Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Review: Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian

I'd better get this straight right from the start: Patrick O'Brian is my absolute favourite author. More specifically, I love his Aubrey/Maturin novels for how they transport me to another place and time so completely. I've read the series through twice and finished reading the first novel, Master and Commander, for the third time a few days ago, which led me to write this review love letter.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Attending the Opening Ceremony of the Heavy Metal exhibition

My wife and I were invited to attend the opening ceremony of the Heavy Metal exhibition at the Häme Castle on the 21st April. First things first, the exhibition has next to nothing to do with certain genre of music, and a lot to do with heavy metal armour and weapons used in the 16th to 18th centuries. The arms and armour come from the Universalmuseum Joanneum in Graz, Austria and they are, therefore, historical equipment used by the soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire under the Hapsburg rule. These are displayed for the first time in Northern Europe, so it was simply a chance of a lifetime to be one of the first people to enjoy the exhibition.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Review: The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

Alexandre Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask storyline has been adapted to film several times. I previously reviewed the 1977 version and the 1979 version and noted how they had changed the original story to a large degree. That's no different with the 1998 version of the tale, starring Leonardo diCaprio, but the changes that have been made are very different from the previous versions.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Review: The Fifth Musketeer (1979)

1970's saw at least two film adaptations of The Man in the Iron Mask story by Alexandre Dumas. The first was the Richard Chamberlain starred version in the 1977 that we reviewed a short while ago and the second was The Fifth Musketeer in 1979. Both of them take only the basic idea from the original story and go on a completely different tangent from then on. However, although Chamberlain's version was originally "made for TV" only, it ends up being far superior - and even much more loyal to the original story - of these two adaptations.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Review: The Wolves of Paris by Michael Wallace

I often complain that it is difficult to find good werewolf stories, especially among self-published titles, but sometimes you strike gold. Michael Wallace's The Wolves of Paris is based on a historical story of a pack of wolves that attacked people in and around Paris in 1450, but takes it into a new direction by turning it into a fantasy tale of werewolves and witchcraft.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Review: Honor Among Thieves by J.M. Aucoin

Honor Among Thieves is J.M. Aucoin's first novel in his self-published Hope & Steel series. It is set in 1609, before the time of the King's Musketeers and during the reign of Henry IV. Going by the author's own words, he lists his influences as "Alexandre Dumas, Rafael Sabatini, Arturo Perez-Reverte". Since these correspond with my favourite authors in swashbuckling fiction, there was no way I was going to miss this novel.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Review: The Man in the Iron Mask (1977)

The Man in the Iron Mask is a film adaptation of the story told by Alexandre Dumas in his d'Artagnan Romances. It takes portions of the story of King Louis XIV's love affair with Louise de la Vallière and combines it with a completely reworked plotline involving Louis' secret twin brother. Overall, I must say that the film manages to deliver a more interesting and involving story than the original novel did.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Review: Admiral (2015)

The Admiral (2015) tells a story of Michiel de Ruyter (1607-1676), a famous Dutch admiral who managed to put up a decent fight against the naval might of England during the Anglo-Dutch wars. Rather than telling the full story of his rise to fame in the Caribbean and elsewhere, the film focusses on the c. ten last years of de Ruyter's career when he was chosen to lead the confederate fleet. For me, this is a bit of an unknown topic - for some reason my knowledge of Dutch history and naval power has pretty much been limited to the powerful East India Company, so my commentary on historical accuracy is somewhat limited in this review.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Review: The Mountain of Gold by J.D. Davies

The Mountain of Gold is the second novel in the The Journals of Matthew Quinton series by J.D. Davies. It is historical naval fiction, but unlike most other novels set in the Age of Sail, Matthew Quinton lives in the 17th century, in post-Civil War era England where the king's power is still shaky and many wish that the Civil War had ended differently. The first novel was somewhat light on the naval adventure side, most action taking place on land, and the sequel has the same problem, if you wish to call it that. But, overall, it is rather a good read of the period.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Three Musketeers at the Lahti City Theatre

Last night, my wife and I attended the last performance of The Three Musketeers (Kolme Muskettisoturia) at the Lahti City Theatre (Lahden kaupunginteatteri). I'm not going to review it, as there is no sense in doing so for a play that no one can see anymore, but I wanted to bring up some of the highlights and some of what-one-might-call the low points in this interpretation of Alexandre Dumas' classic story. Let's begin with the trailer: