Saturday, 5 May 2018

Review: Zorro by Isabel Allende

I've always been a fan of swashbucklers and historical adventure, but I have to admit that my enthusiasm is targeted more to the 17th century than the early 19th - and thus all the various retellings and other stories of Zorro don't attract my attention so much. But when I browsed the sale of used books at the local library and found Isabel Allende's Zorro available for a single euro, I decided to give it a try. And although it was not the best historical adventure book I've read, it was still worth a read.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Review: The Battle of All the Ages by J.D. Davies

J.D. Davies has really found his style with his Matthew Quinton series. The fourth part that I reviewed late last year was the first one that pulled me in, but I still pointed out that the stories seem to be staying on land far more than at sea. However, the fifth book in the series fixes all that!

Friday, 5 January 2018

The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure, edited by Lawrence Ellsworth

My wife found me this gem: a thick collection of swashbuckling tales from several masters of the field - many of them unknown to me until now. You can find all of the big names here, from Alexandre Dumas and Baroness Orczy to Rafael Sabatini, but also some less well known names such as Stanley J. Feyman and Anthony Hope. Pirates, swordsmen, nobles - you can find it all here. It is pretty impossible to review an entire collection of stories from so many authors: a lot depends on the quality of the individual stories and they are still all of them unique and would deserve a separate paragraph of their own. I don't have time such a deep review, unfortunately, but I will try to give you my overall impression.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Review: Under the Red Robe by Stanley J. Weyman

Stanley J. Weyman is one of the big authors of swashbucklers from the decades between Alexandre Dumas and Rafael Sabatini. But, unlike the mentioned masters, his name is more or less forgotten these days. Nevertheless, he was a prolific author and known for the accuracy of historical details in his adventure stories. Under the Red Robe is set in the late 1630, at a time when Cardinal Richelieu's growing power was suddenly challenged in the plot that came to be known as the Day of the Dupes.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Review: Death of a Musketeer by Sarah D'Almeida

I've read quite a few pastiches based on Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, so I have some tolerance to the fact that they rarely meet the quality of the original. Death of a Musketeer, however, is a risky venture from the start: instead of continuing the story or covering the "lost years", the author sets out to rewrite the original, claiming that Dumas altered the story and she has found new evidence of what actually happened to the four heroes. The result is mediocre at best and changes the characters beyond recognition and likeability.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Review: The Lion of Midnight by J.D. Davies

I've been reading the historical fiction series by J.D. Davies over the past year and a half and you can find my previous reviews from this blog. The reason I've taken such a long time to get to the fourth installment is that while I've liked them well enough, they have not really pulled me in... until now. In the fourth novel in the series, J.D. Davies has hit on the right mix of action and intrigue and pushed aside, at least for now, the less interesting Quinton family secrets plotline that weighed down the earlier novels.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Review: Adventures of Monsieur de La Donaree the Musketeer by Ted Anthony Roberts

The readers of this blog know that I always appreciate a good adventure tale, especially if it can be described as a swashbuckler. It is a disappointingly scarcely populated genre these days, but one does tend to find a novel or two every now and then. This time, my attention was drawn to T.A. Robert's Adventures of Monsieur de La Donaree the Musketeer. The author mentions grand-masters like Alexandre Dumas, Rafael Sabatini and Sir Walter Scott in his bio, so taking a look at his work is something that one simply must do.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Review: Shōgun by James Clavell

James Clavell's Shōgun is a classic - there's no going around that. I first read the Finnish translation when I was a teen, so it was high time to go back to it and read it in the original language. It is said that Shōgun has inspired many to cross-cultural learning and to study the Japanese culture and history - and it may be partially responsible even for the ninja/samurai/katana enthusiasm that seems to make Europeans forget about their own wonderful history of musketeers and rapiers. And, when you read Clavell's novel, you will understand why.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Review: Beneath the Skin by Jonathan Maberry

It has been a while since I last reviewed a werewolf book. It is not for lack of trying, however. I've began reading many novels and short stories, but I rarely finish them. Partly because they offer nothing new or they are just written in a style I don't care for. However, Jonathan Maberry's - the author of the latest The Wolfman novelisation - Beneath the Skin intrigued me almost from the very first page onwards. Here, we have a noir style character: a private detective taking on dull jobs to get along. But he also has a big secret: he's a werewolf, part of an ancient race of Benandanti whose task it is to fight evil.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Vasa - the ship that wasn't

In many ways, Gustavus Adolphus (or Gustav II Adolf) was a great king. Together with his High Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna, he modernised the Swedish government, education and military, as well as earned the respect and adoration of the common man. But he has often been said to be the cause of the catastrophe that met the greatest ship of the era: Vasa. However, when we visited the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, we picked up a book by Fred Hocker that states that the king should not be blamed for what happened. As today marks the 389th anniversary of the disaster, I share the following with you: