Category Archives: Book review

Review of ‘SPQR’ by M Beard

‘SPQR’ A History of Ancient Rome’ by Mary Beard is a book on the first 1,000 years of Rome from its founding to 212 CE or AD as I think of it. Mary takes us on a journey of discovery as she looks at the myth of foundation through the republic and into the early empire. In over 500 pages she includes a lot and I learnt a lot as well.

I love history and this is a great history book, lots of information and good Roman stories along with the facts as she sees them. Mary also brings to the fore were there are different views on the history which is very good. This is not an in depth view of any one person or battle or period it is a overview of 1,000 years.

Mary looks at the various rulers but also how others lived and worked and survived in Rome and its empire. I was shocked at the rubbish dump of babies and amassed at the hill of pottery, this book is full of surprises.

A good read and well worth reading and keeping for reference as it has a good further reading chapter.

Review of ‘Gods and Legions’ by M C Ford

‘Gods and Legions’ a novel of the Roman Empire by Michael Curtis Ford

A interesting read, the book starts at the end and then goes back to the beginning. It is 354AD and Julian is about to become a Roman General leading to him becoming Emperor. That is history as is the path of his career, however like all good historical novels it’s in the details that the story comes to life.

You might like me wonder about the title Gods & legions, but it soon becomes clear why this is the title. This book looks at the conflict between Legion’s and enemies of Rome and the conflict between Rome’s old Greek and Roman gods and the new Christian faith. It does this through Julian and his doctor as they work through differences in faith and changing faith. This is intertwined with the ongoing wars and keeping the Legions happy. The Legions are made up of men who follow different old war gods even though Constantine made Christianity the official religion some years before.

The reader always knows what the end is going to be but you soon get caught up in the story of the Doctor Caesarius a Christian in a hostile environment.

I enjoyed this book it is well written with no obvious errors in printing or history, unlike many new books which seem to always have silly paragraph errors with missing words or lines. The military history is interesting but I got most from thinking along with Caesarius’s struggle with faith.

Review of “Epik Fantasy: Books 1 – 3 (Epik Universe) by William Tyler Davis”

I got these books on Kindle as an e-book this is my review

I read the first book and thought it was a bit boring but still felt that I wanted to read the next one. I am glad that I did, the story became a epic story which pulled me along to the third book.
You do need the background of the first book to understand what comes next.
A great story well worth reading, with lots of funny asides and humour alongside a complex story . Interesting ideas on magic and it’s use and lots of good characters on all sides of the story.

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