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Monika Simon (München)
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Masques
Masques
von Patricia Briggs
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 6,10

4.0 von 5 Sternen Thoroughly Engaging Fantasy Novel, 16. Januar 2013
Verifizierter Kauf(Was ist das?)
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Masques (Taschenbuch)
Having read and hugely enjoyed a large number of Patricia Brigg's Urban Fantasy novels, I decided to give her 'straight' fantasy novels a try. Somehow my first choice was 'Masques', the re-print of the first novel by Ms Briggs ever published and though she slightly reworked it, it remains basically as it was originally, as the authors tells us in the preface. She also writes that she is not completely happy with the book any more.

Armed with that knowledge, I was curious what I would think of the book myself. All in all I was quite pleasantly surprised. It is true, that 'Masques', compared for example to Briggs' Mercedes Thompson novels, is a less polished tale and in some aspects quite conventional. An enormous amount of plot is squeezed into one, not particularly long book, so that less attention can be given to characters and details. Nonetheless, it is a enormously enjoyable and engaging story with interesting characters and a humorous note that I enjoy very much.

Therefore it is a book that I can recommend to friends of the fantasy genre.


American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic (Vintage)
American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic (Vintage)
von Joseph J. Ellis
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,71

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Six Episodes that Shaped American History, 21. Juni 2011
First of all, it is probably good to say what "American Creation" by Joseph J. Ellis is not. It is not a history of the creation of the United States of America, nor does it provide the concise story of the first decades of American independence. Instead Joseph J. Ellis picked out six pivotal events of the first twenty-five years of American history and discusses them in detail and how the decisions taken then have influenced their own time and the future. For this reason it is necessary to have some previous knowledge of this period of history (e.g. what 'Valley Forge' stands for or who the major players were) otherwise, I presume, the book will be very difficult to understand.

The events described start with the build-up to the Declaration of Independence in 'The Year' and end with 'The Purchase' detailing the history of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Another chapter, 'The Treaty' describes early, and ultimately doomed, efforts to achieve an accommodation with Native Americans. 'The Conspiracy' describes the development of the Republican Party, whose goals and fears of a too powerful federal government are surprisingly reminiscent of those of their modern day counterparts. 'The Winter' about Valley Forge and 'The Argument' about the writing of the constitution complete the book.

Ellis discusses each subject in its own time and context. Often developments that in hindsight were considered triumphs were in fact ad hoc compromises or even regarded as catastrophes by the participants themselves. Ellis also shows that the people who were in the midst of these events were neither flawless heroes nor visionary geniuses, but men with strengths and flaws and for that all the more interesting. Nor are the darker sides of the times omitted, notably slavery, which would lead to the Civil War, and the relationship to native Americans and all its tragic consequences.

As I am by now means an expert in this period of history (in fact this is the first serious book I read about it) I cannot judge the accuracy of the book's historical content. It is, however, very convincingly argued and I certainly enjoyed reading "American Creation", which is not only a very interesting but also a well-written book.


Das Buch des Dämons (Die Tore zur Unterwelt, Band 1)
Das Buch des Dämons (Die Tore zur Unterwelt, Band 1)
von Sam Sykes
  Broschiert
Preis: EUR 16,99

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2.0 von 5 Sternen Zu viel Action, zu wenig Spannung, 17. Juni 2011
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Die Inhaltsbeschreibung von "Die Tore zur Unterwelt. Das Buch des Dämons" klang recht unterhaltsam: ein Fantasy Abenteuer mit Dämonen, Söldnern, dramatische Kämpfe um Leben und Tod, und natürlich die titelgebenden Tore zur Unterwelt. Leider war das Buch für mich aber eine rechte Enttäuschung. Dämonen, "Abenteurer" (nichts anderes als Söldner, nur mit weniger Moral) und jede Menge Action kamen zwar tatsächlich vor, aber je länger ich las umso weniger war ich an den Figuren oder der Handlung interessiert. Zuletzt war es nur noch mein Pflichtbewusstsein, das mich das Buch zu Ende lesen lies.

Meine zunehmendes Missfallen an dem Buch lag zum einen daran, dass der Autor in seinem Versuch seine zusammen gewürfelte Truppe von Abenteurern besonders exotisch und interessant zu gestalten, Klischees von edlen Helden oder rauen Halunken mit einem guten Kern zu vermeiden zu weit gegangen ist und die Figuren letztendlich unsympathisch und ihre Motivationen nicht nachvollziehbar sind. "Unrealistisch" mag als Kritik an einem Fantasy Roman seltsam klingen, aber auch eine fantastischen Welt und ihre Bewohner müssen in grundlegenden Dingen realistisch sein, um für den Leser glaubwürdig bleiben, was hier leider nicht der Fall ist. (So sollte z.B. ein professioneller Kämpfer zumindest in der Lage sein zu sehen, wie viele Waffen sein Gegner in der Hand hat.)

