Category Archives: Book review

Review of ‘A history of the Vikings’ by Gwyn Jones

This book is from the Oxford University Press written in 68 and revised in 84 t looks at the history of the Northern Peoples to 700 AD then the Vikings or the Scandinavians to 1066.In places it is hard work to read due to lots of footnotes but it is worth battling through. It was interesting to see how short the period we think of the Vikings was and how many countries it affected. The book looks at their trading, culture, beliefs and way of life. How life changed due to raiding and trade and then becoming Christian. How they colonised England, France, the area now known as Russia and Ukraine and fought for and against the Byzantine empire. How they discovered Iceland, Greenland and America and settled in each.

A slow but interesting and deep read if you have an interest in Vikings.

Review of ‘M-Space’ Companion By C Redd

I have already reviewed M-Space and this companion adds to the rules particularly for character creation and the use of robotics and cybernetics.

This is a good edition to the main rules, it brings in a Traveller style character creation based on background and occupation. It allows rolls for events in ones back story and unfortunate accidents.  For example-

Bounty Hunter
66-75. Bring in a bounty. Gain 2000Cr and increase in one Career Professional skill.
76-85. Run into an ambush. Roll Perception. Success: Increase
to a Combat Style and gain an Enemy. Failure: Increase Evade,
gain the Passion Hate (Criminals) and lose a contact.

98-99. A bounty you bring in has some interesting loot. Gain
an advanced weapon or an implant of the GM’s choice.
00. You bring in a famous criminal and get to claim their starship. Gain a starship size 10 or less and gain an Enemy.

As you can see this will give some interesting options in character creation.

I love it and it would be nice to see it in the main Mythras rules as a extra option as well.

The Cybernetic and Robot rules are very good and allow just about any Character or NPC to be created with a few simple decisions.

I am glad to have bought this as it will increase the options I have in running M-Space games in the future.

A good job by Clarence

Review of ‘Abiding’ by Ben Quash

I was given this book for Christmas, I am not a great reader of theology books as often I find that they make the Christian faith more complex than needed. This was true while at Church Army college as well. Anyway as this was a gift I have been reading one chapter every week or so.

This was the Archbishops Lent course book for 2013. It was about abiding in Christ in different times and needs. So in body; mind; care; relationships; exile; wounds and peace. Some of these made a lot of sense and spoke to me some were just confusing and some went right over my head. To many cultural examples I had not heard of, not enough bible reference for me.

Abiding is something I dio and encourage others to do, it is spending time in the presence of God. Just being with him as you would a good friend or spouse. That can be done and needs to be done in all places and activities. That is effectively what the book was getting at but in 250+ words rather than straight and simple.

So would I suggest you read it? No.

Rather you would be better of spending the time in God’s presence chilling with Him day by day.

Review of ‘Cold Iron’ by Miles Cameron

‘Cold Iron’ is a interesting book but not an easy read. I say that because the book has no chapters, a modern writing style I personally do not like. Add to that the story is broken up as we only see scenes from the view of Aranthur which is ok but there are time jumps where you would expect him to try and find out what’s going on but instead he apparently just goes back to his studies and work. He is a student and works in leather to support himself. It seems to be set in a pseudo Byzantine world due to the use of some terms in the book. However the book has a spattering of italiatised words which are meant to mean something but in general fall flat unless you have any knowledge of the Byzantine world. Some I knew others I didn’t.

The blurb at the back says that he is looking for answers to the changing world around him. However I felt that he was rather just plodding through what was happening till the next encounter gave him more info or not. As a student I would have expected him to be asking questions and trying to work out what was happening around him and why. Instead he just plods on falling into different situations.

The best parts were the start and the end I think as both had some order and Aranthur at least asks questions of those around him. Also the book has a map at the front but other than the city no areas seem to be in the story or those in the story are not on the map. Very odd.

In some ways this reads like one of the stories from my friends roleplaying experiences falling into a adventure and never asking questions about what and why.

Not his best book in my opinion however I did like this line ‘the worship of power is close to the worship of evil.’

Review of ‘Wintersmith’ by T Pratchett

Wintersmith is a interesting read, a cleaver tale as all Terry’s are of a witch who gets a bit tied up with winter and summer. I did like this book a clever mix of hero, elemetails, witches, old aunts and small people. A interesting look at how we can get into trouble and how we need to work to get out of it again. How some people think they know everything, boasting about it, and how others humblerly go along knowing everything.

Unlike the last Discworld book I loved this one, strange how one book from an author can be so different from another.

Anyway this is a fun deep book well worth reading.

Review of ‘The Lure of the Basilisk’ by L Watt-Evans

‘The Lure of the Basilisk’ by L Watt-Evans book one of ‘The Lords of Dus’

A interesting book, reads like a roleplay story with everything told from the characters perspective, not that there’s anything wrong with that. We start with no knowledge of the world or even the character and pick up that information as the character does. A simple but clever story about capturing a unknown creature and dealing with the troubles on the way. Learning new ways of doing things and finding what he is not good at. Garth, we find out isn’t human, trys to stick to his principles and passions as he explores a new world and new people.  Enjoyed reading and will look out for more of this authors books especially the rest of this series.

Review of ‘Tyrant King of the Bosporus’ by C Cameron

‘Tyrant King of the Bosporus’ by Christian Cameron the fourth in the Tyrant series of books. I have read 1 and 2 but not 3. I have enjoyed them it is a period of history I like and which has a lot of gaps to enable a writer to put a story into.

This book is about twins trying to regain the kingdom of their parents. A good mix of personal stories, politics and combat at sea and land. I am a little disappointed at the ending.  I did feel it needed another chapter rather than the rush I felt it was.

However Cameron is a good historical writer and I do enjoy his stories. Now to get the last two in the series. 9 out of 10

Review of ‘Carpe Jugulum’ by T Pratchett

‘Carpe Jugulum’ a Terry Pratchett Discworld book. It’s been a long time since I have read one of the discworld books, I found this very slow to start with and a bit annoying however by the end I didn’t want to put it down. A interesting look at how myths work and how different people see faith.  I did like the vampires who thought a strong will would protect them from garlic and such and how that worked both ways. I loved Oat’s the poor missionary with great doubts and the witches were as always subline.

A book worth a read, as it will challenge how you see your faith and humorous in places, Vlad and the Count were a hoot.

Review of Fresh Eyes on Jesus’ Miracles by D Newton

Doug Newton as written a series of books call Fresh Eyes on different parts of the bible. This one looks at Jesus’ Miracles. Like the other ones this takes a passage and gets the reader to look at it in a different way to how they might have seen it in the past. This book looks at – ‘Turning Water into Wine’; Healing the Royal Official’s Son; Peter healing the Lame Man; Feeding the Five Thousand; Calming the Storm and others.

This book will take a while to read as you do each chapter and then spend some time thinking about it before reading another.

I enjoy reading these books by Doug, they are thought provoking and challenging in many ways.

Well worth the read.

‘The Greek Myths’ by R Waterfield a Review.

‘The Greek Myths’ stories of the Greek Gods and Heroes vividly retold by Robin Waterfield and Kathryn Waterfield

I got this book as I am running roleplaying games set in Hellenistic times. It is much better than other book on the Greek myths I have read. It was easy to read in modern language with a good flow to the stories. I now have a much better idea of how the stories link together and where they sit in Greek history. How the Greeks saw their gods and how they interacted with them.

A very good easy read and well worth getting if you have an interest in Greek mythology.