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Review – Captive Queen September 7, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Historical Fiction.
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Title: Captive Queen

Author: Alison Weir

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: July 13, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0099534587

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor has spent the past dozen frustrating years as consort to the pious King Louis VII of France. For all its political advantages, the marriage has brought Eleanor only increasing unhappiness—and daughters instead of the hoped-for male heir. But when the young and dynamic Henry of Anjou arrives at the French court, Eleanor sees a way out of her discontent. For even as their eyes meet for the first time, the seductive Eleanor and the virile Henry know that theirs is a passion that could ignite the world.

Returning to her duchy of Aquitaine after the annulment of her marriage to Louis, Eleanor immediately sends for Henry, the future King of England, to come and marry her. The union of this royal couple will create a vast empire that stretches from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees, and marks the beginning of the celebrated Plantagenet dynasty.

But Henry and Eleanor’s marriage, charged with physical heat, begins a fiery downward spiral marred by power struggles, betrayals, bitter rivalries, and a devil’s brood of young Plantagenets—including Richard the Lionheart and the future King John. Early on, Eleanor must endure Henry’s formidable mother, the Empress Matilda, as well as his infidelities, while in later years, Henry’s friendship with Thomas Becket will lead to a deadly rivalry. Eventually, as the couple’s rebellious sons grow impatient for power, the scene is set for a vicious and tragic conflict that will engulf both Eleanor and Henry.

Review:

I got this novel on sale and I thought it would be a fun read. If you read the reviews on Amazon, you’ll understand that this book isn’t for historical novel buffs. I’m not a historical novel buff by any means and I don’t mind discrepancies in research, so I went ahead and read it anyway. I actually enjoyed it too. It’s a fun trashy historical novel.

In this book Eleanor of Aquitane is a sensual woman who is deeply attracted to Heny of Anjou. She beds him early in their relationship and often throughout the course of it. She’s an intelligent woman yet at the same time Weir portrays her as being a bit naive in the sense that she believes Henry remains faithful to her despite their long separations. Sometimes they separate for nearly a year. How can she expect a lusty fellow like Henry to go without for that length of time?

Yet throughout the book, Eleanor exudes a sense of indomitable strength that I admired. She suffered great hardships. Despite Weir’s stumbling prose, the message of what she went through was still clear. There were other times that Weir’s style of writing really struggled to convey the harsh circumstances of Eleanor’s circumstances. It’s definitely not her strongest work to date.

If you’re looking for a book to escape the hours with and just enjoy the romance, then this is for you. If you’re in it for the history, then I would pass on this.

Review – The Custom of the Army August 15, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Historical Fiction.
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Title: The Custom of the Army

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Publisher: Random House Digital, Inc

Publication Date: May 21, 2012

ASIN: B007WKEM0A

Available at: Amazon  Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

London, 1759. After a high society electric-eel party leads to a duel that ends badly, Lord John Grey feels the need to lie low for a while. Conveniently, before starting his new commission in His Majesty’s army, Lord John receives an urgent summons. An old friend from the military, Charlie Carruthers, is facing court-martial in Canada, and has called upon Lord John to serve as his character witness. Grey voyages to the New World—a land rife with savages (many of them on his own side) and cleft by war—where he soon finds that he must defend not only his friend’s life but his own.

Review:

The world of 1759 comes alive under Gabaldon’s pen. Between London’s electric eel parties and Canada’s frontier, everything is vividly portrayed. I was completely immersed in this world from the time I started reading.

The military’s procedures is extremely detailed as well. Not so much that it becomes tedious but enough so that you get a very good idea as to how things work. I was surprised at how simple the proceeding were for a court-martial back then.

John Grey has a strict sense of honor which is what sent him to Canada in the first place. His triumphs were intelligent and well-planned.  Reading of his adventures were exciting and thrilling.  He keeps to his honor even in the face of corruption. Grey is an intensely likable character.

This was a great novella that did end rather abruptly. You can forgive that when you balance all the other great qualities the book holds. It was a very satisfying read on the whole.

