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review 2018-11-30 08:31
The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe by Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson
The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe - Hilda Ellis Davidson

TITLE:  The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe

 

AUTHOR:  Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  1993

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780415049375

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Interesting, but somewhat disorganized.  Unfortunately the lost beliefs of Northern Europe still remain lost. I prefer the texts by Claude Lecouteaux.

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review 2018-11-19 06:19
The Hidden History of Elves and Dwarfs by Claude Lecouteux
The Hidden History of Elves and Dwarfs: Avatars of Invisible Realms - Claude Lecouteux

TITLE:   The Hidden History of Elves and Dwarfs:  Avatars of Invisible Realms

 

AUTHOR: Claude Lecouteux

 

DATE PUBLISHED: October 2018

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13: 9781620557150

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DESCRIPTION:

 

"A comprehensive examination of the intertwined mythology, folklore, and literary history of the little people

• Explores the pagan roots of dwarfs and elves and their evolution in myth and literature

• Reveals the role the church played in changing them from fearless, shape-shifting warriors with magical powers into cheerful helpmates and cute garden gnomes

• Traces their history from ancient Celtic and Germanic lore through their emergence in the literature of the Middle Ages to their modern popularization by the Brothers Grimm and Walt Disney

Most people are familiar with the popular image of elves as Santa’s helpers and dwarfs as little bearded men wearing red caps, who are mischievous and playful, helpful and sly, industrious and dexterous. But their roots go far deeper than their appearance in fairy tales and popular stories. Elves and dwarfs are survivors of a much older belief system that predates Christianity and was widespread throughout Western Europe.

Sharing his extensive analysis of Germanic and Norse legends, as well as Roman, Celtic, and medieval literature, Claude Lecouteux explores the ancient, intertwined history of dwarfs and elves. He reveals how both were once peoples who lived in wild regions as keepers of the secrets of nature. They were able to change their size at will and had superhuman strength and healing powers. They were excellent smiths, crafting swords that nothing could dull as well as magical jewelry, and often entered into the service of lords or heroes. They were a part of the everyday life of our ancestors before they were transformed by fairy tales and church texts into the mythical creatures we know today.

Lecouteux shows how, in earlier folklore, elves and dwarfs were interchangeable, gradually evolving over time to express very different kinds of beings. “Dwarf,” “giant,” and even “elf” did not necessarily connote size but referred to races with different skills. Elves were more ethereal, offering protection and kindness, while dwarfs reflected a more corporeal form of spirit, often appearing as messengers from the underworld. Yet dwarfs and elves could be bargained with, and our ancestors would leave a broken object outside the door at night with the hope that a dwarf or elf (or other local spirit) would repair it.

Revealing the true roots of these helpful and powerful beings, including an in-depth exploration of one of the most famous dwarf/elf/fairy beings of the Middle Ages, Auberon or Oberon, also known as Alberich, Lecouteux shows how the magic of dwarfs and elves can be rekindled if we recognize their signs and invite them back into our world.
"

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The Hidden History of Elves and Dwarves takes a scholarly look at the changing nature of elves and dwarves in NEurope.  The book is informative and interesting, making a nice addition to the Ancestral Lore and Practices collection by the same author.

 

 

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review 2018-09-15 14:41
The Library of Greek Mythology by Apollodorus
The Library of Greek Mythology (Oxford World's Classics) - Robin Hard,Apollodorus

TITLE:  The Library of Greek Mythology

 

AUTHOR:  Apollodorus

 

TRANSLATOR:  Robin Hard

 

PUBLICATION:  Oxford's World Classics

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780199536320

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DESCRIPTION:

"The only work of its kind to survive from classical antiquity, the Library of Apollodorus is a unique guide to Greek mythology, from the origins of the universe to the Trojan War.

Apollodorus' Library has been used as a source book by classicists from the time of its compilation in the 1st-2nd century BC to the present, influencing writers from antiquity to Robert Graves. It provides a complete history of Greek myth, telling the story of each of the great families of heroic mythology, and the various adventures associated with the main heroes and heroines, from Jason and Perseus to Heracles and Helen of Troy. As a primary source for Greek myth, as a reference work, and as an indication of how the Greeks themselves viewed their mythical traditions, the Library is indispensable to anyone who has an interest in classical mythology.

