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Reviews and Ratings
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reviewed Tigana. March 02, 2012
Tigana
This was a long book, not that there's anything wrong with length in a book of course, but when you notice it that can be a problem. And I noticed it even as I continued to read. At first I enjoyed the …
The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters
Huck Finn Goes West might have been a good alternative title for this one, although our hero and primary narrator, young Jamie McPheeters of St. Louis, fourteen years old at the start of his journey to …
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the
A very fine narrative concerning the history (both the rise and fall) of the Native American people known today as the Comanche (from a Ute word meaning those who like to fight or who fight a lot). An …
reviewed Telegraph Days: A Novel. September 18, 2011
Telegraph Days: A Novel
In this nicely written, albeit light, episodic tale of the old West, heroine Nellie Courtwright and her kid brother Jackson make their way into the tiny frontier town of Rita Blanca after the suicide …
reviewed Territory (Emma Bull book). September 13, 2011
Territory
Emma Bull's talent with the succinct turn of phrase and her terse but vivid imagery (saloon barflies troop after a stranger in the first few pages "unconscious as ducklings") combine with taut, clever …
reviewed The Religion: A Novel. August 23, 2011
The Religion: A Novel
The mysterious Countess Carla La Penautier seeks passage to Malta, the land of her birth, in search of the boy she bore as a young girl out of wedlock, a babe spirited away from her even as she was sent …
reviewed Northwest Passage. July 29, 2011
Northwest Passage
This tale, cast as a memoir by a fictional acquaintance of the historical Robert Rogers who gained fame in colonial America for creating and leading "Rogers' Rangers," is lengthy but compellingly told, …
A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
This, the fourth in the series, turned out to be somewhat disappointing in light of the earlier books though you could see the problem developing in the earlier volumes as Martin plays what amounts to …
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)
Having decided to read these books on the basis of the HBO series, I've now gotten well ahead of the TV version (which faithfully, allowing for some minor innovations, captures the first book, Game of …
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, book no. 2)
In this second volume of the series (which I began because the quality of the recent HBO series enthralled me), George R. R. Martin carries his tale of discord, violence, magic and collapse in Westeros …
A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book
I was always reluctant to read this book, as I have been to read most medieval world type fantasy after Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien Boxed Set (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings)) and E. R. Eddison (The …
The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet
Readers of this series have probably waited a long time for this one because here, finally, the invincible Diego Alatriste actually steps into it. Intent on pursuing a beautiful actress who has granted …
The King's Gold: A Novel
After The Sun Over Breda (Captain Alatriste (Plume Books)) I had sworn off reading further in the adventures of Perez-Reverte's swashbuckling hero, Diego Alatriste, the enigmatic soldier-of-fortune and …
Meadowland: A Novel of the Viking Discovery of
I bought this one eagerly because the subject matter was, in a sense, up my alley -- and I wanted to see how Thomas Holt handled it.     On balance he did a respectable job, constructing …
reviewed Eifelheim. March 21, 2011
Eifelheim
I wasn't surprised to see some negative reviews on this one, despite the fact that I found it fascinating and very effectively written. It offers some rather heavy going, both in terms of the deep and …
reviewed Taming Poison Dragons. March 06, 2011
Taming Poison Dragons
Disgraced courtier and poet Lord Yun Cai, now living in uncomfortable exile on his family estate in Wei, is suddenly thrust into a malestrom of war and destruction when the ambitious General Ansu raises …
reviewed Varanger. February 13, 2011
Varanger
Part of a series begun by Cecelia Holland a while back, this one takes the sons of her earlier hero Corban Loosestrife on a journey east to the country of rivers that would one day become Russia. Apparently …
reviewed Deadwood. December 20, 2010
Deadwood
I went back and forth while reading this book. I couldn't decide if I liked it or was indifferent but, in the end, affinity won out. This is the tale of the rough boom town of Deadwood in the Black Hills …
Warlock (New York Review Books Classics)
A fictionalization of some genuine happenings in the old west, this one tells the story of events (over a relatively brief period of a few months) in a western boom town called Warlock, so named for one …
reviewed Middle Passage. October 11, 2010
Middle Passage
I felt kind of let down by this one though perhaps my expectations were just misplaced. I came to it seeking a realistic tale of Africans coming to the Americas and the role of slavery in 19th century …
The Wandering Hill: A Novel (The Berrybender
I skipped Sin Killer: A Novel (The Berrybender Narratives) (the first in the series) and started with this book, the follow-on in the series (perhaps I'll go back and pick up the first at some point -- …
reviewed Boone's Lick : A Novel. August 21, 2010
Boone's Lick : A Novel
This is a relatively short (for McMurtry) Western tale about a backwoods Missouri family (it was probably pretty much all "backwoods" in those early days!) which, driven by the family matriarch, Mary …
reviewed The Diezmo: A Novel. August 15, 2010
The Diezmo: A Novel
A workmanlike retelling, in the form of a survivor's memoir, of the filibustering excesses of a group of Texas patriots who set out to defend the borders of their new republic but stumble, instead, into …
reviewed Sir Nigel. August 08, 2010
Sir Nigel
I must be losing my taste for things medieval. As a boy I had always enjoyed tales of knights and adventure. Indeed I just about grew up on the stuff. Discovering Arthur Conan Doyle late in life through …
reviewed Sir Nigel. August 03, 2010
Sir Nigel
I must be losing my taste for things medieval. As a boy I had always enjoyed tales of knights and adventure. Indeed I just about grew up on the stuff. Discovering Arthur Conan Doyle late in life through …
reviewed Hombre. July 30, 2010
Hombre
Prolific pulp and screen writer Elmore Leonard made his bones as a writer of clever crime and Western tales in the heyday of men's magazines, graduating from short stories in such venues to the silver …
Josey Wales (Gone to Texas and The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales)
This two novel edition, capturing both tales of Josey Wales by Forrest Carter who briefly wrote in the seventies about the western life, is worth it if you are a fan of westerns or adventure. Although …
reviewed Resolution. June 09, 2010
Resolution
After parting from his partner, marshal-for-hire Virgil Cole in the little Western town of Appaloosa (last seen in the previous Western novel by Parker of that name), longtime professional sidekick Everett …
The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the
It took me over a year to read this book. So dry was it and so heavily larded with details I kept putting it down and going on to other things. Indeed, there were times when I doubted I would finish it. …
A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the
A well-researched presentation of the career of James K. Polk of Tennessee, who began his political life as a protege and hanger-on of Andrew Jackson (and finished it as the president who capped the Jacksonian …
The Golden Warrior by Hope Muntz
It's a shame no one has reprinted this fine novel about the momentous conflict for the throne of England in the years leading up to 1066 between Earl Harold Godwinsson, a half Danish, half Saxon nobleman …
reviewed Rob Roy (Signet Classics). February 21, 2010
Rob Roy (Signet Classics)
For those seeking the famous tale on which the recent film was based, this will sorely disappoint. This is Scott's tale of a young Englishman, son of a prosperous middle class businessman, who is sent …
reviewed The Worm Ouroboros. January 24, 2010
The Worm Ouroboros
Readers here will certainly have heard of J. R. R. Tolkien, the father, if you will, of modern fantasy. And, presumably, those finding this review will also know something of E. R. Eddison, the author …
Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of
Science is like a fishing expedition, Dr. V. S. Ramachandran a neurological researcher and physician tells us near the beginning of this book, written with the aid of professional science writer Sandra …
reviewed In the Houses of Men. December 29, 2009
In the Houses of Men
The tale of an abused woman, In the Houses of Men gives us a young working class girl whose childhood is marred by a disappointed, and often drunk, abusive father. As soon as she can, young Maura Connelly …
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator
Jesse Livermore, the narrator of this book (though he calls himself by the pseudonym "Lawrence Livingston" and the book sports the name of a journalist, Edwin Lefevre, who presumably served …
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly
This is an overly complex, opaque and rambling exposition of some interesting ideas which, unfortunately, the author doesn't explicate with precision or take very far. The notion that we can't predict …
reviewed The Pale Blue Eye: A Novel. October 19, 2009
The Pale Blue Eye: A Novel
In this interesting but somewhat glacially paced fiction (for much of the tale anyway), Louis Bayard does a yeoman's job of recreating the atmosphere and feel of early 19th century America, right down …
Young Ludwig: Wittgenstein's Life, 1889-1921 by Brian McGuinness
A good book on the early Wittgenstein (covering the period through the writing of his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with a useful analytical exposition of that work), this book is heavy on personal …
Black Creek: The Taking of Florida
A credible fictionalized account of early Floridian history, this novel (based, the author explains, on actual historical records of his family members) takes us through Florida's early years as an American …
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