To quote (sort of) The Most Interesting Man in the World, “I don’t always read about The English Civil War, but when I do, I like to read about Hollie (Rosie) Babbitt.” This is book 5 in the Uncivil War series by M.J. Logue and I continue to be impressed with the style, the language, the plot lines and the development of the characters. The author brings to life what the war did to both sides in this edition as the Parliamentarian’s take control of Cornwall, a region that would rather not be part of either side in the war. Colonel Babbitt returns to the fray much to the chagrin of Het, his wife and this rough, professional soldier must battle not only a siege but also his tangled emotions. The manner in which he finally understands and the healing of his troubled mind comes from a most unusual source; I will say no more on that other than I was entranced by this portion of the story. Also intriguing is the relationship between Hapless, the Brat and Rosie…it just gets better with every book. Hoover Book Reviews highly recommends this very entertaining series. 5 stars.
My favorite period to read about in historical fiction will always be of the ancient world; the great civilizations that helped form the modern world into what it is today. But it seems that I have been subtlety swayed into the history of Britain, from the post Roman age, the Normans, Crusades, War of the Roses, Civil War, and now into the reign of arguably England’s finest Monarch, Elizabeth, daughter of arguably one of the worst, Henry VIIIth. There is a plot afoot to assassinate the Queen, one that involves Mary, Queen of Scots. Enter her ‘spymaster’ Francis Walsingham and his network of spies and codebreakers. Christoval (Kit) is training to be a doctor but is also an accomplished breaker of codes and that comes to the ears of Walsingham who enlists Kit’s help, first as a codebreaker and gradually as an agent/messenger/forger for the good of England. This is mostly done against Kit’s wishes but there aren’t many who can say no to the powerful spymaster; especially since another member of the spy network knows a secret about Kit, one that will certainly ruin Kit’s life. However, that is not the only secret that Kit harbors; there is also the matter of religious affiliation, being Jewish in Portugal was fine until the Spanish introduced a quaint custom called The Inquisition. So, Kit and family escape to England yet even in London they must practice their faith in secret. The tale is an exciting one, one of those that is hard to put down in order to fix dinner or let the dogs out; in other words, the pages refuse to let go of the helpless, but entertained reader. Along with the main plot, the reader is given a look into what life was like in London late 16th century, including the rough life of those who choose to entertain from the stage. That is one thread I am looking forward to continuing in the sequel as this has the makings of a tumultuous time for Kit (I can say no more.), well that and the sentence that the book ends with. 🙂 4.4 stars
When I read The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien I was both fascinated and somewhat frightened by the creature Ungoliant. In The Dead Gods, we meet an Ungoliant on steroids. We met this god of shadows briefly at the end of book 1, The Sun Shard and in book 2 we get to know this powerful and evil being on a more intimate level as well as it’s minions and children. It is a story filled with interwoven plots as empires prepare for war, ancient beings fight to survive and old civilizations seek to reclaim what was once theirs. All of that and a battle for the control of the souls of mankind. Now, all of that is well and good but of no use, entertainmentwise, without some heroic bravery; some action that defies the odds and results in victories…I am happy to report that the author has accomplished that with an amazing set of circumstances and characters. Oh, and romance too…can’t forget the romance, the longing for and the physical manifestation of it, even if some of that is, well, let’s just say, mentally challenging. The first two books have set the scene for world and religious conquest…I can’t wait for book 3. 5 stars
Being what you may call an amateur historian since my teens, oh those many years ago, I am always looking for material, whether non-fiction or fiction, to feed me; to teach me. This series by Richard Abbot has been an eye opener regarding the area of the Near East, Palestine, The Levant; whatever you want to call it. So many groups have either settled there or held sway over it through the centuries and in The Flame Before Us they all meet. Wilios or Troy has finally fallen after a prolonged siege and while it is still up for debate and discussion as to what happened to the invaders after the war; while there were some who returned to their homes across The Aegean Sea, others remained and drifted south to find new lands to call home. That is the crux of book 3 as these mysterious Sea Peoples come into contact with, in some cases violently, with the Kinahny, the Hittite, the Ibriym, the Mitsriy; in short the whole gamut of Old Testament peoples. The author has crafted a tale filled with memorable characters and has given us a glimpse into the possibilities of so many disparate groups coming together in a region that has seen nothing but strife even unto today. From the noble, nose in the air, Egyptians to the settlements of peasants to the nomadic clans, we have a tale of loss, hardship, and hope as cultures collide and times change. Kudos to the author for a most enjoyable series. I look forward to more. 5 stars