Il-Kantilena

Il-Kantilena is a Maltese poem. This, in itself, would have made me curious to investigate further. That it is also the oldest extant text in the language only added some mystery. And, once these two points were fixed in my mind, a look at the poem was enough to make me want to read it again and again. It is, in short, a discussion on fate, love, and the variability of life.¬† Continue reading “Il-Kantilena”

Review: Eruption, Steve Olson

Rating: 5 out of 5

High praise for this! Not only did Mr Olson give a thorough overview of the story of (European) human population in the Northwest, but there was a solid coverage of the geologic, economic and environmental history as well. Now, one might wonder why I am emphasising the non-geological aspects here as a volcanic eruption is primarily of course a natural disaster and associated with this discipline. I assure you, however, that I have good reason to do so! Continue reading “Review: Eruption, Steve Olson”

Review: Queens of the Conquest, Alison Weir

Rating: 3 out of 5

I’m one to like a good narrative history, especially of the earlier medieval times in England. However, this book suffered from random jumps in content. I can vividly remember a rather long section on the way bedchambers were set up, for example. It felt, in the majority, that as the queens that the book treated — three Matilda’s and one Maude — have so few facts to describe them, that Ms Weir had to resort to desperate measures to pad out the book. Continue reading “Review: Queens of the Conquest, Alison Weir”

Rating: A Great and Terrible King, Marc Morris

Rating: 3 out of 5

I like what Marc Morris writes — his style is readable, his thoughts proceed in an orderly manner. The last is especially important as unlike his book on John, the story of Edward proceeds in a clear chronological sequence. This is both a blessing and a curse: the overarching thesis seems to be that Edward wasn’t as bad as history makes him out to be. And, yet, the older he gets, the more absolute he wants to reign and the more tyrannical he comes through as well. Continue reading “Rating: A Great and Terrible King, Marc Morris”

Review: Crocodile on the Sandbank, Elizabeth Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

I was drawn into the Amelia Peabody series by my recent incursion into the more factual Ancient Egyptian stories. The idea of a late Victorian series set around a (female) archaeologist sounded thrilling, and I took up this series. In short, this book makes for an entertaining novel with the excellent presence of a strong and steadfast female lead who often gets to lambast her male colleagues for their fickleness of character (and silly beliefs).

The foray into Egypt is well constructed with a good mystery built around the entire act — there is some mummy hunting a digging site. I was perhaps not as surprised when I saw the resolution as some would be (though I was surprised!), but the book was fun to pass through anyways and it made for some light entertainment. Would definitely recommend if Egypt sounds interesting!

Review: The History of Ancient Egypt, Bob Brier

Rating: 4 out of 5

I have found Ancient Egypt interesting for a long while and yet I had not picked up a single book or title to investigate it further. This is partially because I had not had the chance, but also due to it being very difficult to figure out what would adequately cover such a period — three thousand years after all.¬†That being said, this installation ended up being my choice and I don’t regret it. Continue reading “Review: The History of Ancient Egypt, Bob Brier”

Review: The Fortifications of Malta, 1530-1945, Charles Stephenson

Rating: 3 out of 5

I expect more from an Osprey book. I would definitely expect more from an Osprey book that dealt with the islands of Malta. Not only is Malta a perfect place to study 16th to 18th century fortification theory, but the islands are well-documented and the theory behind the various constructions is also well known. At times, the distinction between various phases of fortifications is also not well noted which is a pity as the pre-1565 siege status as opposed to latter fortifications should have been clearly noted. The drawings are, as always, superb. Continue reading “Review: The Fortifications of Malta, 1530-1945, Charles Stephenson”

Review: Fire & Blood, George R.R. Martin

Rating: 5 out of 5

Not the great saga by GRRM but a broader, more wilful take on his world… I found this a major improvement on the other stories. This is partly because of the uniform way it was written in (no POV aspect), but also the same fictional author — Archmaester Gyldayn. Gyldayn is indeed a humorous figure and he, under Martin’s pen, often inputs excellent commentary into the conversation. Continue reading “Review: Fire & Blood, George R.R. Martin”

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