Friday, 28 August 2015

Review: The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

The long journey is now over. I had planned to save the last part of Alexandre Dumas' d’Artagnan Romances until later in the year, but somehow, after reading the previous part, I decided to finish off the series. The Romances consist of three works: The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later. The last of these has been published in several different editions that divide the novel into separate books in different ways. I was reading the Project Gutenberg version, which separates the novel into four parts. You can find the reviews of the first, second and third part here, here and here.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Review: Louise de La Vallière by Alexandre Dumas

I've been slowly reading through Alexandre Dumas' d’Artagnan Romances that consist of three novels: The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later. The last of these has been published in several different editions that divide the novel into separate books in different ways. I am reading the Project Gutenberg version, which separates the novel into four parts. You can find the reviews of the first and second parts here and here.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Review: D'Artagnan: A Sequel to The Three Musketeers by H. Bedford-Jones

H. Bedford-Jones' D'Artagnan: A Sequel to The Three Musketeers is a fast-paced adventure set after the events of The Three Musketeers, in the year 1630, when Cardinal Richelieu was fighting for his position against powerful enemies - and eventually solidified his power. The novel features all the familiar musketeers and several new characters in a relatively simple but fun adventure. The author uses the traditional gimmick of the time, claiming that the story is based on Dumas' lost papers, just like Dumas based his story on earlier documents.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Review: Memoirs of a Cavalier by Daniel Defoe

Daniel Dafoe's Memoirs of a Cavalier relates the story of an unnamed cavalier who left England in search of an adventure in the early 17th century and ended up fighting in Gustavus Adolphus' army against the Holy Roman Empire. After the Swedish king's death, he returned to England and took part in the civil war. These two wars form the first and second half of the novel. As it is, this review only concerns the first half of this novel, because that is the part of history that is the focus of my interest.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Video Footage of the New Exhibition at the Olavinlinna Castle

It is not too often that one gets to dress up as a historical figure and star in a movie (even a short one). So, I beg of you to forgive me if I use this chance to express my elation about such an opportunity.

The new Accessible Exhibition has just opened at the Olavinlinna Castle, located in Savonlinna, Finland. Last year, me and my family were invited to take part in the production of the video footage that is a part of this exhibition (read all about it here). Although you will have to travel to Savonlinna to see the entire 10 minute video, the Finnish National Museum has released two trailers of the video that you can enjoy anywhere you may want to.

The first of these is a so-called short trailer and you can spot yours truly at around the 12 second mark, walking down a castle hallway.

The second one is a so-called long trailer, featuring quite a lot of scenes not seen in the short one. You can spot me and my wife and daughter at around the 30 second mark. I'm standing in the background while my wife and daughter are seated at a table, playing a historical board game.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Review: The Pyrates by George MacDonald Fraser

The late George MacDonald Fraser is perhaps best known for his hilarious Flashman stories, one of which was also turned into rather a funny film, starring Malcolm McDowell. Towards the end of his career, he wrote two somewhat different comical novels, the first of which is The Pyrates. In his afterword he describes his love for golden era pirate films and novels and therefore it is with great expectations that a reader begins to read the first pages.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Queen Christina of Sweden - a Swordswoman

Queen Christina is arguably one of the most intriguing queens in history. She was born in 1626 and her father, King Gustavus Adolphus, died on a battlefield when she was only 6 years old. Nevertheless, Gustavus Adolphus had time to have a great influence on her, as he raised her more or less like a boy (from the perspective of the 17th century world) by, for example, taking her to see soldiers firing cannons when she was very little. Later in her life, alongside diplomacy and culture, she continued practicing her skills in hunting, swordsmanship, cannoneering and horseback riding.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Review: Birds of Prey by Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith's Birds of Prey is one episode of his long Courteney Adventures series that relate the tales of several members of the long line of adventurers in different times and places. While I've not read the rest of the series, I picked up Birds of Prey, since it is set in the 17th century.

Before I go into the story, I must note that, for a historical fiction enthusiast, the novel has one glaring problem: Wilbur Smith actually uses the foreword to tell the readers that he did not even attempt to use period-accurate names for the ships or firearms in order to make the story more "approachable" to the modern reader. I'm not sure if I'm alone here, but I rather imagined that people read historical fiction partly to actually learn something about the period. But, onto the story and some spoilers that mostly affect the very beginnings of it...

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Review: The Heir of Buckingham by Paul Féval, fils and M. Lassez

It is time to take a look at the fourth and last part of Paul Féval and M. Lassez's The Years Between series, called The Heir of Buckingham. The series stars the famous characters originally penned by Alexandre Dumas and Edmond Rostand: d'Artagnan and Cyrano de Bergerac. The events of the series take place in-between Dumas' The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After, in 1641.

As this is a four part series, this review will necessarily spoil some of the events taking place in the first three parts. However, I try to keep these at minimum. Feel free to jump to the last paragraph if you are worried.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Lego - King's Musketeers and Cardinal's Guards

A while ago, Lego sold a nice minifigure of the classic King's Musketeer in one of their minifigure series and I - a known fan of all things 17th century - could not keep my hands off of them. Later, they also released a swashbuckler figure, but I was dismayed by the lack of a nice set of Cardinal's Guards to face off with my Musketeers.