Des weiteren sind die Action-Sequenzen viel zu ausgedehnt und langatmig. Nichts gegen lange und detaillierte beschriebene Kampfszenen, aber hier wird Action wirklich zum Exzess getrieben. Muss der Anfangskampf wirklich fast zweihundert Seiten dauern? Noch dazu hatte ich nicht wirklich den Eindruck, dass die Geschichte durch diese Teile vorangetrieben wird, sondern dass der Autor einfach fand, immer mehr und immer gruseligere Gegner würden ausreichen um die Spannung zu halten. Nicht zuletzt wird auch noch während dieser Kampfszenen viel zu viel gequatscht. Was dabei gesagt wird ist dann auch immer wieder das Gleiche, was doch ziemlich langweilig wird.

Ich habe mir wirklich Mühe gegeben, dem Buch auch positive Seiten abzugewinnen. Der Autor hat auch einige gute Ideen und versucht eine neue, andersartige Welt zu erschaffen. Allerdings wog das in keiner Weise die negativen Seiten auf. Ich habe mein Interesse an den Figuren verloren und war von die endlosen Kampfszenen so sehr gelangweilt, dass ich nur erleichtert aufgeatmet habe, als das Buch endlich zu Ende war.


She Wolves: The Notorious Queens of Medieval England: The Notorious Queens of England
She Wolves: The Notorious Queens of Medieval England: The Notorious Queens of England
von Elizabeth Norton
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 14,10

3.0 von 5 Sternen Infamous or Famous?, 5. Mai 2011
In this book the author provides a series of short biographies of a number of English Queens, ranging from Anglo-Saxon queens like Aelfryth to Mary Tudor. The author also tries to describe the function of a queen in medieval and Tudor times and to determine how these women acquired their negative reputation and whether or not they deserve it.

Without doubt the history of English queenship is a fascinating subject and the stories of the queens, both those who were married to kings and those who ruled in their own right (though the latter category is a lot smaller than the former, only three women fall into it) are interesting. However, I thought the explanations by the author was not always satisfactory. On the one hand, E. Norton tells us these women were criticised and demonised for being active in a world where women were expected (at least by those who wrote the history books) to be passive, on the other she informs the reader that they were pushed into action and it was not their fault. In my opinion at least, the result is that the explanation comes across as somewhat self-contradictory and a bit old-fashioned. The repeated assertion that this criticism are still levelled against the queens 'to the present day' is also simply not true. Several of the queens have a pretty good reputation today or, if they are still regarded as 'bad' queens, they are criticised less for behaving 'unwomanly' than because their behaviour had negative consequences on their own or their husbands' rule. Personally I also thought that the description of the development of queenship was too simplistic, but then the book is not a study of queenship but a brief introduction to a number of fascinating women who often broke out - sometimes voluntarily and sometimes not - of the role model of the time.

As usual, the expectations of the readers as well as their previous knowledge determines whether or not they enjoy a book. 'She Wolves. The Notorious Queens of England' is an interesting over-view over the lives of a number of fascinating women, the interpretation is, to me at least, not entirely satisfactory.


The Boleyn Wife
The Boleyn Wife
von Brandy Purdy
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,86

2.0 von 5 Sternen Diary of an Obsessive Wife, 25. April 2011
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Boleyn Wife (Taschenbuch)
Jane Parker, Lady Rochford, the "Boleyn Wife" in question, was married to George Boleyn, brother of Anne Boleyn. Jane's claim to fame, or rather notoriety, rests on the fact that she is generally believed to have been instrumental in the fall of both her husband and her sister-in-law. That Jane herself came to a sticky end only adds to her fame or infamy. Brandy Purdy's novel presents the story from Jane's point of view.

Unsurprisingly a large part of the book focuses on Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second and most famous queen. The tale of Jane Parker's unhappy life is seen mainly through her relationship with Anne Boleyn and with her husband George. The latter part of the book also deals more often with Henry VIII's marital shenanigans than with the live of the central character of the book.

Personally, I could not really enjoy this book. For one, there is so little character development that it frankly becomes boring. To have to read Jane expressing the same feelings for over 200 pages is very monotonous. The author also seems to be either unwilling or unable to create likeable characters or characters interesting enough for the reader to relate to. I find it somewhat irritating to read a book with a cast that is with almost no exception unpleasant and unlikeable. (The one exception is Katherine of Aragorn.) Additionally, there are just some major factual errors. My expectations are probably higher than those of many other readers, but I am really not complaining about details here. Some fundamental facts ought to be researched by an author of a historic novel including whether or not the central character of one's tale was an only child or not. (Which is also hardly difficult to find out.)

