Monday, 21 November 2016

Review: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Often called a cult-classic, [i]An American Werewolf in London[/i] was released in 1981 during a kind of a peak in werewolf films. It was praised for its special effects, which, I'm afraid, haven't really survived the test of time. I've watched it at least twice before and have not been very impressed by it - I've written before that I'm not really into the simple blood-hungry monster angle when it comes to werewolves - but decided to give it another go in order to write this review.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Review: Hakkapeliitat I-III by Artturi Leinonen

Artturi Leinonen's Hakkapeliitat series (originally released as three novels) relates the adventures of a group of (Finnish) cavalry (whom the author refers to as dragoons) serving under the rule of the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus during the 30 Years War. Written in 1932-1934, the storytelling style is old-fashioned: there's no strong overall plot and the story tends to get lost on tangents every now and then. Still, it is a fun read, overall, and deserving of a lot more attention than it has received in the recent years.

Review: The Wedding of Cyrano (D'Artagnan and Cyrano Reconciled, #3) by Paul Féval, fils

In 1928 Paul Féval, fils' wrote a trilogy known as D'Artagnan and Cyrano Reconciled, continuing an earlier series that he wrote with M. Lassez, called The Years Between. The stories are set after Alexandre Dumas' Twenty Years After and show d'Artagnan and some of the rest of the musketeers in various adventures with Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac. I've read and reviewed all the other parts of the story and now it is time to tackle the last one: The Wedding of Cyrano. It should be noted that this review will likely spoil some of the events of the earlier parts of the story, but no more than the title of this novel itself already does.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Review: The Laughing Cavalier by Emmuska Orczy

Emmuska Orczy is best known for the The Scarlet Pimpernel novels (and plays and films) that are set in the 18th century Britain and France. However, she wrote two novels depicting an ancestor of her famous hero set in the 1624 Netherlands, the first of which is called The Laughing Cavalier - named after the famous painting by Frans Hals (see the title image) that Orczy claims depicts the hero himself. The hero goes around under the pseudonym of Diogones and is part of a group of three mercenaries who call themselves the Philosophers.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Review: The Escape of the Man in the Iron Mask (D'Artagnan and Cyrano Reconciled, #2) by Paul Féval, fils

Paul Féval, fils' wrote a trilogy known as D'Artagnan and Cyrano Reconciled. The story is set after Alexandre Dumas' Twenty Years After and spans the years between 1649 and 1655. I've previously reviewed the first part of the trilogy and was somewhat annoyed by the uneven plotting. The second part works much better, but takes a serious deviation of the Dumas' original story, introducing a plot with the Man in the Iron Mask much earlier than Dumas did and leading to a vastly different plot, cunningly mixed with actual historical details.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Review: The King's Passport by H. Bedford-Jones

I've previously reviewed H. Bedford-Jones' pastiche of Alexandre Dumas' classic work. Interestingly enough, his other story featuring the classic hero, d'Artagnan, The King's Passport, is not in any way connected with the longer work and is not really a pastiche at all: rather than being set in 1630 and featuring the Dumas version of d'Artagnan (who was born at least a decade before his historical counterpart), the story is set ten years later, in 1640, when d'Artagnan has only recently arrived to Paris and is serving in the Guard.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Review: Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

Rafael Sabatini's Scaramouche: A Romance of the French Revolution from 1921 is perhaps the most acclaimed of Sabatini's works. However, before I finally read it, my only knowledge of it came from the 1952 film, which I liked but never enough to actually go and try the novel before now. It turns out that I had been missing one of the best historical fiction novels ever written.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Review: The Brethren Prince by Ira Smith

The Brethren Prince by Ira David Smith might well be one of the definitive novels of piracy and privateering in the Caribbean. Following the life of James Ketcham, it shows us historically accurate life among the buccaneers of Hispaniola, in the famous pirate haven of Tortuga and in several other historical locations on the islands and on the mainland. The novel certainly has some drawbacks, but they are outweighed by the good parts.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Review: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand and Charles Renauld

Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac from 1897 is one of the definitive plays set in the 17th century. Inspired by the life of the actual historical poet and duellist, the play introduces us to the tragic figure of Cyrano who is in love with a woman but never dares to tell her about it. The play has been adapted to film, radio, TV etc. so many times that it is doubtful that anyone might have missed it, but this was the first time that I went to the play itself to enjoy the original text (or as original as I can without learning French).

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Review: The Blast that Tears the Skies by J.D. Davies

The Blast that Tears the Skies is the third novel in J.D. Davies' The Journals of Matthew Quinton series. It is a historical naval fiction series set in the 17th century that has, until now, spent most of its time on land, dealing with the protagonist's family mysteries. The third part finally brings the family mystery to its conclusion and also describes one of the major naval battles of the era, the Battle of Lowestoft, where the Royal Navy have to forget their differences in order to beat the Dutch Navy.