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text 2020-04-26 02:46
If It Bleeds - 0%
if It Bleeds - Stephen King,Danny Burstein,John Steven Gurney,Will Patton

Oh boy I have been having some bad luck with my audio picks, so I'm going for something I know I'll like, because it's Uncle Steve's new book. 

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review 2019-11-11 21:07
King John
The Complete Works (Oxford Shakespeare) - William Shakespeare,John Jowett,Gary Taylor
King John: The Arkangel Shakespeare - William Shakespeare,Michael Feast,Eileen Atkins,Michael Maloney,Arkangel Cast


There's nothing in this world can make me joy.

Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,

Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man;

And bitter shame hath spoiled the sweet world's taste,

That it yields naught but shame and bitterness.


A play dating from 1595 (or 1596) about England falling to pieces due to internal squabbling about whether and how to oppose the tyranny of Europe, ... erm, sorry, I meant the Pope. Definitely, the Pope.  


If it weren't for elements of the play that somehow, don't know why, reminded me of current affairs, this would probably not be a play that I would remember for long. It's chaotic. There are a number of characters with shifting agendas. The harbingers of hope are held prisoner and/or are killed off. It's pretty bleak, in the same way that Richard II was a pretty bleak play.


I thought there were some significant other similarities to Richard II also: 


Somehow, Philip the Bastard's (aka Richard Plantagenet's) "commodity speech" about the flourish of corruption and his last few lines of the play strongly reminded me of John of Gaunt's "Sceptred Isle" speech - especially that part of JoG's speech that is usually left out from popular recitals:  


Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,

This other Men, demi-paradise,

This fortress built by nature for herself

Against infection and the hand of war,

This happy breed of men, this little world,

This precious stone set in the silver sea,

Which serves it in the office of a wall,

Or as a moat defensive to a house

Against the envy of less happier lands;

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,

This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,

Feared by their breed and famous by their birth,

Renowned for their deeds as far from home

For Christian service and true chivalry

As is the sepulchre, in stubborn Jewry,

Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's son;

This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,

Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself."


(RIchard II)


For comparison, this is Philip's (referred to in the play simply as "The Bastard") "commodity" speech:


Mad world, mad kings, mad composition!

John, to stop Arthur's title in the whole,

Hath willingly departed with a part;

And France, whose armour conscience buckled on,

Whom zeal and charity brought to the field

As God's own soldier, rounded in the ear

With that same purpose-changer, that sly devil,

That broker that still breaks the pate of faith,

That daily break-vow, he that wins of all,

Of kings, of beggars, old men, young men, maids,—

Who having no external thing to lose

But the word 'maid', cheats the poor maid of that—

That smooth-faced gentleman, tickling commodity;

Commodity, the bias of the world,

The world who of itself is peised well,

Made to run even upon even ground,

Till this advantage, this vile-drawing bias,

This sway of motion, this commodity,

Makes it take head from all indifferency,

From all direction, purpose, course, intent;

And this same bias, this commodity,

This bawd, this broker, this all-changing word,

Clapped on the outward eye of fickle France,

Hath drawn him from his own determined aid,

From a resolved and honourable war,

To a most base and vile-concluded peace.

And why rail I on this commodity?

But for because he hath not wooed me yet—

Not that I have the power to clutch my hand

When his fair angels would salute my palm,

But for my hand, as unattempted yet,

Like a poor beggar raileth on the rich.

Well, whiles I am a beggar I will rail,

And say there is no sin but to be rich,

And being rich, my virtue then shall be

To say there is no vice but beggary.

Since kings break faith upon commodity,

Gain, be my lord, for I will worship thee.

Quite the sell-out, isn't he.


Anywho,... Internal power struggles and corruption leads to government that is definitely not "strong and stable" and throws the country into a total mess.

Who'd have thought it?


