the age of mythology that happened almost two generations prior to Odyssey's travels. Jason isn't following Odysseus, Jason is actually travelling the route prior to Odysseus. Also, what Jason would have encountered as he traversed this route would have been much different to what Apollonius would have seen.

What is interesting is that there are two routes that Jason could have taken, Apollonius's route, and the Orphic route (and considering Orpheus was a member of the crew he probably was much more knowledgeable with the route they took – though it's not as if we have Orpheus' account – the guy is a mythological figure). Anyway, this is the route Apollonius uses:

 

Apolloniu's Route

 

 

This is the route attributed to Orpheus (which also includes Apollonius' route):

 

Orphic Route

 

 

It is interesting that the Orphic route has them come out in the Baltic Sea and then sail around the coast of Western Europe back to the Mediterranean (and no doubt the Greeks, by the time of Apollonius, had sailed out that far – Herodotus does make mention of somebody circumnavigating Africa). However, it looks as if Apollonius wanted to keep it simple, and by using a similar route to that of Odysseus his readers would have been quite familiar with the area.

 

 

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1427006430
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text 2015-07-29 05:06
Reading progress update: I've listened 31 out of 784 minutes.
The Odyssey - Homer,Ian McKellen

So I discovered last night that not only did my library have an audiobook version of The Odyssey by the translator I prefer (Robert Fagles), but that it was read by Sir Ian McKellan.

 

So I let Gandalf read me a bedtime story last night. I think I might have found a nice place for my audiobook listening.

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