Saturday, December 25, 2010

Over the Hills and Far away

I've previously written about the Sharpe Television series, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Well since watching the series I've read the books, and my opinion of the character and his creator has only gone up. Here is a tough as nails, no nonsense guy who could give almost any action hero a run for his money. He knows his weakness, and is ashamed of most, and would almost rather cut his own leg off as ask for help.

Favoring the straight forward approach to most problems, the series follows his path from a Private in the British infantry in India. All manners of trials and travails follow, taking part in the bulk of the western land battles of the Napoleonic era.. and one Sea Battle which is perhaps the most preposterous of the books plotwise.. but still a great romp due to how well written Nelson is. He encounters innumerable foes, but only a few villains. One of these, I'd easily rate as one of the greatest villains of all time. It's truly a shame they didn't have the India trilogy when Pete Postlewaite was playing Hakeswille...

Over the course of the year, I've read the entire run of Sharpe's novels in Chronological order. There are a few inconsistencies but most are not anything major. The Television series is truly a great companion piece to the books, even though it did require some creative finagling to explain how London Boy Sharpe, spoke with Bean's Sheffield accent.

I feel this series as a whole is one which REH would have enjoyed, I think he especially would have enjoyed Patrick Harper, so I do. The wine swilling, dark haired Irishmen would be right at home among REH's Celtic heroes. Singing songs of Cuchulain as he wades into battle brandishing his 7 barreled rigging gun, yet quick with a joke or a hand up to his friends should they need it.

When dealing with any series the length of the Sharpe series, you are bound to have your down points along the way, I've pretty collectively rated the books highly based mainly on the series as a whole. The individually poor books are buoyed by the fact that none of them are unreadable.. but some do veer a bit too much into the fantastical. The very concept that Sharpe could have been at both Trafalgar and Waterloo is pretty preposterous.

The books tend to be very well researched as far as historical details are concerned, and Mr. Cornwell gets a lot of credit from me for including historical notes in the back of his book. He frequently sites non fiction works which contain a very complex history of the Napoleonic war in Spain and Portugal. I imagine for many American's this period dosen't have much interest, though we did become a belligerent in a sideshow of the wars in Europe, we pretty much came out of it in the + column as a newly united country with a national anthem and some new national myths to add to Washington crossing the Delaware and valley forge.. but for me, a good chunk of my family were still in England at this time.. and one poor soul was even killed during the battle of San Jose De Tenerife, that would be the same battle that Admiral Nelson was when he lost his arm. So In that regard it let me see just how my anscestors may have lived, and for that I enjoyed it even more, and marvel even more at the tenacity they must have shown to survive. Truly we have come a long long way in 200 years and I'd not trade it to live in any other time period.

But as for listing a specific reason as to why I liked the series so much, its something I have a difficult time quantifying.. all the things I listed make up part of it.. they are all important.. and all add something to my enjoyment of the series. Your mileage is likely to vary, what one person likes another is equally capable of disliking.. I'm sorry its over, but the series is frequently compared to Patrick O'brian's Aubry and Maturin series.. this is an author I've not yet read but have spent the last 2 years collecting that series. I plan to read these over 2011, and see how well they do for the sea, what Sharpe did for the land battles. So I'm really looking forward to giving it a shot.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Richard Rahl Raised my Taxes.

I'm going to try and explain my seemingly quixotic quest to finish the Sword of Truth series, despite it being mostly unpalatable.. After watching the Television show, and rather enjoying it for what it was.. I was some what dismayed that it was canceled just as it seemed to be finding its direction. I felt the first season was padded considerably, and that the idea of adapting 1 book per season for an 11 book series was insane as the actors would age considerably in 11 years time.. So when the second season was announced along with the notation it would be adapting books two, three and parts of 4.. I felt they would be making a much better show. The second season was better, but it was the last.

In researching this series, I kept coming across references to how bad it was.. surely not I thought to myself, since the TV show was alright. And besides, so many of the people attacking the series spent the rest of their time exalting books from authors I can't stand.. Maybe it's just a difference of Opinion I thought. With that I made my first mistake. I set out and relatively quickly read the first 5 books in the series. There were a lot of differences between the books and the show.. but over all it was a decent enough adaption. I've read a lot of not so good Genre fiction, and considering these to be fair to middling, epic fantasy I decided to continue. This was where I made my second mistake. When I got to Volume 6 of the series, Faith of the Fallen, I realized just how accurate all of the reviews on the internet were. This is a book which you either like or you don't. But, I'd started the series, and spent a good bit of money buying it before I realized how bad the series really was..

After taking a few weeks away from Richard and Kahlan, I picked up Volume 7, Pillars of Creation. This book was a marked and drastic improvement on the previous. It featured new characters, and unveiled a considerable amount of background information about the Sword of Truth world. It began to drag towards the end when Richard and Kahlan showed up, and lead immediately into Volume 8, Naked Empire, and thats when the squealing brakes, and thundering blast of a train's horn begin to penetrate your inner Ear. By the time Richard is on his 3rd soliloquy on the nobility of the human spirit (so long as you agree with him 100%, and aren't a pacifist) you start to hear the screams of the dieing inside the cattle cars being pulled by that train that just wrecked. And so at this point, it ceased being a "read them because you paid for them" type of mindset, and became more of a "Read them just to see HOW bad they actually get" sort of mindset. Volume #8 is also the one where Richard and his half sister have a rather lengthy discussion on the right of hair to live on your head... yeah, I still don't get it..

The books never really get better, they go from being a generically plotted fantasy series to simply having no plot. Richard repeatedly falls of logical traps, at one time explaining that a group of people shouldn't hold him responsible for his fathers deeds, and follows that up by blaming that entire group for the deeds of one of its members. In this process he becomes every bit the dark lord his father was at the beginning of the first book. Even if he's doing it for more noble reasons than his father, the outcome is still basically the same. He murders pacifists for refusing to fight his enemies, He dispatches kill teams of soldiers into the heart of his enemy's lands instructing them to inflict pain on the civilian population and disrupt the supplies of the enemy force. What follows is debauchery and depravity as his soldiers rape and torch at will.

At the end of the series we wind up with "Woods guide" Richard, married to Mother Confessor Kahlan, living in the People's Palace of D'Hara.. ruling high and mightily over his subject empire. The problem with this is, that the books from volume 6 onwards, are essentially one long anti-government screed. So how exactly can Richard rule this massive empire without some form of government interference in peoples lives? Surely he must have a police force, and we've seen repeatedly he has an enormous military. How does he pay these soldiers he dispatches to slash and burn the Old world? Clearly when one is dealing with the concept of an entirely hands off, free market system, one needs to be conscious of the fact that infrastructure costs money. Palaces don't upkeep themselves, roads don't build them selves, armies don't just magically have full bellies. All of these sorts of questions would have, had they not even been answered but at least brought up, dramatically improved these books. Instead they simply became a case of "Richard is right, everyone else is wrong 100% of the time" and that was annoying and grating and I fail to see what anyone sees in these books which makes them so popular.

All in all my conclusion is that the television series was a dramatic improvement over the books. It kept all of the fun interesting bits, and with a judicious use of a black sharpie, redacted all of the crap that Goodkind padded the books out with and then tried to con people into thinking was actually a story. So It really is a shame that the TV series went away, had it have stuck around I doubt I would have actually read the books. My only solace is, Goodkind didn't make any money off of me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Books read in 2010, the Compleat List, Part 2

81. Viktor Rydberg, Tuetonic Mythology Volume1, Part 3, Non Fiction, ****
82. Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth, Fiction, ***
83. Stephen King, The Drawing of the Three, Dark Tower #2, Fiction **
84. Edward Hausbruck, The Practical Nomad, Non Fiction, **
85. Robert Brown, Semetic Influence in Hellenic Mythology, Non Fiction, **
86. Stephen King, The Wastelands, Dark Tower #3, Fiction, ***
87. Terry Goodkind, Blood of the Fold, Sword of Truth #3, Fiction **
88. Eberhard Jackel, Hitler's World View, Non Fiction, **
89. Bernard Cornwell, Enemies of God, Arthur #2, Fiction, **
90. Frank Herbert, Children of Dune, Dune #3, Fiction, **
91. Viktor Rydberg, Tuetonic Mythology Volume 2, Part 1, Non Fiction ***
92. Stephen King, Wizard and Glass, Dark Tower #4, Fiction, **
93. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Sword, Sharpe #14, Fiction, ****
94. Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself, The First Law #1, Fiction, Did Not Finish
95. Nick Hornby, High Fidelity, Fiction, ****
96. Margeret Weis, Dragon's of the Autumn Twilight, Chronicles #1, Fiction, ***
97. Terry Goodkind, Temple of the Winds, Sword of Truth #4, Fiction, ***
98. Phillip Roth, The Plot Against America, Fiction, ****
99. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Skirmish, Sharpe #15, Fiction, ***
100. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Enemy, Sharpe #16, Fiction, ****
101, Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Honour, Sharpe #17, Fiction, ****
102, Nick Hornby, About a Boy, Fiction, ***
103. Leonard Carpenter, Conan the Outcast, Conan #24, *
104. Terry Goodkind, Soul of the Fire, Sword of Truth #5, Fiction, **
105. Nick Hornby, How to be Good, Fiction **
106. Edmund Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, TR #1, Non Fiction, *****
107. Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, Non Fiction, ***
108. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Regiment, Sharpe #18, Fiction, ****
109. Stephen King, The Wolves of Calla, Dark Tower #5, Fiction, ****
110, Thomas Evan, The War Lovers, Non Fiction, ***
111. Tre Tyckare, The Viking, Non Fiction, ****
112. Margeret Weis, Dragons of Winter Night, Chronicles #2, Fiction, ***
113. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Christmas, Sharpe #19, Fiction, ***
114. Nancy Marie Brown, The Far Traveler, Non Fiction, *****
115. Johnathan Strahan(ed.), Swords and Dark Magic, ***
116. Margeret Weis, Dragon's of Spring Dawning, Chronicles #3, Fiction, ***
117. Terry Goodkind, Faith of the Fallen, Sword of Truth #6, Fiction, *
118. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Seige, Sharpe #20, Fiction, ****
119. Stephen King, Song of Susannah, Dark Tower #6, Fiction, *
120. Viktor Rydberg, Tuetonic Mythology Volume 2, Part 2, Non Fiction, ****
121. Nicholas Basbanes, A Gentle Madness, Non Fiction, ****
122. Alfred P. Smythe, King Alfred the Great, Non Fiction, ***
123. Bernard Cornwell, Excaliber, Arthur #3, Fiction, **
124. Stephen King, The Dark Tower, Dark Tower #7, Fiction, **
125. Chris Wickham, The Inheritence of Rome, Penguin History of Europe #2, Non Fiction, ***
126. Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast, Gormenghast #2, Fiction, ***
127. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Revenge, Sharpe #21, Fiction, ****
128. Ben Croshaw, Mogworld, Fiction, **
129. Bernard Cornwell, Redcoat, Fiction, ****
130. C.W. Ceram, Gods, Graves and Scholars, Non Fiction, ***
131. Christini Rossetti, Goblin Market, Fiction, ***
132. Colin Thubron, Shadow of the Silk Road, Non Fiction, ****
133. Charle Penglase, Greek myths and Mesopotamia, Non Fiction, ***
134. John Marco, The Eyes of God, Inhumans #1, Fiction, ***
135. Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites, Discworld #3, Fiction, **
136. Robert Jordan, Conan the Magnificent, Conan #4, Fiction, ***
137. Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country, Non Fiction, ***
138. Leonard Cotrell, Life under the Pharohs, Non Fiction, ***
139. Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, TR #2, Non Fiction, *****
140. John Marco, The Devil's Armor, Inhumans #2, Fiction, ***
141. Terry Goodkind, The Pillars of Creation, Sword of Truth #7, Fiction ***
142. Mervyn Peake, Titus Alone, Gormenghast # 3, Fiction, **
143. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Waterloo, Sharpe #22, Fiction, ***
144. Stephen King, Different Seasons, Fiction, ***
145. Terry Brooks, Scions of Shannara, Heritage #1, Fiction, ***
146. Robert Jordan, Conan the Invincible, Conan #1, Fiction, **
147. Terry Goodkind, Naked Empire, Sword of Truth #8, Fiction (See Notation)
148. John Marco, Sword of Angels, Inhumans #3, Fiction, ***
149. Terry Brooks, Druid of Shannara, Heritage #2, Fiction, ***
150. Terry Brooks, The Elf Queen of Shannara, Heritage #3, Fiction ***
151. Terry Brooks, The Talismans of Shannara, Heritage #4, Fiction ***
152. Edmund Morris, Colonel Roosevelt, TR #3, Non Fiction, ****
153. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Devil, Sharpe #23, Fiction, ****
154. Terry Goodkind, Chainfire, Sword of Truth #9, Fiction (See Notation)
155. Bernard Cornwell, The Fort, Fiction, ****
156. Terry Goodkind, Phantom, Sword of Truth #10, Fiction (See Notation)
157. Terry Goodkind, Confessor, Sword of Truth #11, Fiction (see Notation)
158. R.F. Dederfeild, To serve them all my days, Fiction ***
159. Robert E. Howard, El Borak, Fiction ( Still reading )

As you can see, only 26 of these books were Non Fiction. It generally takes me longer to work my way through a Non Fiction book, for every question they answer they make me ask a dozen more and I wind up spending an inordinante amount of time on the Internet researching further information. I'll have to do better next year. I also padded out my count by reading stuff like the Brak books which only amount to about 100 pages.. but I like to think I made up for this with tomes like Rise and Fall which measured nearly 1200 pages. On a semi-relevant note, the Forgotten Realms books were read during the time period when I had some Dental work done and simply didn't feel like reading anything particularly challenging and wasting the effect of my (dentist prescribed) painkillers.

The only book of the year that I didn't finish was Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself, At the time I attempted to read it I think I just wasn't in the mood for the sort of book that it is. I thought the writing was good, I just couldn't get into the story which was taking far far to long to get going. Sometime over the next year I will attempt to re-read this book, and hopefully read the series fully. I try never to abandon a book without seeing it through, it is disrespectful to the author not even to see where he wants to take you. If nothing else, I'll skip to the end and have a look, and if it looks inviting go back and read the rest.

As for the notation on the Goodkinds, I'll be having a full post on those coming up in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Books read in 2010, the Compleat List, Part 1

Since I don't feel like following the crowd and writing a "top ten of O'Ten" list, and since I'd posted a partial list back in May or June, with the first 70 or so that I'd read for the year. I will instead be providing my full list and associated ratings and whether they were Fiction or Non-Fiction. What follows is part 1 of the list, including how I'd rank them on a scale of 1 to 5 and the series they belong too if applicable.

1. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Tiger, Sharpe #1, Fiction, ****
2. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Triumph, Sharpe #2, Fiction, ****
3. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Fortress, Sharpe #3, Fiction, ****
4. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Trafalgar, Sharpe #4, Fiction, ****
5. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Prey, Sharpe #5, Fiction, ****
6. Bernard Cornwell, Winter King, The Arthur Books #1, Fiction, ***
7. Frank Herbert, Dune, Dune #1, Fiction, ****
8. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Rifles, Sharpe #6, Fiction, ****
9. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Havoc, Sharpe #7, Fiction, ****
10. Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah, Dune #2, Fiction, ***
11. Margot Adler, Drawing down the moon, Non-Fiction, ***
12. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Eagle, Sharpe #8, Fiction, ****
13. Glen Cook, The Black Company, Black Company #1, Fiction, ****
14. Glen Cook, Shadow's Linger, Black Company #2, Fiction, ****
15. Glen Cook, The White Rose, Black Company #3, Fiction, ****
16. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Gold, Sharpe #9, Fiction, ****
17. K.J. Parker, Devices and Desires, Engineer #1, Fiction, ***
18. Harry Harrison, Hammer and the Cross, Hammer and Cross #1, Fiction, ****
19. Harry Harrison, One King's Way, Hammer and Cross #2, Fiction, ***
20. Harry Harrison, King and Emperor, Hammer and Cross #3, Fiction, **
21. Steve Perry, Conan the Defiant, Conan # 13, Fiction, *
22. Terry Goodkind, Debt of Bones, Sword of Truth #0, Fiction, **
23. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Escape, Sharpe #10, Fiction, ***
24. Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, Gormanghast #1, Fiction, ****
25. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Fury, Sharpe #11, Fiction, **
26. Sean A. Moore, Conan the Hunter, Conan #31, Fiction ***
27. R.A. Salvatore, Homelands, Drizzt #1, Fiction, ***
28. R.A. Salvatore, Exile, Drizzt #2, Fiction, ***
29. R.A. Salvatore, Sojourn, Drizzt #3, Fiction, ***
30. R.A. Salvatore, The Crystal Shard, Drizzt #4, Fiction, ***
31. R.A. Salvatore, Streams of SIlver, Drizzt #5, Fiction, ***
32. R.A. Salvatore, The Halfling's Gem, Drizzt #6, Fiction, ***
33. L. Sprague DeCamp, The Falliable Fiend, Novaria #5, Fiction, ***
34. Glen Cook, The Silver Spike, Black Company #4, Fiction, ***
35. Glen Cook, Shadow Games, Black Company #5, Fiction, ***
36. Glen Cook, Dreams of Steel, Black Company #6, Fiction, ***
37. John Jakes, Brak the Barbarian, Brak #1, Fiction, ***
38. John Jakes, Brak Vs. The Sorceress, Brak #2, Fiction, ***
39. John Jakes, Brak: Mark of Demons, Brak #3, Fiction, ***
40. John Jakes, Brak: When Idols Walked, Brak #4, Fiction, ***
41. John Jakes, The Fortunes of Brak, Brak #5, Fiction, ***
42. Jack Mckinny, Genesis, Robotech #1, Fiction, ***
42. Jack Mckinny, Battlecry, Robotech #2, Fiction, ***
43, Jack Mckinny, Homecoming, Robotech #3, Fiction, ***
44. Jack Mckinny, Battlehymn, Robotech #4, Fiction, ***
45. Jack Mckinny, Force of Arms, Robotech #5, Fiction, ***
46. Jack Mckinny, Doomsday, Robotech #6, Fiction, ***
47. Glen Cook, Bleak Seasons, Black Company #7, Fiction, ***
48. Jack Mckinny, The Zentradi Rebellion, Robotech #19, Fiction, ***
49. Jack Mckinny, Devil's Hand, Robotech #13, Fiction, ***
50. Jack Mckinny, Dark Powers, Robotech #14, Fiction, ***
41. Jack Mckinny, Death Dance, Robotech #15, Fiction, ***
42. Jack Mckinny, World Killers, Robotech #16, Fiction, **
43. Jack Mckinny, Rubicon, Robotech #17, Fiction ***
44. Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic, Discworld #1, Fiction, ****
45. Jack Mckinny, The Master's Gambit, Robotech #20, Fiction, **
46. Glen Cook, She Is Darkness, Black Company #8, Fiction, **
47. Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic, Discworld #2, Fiction, ****
48. Jack Mckinny, Southern Cross, Robotech #7, Fiction, **
49, Jack Mckinny, Metal Fire, Robotech #8, Fiction, **
50, Jack Mckinny, Final Nightmare, Robotech #9, Fiction **
51. K.J. Parker, Evil for Evil, Engineer #2, Fiction, **
52. Jack Mckinny, Before the Invid Storm, Robotech #21, Fiction, ***
53. Glen Cook, Water Sleeps, Black Company #9, Fiction **
54. Glen Cook, Soldiers Live, Black Company #10, Fiction *
55. Jack Mckinny, Invid Invasion, Robotech #10, Fiction ***
56, Jack Mckinny, Metamorphosis, Robotech #11, Fiction, ***
57, Jack Mckinny, Symphony of Light, Robotech #12, Fiction, ***
58. Steve Perry, Conan the Indomitable, Conan #20, Fiction, *
59. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Battle, Sharpe #12, Fiction, **
60. Jack Mckinny, End of the Circle, Robotech #18, Fiction, **
61. Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Company, Sharpe #13, Fiction, ****
62. Steve Perry, Conan the Freelance, Conan #21, Fiction, *
63. K.J. Parker, The Escapement, Engineer #3, Fiction **
64. Terry Goodkind, Wizard's First Rule, Sword of Truth #1, Fiction, ***
65. Tanith Lee, The Birthgrave, Birthgrave #1, Fiction, ***
66. Tanith Lee, Vazkor, Son of Vazkor, Birthgrave #2, Fiction, ***
67. Tanith Lee, Quest for the White Witch, Birthgrave #3, Fiction, ***
68. Patricia Mckillip, Riddle Master of Hed, Riddlemaster #1, Fiction, ***
69. Patricia Mckillip, Heir of Sea and Fire, Riddlemaster #2, Fiction, ***
70. Patricia Mckillip, Harpist in the Wind, Riddlemaster #3, Fiction, ***
71. Terry Goodkind, Stone of Tears, Sword of Truth #2, Fiction, **
72. Steve Perry, Conan the Formiddable, Conan #22, Fiction, *
73. Stephen King, The Eyes of the Dragon, Fiction, ****
74. Viktor Rydberg, Teutonic Mythology Volume 1, Part 1, Non Fiction, ****
75. Louis Pauwls, The Morning of the Magicians, Non Fiction, **
76. William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Non Fiction, ****
77. Viktor Rydberg, Teutonic Mythology Volume 1, Part 2, Non Fiction, ****
78. Louis, L'Amour, The Walking Drum, Fiction, ****
79. Nick Hornby, Slam, Fiction, ***
80. Stephen King, The Gunslinger, Dark Tower #1, Fiction, ***