Clearly, the Bard's plays still hold a lot of things we can learn from, which is why I am really looking forward to catching - somehow, even if it is by cinema screening - the RSC's new production of the play in early 2020. Apparently, King John is not a play that is given an airing very often, so I am curious to see if the RSC has seen something else in it that makes it relevant to its current production schedule.


Other than this, there are two things I would like to note: 


1. I listened to the Arkangel production of the play while reading along. It's an excellent production, and the play gains much by the quality of the performers. This is no surprise, tho. All of the Arkangel productions have been marvellous so far. 


2. Clearly, I am still harbouring some grudge against Rupert Brooke for some his comments on Elizabethan drama, and I need an outlet for this grudge: I'm sure he wrote some of them out of conviction, and some of them to be contrary enough to impress whatever academic committee he submitted his work to. Either way, I disagree with his assessment that Shakespeare's "histories" are "utterly worthless". Factual or historical inaccuracy may not have been Shakespeare's forte, but that does not mean to say that the plays have no meaning or message. It seems to me, Brooke may have been missing their point. 


(p. 58 - 59 in "John Webster & The Elizabethan Drama" by Rupert Brooke, London: Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd.,1916.)

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review 2018-09-03 02:52
King John (Lost and Founds #4)
King John - Edmond Manning

“I’ll never forget your face. Your freshly ironed shirt. You terrified all of us. You know we almost didn’t come back the next year because you fucking freaked everyone out. You walked out of the desert followed by three wolves. Three… dogs or whatever. They walked behind you at a distance. As soon as you reached people, they turned and ran off.”


Definitely some intriguing moments, a terror filled night in the desert and one heart-wrenching kinging.  This one though moved quite slow for me compared to the others. But I am absolutely giddy about book #5 and completing Daniel! ❤️

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text 2016-02-17 21:13
ISO: Any good books featuring Maude de Braose
King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England: The Road to Magna Carta - Tantor Audio,Marc Morris,Ralph Lister
The Demon's Brood: The Plantagenet Dynasty that Forged the English Nation - Desmond Seward
King John: England, Magna Carta and the Making of a Tyrant by Stephen Church (2015-03-12) - Stephen Church;
The History of England Volume I, . Foundation - Peter Ackroyd
Here be Dragons - Sharon Kay Penman
Lady of Hay - Barbara Erskine
The Prince of Poison - Pamela Kaufman

I have those pictured, many of which mention Maude & William rather than feature them. Any other recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

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review 2015-10-15 21:41
Fabulous fourth title in a fabulous series
King John - Edmond Manning

Allow me to start this review at the end: Really, Edmond Manning, I mean really? You’re leaving me hanging on not one but two cliffhangers? I’ve killed for less—that’s all I say.


Okay, now I have gotten that off my chest I should probably warn you that the chances of this turning into a coherent review are slim at best. It’s far more likely to turn into a quote-riddled gush fest, and you want to bear in mind I will have deleted numerous quotes which touched me as much as the ones I’ll keep did because, well, because this is supposed to be a review, not a novella.


I don’t want to say a lot about the story beyond what you can find in the blurb, I’m not sure I could do the story justice. My words are too clumsy, my interpretations too personal. Besides, the stories in this series should be experienced by the reader. It is more than ‘just’ an amazing reading experience. The Lost and Founds books provide us not only with fascinating characters and settings, they also force us to look at ourselves, our lives and the people around us. They invite us to ask ourselves if we are limiting ourselves and if yes, why we are doing that.


“Alistair, quit pressuring yourself. Kingship means something different for every man. Quit trying to box it up and get it right.”


As true as this is for Alistair in the book, I believe it’s equally true for us readers. I think while we all get the general message from these pages, we all discover individual truths in its words as well.


This is the fourth King story but it felt different from the previous three. The men in earlier books, Perry, May and Terrance, didn’t know they wanted or needed to be kinged, didn’t even know there was such a thing. Vin’s struggle was to keep them on a course towards a destination they didn’t know they wanted or needed.