For the fan of historical fiction who enjoys reading everything about Anne Boleyn, the Tudor court, frocks and festivities, may find this book entertaining enough. Without a special interest in this subject the reader might find the book rather dull.


One Foot in the Grave: A Night Huntress Novel
One Foot in the Grave: A Night Huntress Novel
von Jeaniene Frost
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 6,10

4.0 von 5 Sternen Entertaining Romp, 10. März 2011
The second volume of Jeaniene Frost's "Night Huntress Novels" starts, unusually for this kind of books, a considerable period after the end of Halfway to the Grave: A Night Huntress Novel. The heroine, half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now working professionally as a vampire hunter and has put her old life behind her. But, naturally, neither is it possible to her keep her old life (in the form of her former lover Bones) away, nor to avoid new adventures and a deeper entanglement with the vampire world.

"One Foot in the Grave" is an entertaining, amusing and gripping adventure story that basically ticks all the boxes of the urban fantasy genre: a feisty heroine, several supernatural foes and friends, the sexy love-interest, and a number of dangerous situations the heroine has to face. Perhaps because I already knew exactly what to expect, I enjoyed this second book more than the first instalment of the series. While it does not exactly break new ground, the story is well-written, and some of the characters - especially Cat's really annoying mother - quite entertaining.

An entertaining and readable urban fantasy novel and can be recommended to friends of the genre.


Curse the Dawn: A Cassie Palmer Novel
Curse the Dawn: A Cassie Palmer Novel
von Karen Chance
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 6,10

3.0 von 5 Sternen A Whirlwind of Action, 6. März 2011
The fourth instalment of Karen Chance's Cassie Palmer novels continues the adventures of the new pythia and her supernatural friends. Once more our heroine is thrown into a wild ride of high adventure, fast action and hair-raising brushes with death. Cassie continues to struggle with her new powers and the complications of her romantic life.

"Curse the Dawn" is fairly typical for an urban fantasy novel: a feisty heroine, vampires, werewolves, demons and other mythical folk, all thrown together in a whirlwind of action with some romance and a good dollop of humour. The book delivers what the friend of the genre expects. The series is definitely among the more entertaining ones and continues strongly. I have to admit that while I enjoyed reading the book I also got a bit tired of the fact that it is all so predicable. Not the details perhaps, but the general tone, the overall structure of the story and its outcome. A little less whirlwind action and a bit more, well, character development or exploration of the world would, in my opinion, not go amiss.

In the end, this is a highly entertaining urban fantasy novel and can be recommended to fans of the genre.


Matilda of Scotland: A Study in Medieval Queenship
Matilda of Scotland: A Study in Medieval Queenship
von Lois L. Huneycutt
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 66,67

5.0 von 5 Sternen First Rate Biography on Henry I's First Wife, 4. März 2011
Matilda of Scotland was the daughter of King Malcolm and his saintly wife Margaret of Hungary. Matilda married Henry I in 1100, shortly after he became king following the sudden death of his elder brother William Rufus. Matilda was queen of England for eighteen years. After her death an attempt was made to canonise her, but unlike her mother Matilda never became a saint. The book also includes as an appendix a list of Matilda's surviving acts and a translation of the 'Life of St Margaret' which was written for Matilda herself.

Lois L. Huneycutt's book is the first full-length study of this fascinating woman. As the sources do not allow a complete reconstruction of her life this is not a biography in the modern sense. Thanks to the author's meticulous research many parts of Matilda's life were reconstructed and even some glimpses of her personality could be found. Additionally, Matilda's role as queen, the possibilities she had and the expectation that other people had of her function are examined. Comparing Matilda's actions with that of her predecessors and successors Honeycutt also discusses the role of queens of this period in general and whether or not there was something that might be termed 'queenship'.

Lois L. Huneycutt's 'Matilda of Scotland' is a very well written and interesting biography, the kind that is sometimes called a 'scholarly' book, and exactly the kind of book I enjoy reading. For readers who are not daunted by 'scholarliness', enjoy a good discussion about the interpretation of sources and like footnotes, this book can be highly recommended.


