Darkness Rising by A. A. Dhand (Review #6)

Darkness Rising by A. A. Dhand

Blurb

Detective Inspector Harry Virdee has a lot on his plate. His team is facing government cuts, tensions are building between Bradford’s two rival drugs gangs and his wife Saima is due to give birth any day now.

So when bodies start turning up in the old industrial district, the pressure is on to get the case wrapped up as quickly as possible, or risk a full-scale gang war.

But the man behind the murders is ruthless and pushy. And things are getting personal. Harry must think fast and bend the rules if he wants to keep his city, and his family, safe . . .

Review

I picked this up because I was craving a quick and easy read and I always find the Quick Reads series perfect for this. As soon as I picked this book up and started reading it I couldn’t put it down. 

I really like the character of Harry Virdee. Harry wants to protect Bradford, he wants to make it a good place again because it is his home and he has happy memories there as well as painful ones. However, Harry doesn’t always play by the rules that a man of the law should play by. He likes to bend them slightly to get the results he needs. 

Along with cleaning the streets of Bradford from crime with a skeleton team due to cuts he also has a heavily pregnant wife at home who could go into labour at anytime. This can lead to quite a stressful situation when multiple murders suddenly take place and Harry must try and find the murderer.

This book is fast paced and action packed and keeps the reader engaged from start to finish. And unlike certain Quick Reads books it feels like a proper story and not a cut down or rushed story. Although the book doesn’t give much chance for the characters to develop or for the reader to learn the characters’ history, it is a perfect introduction to the series where you hope that you will learn more about the main characters. 

I really enjoyed this book and I plan on reading the next book in the series as soon as it arrives because I am not willing to abandon the characters just yet. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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About the author

A.A. Dhand was raised in Bradford and spent his youth observing the city from behind the counter of a small convenience store. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he worked in London and travelled extensively before returning to Bradford to start his own business and begin writing. The history, diversity and darkness of the city have inspired his Harry Virdee novels.

Etsy

The Greek Myths that Shape the Way We Think by Richard Buxton (Review #5)

The Greek Myths that Shape the Way We Think by Richard Buxton

Blurb

How do ancient Greek myths find themselves retold and reinterpreted in cultures across the world, several millennia later? In this volume, bestselling author Richard Buxton explores the power that eight iconic Greek myths hold in the modern world. Buxton traces these stories and archetypes from their ancient forms through their transformations over time in literature, art, cinema, psychology, and politics.

Review

I bought this book and started reading it last year but I only read the first chapter then for some reason I stopped reading it. This week I decided to pick the book back up and I will be honest I couldn’t put it down or work out why I stopped reading it in the first place. 

As my regular followers will probably know I completed a Masters degree in Classics a couple of years ago and since then I try to regularly read nonfiction about Ancient Greece and Rome. I have never read anything by Buxton before so I was excited to read this book and see what Buxton had to say about some of the myths we know so well. 

The first thing I realised about this book was just how accessible it was. You really don’t have to have a background in Classics to understand this book because Buxton explains everything in a way that anybody can understand. He explains the original myth and what texts the myth appears in. He then explains how the myths appear in Ancient Roman texts and plays and goes from there through history right to modern day. There were some films that he mentioned like The Others (2001) starring Nicole Kidman that I hadn’t even associated with an Ancient Greek myth but when Buxton highlighted the fact it all became clear. 

The other thing I loved about this book was the clever use of images. It is really clear that Buxton has carefully selected his visual sources to help highlight his examples. The images are of ancient vases, ancient sculptors, medieval paintings and modern day images from movies. The images are mainly black and white but there are also some fantastic colour images. 

I will be honest the book only skimmed the edges of the political and psychological aspects of the ancient myths but I suspect that was because Buxton wanted to keep the book as accessible as possible. The focus on the literature, art and cinema definitely makes it more relatable for people. I would have liked a more in-depth look at the political and psychological aspects but I’m not overly disappointed. 

I really enjoyed this book and once I started reading it this week I couldn’t put it down. The book is a fantastic introduction for people who are not familiar with the Ancient Greek myths and makes the myths applicable and relevant to modern day thinking. The book is expertly researched and written and a fantastic read. I will definitely be reading more books by Buxton. 5 out of 5 Dragons from me. 