Alistair on the other hand wants to be kinged. He searches out Vin and then refuses to follow Vin’s rules. This time it is Vin who needs to be constantly reassured that his protégé indeed wants what he says he wants, and realizes there’s a price to pay; a price both Vin and the reader fear may be too high for Alistair. But dealing with a man eager to find his inner King while reluctant to surrender to the process also forces Vin to look deeper into himself; is this hard because he’s dealing with a fraud or because he’s looking into a mirror showing him everything he needs to overcome in order to stop being a lost King?


“His King Weekend will be a huge disappointment, unless he stops seeking approval outside himself.”


“He wants to be discovered. He wants someone to find him, to reach beyond the iron fortifications he constructed, and see him. Love him, I know. We are cut from the same cloth.”


Alistair may be a lot like Vin, I think he’s also a lot like many of us, trying to learn lessons most of us could benefit from.


“The problem with a man like Alistair is no amount of praise, flattery of loving from the outside with impact his core. Not love from me, not love from any of the kings.”


“I don’t need you to be sorry, Alistair. I need you to understand the price you pay for getting your way. For choosing not to submit.”


“I don’t need to know your secrets, but as long as you don’t let anyone in, you’re trapped with them.”


This story hit me harder than the previous books did, the subjects it deals with are darker—dare I say it—uglier. And yet, while the tension grips you and the fear makes you read faster, they are dealt with in a loving, if not necessarily beautiful, way. It is tempting to go on about this. To spell out exactly what I mean, but I can’t do that without revealing those issues and that would mean spoiling the story for others, so that's a no go. I ask you to just trust me, to take my word for it. This story will shake you, may at times become very hard to read, and yet it will open your eyes and heart.


“Maybe I can’t become a Found King because I don’t remember who lives underneath this façade. Maybe this isn’t a façade at all and the real me is just really lost.”


“The more a man knows about his kingship, the less likely he himself will cross over.”


And Vin—oh Vin—I want to wrap him in my arms, hug him close and whisper in his ear that he already is a Found King. Because it takes one to know one. Because his love is huge. That all he needs to do is believe and it will be true. I want to tell him he makes me cry every time he recognises that another man is blocked because he’s made something huge out of a circumstance or past occurrence he never had any power over, while failing to see the same applies to him. Vin touches me in ways few, if any, fictional characters touch me. He’s more real to me than fictional characters have any right to be.


It’s the quiet, easy to miss, observations Vin makes about himself that break my heart. They’re in the story as if they’re passing thoughts, hardly worth our notice, and yet I feel they hold the key to the deeper truth Vin is looking for.


“I revel in how ordinary this feels, as if I could do this back home. Take a date out dancing. Hang out with friends. I can’t. But here—here at Burning Man—freaks fit in. I’m one of the gang. I’m normal.
Burning Man is the closest I’ve ever come to family.
Burning Man is like home.”


As with the previous Lost and Founds books, King John has left me both shaken and stirred. I’m emotionally wrecked and cursing the fact I’ll have to wait several months at least before the story will continue. And yet I feel enriched too. It is as if my heart has expanded, as if I can now see, understand and feel things that were just beyond my grasp before I started reading. And for that I am grateful. I thank Edmond Manning for making me think and feel, for allowing me to look at the world through a different lens and thus showing me things which were always there, just not always visible. I bless the day these books were suggested to me and will treasure them for as long as I have eyes to read or a brain to remember them with.


As predicted the piece - I wouldn't go so far as to call it a review - I wrote is a rambling mess. I'll therefore end it with one more quote. Because both the author and his protagonist are far better with words than I can ever hope to be.


“Though our roots be earthed in misery, and nurtured with our humbled tears, tomorrow’s hope is today’s firm green sprig, pushing upward, barely seen. Eager to unfold, to manifest the unknowing directions, we grow. We are all destined for Spring.”


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