I'll put up part two tomorrow, and then follow that up with a few thoughts and introspection on this challenge.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

movie review - Royal Deceit a.k.a. Prince of Jutland

From Dweomera Lagomorpha

I came across this title rather randomly via Wikipedia. I'd been looking up historical dramas set during the dark ages, and found this one. It's a retelling of the story of Amled Prince of Jutland, the same story which William Shakespeare adapted for his play Hamlet. This movie filmed in 1994, is set during an indeterminate period, and features a very strong cast. With Christian Bale starring as Amled, and co-starring Helen Mirren, Gabriel Byrne, Brian Cox, Kate Beckinsale, Andi Serkis and a huge host of British character actors who pop up repeatedly in films as disparate as Snatch and Black Hawk Down.

The scenery is fantastic, and theirs no shortage of the things which make Shakespeare's adaption so wonderful. However you can tell, due to the way in which the Battle scene between Osmir and Lindsey was filmed, the the movie was made on a very small budget. Some historical inaccuracies exist of course but when you are dealing with the Migration period, and especially with semi mythical events in general, its not particularly distracting.

As I mentioned before it's difficult to know precisely when the film is set, a number of character are shown prominently wearing Thor's hammers pendants around their necks. These didn't become popular until Christianity was being adopted on the Continent, by which time it was already the official religion in England. So since the men of Lindsey are shown as being predominantly Pagan still, but the group with which they are at war, the men of Osmir declaim the actions of Amled as the work of the Devil. I'd say the film is set in the 600's or so.

It is to me, certainly a better telling of the story than any of the more recent ones. So if you haven't seen it, I'd recommend it to you if you have any interest in the time period, and are unhappy with some of the other adaptions of legends of that time, such as Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf...

Friday, December 3, 2010

A pair of my favorite People.

