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text 2018-04-18 16:02
Reading progress update: I've read 330 out of 664 pages.
The Sword Of Shannara - Terry Brooks

I read this many many years ago and thought to read it again, it falls into the racial trap a lot, aka all x are y; and I'm tired of this.

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review 2018-04-08 05:14
Red Sonja: She-Devil With a Sword #0 (Graphic Novel) By Michael Oeming & Mike Carey
Red Sonja: She-Devil With a Sword #0 - Michael Oeming,Mike Carey,Mel Rubi,Caesar Rodriguez,Richard Isanove

 

 

Writers: Michael Oeming & Mike Carey
Art: Mel Rubi
Coloring: Caesar Rodriguez & Richard Isanove
Cover Art: Greg Land; Inking: Matt Ryan, Cover Coloring: Jason Keith

 

 

This is a 17 page prequel to Oeming's rendition (a 50 issue series) of the epic Red Sonja tale. This first offering is told from the POV of Jessa, a bartender who tries to get Red Sonja drunk so she can steal Sonja's blade. Fighting and hell-fury ensues.

 

I've enjoyed the Red Sonja story in its various forms since my childhood. Being a (natural) redhead myself, it was cool to have such a strong, bold fellow red to look up to! Hardcore feminists in this modern age might not love Sonja as she is typically portrayed, with overflowing lady bits and ridiculously useless chainmail bikini... as a woman, let me say, either take this for what it is and have fun with it or don't read it. I find the chain bikini hilarious the same way I laugh my way through the old movie adaptation that was done back in the 80s (I think.. maybe the 70s), where Bridgette Nielsen had to wear equally ridiculous outfits. I love it all. It's campy at times, laughably stupid in some scenes, but there are also moments where you can't help but cheer for Sonja's undeniable fierceness.

 

Oeming's version here offers gorgeous color work as well as prose that just oozes that legend feel. The reader, even if only briefly, gets the chance to escape into something with a true sense of epic-ness and just downright FUN. I thought this was a blast to read and look forward to trying out the rest in the series.

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review 2018-04-07 14:16
A fascinating look into the past and a great source for writers and social history researchers
Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth Century - James Mallory

Thanks to Alex and the rest of the team at Pen & Sword for providing me a paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I am a big fan of Pen & Sword books and I have learned a lot on a variety of subjects thanks to their great selection, but I must admit to having a soft spot for social history. Although I love history books and have recently become keen on historical fiction, I think that social history helps us get a better sense of what life was like in the past, not only for the kings, aristocrats, and powerful people but also for the rest of the population. The everyday life of going around one’s usual business, talking to people, working, rarely makes it into the big books, but it is what life is truly about. And those are the details that bring the past to life. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, these books are also great to provide background to writers, filmmakers, and, in general, artists looking to create works set in a particular time in history, as it helps them gain a better understanding of what it would have been like to live then.

This particular volume is a delight. I have read a number of novels set in the era and watched uncountable movies and television series that take place in the XIX century as well, and although I thought I was familiar with the customs, social rules and mores of the time, I was surprised by how truly complicated following proper etiquette was. As the author often explains, rules were not set in stone and they changed throughout the century. What was a must at the beginning of the XIX century would have been out of fashion by the end, and rules were open to interpretation, as sometimes different sources offered completely different advice. Should you eat fish with a fork and bread, two forks, or a fork and a fish knife (the answer depends on at what point of the XIX century we were eating it)? Would it have been proper for you to introduce people you knew, or even greet people you met in the streets even if you had been introduced? What was the best time to go for a walk or to visit your acquaintances? What did it truly mean if somebody was ‘not at home’?

Such topics and many more are discussed in this short volume, and it makes for fascinating reading. The author is skilled at summarising the rules from a large variety of sources (there is a detailed bibliography at the end and footnotes to check where each point can be expanded on), and also at providing practical examples that help clarify matters like how would you address somebody you are introduced to, or in which order would guest enter the dining room. Her turn of phrase is particularly apt, as her own explanations and the quotes and references to texts blend seamlessly, and she manages to write clearly and engagingly in beautiful prose.

The tone of the book is light and there are funny moments, but there are also reminders of how different things were for those who had more serious concerns than following the rules of etiquette. The book includes 11 chapters that deal in a variety of topics, from rank, precedence and title, to what was considered good company, paying calls, dining, ballroom behaviour, conversation, and correspondence, how to treat the service, courtship, and it also offers hints for ladies and gentlemen. The book (I had access to the paperback copy but I know the pictures are available in the digital version as well) contains a number of plates that help illustrate the proper dress etiquette throughout the century for different occasions and there are also pictures of some of the fashion accessories of the period.

I had to share a couple of examples from the book, so you can get a feeling for the writing style and the type of advice it contains:

If a lady or gentleman was plagued by a person saluting them in the street who they did not like, who they did not want to call upon, and who they thought was taking a gross impertinence continually bowing to them, it was still better for the afflicted lady or gentleman to return the recognition. (For some reason, this brought to my mind the nodding bulldogs that used to grace the back windows of cars).