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Richard Buxton works on ancient Greek literature (especially tragedy), and ancient mythology and religion. One of his main aims is to explore the contexts – for example, social life and the landscape – which can help us to recover the meanings which myths had for their tellers and hearers/readers (see his Imaginary Greece, 1994, and The Complete World of Greek Mythology, 2004).

In 1996 he organized a major international conference at Bristol, whose proceedings appeared as From Myth to Reason? (1999) Since 2003 he has been one of the editors of Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum and since 2006 he has been President of the LIMC Foundation. His book ‘Forms of Astonishment: Greek Myths of Metamorphosis’ was published in 2009. He will next be revising for publication a selection of his papers on Greek myth and tragedy.

He has taken part in a number of radio programs about myth. His work has been translated into nine languages.

Etsy

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Who Killed Jerusalem? by George Albert Brown (Review #4)

Who Killed Jerusalem? By George Albert Brown

Blurb

In 1977, Ickey Jerusalem, San Francisco’s golden-boy poet laureate, is found dead in a locked, first-class toilet on an arriving red-eye flight.

Ded Smith, a desperately unhappy, intelligent philistine with a highly developed philosophy to match, is called in to investigate the poet’s death. Thus begins a series of hilarious encounters with the members of Jerusalem’s coterie.

Ded soon realizes that to find out what happened, he must not only collect his usual detective’s clues but also, despite his own poetically challenged outlook, get into the dead poet’s mind. Fighting his way through blasphemous funerals, drug-induced dreams, poetry-charged love-making, offbeat philosophical discussions, and much, much more, he begins to piece together Jerusalem’s seductive, all-encompassing metaphysics.

But by then, the attempts to kill Ded and the others have begun.

Before Ded’s death-dodging luck runs out, will he be able to solve the case, and perhaps in the process, develop a new way of looking at the world that might allow him to replace his unhappiness with joy?

Review

Firstly, I would like to say a massive thank you to Mindbuck Media Book Publicity for sending me an advance copy of this book. 

I was really excited to get the opportunity to read this book because I went through a massive William Blake phase when I was at University. I even composed a four part choral piece to Blake’s poem The Tyger and went to several exhibitions of his art work. This knowledge did help me whilst reading this book but I will be honest even at times I had to do some research to make sense of certain things which makes me worry that people with no experience of Blake’s work and his metaphysics would struggle with this book. 

There are some great characters within this book and some characters that I really did not get along with. Sadly, the one character I really did not like was Ded. Ded is rather a sad character who has not had a very happy life so far. His childhood was sheltered and not happy and he has basically been just going through life working and just existing. Although I felt sorry for Ded I really did not like how he acted and found him painfully socially awkward. I also did not like his sexual habits very much. The other character I did not particularly like was Beulah. I found Beulah to be rather childish and very naive. At times I felt sorry for her but at the same time I just wanted her to get angry and react to things. 

Most of the members of Jerusalem’s coterie were hilarious and were the reason I kept reading the book. Ghostflea the chauffeur was definitely my favourite character. Ghostflea had an interesting upbringing and I love how he learnt to drive by reading a book. The image of an erratic driver who really can’t drive driving like a drunk person around San Fransisco in an English hearse was hilarious and had me laughing a great deal. 

The other character that had me laughing was Tharmas. Tharmas basically spends his life as high as a kite and going from one sexual encounter to the next. It was hard to imagine him as a business manager for Jerusalem. 

I will be honest I did find this book a hard slog and what made it worse was that I guessed who the killer was very early on and when I was right it felt like rather a let down and extremely predictable. The ending where Ded explains all his theories in the plane was in my opinion not needed and it felt like Brown was trying to imitate a Poirot book but not as successfully as Christie. Overall, if this book had been shorter I think I would have enjoyed it more but from about half way through it was becoming too much like hard work. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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About the author

George Albert Brown, a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law, started as a hippie in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury and retired at the age of 40 after having co-founded a successful international finance company. Following stints thereafter as a humorous author (The Airline Passenger’s Guerrilla Handbook) and an angel investor in over a score of high-tech university spinouts, he built a catamaran in Chile and for more than a decade, cruised it across the globe with his significant other. Today, as a father of three grown children, a grandfather of four not-yet-grown children, and an involuntary lover of stray cats, he continues her peripatetic lifestyle by other means.

