Review: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin

DTXB8384[1]It’s seems that whether you’re a Game of Thrones fan or not, escaping the mention of it has been a futile exercise as of late. It’s not too bad for myself as I’m a massive lover of the books and have really enjoyed the TV adaptation (bar the last series perhaps), but I do feel somewhat for the seemingly scant remainders of the population who really couldn’t care less for the hype. It’s these people I want to offer my apologies to today, as the book I’m reviewing for this post is A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin. Whilst it’s not actually a part of the A Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones for the TV watchers), it is set within the same world.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, also known as The Tales of Dunk and Egg #1-3, can be seen as a prequel of sorts to A Song of Fire and Ice. It follows the adventures of Dunk, a man who is trying to prove himself as a knight of worth, and his young squire, Egg. It seems a fairly typical medieval picture, except for one thing; Egg is actually short for Aegon, as in Aegon Targaryen of the royal line and future King of the Seven Kingdoms. The pair travel through Westeros, conscious of the weight of the truth upon them and the need to keep their secret secure, for not all are fans of the Targaryens, and Egg just might be the perfect opportunity to cause some unrest.

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Review: The Beetle by Richard Marsh

EKRY9042[1]In one of my latest blog posts I talked about Bridget Collins’s The Binding and how the sheer beauty of the book was what first compelled me to pick it up. I’m afraid there’s a bit of a continuation of that theme this week, as yet again I’m reviewing a book that was partially purchased because of its outward aesthetic. I’m sure it’s fairly obvious to most people that the Penguin English Library collection is undoubtedly my favourite series of books, so on one of my last trips to London I was delighted to find a whole array of books from the series which we didn’t have in the bookshops here in Cardiff. One of those which immediately caught my attention was the vividly stunning yet startling ominous cover of The Beetle by Richard Marsh.

The Beetle is described as a thrilling horror novel which caused quite a stir in the late Victorian era in which it was first published. Whilst the book follows multiple narrators, it is perhaps easiest to describe the book as focusing upon the much respected and admired politician Paul Lessingham. Paul is known for his outward composure and controlled demeanour, yet things begin to go awry when events from his past begin to infiltrate his present day life. Paul realises he is being haunted  by the very thing he most wishes to forget. Yet ‘the beetle’, a disturbing creature from ancient Egypt and part of a murderous cult, is far from finished with meddling in the affairs of Paul’s life.

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Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins

PTTW7330[1]It’s an age old saying which implores us to never judge a book by its cover, yet I am certainly guilty of this time and time again. In fact, one of my latest purchases happened purely because of the book’s beautiful cover. It was certainly a bonus once I’d picked it up to discover that the blurb sounded brilliant, but I really would be lying if I said that it wasn’t the gorgeous cover design which really had me so enthralled. The cover is a gorgeously intricate design of deep purples and browns interwoven with decadent gold foliage, with the stunning aesthetic even continuing underneath the dust jacket. It really is a work of art, and an inspired choice which readers of the book will understand on a whole new level.

But what is the book actually about, you ask? It follows the story of Emmett Farmer, a young man working in the fields attempting to prove his worth after recovering from a debilitating illness. When a letter arrives one day addressed to him from a stranger, Emmett is startled to discover that its contents implore him to start a new life as a bookbinder’s apprentice. His parents are adamant that he must go. They refuse to acknowledge why, but Emmett knows that they are keeping something from him, or, as he deeply fears, they are ashamed of his recent illness and slow recovery. Yet its not long after starting his new life that Emmett begins to suspect more, the web of secrecy growing ever greater when he discovers a vault underneath his mentor’s workshop. In it are books of every design, painstakingly created and crafted to hold someone’s memories . . . and one of them has his own name on it.

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Review: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (Discworld #1)

SWVU7536[1]Terry Pratchett is undeniably one of the literary greats. His name holds a hell of a lot of weight with a massive amount of the population and his most popular Discworld series alone contains an impressive 40 books.  That’s more than most authors will ever write in their lifetime, and whilst I knew and was suitable impressed by all of this, I’d still never read anything by the man himself. Don’t get me wrong, I’d had every intention of doing so, and the first of the books in his Discworld series has been sat on my shelf for years! But it’s only this week that I’ve finally sat down and gotten around to delving into his iconic fantasy world.

I’m sure most of you already know this, but for those who don’t, the Discworld exists in a parallel time and place which in some ways is similar to ours, but in many others is extremely different. For example, the Discworld is a flat planet which is balanced on the back of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of the giant turtle, Great A’Tuin.  That one bit of information goes some way to giving you a sense of just how crazy and imaginative this world really is.

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Review: Washington Square by Henry James

DOHQ4912[1]Lately I’d been realising that it had been a while since I’d picked up anything from within the classic cannon to read. That’s not to say that I haven’t been reading lot of things from the past, as I have been picking up an awful lot of historical fiction, yet all of these have been fairly newer releases and not anything actually written in the past. I always find myself drawn back to the genre of classic fiction, and with many of these unread books on my shelves it’s always hard to decide which one to pick up next. In the end the book I settled on was Washington Square by Henry James. I’ve read one other book by James, arguably his most iconic novel, The Turn of the Screw. I really enjoyed The Turn when I read it a few years ago, and I thought picking up something a little bit different from this author would be quit telling as to whether I did really like his writing style.

Whereas The Turn is a Gothic read, Washington Square can be seen as a tragicomedy. It follows events relating to Dr Sloper and his daughter Catherine. When Catherine falls in love with the handsome Morris Townsend her life is complete, yet her father will never reconcile himself to the thought of his daughter marrying someone such as Morris, a man he is certain cares more for Catherine’s inheritance than her personality. The catch is great, for if Catherine defies her father’s wishes he makes it clear than she will not see a penny of his considerable fortune. For Catherine her love is worth more than any amount of money, but does her would be suitor truly feel the same?

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Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

BWIF5951[1]A couple of weeks ago I read Madeline Miller’s debut novel, The Song of Achilles. The book had been on my TBR for a long time but as soon as her second novel , Circe, made the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist, I was more inspired than ever to read her work. You can read my review for The Song of Achilles here, but suffice to say that the I thought the book was brilliant and thoroughly deserved the high praise it has received in the past. Fast forward to the present time, and I can now proudly say that I’ve read both of Madeline Miller’s novels after quickly sinking my teeth into the much anticipated Circe.

Circe, much like Miller’s first novel, is a historical fiction which is essentially the author retelling certain elements and stories within the Greek myths. Whilst her first novel focused upon the mighty and well famed Greek hero Achilles, this time we are given the lesser known tale of Circe, a goddess of magic, or, as she is more often referred to, a witch. Daughter to the powerful Titan and sun god Helios, Circe has always been a disappointment to her parents, with no apparent power of her own to follow in her father’s footsteps. After she is eventually exiled to the island of Aeaea, Circe is left to fend for herself, finding her own way to survive in a time where gods and monsters lay ready to both literally and metaphorically devour her at any given moment. But can a woman with no claims to the title goddess really survive what the fates have in store for her?

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