Talking about men’s fashion, the book has this to say:

Similarly, a gentleman would have been restrained in his use of personal ornamentation. After all, a gentleman was a gentleman, not a magpie hankering after shiny trinkets.

Although some of the rules contained in this book might seem too fussy and silly nowadays, there are some about listening to people and being respectful towards others, no matter what their social circumstances (in fact, being more polite and generous the more difficult things are for them) that will make readers nostalgic for those more gentile and kinder times. There are always things we can learn from the past and it is important to learn and remember.

Another great little volume from Pen & Sword and one that I particularly recommend to anybody interested in XIX century history, novels, movies set in the period, and to writers and creators looking for inspiration or researching that era. It is also a fun read for people that study social history or are interested in the origins of some of our customs and on how these have changed. Unmissable.

 

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review 2018-03-26 12:29
Der Vogel mit den magischen Worten
The Bird and the Sword - Amy Harmon

Lark, benannt nach dem Vogel Lerche, hat eine ungewöhnliche Gabe: Sie kann magische Worte aussprechen. Doch als sie fünf Jahre alt ist, muss sie ansehen, wie ihre Mutter, Lady Meshara, vor ihren Augen getötet wird. Um ihrem Kind ein ähnliches Schicksal zu ersparen, nimmt sie im Sterben ihrer Tochter die Stimme und die Macht der Worte. Denn Magie ist eine Todsünde in den Landen von Jeru. Zudem belegt Meshara ihren Mann, Lord Corveyn, mit dem Fluch, dass er auch sterben muss, wenn ihre Tochter stirbt. 13 Jahre später erscheint der junge König Tiras an seinem Hof, um Larks Vater an seine Treuepflicht im Krieg zu erinnern. Er nimmt die stumme junge Frau als Geisel mit. Zunächst fürchtet Lark den König, doch auch Tiras hat ein Geheimnis. Ist die Liebe die einzige Waffe, die ihrer beider Ketten sprengen kann?

„Bird and Sword“ ist der erste Band der gleichnamigen Reihe von Amy Harmon.

Meine Meinung:
Der Roman besteht aus 35 Kapiteln. Darüber hinaus gibt es einen Pro- und einen Epilog, die die Haupthandlung wunderbar umschließen. Erzählt wird aus der Ich-Perspektive aus der Sicht von Lark. Dieser Aufbau hat mir gut gefallen.

Der Erzählstil ist liebevoll, sehr lebendig und zum Teil sogar poetisch. Ich konnte gut in die Geschichte einfinden, obwohl diese Welt sich doch ziemlich von unserer unterscheidet.

Die Grundidee des Romans sagt mir sehr zu. Sie ist kreativ und fantasievoll. Auch die Umsetzung konnte mich überzeugen, denn eine solche Geschichte habe ich bisher noch nicht gelesen.

Mit Lark gibt es eine stumme Hauptprotagonistin. Dieser Aspekt macht sie zu einem interessanten Charakter. Obwohl sie nicht spricht, lernt man sie als Leser gut kennen, weil ihre Gedanken sehr deutlich werden. Sie war mir ebenso sympathisch wie einige der Nebenfiguren – zum Beispiel Boohjoni.

Eine Stärke der Geschichte ist es, dass es nicht nur berührende Passagen gibt, sondern auch spannende Szenen. Die schlüssige Handlung hat mehrere Wendungen und Überraschungen parat. Die Lektüre ist dadurch kurzweilig und unterhaltsam.

Pluspunkte sind für mich auch die Landkarte, die für Orientierung in der fremden Welt sorgt, und eine Liste, die die Aussprache der Namen erklärt.

Das Cover ist sehr hübsch und hat mich sofort angesprochen. Der deutsche Titel entspricht dem Original und passt inhaltlich gut.

Mein Fazit:
„Bird and Sword“ von Amy Harmon ist eine bezaubernde Geschichte, die mir vergnügliche Lesestunden bereitet hat. Ich bin neugierig auf die Fortsetzung.

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review 2018-03-20 07:28
not for me
Eloping With The Princess (Brotherhood of the Sword) - Robyn DeHart

Isabel’s only family was her uncle Thornton who had kept her in school. At Saint Bartholomew's School For Girls and he was too busy to have isabel come home even on holidays.  Now he was dead and Lilith her aunt by marriage was to come for her but before she can someone tries to take her. Gabriel was there and suggested she stay with his friend Jason Ellis who is a fellow member of the brotherhood Of The Sword and could keep her safe. Then they could into who is trying to take Later they learn Isabel is the last royal family member from the island nation of Saldania. To keep Isabel safe Jason agrees to marry Isabel in name only. Jason learned early in his youth he was a bastard and his father was the stable manager. So viscount Jason planned never to have his own kids and let his nephew inherit the title. But Jason and Isabel have a growing attraction. Isabel was to be used in a plot to usurp the throne from Victoria that is why someone os trying to take her. That was when Isabel realized the easiest way to stop the problem was to marry and Jason agreed..

I just couldn’t get into this book. I did finish it but i didn’t really care for it. I felt the ending was rushed. The plot seemed to be all over the place and not consistent as far as I am concerned. I also didn’t connect with the characters. I am sure someone else will like this book a lot more. It just wasn’t for me.

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