Friday, 28 September 2012

Daughter of the Empire

I'm re-reading one of my favourite trilogies this week - Daughter of the Empire, followed by Servant of the Empire and next Mistress of the Empire.  It's part of Raymond E. Feist's Kingdom Saga, this time written with Janny Wurts, and in my opinion by far the best - although the reworked Magician is an excellent story.  These three books look at events from the opposite perspective from Magician, and really expand on the culture of the Empire as opposed to the Kingdom.
What I really love about them is the way the two conflicting cultures impact on each other and how Justice and Honour as portrayed in those cultures are rival ideas.  The other key theme of the triumph of ingenuity over political power and military might is something I particularly enjoy as well.  Without wanting to give too much away, Mara - daughter of a noble house - is unexpectedly forced become the Ruling Lady of her House, a hierarchical position that brings her into the centre of a complicated and dangerous political game.
If you enjoy tales of conflict, high politics, ingenuity and human nature, this is definitely worth a read.  There is a lot of description, but this is necessary to give you a good picture of an alien society, and the action is so well paced and engaging that you'll be caught up in events and imagery within a couple of chapters.  Definitely a book that is hard to put down.
Look for it on www.askmeaboutbooks.co.uk by choosing Alternative Fantasy in the Genre option.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley

Just finished reading Death Comes to Pemberley by P D James, and I must say I enjoyed it greatly, although it is far from being comparable to Jane Austen or most other murder mysteries I've read.  If you've read Pride & Prejudice, you will enjoy an intriguing reinterpretation of some of the relationships and behaviour of the original characters.  P D James spends a lot of time going over the original story as it's relevant to the current mystery, so if you haven't, you won't be too bewildered.  It's a good 'romp', with some interesting asides discussing such diverse historical issues as women's empowerment and the English justice system (not although in any great detail).  There is a twist at the end, although because of the way the story proceeds you'll guess at a lot of it.  There is an excessive amount that has to be explained through conversation after the fact, which I find irritating, although I suppose it's in the tradition of the old style mysteries where there is a 'reveal' at the end by the detective investigating.  All in all good fun, but not especially challenging.  Find it on askmeaboutbooks.co.uk  under Mystery - and you might find something else you like too!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Classic Literature

I've been looking at some of the Classics again recently to put on askmeaboutbooks.co.uk  I think so often we don't bother to actually read the book because there are so many film and TV versions out there now, and often we get put off because we've had to read them at school and because of this have had to analyse the content so much that we loose our pleasure in just reading them.  But Classics have lasted for so many years because they have something special about them (well, most of them) and often this is lost in even the best, most exhaustive production.
I've always been grateful that I didn't study Pride & Prejudice, or any of Jane Austen's work, because it meant that I came fresh to my first reading of it.  I had seen a TV version of it, however, but fortunately this just made me want to read the book, which I think is often the case for people - how many people decided to try and read Lord of the Rings after the film came out?  (Well, to be honest, not me, but that's because I'm not a big fan of extensive description!)
Of course, there are many Classics that I wouldn't have even considered reading if I hadn't been required to for school - Jane Eyre and the Handmaid's Tale, for example, and actually I'm glad that I had the opportunity to (if only once).  I think it's good to read things that you wouldn't naturally pick up, although I think the majority of books should be read simply for the enjoyment of it!  I learnt a lot from those books I was 'forced' to read, and I still occasionally do try to step out of my comfort zone - I guess that's a bit of what Book Clubs are about, trying something new, although I wonder if the type of books we choose for Book Clubs could explain why often only a few have actually read the book!  But that's another subject entirely!!!