Review – Devil’s Lair February 17, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
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2 comments

Devil’s Lair

by David Wisehart

Devil’s Lair is an epic fantasy set in Dante’s Inferno.

A medieval knight leads a quest through Hell to recover the Holy Grail from the Devil. The knight, Marco da Roma, is joined by: Giovanni Boccaccio, an expert on Dante; William of Ockham, an English friar; and Nadja, an epileptic with the gift of prophecy. As the Black Death sweeps through Europe, these unlikely heroes confront the Devil–and their own demons–to forestall the Apocalypse.

This historical fiction/fantasy novel is slow moving with lots of religious intonations. Good and evil weigh heavily on the questers. The friar, William of Ockham, is the quests real leader in spirit as it’s his faith that sees them through their doubt that Hell even exists.

I warn you that they don’t even reach Hell until a little more then halfway through the book. A lot of the story is about the journey to Hell and about the difficulties that they encounter on their way there.

A lot of the book centers on God and his love. So if you don’t want to be preached at, this book probably isn’t for you. The friar is constantly espousing the virtue of God’s love to those who have doubt in their hearts. There’s a lot of theological debate as well. This theme got a bit a tiresome after awhile.

There are some bawdy and evocative bits as well, but they’re few and far between. I can count them on one hand.

The character development in the book was well done. You got to know the main figures on the book quite well and in a short time you got a good feel for them. From the rough, amnesiac Marco de Roma to the poet who was desperately hoping to hold on to better times, Giovanni Boccaccio and the pious friar, William of Ockham. Also the naive and pure Nadja.

I did have a problem with Nadja. It seemed like she was put on a pedestal as the only woman in the group. She had her problems, but for the most part she was a bit too pure and a bit too naive.

The climax of the story had a good twist. I was quite surprised in the end and it was a good surprise. Although one portion of the climax did leave me wondering if that was all there was. I can’t say anymore without giving away a huge spoiler.

On the whole the book was well-written and I really wanted to like this book. Instead it just bored me with it’s tedious and endless repetition of the merits of good vs. evil and it’s unceasing preaching of the author’s brand of religion.

Review – Devil's Lair February 17, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

Devil’s Lair

by David Wisehart

Devil’s Lair is an epic fantasy set in Dante’s Inferno.

A medieval knight leads a quest through Hell to recover the Holy Grail from the Devil. The knight, Marco da Roma, is joined by: Giovanni Boccaccio, an expert on Dante; William of Ockham, an English friar; and Nadja, an epileptic with the gift of prophecy. As the Black Death sweeps through Europe, these unlikely heroes confront the Devil–and their own demons–to forestall the Apocalypse.

This historical fiction/fantasy novel is slow moving with lots of religious intonations. Good and evil weigh heavily on the questers. The friar, William of Ockham, is the quests real leader in spirit as it’s his faith that sees them through their doubt that Hell even exists.

I warn you that they don’t even reach Hell until a little more then halfway through the book. A lot of the story is about the journey to Hell and about the difficulties that they encounter on their way there.

A lot of the book centers on God and his love. So if you don’t want to be preached at, this book probably isn’t for you. The friar is constantly espousing the virtue of God’s love to those who have doubt in their hearts. There’s a lot of theological debate as well. This theme got a bit a tiresome after awhile.

There are some bawdy and evocative bits as well, but they’re few and far between. I can count them on one hand.

The character development in the book was well done. You got to know the main figures on the book quite well and in a short time you got a good feel for them. From the rough, amnesiac Marco de Roma to the poet who was desperately hoping to hold on to better times, Giovanni Boccaccio and the pious friar, William of Ockham. Also the naive and pure Nadja.

I did have a problem with Nadja. It seemed like she was put on a pedestal as the only woman in the group. She had her problems, but for the most part she was a bit too pure and a bit too naive.

The climax of the story had a good twist. I was quite surprised in the end and it was a good surprise. Although one portion of the climax did leave me wondering if that was all there was. I can’t say anymore without giving away a huge spoiler.

On the whole the book was well-written and I really wanted to like this book. Instead it just bored me with it’s tedious and endless repetition of the merits of good vs. evil and it’s unceasing preaching of the author’s brand of religion.