Thursday, 12 March 2015

On the bookshelf...

So, not a lot of gaming or painting has been going on since my last post.  A combination of real life things like work (boo!) and a trip up to Glasgow to visit family (yay!)  put paid to that.  Normal service should be resumed next week.

I have had a chance to catch up on my reading though and by way of a change I thought I'd mention some of the books that have been on the shelf/kindle/side of the bath (actually that's not true... the bath tends to be reserved for magazines...easier to dry out when I drop them in the water!)

The Hollow Crown by Dan Jones

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My son convinced me that subscribing to the BBC History magazine was a good idea since we were buying it every month so we'd save money and there was a choice of a free book.  Since I'm planning to do a Wars of the Roses project for Lion Rampant (still no further forward on that one so far) the Dan Jones book seemed like a good choice.  I haven't read any of his other books (a couple on the Plantagenets I believe) but this was a good read and made sense of the convoluted plotting and fighting during the WotR.  Probably not detailed enough for some but as an overview of a very muddling period it was an excellent primer.

Stormbird and Trinity by Conn Iggulden

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Following on from the factual account of the WotR are the first 2 books in Conn Iggulden's latest series.  I was struck by how well he manages to weave real events into the plot and at least he acknowledges when he's had to stretch things to make this happen.  It's also entertaining spotting the obvious Kingmaker event cards turning up (oh look, Scrope has been made Warden of the Cinque Ports...there are bound to be French raids any minute!).  The books are fun and entertaining as well in a way that Cornwell used to be.  (Is it just me or has his last series gone on far too long??)

Johnny Alucard by Kim Newman

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This is the 4th in Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series which assumes vampires integrating (sort of) into society from Victorian times onwards.  Previous volumes have been set in Victorian England, WW1 (with the giant flying bats of the RFC) and 50s Italy.  The latest volume takes us into the late 70s and early 80s and includes Coppolla's production of Apocalypse Now/Dracula and vampires stalking Studio 54.  The books are a bit Marmite... you either enjoy the conceit or you don't.  There is a lot of fun in spotting the literary and cinematic references which fill each page.

The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross

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I'd guess most people have read or heard of Charles Stross' books...The Laundry series are a sort of John Le Carre/Cthulhu mix up with, in the book, a dollop of Fleming thrown in.  I'd only read the first book in the series (this is no. 2) but so far it's an excellent, funny read and I'll be getting vol. 3 asap.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

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This is the 3rd book in the Gentlemen Bastards series which began with The Lies of Locke Lamora.  While this is a fairly traditional fantasy type series the plotting and detail is excellent.  The books outline the adventures of a pair of thieves in a Renaissance style world with convoluted plots and a healthy disregard for worrying about killing people off when it suits the author, something I always find refreshing.  Book 2 had a nautical/pirate theme and this book takes on the world of the theatre and local politics (sort of)...really well written and fun.

Conan the Barbarian by Robert E Howard

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I'd never actually read any of the Conan stories and having subscribed to the recent Kickstarter I thought I should try some of them.  My only experience was the Arnie movie!  As there was a very cheap compilation on Kindle this seemed worth the 99p it cost me.  To my surprise they were very readable...I'm not sure why I was surprised since they have an enduring popularity, perhaps I was expecting something more clichéd.  To be fair they are quite clichéd  but I guess they weren't when they were written and that's the can see the deep influence in lots of fantasy books, films and games.  More importantly though, they were actually quite fun and I found I'd ploughed through several of the stories in quick order.

The Bloodline Feud by Charles Stross (again)

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Another Charles Stross book...this is actually 2 books combined and takes the "traditional" gateway to a fantasy land/lost princess type story but  does it in a modern, business focused way.  Not as much fun as the Laundry books but an entertaining read


  1. Excellent reviews! Is your Lion Rampant force going to be Lancastrian or Yorkist?

  2. Ultimately one of each but probably the most sensible option would be to build it around well established treacherous families so they could go for either side.