Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review of Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Author:  Joe Abercrombie.
Title:  Half a King.
Publisher:  Del Rey.
Copyright:  2014.
Pages:  346.
Price:  $15.00 (US)

Overview and Impressions:
I liked Half a King.  Joe Abercrombie has a gift for writing.  I wish I could compose prose as well as he does.  The novel is set on a Viking Prince named Yarvi.  Yarvi is a cripple who's studying to become a minister of the gods.  He's on his way to take the take test when fate intervenes.

Yarvi's father and older brother are killed.  His mother, the Queen of Gettenland, forces him to become King.  Yarvi is betrayed by his uncle and cousin.  The story then gets into high gear as Yarvi survives slavery and eventually gets his revenge.  There are many twists and turns along the way.  I don't want to give away anything else.  Half a King is a fast read.  Recommend for fantasy readers.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

WIP, 28mm Vikings, 17MAY15

Here are photos of WIP, 28mm Vikings:

                                          WIP, 28mm Viking Bondi on the painting table.

                                         28mm armored Vikings and unarmored Bondi in need of flocking.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Review of The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnought

Author:  Jack Campbell.
Title:  The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Dreadnought.
Publisher:  Ace Science Fiction.
Copyright:  2011.
Pages:  368.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Dreadnought was the beginning of a new series for Jack Campbell.  It featured Admiral John "Black Jack" Geary leading a victorious Alliance fleet into unknown space to find out more about the alien "Enigma" amphibians.  There were political dealings and the occasional rescue of Alliance prisoners from Syndicate space as the fleet progressed through human space.  Geary's forces finally encountered the Enigma as they went beyond human space into the aliens' territory.  In one star system, the Alliance fleet rescues a group of human survivors the Enigma had captured and held captive inside a hollowed asteroid.  The book ends with Geary being confronted by another alien force protecting a jump way his fleet intended to use.

Dreadnought was a good read.  I started with The Lost Star series and worked my way back to The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier.  There was also the original The Lost Fleet series that started with Black Jack Geary being revived from a hundred year hypersleep in deep space.  The Alliance slowly lost a century long conflict to the Syndicate Worlds.  Until Geary intervenes and led the Alliance to victory.  How that happened is the story of The Lost Fleet...

Recommended for military science-fiction fans.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Early May 2015 reading...

Real life has interfered with my free time.  I had to take care of business last week.  I still have some more things in need of accomplishment.  But that isn't due until later on in the month.

I spent the weekend reading.  The first book I'm working on is Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontiers:  Dreadnought.  I started backward with the Lost Fleet series.  I read The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield first.  I then picked up one of The Lost Fleet novels.  But I gave that book away as a going away present.

Now, I'm reading Dreadnought.  I'm about halfway done with the novel.  I've enjoyed it so far.  It's now getting interesting.  I'll write a full review when I get done with it.

I also have another fantasy book I started called Half a King by Joe Abercrombie.  It's a Viking fantasy novel about kingship and betray.  I've only gotten into the first couple of chapters.  Half a King moves.  I like the way Abercrombie writes.  I wish I had his way with words.  Its good to see an excellent author in action.  It's something to aspire.

But I'll confess.   I haven't read a fantasy novel in a long time.  I used to read tons of sci-fi when I was much younger.  I switched over to fantasy when I was in my early twenties.  By the time I'd reached thirty, I stopped reading genera fiction.  Most of my reading was straight military histories.  In fact, there was a period of time I didn't read at all.  It's only the past four years I've come back to reading genera fiction again.

My problem is with much of the fantasy novels.  They are badly written and sold as mega-series.  I'm not going to wade through 2000 pages of badly written fantasy novels by some hack.  But that is how most fantasy books are now marketed in the United States.  It takes a good writer for me to pick up a fantasy novel.

George R. Martin is one such writer.  Another is Gene Wolfe and David Eddings.  I enjoyed Glenn Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company.  But his later Black Company novels weren't as good as the original series.  But I'll also write another review of Half a King when I get done with it.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

WIP, 28mm Vikings, 24APR15

Here are two photos of my second 40 28mm Vikings.  I spent this evening working on them.

                                          WIP, 28mm Vikings.

            Overview of my work table.  Those needing painting out number the figures completed

Friends of mine told me about SAGA.  They have Anglo-Danes and Viking armies.  But SAGA only needs about 30-40 figures.  I currently have about 140 28mm Vikings right now!  That would be four SAGA armies at least...


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mini-Review of Khan: Empire of Silver by Conn Iggulden

Author:  Conn Iggulden
Title:  Khan:  Empire of Silver.
Publisher:  Delacorte Press.
Copyright:  2010.
Pages:  387.
Price:  $26.00.

Overview and Impressions:
I discovered this author at my local library.  Conn Iggulden is an English writer who lives in Hertfordshire, UK.  He's written a series of books about Genghis Khan and the Mongolian empire.  He's also written books about Julius Caesar and the Roman empire.

I started reading Khan:  Empire of Silver to see how Iggulden handled writing about the Mongols fictionally.  It was part of my research for a historical novel I'm working on.  I love how the author was able to blend historical fact with his fiction.  That's a skill I'd love to have.

Khan:  Empire of Silver follows the Mongol invasion of Russia in 1238 and subsequent withdrawal of Mongol forces to select a new khan when Ogedai died.  The battle scenes are handled realistically and the narrative keeps things moving.  I enjoyed how Iggulden brought all the historical characters to life.

Unfortunately, my local library has only one copy off the Khan series.  Recommended for historical fiction reader.  Too bad Iggulden doesn't write straight military histories.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review of The Viking Wars of Alfred the Great by Paul Hill

Author:  Paul Hill.
Title:  The Viking Wars of Alfred the Great.
Publisher:  Westholme Publishing.
Copyright:  2009.
Pages:  169.
Price:  $26.00 (US).

Overview & Impressions: 
 I knew little about 9th century England.  This books is about the conflicts the Anglo-Saxons had with the followers of Danelaw.  Alfred the Great was Saxon king of the last English kingdom who defeated who defeated the Viking invades in a series of wars.  Despite being dethrone by his own privy counsel. 

Alfred the Great is remarkable for many reasons besides his victories.  He instituted religious reforms, started building programs and educational reforms throughout England.  Alfred also instituted jury trials and other civil reforms.

But the author's descriptions of the military battles are informative.  It's a treasure trove of ideas for Dark Ages wargaming.  Recommended.