From Dweomera Lagomorpha

I just received in the mail today, copies of the 3rd volume of Edmund Morris's seminal Theodore Roosevelt Biography, If it is as good as the other two, I suspect I will be floored. If it's better than them I don't think I will be able to contain myself. The only U.S. President with both the Medal of Honor(Posthumous) and the Nobel Peace Prize(for mediating during negotiations to end the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05) He's someone that for whatever reason, I've always liked. He was ahead of his time, and it was largely thanks to him that we have the National Parks, and the FDA. I understand that at some point, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are supposed to be producing a film series based on these three books. I'm not a person who feels that DiCaprio would be wrong for the part of TR, but he won't be able to replace Tom Berringer who played a wonderful representation of him in John Milius's "The Rough Riders".. Which is itself something of the middle chapter in a trilogy of Roosevelt movies, its "Sequel" being Milius's "Wind and the Lion".

I also received a copy of "Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia" by Micheal Korda. I've previously read B.H. Liddel Hart's "Lawrence of Arabia" and John Mack's "A Prince of Our Disorder". I found both fascinating, especially in the parts surrounding his Archeological work. I'm hoping that Mr. Korda will refrain from too much supposition in regards Mr. Lawrence. All to frequently, as is the vogue these days it seems, every aspect of his personality must be dissected. It isn't enough to look at his accomplishments, or allow his actions to speak for him. One must endeavor to include as many scandalous details as possible.. even if they are largely unprovable or based on hearsay. I felt that, Mack's volume edged to close into that sort of territory a number of times, especially in regards to Lawrence's activities after the war. So I hope this will be better, as I would very much like an Authoritative Biography.

These are men from different parts of the English speaking world, who both influenced and indeed still exert influence on the world to this day. Roosevelt was instrumental in turning the USA into the military power that it is today with his insistence on having a powerful navy. His work on domestic issues, largely stemming from his 1912 Bull Moose platform and later enacted in some form by his cousin FDR also are still shaping the future of the US.

Lawrence, is much trickier. Its possible, and even likely, that eventually the Arabs would have thrown off the Ottoman yoke. But when or how is less certain. I hesitate to turn him into the Hero of the Arab Revolt, something he himself disliked having done to him by the world's press. But he if nothing else added a buoy to Prince Feisel(himself a remarkable person) which allowed him to keep the various disparate tribes together and march as far as Damascus.

There really is no telling how different the world would be had these two men's stories not ended as they did. Had Roosevelt won the 1912 platform and gone on to be President again. And had Lawrence not died in a fatal motorcycle accident. One can only imagine.

I'm now currently very much looking forward to the third volume of William Manchester's Biography of Winston Churchill.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

again with the book club editons.

After some recent troubles with Borders books, I've decided to cease shopping with them.. and instead turn my resources towards filling in some gaps in my collection. So I started out by purchasing the 6, Crown of Stars (by Kate Elliott) books I needed in hardcover on Amazon marketplace. The total was nothing spectacular, and I can now trade in my paperbacks. However, as they began to arrive, some came in just as I expected and two of them came in, in the dreaded book club format. I politely explained the situation to the sellers, returned the books, and was issued refunds. I then re-ordered the two that had been incorrect. One of them came in as the normal hardcover, then the other came in a second time as.. book club format.

Several other books I've ordered have come in this way as well, I ordered a hardcover copy of the second volume of Stephen R. Donaldson's Mordant's Need. It came in in book club, the seller is going to refund my money but now I have to wait around for a replacement to come in.

It's not exactly a hardship I hear you saying, Theres nothing wrong with the book club books persay, I simply feel that it is false advertising, or lazy, to not list that your book for sale is in fact not the real hardcover book. This is excusable if the book has never been issued in hardcover otherwise.. if I bought The Chronicles of the Black Company in hardcover, I'd know I was getting a book club edition since its never been released in any format other than that and trade paperback.

So yeah, please, people who re-sell used books online.. take the extra 5 seconds when you check the notes in the front and it says *BOOK CLUB EDITION* or *PUBLISHED FOR SFBC by >insert publisher here<* to make a note of it on your item description. It will save both of us time and aggravation.