Robert E. Howard is best known for his Conan Cimmerian and Solomon Kane stories, but he was an astoundingly prolific writer and visited many genres from Westerns to... pirates! Black Vulmea's vengeance & Other Tales of Pirates is a collection of three pirate stories: "Swords of the Red Brotherhood", "Black Vulmea's Vengeance" and "The Isle of Pirates' Doom".
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Friday, 14 November 2014
Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf is a very traditional werewolf story: a small town suffers from monthly attacks by a blood-thirsty monster that the police are unable to identify or catch. Told in twelve chapters - one for each full moon in a year - the story introduces an extensive cast of characters, but shows kindness to the reader by cutting their numbers down in splashes of blood and intestines.
Sunday, 2 November 2014
Sadan miekan mies (‘The man of a hundred swords’) is a Finnish adventure comedy from 1951, set in the year 1634, two years after the death of Gustavus Adolphus in the battle of Lützen. It tells a story of a captain who is conducting a never-explicitly-stated mission for the King as he roams the countryside of Eastern Sweden (i.e. Finland). Even though it has its weaknesses, it also has its fun moments.
Friday, 31 October 2014
Giles Kristian's The Bleeding Land delves into an interesting period in history: the England's Civil War in the 17th century where the Parliament rebelled against the King and the land was torn apart - and sometimes even families - as everyone took sides in the following battles. The novel explores the effects of the war on a family of landed gentry: the Rivers. Two sons are separated by a tragedy and find themselves on the opposing sides of the war.
Monday, 27 October 2014
Jane Jensen's The Beast Within is a novelisation of the 1990's video game Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within. Game tie-in novels are known to be rather low quality reads, but - to my utter surprise - The Beast Within ended up being the exception to the rule. The story takes place in Bavaria, Germany, where Gabriel has moved to live in a castle that he's inherited from his uncle alongside the title of Shattenjager - Shadow Hunter.
Thursday, 23 October 2014
An interesting research project is taking place in Sweden at the moment, as researchers have recreated a 17th century cannon and are test firing it at wooden constructions, modelled after period ships, in order to find out how cannons were used in sea battles: the distances used, how powerful they were and what kind of damage they caused.
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
The 17th century has been one of my favourite historical eras for a long time now. I’ve always been interested in musketeers, rapiers, the early age of sail and exploration - and they all existed in pretty much the same historical period. I’ve tried my hand at writing historical fiction set in the era and participated at the Hakkapeliitta event (commemorating the Finnish men who participated in the Thirty Years’ War) for the past several years. I even wrote the speech for the invited speaker once.
But last weekend was perhaps the most special amongst all of my 17th century experiences. Our family was invited to take part in the filming of the introductory film for the new Accessible Exhibition of the Olavinlinna Castle in eastern Finland. The film includes snippets of castle life from several time periods, but our task was to bring life to the 17th century and the year 1649 specifically.
Monday, 13 October 2014
Tim McGregor's Bad Wolf is the first part of his Bad Wolf Chronicles, but works very well as a stand-alone novel. Set in Portland, Oregon, the story follows Homicide Detectives Lara Mendes and John Gallagher as they try to track down an apparent serial killer who uses dogs to bring down his victims.
Saturday, 27 September 2014
The question arises every now and then whether one should review a novel if one cannot say something good about it and give it at least a three star review. I usually find myself in the opposite side of the fence in these discussions, urging people to use the full rating scale. Why? Let me try to explain in the following.
Friday, 19 September 2014
Dudley Pope’s Buccaneer shows promise on the surface, but doesn’t really deliver as a novel. Set in the 17th century, it tells the story of a royalist plantation owner in Barbados who finds that he will have to flee the island or face the Roundheads whose fleet is coming over from England to subdue the Caribbean settlements. The protagonist, Ned Yorke, snatches his neighbour’s wife and makes his escape only to find that it is not so easy to decide what to do afterwards.