Etsy

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The Aeneid by Virgil (translated by by Frederick Ahl)(Review #3)

The Aeneid by Virgil (translated by by Frederick Ahl)

Blurb

After a century of civil strife in Rome and Italy, Virgil wrote the Aeneid to honour the emperor Augustus by praising his legendary ancestor Aeneas. As a patriotic epic imitating Homer, the Aeneid also set out to provide Rome with a literature equal to that of Greece. It tells of Aeneas, survivor of the sack of Troy, and of his seven-year journey: to Carthage, where he falls tragically in love with Queen Dido; then to the underworld,; and finally to Italy, where he founds Rome. It is a story of defeat and exile, of love and war, hailed by Tennyson as ‘the stateliest measure ever moulded by the lips of man’.

Review

I have finally finished this book! When I first started reading it I was in the middle of my Masters and this sadly had to fall by the way side. However, on the 1st January I decided to read one book a day of this book and yesterday (yes I know a day behind) I finally finished. 

The book begins in Carthage where Aeneas tells his journey to Queen Dido starting from  the fall of Troy where Aeneas and the survivors he manages to gather including his father and son flee Troy and begin their 7 year journey to find a new home. Their journey goes from Carthage, to the Underworld and finally Italy his final destination.  

My first thought about this book is what an amazing piece of propaganda. The amount of propaganda in this book really made me laugh but I think the pinnacle of it was in book 7. In book 7 Anchises shows Aeneas all the descendants that will come from his line and it is quite a list. Aeneas is basically the father of all the great leaders of Rome which seems highly improbable. 

My husband kindly treated me to see Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas opera for my birthday which I absolutely loved but I do think Purcell was rather kind to Aeneas. In truth I always found Aeneas to be a bit of an ass. Whilst he is fleeing Troy he accidentally loses his wife, he does go back and look for her but really he shouldn’t have lost her in the first place. Then what he does with Queen Dido is in my opinion absolutely awful. Yes, I know the gods had something to do with it but really the man did not show any remorse at all and was a complete b__.

The last 6 books of the book is where Aeneas and his men, and we presume some women and children as they are briefly mentioned, land in Italy and all hell breaks loose in war. I loved how all the gods get involved and even some nymphs as this really parallels with Homer’s depiction of the war of Troy. In fact Virgil is very clever with his direct links with Homer’s work. When studying my Masters it was always amazing how much the Romans wanted to be as good as the Ancient Greeks. The Romans copied their sculptures, their texts and much more but always keeping their Roman values. 

I really enjoyed this book and it was a great start to 2023 and my plan to read at least one Ancient Greek or Roman text a month. Virgil was a very talented writer who knew how to write an excellent piece of propaganda. I also loved Ahl’s translation but I knew it would be good as he is one of my favourite translators. I happily give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Publius Vergilius Maro (October 15, 70 BCE – September 21, 19 BCE), usually called Virgil or Vergil /ˈvɜrdʒəl/ in English, was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues (or Bucolics), the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid. A number of minor poems, collected in the Appendix Vergiliana, are sometimes attributed to him.

Virgil is traditionally ranked as one of Rome’s greatest poets. His Aeneid has been considered the national epic of ancient Rome from the time of its composition to the present day. Modeled after Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the Aeneid follows the Trojan refugee Aeneas as he struggles to fulfill his destiny and arrive on the shores of Italy—in Roman mythology the founding act of Rome. Virgil’s work has had wide and deep influence on Western literature, most notably the Divine Comedy of Dante, in which Virgil appears as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory.

Etsy

Amours de Voyage by Arthur Hugh Clough (Review #2)

Amours de Voyage by Arthur Hugh Clough

Blurb

Amours de Voyage is a novel in verse and is arranged in five cantos, or chapters, as a sequence of letters. It is about a group of English travellers in Italy: Claude, and the Trevellyn family, are caught up in the 1849 political turmoil. The poem mixes the political (‘Sweet it may be, and decorous, perhaps, for the country to die; but,/On the whole, we conclude the Romans won’t do it, and I sha’n’t’) and the personal (‘After all, do I know that I really cared so about her?/Do whatever I will, I cannot call up her image’). The political is important but the personal dilemmas are the crucial ones.

Claude, about to declare himself, retreats, regrets. It is this retreat, his scruples and fastidiousness, that, like a conventional novel, is the core of Amours de Voyage. The poem thus contributed something important to the modern sensibility; it is a portrait of an anti-hero; it is about love and marriage (the difficulties of); and it is about Italy.

Review

I had never heard of Arthur Hugh Clough before but I was really intrigued when I saw this book in Persephone books so I bought it. I have been reading some pretty hefty books recently so last weekend I thought I would read a shorter book as a quick read and this was the book I chose. 

