Monday, May 30, 2016

Cornwell Keep Plugging Away With Death

Death of Kings (The Saxon Stories, #6)Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books make me wanna go !!!

In an England ravaged by Danes, as marvelously and meticulously laid out by Bernard Cornwell in his The Last Kingdom series, an English lord with Danish roots finds himself often at odds with which side to side with.

Here in book six Death of Kings, the English king who's ruled since the beginning of the series finally kicks the bucket and now the new kid gets to sit in the big boy chair...and the new kid is shitting his britches. Lord Uhtred to the rescue!

Lots of little armies move about a well-described Medieval English countryside, angling for position and on the verge of attack during a trying time for the country. This is the Danes' big chance to win it all for themselves and our anti-hero Uhtred is tasked with discovering their plans. In true Cornwell style, his main character has as many enemies and ill-wishers in his own camp as he has actual enemies, so it's a struggle at every turn.

I gave it four stars, yet Death of Kings wasn't necessarily better than others in the series. I just liked it better than most, I think, because it's one of the more balanced of Cornwell's books. The typical character problems and actual historical stuff blend well together here. Nice pacing on the action, too. This is a solid bridge to the next book...CHARGE!!!

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Tastier Than Spam-a-lot

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble KnightsThe Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One doesn't associate John Steinbeck with fantasy literature and yet here it is, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck. Go figure!

It's all* here, the rags-to-riches story of how Arthur ascended to the throne, the many deeds of his knights, the magic of Merlin and Morgan Le Fay.


His translation of Thomas Malory's version of the Arthurian legend is almost strangely faithful, seldom veering from that 15th century work in order to modernize the language enough for today's reader. And it is immensely readable! I breezed through from start to finish. Certainly not every story is a winner. Movies, tv series and books often skip a good number of the stories and stick with the most well-known. This gives you the lesser known stuff in full color and it is often beautiful.

However, this faithful translation dismayed and disappointed the publisher, who expected a Steinbeckized version of the Arthurian tales, something more like a Grapes of Wrath-gritty tale of down-and-out knights. Don't you too make that mistake when reading this! Steinbeck was a childhood fan of these stories and with childlike devotion, he captures their essence with a picture-perfect imitation intending to flatter via flattery's sincerest form. Well done and highly worth a read!

* Well, I say "all" but the book is not actually complete. Steinbeck put many years of hard work into this and yet inexplicably didn't finish it.

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