Friday, 31 October 2014

Review: The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian

Giles Kristian's The Bleeding Land delves into an interesting period in history: the England's Civil War in the 17th century where the Parliament rebelled against the King and the land was torn apart - and sometimes even families - as everyone took sides in the following battles. The novel explores the effects of the war on a family of landed gentry: the Rivers. Two sons are separated by a tragedy and find themselves on the opposing sides of the war.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Review: The Beast Within by Jane Jensen

Jane Jensen's The Beast Within is a novelisation of the 1990's video game Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within. Game tie-in novels are known to be rather low quality reads, but - to my utter surprise - The Beast Within ended up being the exception to the rule. The story takes place in Bavaria, Germany, where Gabriel has moved to live in a castle that he's inherited from his uncle alongside the title of Shattenjager - Shadow Hunter.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Power of a 17th Century Cannon

An interesting research project is taking place in Sweden at the moment, as researchers have recreated a 17th century cannon and are test firing it at wooden constructions, modelled after period ships, in order to find out how cannons were used in sea battles: the distances used, how powerful they were and what kind of damage they caused.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Travelling back in time – if only for a day

The 17th century has been one of my favourite historical eras for a long time now. I’ve always been interested in musketeers, rapiers, the early age of sail and exploration - and they all existed in pretty much the same historical period. I’ve tried my hand at writing historical fiction set in the era and participated at the Hakkapeliitta event (commemorating the Finnish men who participated in the Thirty Years’ War) for the past several years. I even wrote the speech for the invited speaker once.

But last weekend was perhaps the most special amongst all of my 17th century experiences. Our family was invited to take part in the filming of the introductory film for the new Accessible Exhibition of the Olavinlinna Castle in eastern Finland. The film includes snippets of castle life from several time periods, but our task was to bring life to the 17th century and the year 1649 specifically.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Review: Bad Wolf by Tim McGregor

Tim McGregor's Bad Wolf is the first part of his Bad Wolf Chronicles, but works very well as a stand-alone novel. Set in Portland, Oregon, the story follows Homicide Detectives Lara Mendes and John Gallagher as they try to track down an apparent serial killer who uses dogs to bring down his victims.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Reviewing novels: One, Three or Five Stars?

The question arises every now and then whether one should review a novel if one cannot say something good about it and give it at least a three star review. I usually find myself in the opposite side of the fence in these discussions, urging people to use the full rating scale. Why? Let me try to explain in the following.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Review: Buccaneer by Dudley Pope

Dudley Pope’s Buccaneer shows promise on the surface, but doesn’t really deliver as a novel. Set in the 17th century, it tells the story of a royalist plantation owner in Barbados who finds that he will have to flee the island or face the Roundheads whose fleet is coming over from England to subdue the Caribbean settlements. The protagonist, Ned Yorke, snatches his neighbour’s wife and makes his escape only to find that it is not so easy to decide what to do afterwards.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Review: Marvel 1602: Spider-Man by Jeff Parker

The fourth and final instalment of the Marvel 1602 series features Spider-Man, my all-time favourite Marvel hero. Whereas none of the sequels can compete with Neil Gaiman's original, I feel that Spider-Man comes close but loses to Fantastick Four due to a couple of grievances.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Review: House of Corruption by Erik Tavares

Erik Tavares' House of Corruption is a great find to any fan of werewolves or the horror genre in general. Set in the 1890's, the protagonist is Reynard LaCroix, a werewolf, who has been able to avoid his curse for the past few years with the help of a silver bullet that is lodged inside his chest. Rather than focussing solely on werewolves, House of Corruption adds other more or less traditional horror genre creatures; undead demons.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Review: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Glen Duncan's The Last Werewolf is one of the quintessential needles in a haystack - unless you know where to look for them, you'll find yourself grasping at straws most of your time. Good werewolf novels are drowned in the sea of bad ones. In my case, my eyes happened upon this book quite by an accident at a bookstore. It was a translation, which already told me that this was worth looking at (they don't just bother to translate just _anything_ into Finnish) and I soon got the sample and then the full book onto my Kindle (the English language version, of course).