Robin Hard's accessible and fluent translation is supplemented by comprehensive notes, a map and full genealogical tables. The introduction gives a detailed account of the Library's sources and situates it within the fascinating narrative traditions of Greek mythology.
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It's a bit difficult to review such an ancient text.  It is what it is - an encylopedic summary of Greek mythology, with a lot of "so-and-so begot so-an-so" and so-and-so killed so-and-so".  Sometimes there are variations of the myths and these are included.  The Library by Apollodorus would make an informative read for anyone obsessed with Greek Mythology.

 

Regarding the translation and publication - the translation is easy to read, the notes usefull and the introduction interesting.

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review 2018-08-20 07:40
Dracula: Prince of Many Faces by Radu R. Florescu & Raymond T. McNally
Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times - Raymond T. McNally,Radu Florescu

TITLE:  Dracula:  Prince of Many Faces (His Life & His Times)

 

AUTHORS:  Radu R. Florescu & Raymond T. McNally

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  1989

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780316286565

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From the blurb:

"Dracula: Prince of Many Faces reveals the extraordinary life and times of the infamous Vlad Dracula of Romania (1431-1476), nicknamed the Impaler.  Dreaded by his enemies, emulated by later rulers like Ivan the Terrible, honored by his countrymen even today, Vlad Dracula was surely one of the most intriguing figures to have stalked the corridors of European and Asian capitals in the fifteenth century.

 

Vlad Dracula aslo served as the inspiration for Bram stoker's classic vampire tale.  However, as this biography proves, "the real Dracula is far more interesting than the fictional vampire created by Bram Stoker" (Houston Chronicle).  Covering Vlad Dracula's entire life and subsequent legend, this book includes "a fascinating chapter on the mystery of Dracula's empty grave" (New York Time Book Review)."

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Florescue and McNally have written a a biography about Vlad the Impaler that is interesting, rich in detail, even-handed and circumspect.  The book does a wonderful job of weaving together Dracula's personal life and ambitions with the cultural, social, political and military realities of the time.  The authors also manage to separate fact from speculation without ruining the flow of the narrative.  They were also at pains to separate the myth from the man.  The book also examines Bram Stoker's Dracula novel in light of the real Dracula and his country.  Dracula:  Prince of Many Faces examines who Dracula was to various people - his family, his countrymen, the neighbouring states and his Ottoman enemies. Overall, this is one of the better biographies I have enjoyed.

 

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review 2018-07-23 09:20
Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen by Margaret C. Jones
Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen: Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians - Margaret Jones

TITLE:  Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen:  Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians

 

AUTHOR: Margaret C. Jones

 

EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE:       

30 August 2018

 

FORMAT: ARC ebook

 

ISBN-13: 9781526733962

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NOTE: I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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This biography is about Alfred the Great's daughter, Aethelflaed; about ther life and achievements, as well as the world that made her.  Aethelflaed was a remarkable women who led armies in battle against the vikings, negotiated treaties, founded shrines and churches, planned towns, and ruled a kingdom in her own right, which involved tax collection and law administration.  She also attempted to pass the rule of Mercia to her daughter Aelfwynn.  This well-written and well researched book covers the cultural and familial world that shaped Aethelflaed's personality and beliefs.  It covers her early life, the years of her marriage, and the world she made after her husband's death.  An interesting chapter deals with Aethelflaed's legacy and legand.  The book also includes a section of notes that provides a guide of places around the Midlands that still bear traces of Aethelflaed's life and work or have memorial tributes to her, which may be of interest to anyone travelling to this part of England.  There are many maps and illustrations, however this book lacks a locality map of where Mercia fits into Greater England and also lacking is a timeline.  While I found this biography interesting and accessible ( narrative was distinctly story-like), there was too much speculation on the part of the author, though this appears to be due to the lack of reliable source material for this time period.  All-in-all, this is an entertaining and informative, if somewhat superficial, biography of Aethelflaed, Queen of Mercia.

 

 

OTHER BOOK:


A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons: The Beginnings of the English Nation by Geoffrey Hindley

 

 

 

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