Ancient

The Charioteer: A Roman Adventure Story by Jemahl Evans [Book Review]

The Charioteer: A Roman Adventure Story by Jemahl Evans My rating: 5 of 5 stars The Charioteer by Jemahl Evans is the first in a new series. It is set in time of the emperor Justinian when the Roman Empire becomes the Byzantine Empire. Based on a marginal note in Procopius’s history about the first recorded industrial espionage. The Charioteer uses real characters from history that Jehmal Evans has skilfully woven together into a story as fine as the silk his characters are stealing the secret of making. The Charioteer There are three main characters, including the Charioteer, and a small cast of important supporting characters. We find them thrust into a quest to redeem themselves, or their family, by Narses, the Emperor’s treasurer. This quest sends them off along the silk road to meet a contact with silkworm eggs…
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Flower – [Short Story] [Write Club]

I wrote Flower for September's Write Club session. The prompt was to write something that was about what happened either before or just after the passage in Tess of the d'Urbevilles where Mrs Brooks (their landlady) spots a red spot flowering on the ceiling, and is suspicious about what has gone on upstairs. This is towards the end of the book, and marks the point where the narrative viewpoint changes from Tess to Mrs Brooks. Flower The crimson red spot on the ceiling had grown and darkened into a burgundy flower in the silence of the morning. No sound came from the apartment above, not since the shouting had ended half an hour after the mysterious visitor had left late yesterday evening. The silence was so unnatural that I dared not break it. It felt sacred, like the silence of…
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reviews

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems by Randall Munroe [Book Review]

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems by Randall Munroe My rating: 5 of 5 stars How to explain how to: absurd scientific advice for common real-world problems is probably "don't try this at home!" How to is a follow on to What There's a fantastic set of well-researched out of the box suggestions for alternative solutions to things we've probably all done, wondered about, or will need to do sometime in our lives. How The science is very real, and plausible, and totally absurd. I laughed out loud a lot when reading How to. Another fab book from Randall Munroe, the genius behind xkcd. It's a perfect follow on to What I think my favourite set of advice was the chapter on moving house. It offered some advice on packing, and then on what you needed to…
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reviews

Tales from the Folly by Ben Aaronovitch [Book Review]

Tales from the Folly: A Rivers of London Short Story Collection by Ben Aaronovitch My rating: 5 of 5 stars A good collection of short stories from the Rivers of London universe, half of which are not from Peter Grant's perspective. I read the whole collection over two days, quite rapid progress in the current climate! Each story is easy to read in a short sitting, and from there page turn onto the next. As a long-standing follower of the Peter Grant stories I loved the way these expanded the universe out into new spaces, or filled in gaps. Tales from the Folly I'd read a couple of these before on the web, or possibly tucked into another book. However they were just as enjoyable the second time round. Also most of the stories were new to me, even though…
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dark ages

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker [Book Review]

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker My rating: 5 of 5 stars It took me a very long time to read The Half-Drowned King, mostly because it's a long story, although it never felt that long when I was reading it. Based on a couple of sagas the Half-Drowned King starts the story of Ragnvald and his sister Svanhild that continue in two more volumes. The Half-Drowned King is historical fiction done well, rather than fantasy. The characters are credulous enough that there's an element of the latter there, with visions and a fight with a draugr. The Half-Drowned King Ragnvald is a descendant of a King, in a time where there were many Kings. His stepfather tries to have him murdered, and the story is a combination of how Ragnvald gets his inheritance and gets involved in the rise…
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