This is a list of books I have read since I last posted on my book blog. I have rated them out of ten but not made much of an attempt to tell you about them. Hopefully the best ones will be reviewed on my book blog at some stage.
Guy Gavriel Kay – Sailing to Sarantium (1998) – Brilliant mix of history, politics, drama and fantasy set in a fictional representation of the Byzantine Empire. 10/10 (It would get 11/10 for story-telling but like all of Kay’s books it doesn’t stretch one’s linguistic abilities and the quotable bits are fairly rare though there is some good philosophy in it.)
Guy Gavriel Kay – Lord Of Emperors (2000) – Sequel to the above. 10/10
Guy Gavriel Kay – Tigana. (1990) Fantasy 9/10
Guy Gavriel Kay – Last Light of the Sun (2004) Fantasy evocative of the Celtic and Norse cultures. 10/10
Guy Gavriel Kay – Under Heaven (2010). Pseudo-8th Century China - fantasy. 10/10
Guy Gavriel Kay – A Song for Arbonne (1992). 8/10 The first of his books I read and the one which set me looking for more.
Guy Gavriel Kay – The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995) 8/10 Fantasy set in a version of medieval Spain.
Guy Gavriel Kay – Fionavar Tapestry series
1. The Summer Tree (1984)
2. The Wandering Fire (1986)
3. The Darkest Road (1986)
A wonderful series with modern man (and woman) transported across into another world – one of many woven in the tapestry. 10/10
Guy Gavriel Kay – Ysabel (2007) If you only read one of Kay’s books read this one or Sailing to Sarantium. On one holy, haunted night of the ancient year, when the borders between the living and the dead are down and fires are lit upon the hills, Ned, his family, and his friends are shockingly drawn into this tale, as dangerous, mythic figures from conflicts of long ago erupt into the present, claiming and changing lives. Although it is listed as a stand-alone novel there are characters in this that appear in the Fionavar Trilogy so it could be considered a spoiler for those books if you read this first.
Michael Popek – Forgotten Bookmarks (2011). Disappointing
Dan Simmons – Drood (2009). A fictional account of some supposed adventures of Charles Dickens. Not worth the effort. 6/10
John Dickinson – The Cup of the World (2004) Fantasy 8/10
John Dickinson – The Widow and the King (2005). Fantasy – sequel to the above but didn’t match up to it. 7/10
Tad Williams – The Dragonbone Chair (1988) 8/10 Fantasy – the first part of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. Good but not enough to hunt out the next part of the series.
Lian Hearn – Across the Nightingale Floor (2002) 8/10 Fantasy – the first part of the Tales of the Otori. Good but not enough to hunt out the next part of the series.
Helen Spring – Memories of the Curlew (2009) 7/10 Historical novel based on the life of Gwenllian, daughter of the King of Gwynedd (b 1096), who became known as 'The Welsh Warrior Princess'. A fine adventure / romance for older children and a good insight into Wales at that time.
Penelope Fitzgerald – The Bookshop (1978). 8/10 My main comment about this would be a spoiler so I can’t make it. Suffice it to say but for one thing it would be rated higher.
Stewart Binns – Crusade (2012) 9/10 It is 1072 and England is firmly under the heel of its new Norman rulers. The few survivors of the English resistance look to Edgar the Atheling, the rightful heir to the English throne, to overthrow the Conqueror but end up fighting in The Holy Land. I shall definitely be reading his other two novels – Conquest and Anarchy.
Mike Ashley – The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives (1995). 8/10 A collection of short stories from some of the most famous writers of historical crime. A great book to dip into.
Edward Marston – The Queen’s Head (1988) An Elizabethan mystery. 7/10
Hope Mirrlees - Lud-in-the Mist (1926) 10/10 commented upon elsewhere.
James Long – Ferney (201 ) 10/10 A sort of historical love story with a touch of time travel / slippage. One of those books one does not want to end because it captures your imagination and involves you with the characters in a way that only the best books can. My ‘read of the year’ (and thanks to Friend-über-Special for sending me it).