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.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Review: The Secret of the Bastille by Paul Féval, fils and M. Lassez

I've now progressed to the third book in my read-through of Paul Féval and M. Lassez's The Years Between series. This is a 4-part series where they take the famous characters (more or less loosely based on real historical people) created by Alexandre Dumas and Edmond Rostand, namely 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.

The third novel continues directly from the events of the second novel and thus the following review will contain spoilers for those not familiar with the story. If you don't want to be spoiled, you can jump directly to the last paragraph.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Review: Martyr to the Queen by Paul Féval, fils and M. Lassez

In my previous blog entry, I reviewed the first part of Paul Féval and M. Lassez's The Years Between series of novels where they take the characters created by Alexandre Dumas and Edmond Rostand, namely d'Artagnan and Cyrano de Bergerac, and bring them together in a new adventure that takes place in-between Dumas' The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After.

The second novel in the series continues immediately after the first one ended and thus the following review will contain spoilers for those not familiar with the story. If you don't want to be spoiled, you can jump directly to the last paragraph.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Review: The Mysterious Cavalier by Paul Féval, fils and M. Lassez

In my search of historical fiction set in the 17th century, I happened across the name of Paul Féval, fils and his series of stories, some of them written in collaboration with M. Lassez. What makes them especially interesting is that the authors quite freely took characters created by other authors - d'Artagnan and the familiar three musketeers and Cyrano de Bergerac - and wrote new stories about them.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Review: Sword of Skelos by Andrew J. Offutt

Andrew J. Offutt wrote three Conan stories that are often praised as the best Conan stories not written by Robert E. Howard. Having read Robert Jordan's adequate but not memorable entries into the saga of Conan, I have been reluctant to pick up any of the stories from other authors. However, when I realised that Offutt had written the original story for one of my favourite non-REH Savage Sword of Conan comics - Sword of Skelos - I simply had to take a closer look.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Comics Adaptations of Robert E. Howard's Queen of the Black Coast

Robert E. Howard's Queen of the Black Coast is one of his most memorable stories and it has - deservedly - been adapted several times, most famously by both Marvel and Dark Horse in their Conan comics. Both of them attempt to extend the story from the original: instead of a single quick short story, they add to it and attempt to show how influential it was to Conan's character. They both also moved the story in Conan's chronology so that it takes place in his youth. Howard's original told a story that spanned a long time of Conan's life in mere four chapters, so this attempt to expand upon it is very welcome. A third adaptation was made by Petri Hiltunen, a Finnish comic artist.

The approaches the adaptations took are very different. I'll use this chance to provide an overall look of all of them and will then continue to give the reasons why I think one of them is a far more successful retelling than the others.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Review: The Devil's Fire by Matt Tomerlin

Matt Tomerlin's The Devil's Fire is the first novel in a series of three, telling the story of Katherine Lindsay whose husband is brutally killed in front of her before she herself is dragged aboard a pirate ship. It is set in the somewhat over-used time period when Nassau was the pirate haven in the Caribbean. Forced to share a cabin with a pirate captain for several months, Katherine begins to get used to the life at sea. But the shadow of her dead husband is ever-present...