The first thing I loved about this book was the preface by Julian Barnes. Barnes gave a wonderful description of Clough’s life and the background behind this book. It really set the scene well. 

This was quite a different read for me but one that I flew through. I really loved Claude’s thoughts on Rome as he really was very unimpressed with the whole affair and I found his reactions to it quite amusing. The book is a novel in verse and made up of letters. Claude writes to his long suffering friend Eustace and I say long suffering because I think the poor man has a lot of letters of Claude. The other letters are from the Trevellyn sisters to their friend. 

I will be honest the character Claude was not my favourite. He found Rome boring, he was self centred, looked down on people and only found Mary interesting when she had gone. Personally I think Mary was better off without Claude in her life. Mary thought a lot more about Claude than Claude did about Mary. 

Overall, I loved Clough’s writing and I would love to read more of his work but what let it down for me was simply his main character Claude. I just could not deal with Claude’s selfish behaviour sadly. Due to this I give the book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861) was an English poet, an educationalist, and the devoted assistant to Florence Nightingale. 

Etsy

The Box of Delights by John Masefield (Review #1)

The Box of Delights by John Masefield

Blurb

When Kay Harker meets a mysterious Punch and Judy man on his way home for Christmas, he little realizes that he is about to be plunged into adventure. The old man entrusts Kay with a strange puzzle box – the Box of Delights – before suddenly disappearing. Kay soon discovers two things: the box can transport him through time and space, and there is a plot to steal it. He must battle heroically against terrifying forces of evil in order to win the day… 

Review

When I met my husband I was introduced to the BBC adaptation of The Box of Delights because it is their Christmas tradition to watch the series every Christmas. Since then I have really wanted to read the book and this Christmas I bought a copy and got reading. 

I will be honest I have read more children’s books as an adult than as a child and this has got to be one of my favourites. I loved this book so much and even though I read it after Christmas it kept me in the Christmas spirit. 

The slang in this book is absolutely adorable and I know it is appropriate for the time it was written but phrases like ‘scrobbled’ and ‘the purple pim’ just made me smile. The characters in this book are also fantastic and even Maria who I can’t stand in the TV adaptation is bearable in the book. 

This book is so beautifully written and every scene and character is so well described that I could easily visualise everything. Abner Brown is a particular favourite of mine, he was such a fantastic baddie. Herne the Hunter and the Lady of the Oak Tree were also wonderful characters and of course Cole Hawlings. 

The one thing I did find concerning was the lack of interest the police had in reports of kidnapping and missing people. Also certain characters went missing and their nearest and dearest did not seem that concerned.

This book is full of magic and wonder and it really had me enthralled and it had so many wonderful scenes in it that aren’t in the TV adaptation. My particular favourite is lunch with the field mouse in the tree. I loved Masefield’s writing and I have ordered the prequel to The Box of Delights, The Midnight Folk to read next because I am not quite ready to see the end of Kay just yet. I loved this book and it was a great first read of 2023. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

John Masefield (1878-1967) was an English poet and writer, and Poet Laureate from 1930 until 1967. 

Etsy

Warrior Queens and Quiet Revolutionaries by Kate Mosse (Review)

Warrior Queens and Quiet Revolutionaries by Kate Mosse

Blurb

Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries brings together Kate’s rich and detailed knowledge of unheard and under-heard women’s history, and of how and why women’s achievements have routinely been omitted from the history books. This beautiful illustrated book is both an alternative feminist history of the world and a personal memoir about the nature of women’s struggles to be heard, about how history is made and by whom.

Split into ten sections, each covering a different category of women’s achievements in history, Kate Mosse tells the stories of female inventors and scientists, philanthropists and conservationists, authors and campaigners. It is the most accessible narrative non-fiction with a genuinely diverse, truly global perspective featuring names such as Sophie Scholl, Mary Seacole, Cornelia Sorabji, Helen Suzman, Shirley Chisholm, and Violette Szabo. And in deeply personal passages Kate writes about the life of her great-grandmother, Lily Watson, where she turns detective to find out why she has all but disappeared from the record.

Review

I discovered Kate Mosse this year so when I saw this book come out I bought it straight away. It took me a long time to read this book because I found that I preferred to dip into it when I was in the mood for some nonfiction. 