Der Schwur des Normannen: Roman
Der Schwur des Normannen: Roman
von Paul Löwinger
  Gebundene Ausgabe

2.0 von 5 Sternen Langweiliger und voraussagbarer Roman, 7. Januar 2011
"Der Schwur des Normannen" hat eigentlich so alles, was einen spannenden historischen Roman ausmacht. Er spielt in einer interessanten Zeit, Sizilien und den Rest Europas zur Zeit des zweiten Kreuzzuges. Historische und fiktiver Personen interagieren in einer Handlung voller Verschwörungen, Liebe und Krieg. Ritter, Mönche und holde Maiden tummeln sich in einer bunten Szenerie. Doch obwohl der Autor damit so ziemlich alle Voraussetzungen für eine spannende und fesselnde Erzählung erfüllt hat, lässt die Geschichte im Ganzen zu wünschen übrig.

Ich bin mir bewusst, dass ich was historische Romane angeht ziemlich hohe Ansprüche habe und mich viele Dinge stören, die viele andere Leser wohl nicht mit der Wimper zucken lassen. Bei diesem Roman sind es aber weniger historische Ungenauigkeiten, die mir die Lektüre versauert haben, als vielmehr die Tatsache, dass es dem Roman absolut nicht gelang mich auch nur ein bisschen in die Geschichte hineinzuziehen. Die Charaktere sind flach wie Flundern, manche grenzen an Karikaturen, und ihre Motivationen waren nicht nachvollziehbar. Es gab keine Person, die mir sympathisch war oder deren Schicksale mich interessiert hat. Die vielen Erzählstränge, die die Handlung über allzu viele verschiedene Schauplätze verstreut hat, ließen kaum Spannung aufkommen. Manche Szenen, in denen der Leser eigentlich von dem Geschehen gefesselt sein sollte (so z. B. ein Duell auf Leben und Tod), waren vorbei ehe man es sich versah. Nach einiger Zeit konnte ich auch nicht umhin zu denken, dass der Autor nach einem strikten Schema vorging, Handlung - Beschreibung - Handlung, und dieses Schema auch beibehielt wenn die Beschreibung den Erzählfluss unterbrach. Die Geschichte war auch unglaublich vorhersagbar, es überraschte höchstens wie schnell alles vor sich ging. Ich habe das Buch dann auch nur aus Pflichtbewusstsein bis zum Ende gelesen habe, und dabei nur feststellen können, dass es genau so ausging wie ich erwartet hatte.

Natürlich spiegelt jede Beurteilung den persönlichen Geschmack des Lesers bzw. der Leserin wieder, aber für mich war "Der Schwur des Normannen" (wobei mir immer noch nicht klar ist, um welchen Schwur welches Normannen es eigentlich geht) kaum wert gelesen zu werden.


Hexenkuss - Witch: Roman
Hexenkuss - Witch: Roman
von Debbie Viguié
  Broschiert

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Spannend, kurzweilig und vorhersagbar, 19. November 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Hexenkuss - Witch: Roman (Broschiert)
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Fantasy Romane waren und sind ein großer Renner bei Lesern jeder Altersgruppe. Ob sie von Vampiren, Werwölfen, Geistern oder Zauberern handeln, das Genre boomt. Nancy Holders und Debbie Vigiués Roman "Witch: Hexenkuss" gehört in diese Reihe. Ihr Zielpublikum, junge und vornehmlich weibliche Leser, haben ihre Begeisterungsfähigkeit für das Genre spätestens seit Twilight bewiesen. Wie man unschwer vom Titel ableiten kann, sind es nicht Vampire sondern Hexen, Hexer und die Tatsache, dass sie selbst auch magische Fähigkeiten besitzt, die in "Hexenkuss" der Heldin das Leben schwer machen. Doch natürlich gibt es auch eine Romanze.

Die Buch ist spannend geschrieben und eignet sich hervorragend dazu, einen verregneten Sonntag damit auf dem Sofa zu verbringen. Die Story ist unterhaltsam, voller Abenteuer, Magie und Gefahr. Allerdings bleibt alles ein wenig zu simpel. Die Charaktere sind sehr eindimensional und schablonenhaft. Die Bösen sind böse, die Guten gut, und selbst die Hauptfigur bleibt recht vage. Die Handlungsstränge laufen viel zu lange nebeneinander her, wenn eine Interaktion zwischen den verschiedenen Figuren meines Erachtens wesentlich interessanter gewesen wäre. Die ganze Geschichte ist auch recht vorhersagbar, bekannt aus ähnlichen Romanen. Nur der eine oder andere Sprung in der Handlung überrascht.

"Witch: Hexenkuss" ist also ein unterhaltsamer, wenn auch vorhersagbarer Fantasy Roman, der sich prima für ein paar Stunden entspannender Lektüre eignet.


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