I found this book absolutely fascinating but at the same time rather frustrating. Just as I discover this fantastic pioneering woman from history the book quickly moves on to another pioneering woman from history. There were certain women that I would have loved to have learned more about. It did mean that I started doing my own research into these interesting characters. 

I will be honest I didn’t really find the sections on Lily, Mosse’s great-grandmother, very interesting and would have happily done without them. I can understand Mosse’s interest in her great-grandmother but it just felt a little bit like she was trying too hard to make her relative who published books and articles known to the general public again as Lily had fallen from everyone’s memory and her books are out of publication. 

This book is an amazing resource to dip into and one that I will return to again and again. I learned so much from this book and found some amazing women from history who I plan to research further. History has always generally been written by men about men so it was refreshing to find a book written by a woman about women from history. I didn’t find this book an easy read because I found it jumped around rather a lot but I still loved it. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Kate Mosse is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 42 languages. Her fiction includes the novels Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007), The Winter Ghosts (2009), and Citadel (2012), as well as an acclaimed collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales (2013). Kate’s new novel, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is out now.

Kate is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously the Orange Prize) and in June 2013, was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature. She lives in Sussex.

Etsy

Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope (Review)

Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope

Blurb

For more than thirty years Wendy Cope has been one of the nation’s most popular and respected poets. Christmas Poems collects together her best festive poems, including anthology favourites such as ‘The Christmas Life’, together with new and previously unpublished work. Cope celebrates the joyful aspects of the season but doesn’t overlook the problems and sadness it can bring. With lively illustrations to accompany the words, it is a book to enjoy this Christmas and in years to come.

Review

I bought this book in October when I was in Bath and I was really excited because I thought this little book would be a perfect festive read in December. At only 48 pages long this did not take me long to read and was a perfect diversion from the Christmas prep. 

As you probably know by now if you have been following me for any length of time I was never a huge poetry fan but since I have been blogging I have been making an effort to get into poetry. Since doing this I have found quite a few favourite poets that I enjoy to read and I am always looking for new poets to read. Wendy Cope is one of these new poets for me. 

Certain poems within this book I could really relate to. Cope was a primary school teacher for 15 years and a piano player and her reflections on playing for children’s services I can relate to as I teach piano and woodwind in a primary school and know all about the Christmas services and the many renditions of Little Donkey. 

I will be honest there were only a few poems that I really enjoyed in this book because I found quite a few of the poems rather depressing and not very helpful for getting into the festive spirit. However, I like Cope’s style as a poet and will definitely be checking out more of her poems. 

The illustrations in this book are by Michael Kirkham and were excellent and really added to the poems. Without the illustrations the book would have been a lot shorter. 

Overall, I found this little book of poems an accomplished read but not really my cup of tea. It sadly wasn’t the festive read I was looking for but I appreciate the skill of Wendy Cope. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the poet

Wendy Cope was educated at Farringtons School, Chislehurst, London and then, after finishing university at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, she worked for 15 years as a primary school teacher in London.

In 1981, she became Arts and Reviews editor for the Inner London Education Authority magazine, ‘Contact’. Five years later she became a freelance writer and was a television critic for ‘The Spectator magazine’ until 1990.

Her first published work ‘Across the City’ was in a limited edition, published by the Priapus Press in 1980 and her first commercial book of poetry was ‘Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis’ in 1986. Since then she has published two further books of poetry and has edited various anthologies of comic verse.

In 1987 she received a Cholmondeley Award for poetry and in 1995 the American Academy of Arts and Letters Michael Braude Award for light verse. In 2007 she was one of the judges for the Man Booker Prize.

In 1998 she was the BBC Radio 4 listeners’ choice to succeed Ted Hughes as Poet Laureate and when Andrew Motion’s term of office ended in 2009 she was once again considered as a replacement.

She was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s 2010 Birthday Honours List.

Etsy

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (Review)

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

Blurb

The Dragon Reborn—the leader long prophesied who will save the world, but in the saving destroy it; the saviour who will run mad and kill all those dearest to him—is on the run from his destiny.

Able to touch the One Power, but unable to control it, and with no one to teach him how—for no man has done it in three thousand years—Rand al’Thor knows only that he must face the Dark One. But how?

Winter has stopped the war—almost—yet men are dying, calling out for the Dragon. But where is he?

Perrin Aybara is in pursuit with Moiraine Sedai, her Warder Lan, and Loial the Ogier. Bedeviled by dreams, Perrin is grappling with another deadly problem—how is he to escape the loss of his own humanity?

Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve are approaching Tar Valon, where Mat will be healed—if he lives until they arrive. But who will tell the Amyrlin their news—that the Black Ajah, long thought only a hideous rumour, is all too real? They cannot know that in Tar Valon far worse awaits…

Ahead, for all of them, in the Heart of the Stone, lies the next great test of the Dragon reborn….

Review

This is the third time I have read this book but this time through I am determined to actually finish the series and not give up after book 5. 

I really enjoyed this book because it wasn’t overly focused on Rand, the events the book focuses on are linked with Rand but isn’t thankfully on him. I will be honest Rand drives me up the wall. All I want to do with Rand is shake him and tell him to stop being a stroppy teenager and grow up. 

My favourite character in this book is Perrin. Perrin has a lot to deal with but he doesn’t sulk and act out, he handles it like a man. Perrin has discovered something about himself and it is hard for him to accept but he is trying to deal with it as best he can. Perrin is with Moraine Sedai, Lan and Loial in pursuit of Rand and the pursuit is not easy because Perrin doesn’t know who to trust and because he sees the devastation that follows Rand wherever he goes. 

This book also lets us spend more time with Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve which is nice because we start to see what strong characters these three women are. We also get to learn more about Tar Valon which I find fascinating. I really hope we learn more about the tower and the history of the Aes Sedai in the next books. 

This book also introduces more of the Forsaken and gives us more of the history about them. We learn how many are no longer imprisoned and we learn more about the individual Forsaken backgrounds. We also learn that more people are Darkfriends and that nobody can be truly trusted. 

I really enjoyed this book and I think I enjoyed it more than the previous times I have read the book. I plan on really getting into the series during 2023 but I know that certain books in the series are not as good as others. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author 

James Oliver Rigney Jr. (1948-2007) was an American author of epic fantasy who wrote under the pen name Robert Jordan. Jordan also wrote historical fiction under the name of Reagan O’Neal, a western as Jackson O’Reilly, and dance criticism as Chang Lung. 

Etsy

Ithaca by Claire North (Review)

Ithaca by Claire North

Blurb

‘The greatest power we woman can own, is that we take in secret . . . ‘

Seventeen years ago, king Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them have returned, and the women have been left behind to run the kingdom.

Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. Whilst he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that husband is dead, and suitors are starting to knock at her door . . .

But no one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’ empty throne – not yet. Between Penelope’s many suitors, a cold war of dubious alliances and hidden knives reigns, as everyone waits for the balance of power to tip one way or another. If Penelope chooses one from amongst them, it will plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning and her spy network of maids can she maintain the delicate balance of power needed for the kingdom to survive.

On Ithaca, everyone watches everyone else, and there is no corner of the palace where intrigue does not reign . . .

Review

I was really excited when I saw this book whilst book shopping in Bath as I love an Ancient Greek retelling. A book that focuses on Penelope rather than Odysseus was like a breath of fresh air, Odysseus has enough literature about him. 

The other element I really enjoyed was the fact that the gods were involved and we could see their interactions with each other and with the mortals. So many retellings tend to ignore the gods because I think people don’t see them as trendy enough anymore but they play a vital role in the myths and I believe they should still be included. 

Hera is the main god to feature in this book and it was really nice to see her involved as it is usually the male gods taking centre stage or the impressive female gods like Athena and Artemis. 

Penelope is the queen of Ithaca but as all queens of Greece she might appear beautiful and regal but she has very little power. Clytemnestra is a perfect example of what happens to a queen of Greece who tries to rule in a mans world and Penelope knows she must avoid this at all costs. So Penelope is the perfect example of a meek and mild woman who listens to her male advisors and appears to be the perfect queen. However, behind the scenes we see a very different queen. Penelope is a woman of two faces and we get to see both. 

I really got into this book and really enjoyed it to start with but towards the middle the story really started to drag for me and to be honest I got a little bored. This meant my reading slowed down which made the book worse because it felt like it was never-ending. Thankfully, I kept with the book because the ending was better. This book was really well written but I felt it was just too long and could have been shorter. Overall, I enjoyed the book but for me it did drag. However I will give the next book in the series a chance because I would like to see what happens next. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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About the author

Claire North is actually Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated young-adult novel author whose first book, Mirror Dreams, was written when she was just 14 years old. She went on to write seven more successful YA novels. 

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