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Shadowmancer
Shadowmancer
von G. P. Taylor
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 10,45

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1.0 von 5 Sternen A Simplistic Fable, 3. August 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Shadowmancer (Taschenbuch)
Fantasy novels for young readers are not only popular with the young readers but with older ones, like myself, as well. These tales of magic, adventure and daring featuring young heroes often take their inspiration from old myths and legends. In contrast, G. P. Taylor approaches this genre from a strictly Christian stance. This in itself is a valid and could be an interesting choice. However, I found the way the author handles the question of religion quite disturbing. The 'moral' is exceedingly simplistic. A fantasy novel for young readers may not be the platform to discuss the intricacies of philosophy but what is presented here is just unbelievably one-dimensional. The story is openly intolerant against everyone who has different beliefs. In fact, according to Mr Taylor everybody who does not believe in the one, true god is, if sometimes unwittingly, a follower of the devil.

Some critics have proclaimed that G.P. Taylor is "the new C.S. Lewis". While Lewis famously incorporated Christian mythology in his tales, and has both been praised and criticised for it, compared to the heavy-handed, over-simplified style of G.P. Taylor C.S. Lewis is an epitome of subtely and tactfulness.

But it is not only the author's particular brand of religion that left me irritated. He also has a rather old-fashioned view of the role of women in life: they ought to be mothers and carers, and a girl can only be happy if she gets out of the men's clothes she's wearing, gets into a dress instead and holds on to a boy. The tale, while filled with drama, adventure and narrow escapes failed to engage me as the timing seemed to be off on various occasions and all too often it is a miracle (and here this really means divine intervention) that allows the protagonists to make a narrow escape.

'Shadowmancer' is a book that may be superficially entertaining but I found the odd plotting and the atmosphere of religious intolerance very irritating and off-putting. I certainly won't read the sequels.


Nightwalker: The First Dark Days Novel (Dark Days Series, Band 1)
Nightwalker: The First Dark Days Novel (Dark Days Series, Band 1)
von Jocelynn Drake
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 7,63

4.0 von 5 Sternen Enjoyable Urban Fantasy Novel, 28. Juli 2010
Verifizierter Kauf(Was ist das?)
'Nightwalker' is the first of the 'Dark Days' novels, five of which have so far been published, all within in the last two years. (So definitely hats off to Jocelynn Drake for proficiency.) The narrator of this urban fantasy novel is Mira, a six hundred year old vampire with special powers. She lives in a world in which the vampires stay in the shadows and so do other mysterious beasties (like werewolves) and general mankind is blissfully unaware of their existance. However, Mira's world is turned upside down when she not only has to confront a mysterious hunter but also a foe that she had thought had been banished forever from this world.

Generally speaking, I enjoyed the novel very much. The characterisation is well-done, and it is quite refreshing to encounter vampires who are not particularly squeamish about killing. Heck, they're vampires! Though, that said, on occasion the reactions of Mira seemed a tad over the top, he mood swings a little wildly from one extreme to another. The plot is gripping and fast-paced, in fact the pace of the story is so fast that it almost gives you whiplash and I found myself hoping that Ms Drake would allow Mira a breather instead of throwing her from one dangerous experience into the next action packed scene.

Altogether, 'Nightwalker' is a fast-paced, suspenseful, entertaining and definitely recomendable to fans of the urban fantasy genre.

P.S. Would somebody please tell Ms Drake that if she doesn't know where Stonehenge is in relation to London she should look it up. While in the big scheme of things it may not be 'far' from north-west London, it takes longer than a few minutes to drive the distance. (From the Spaniards Inn, Hampstead, to Stonehenge it apparently takes 1 hours 47 minutes according to google maps.)


Der Ruf des Spielmanns
Der Ruf des Spielmanns
von Ingeborg Engelhardt
  Broschiert

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2.0 von 5 Sternen Das Rätsel um die Kinder von Hameln, 27. Juli 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Der Ruf des Spielmanns (Broschiert)
Hameln, 1284. Für viele der jungen Leute in der Stadt scheint es keine Perspektiven zu geben, das Land ist besiedelt, die Stadt voll. So kommt es gerade recht, dass Junker Gero von Heimsen Freiwillige sucht, die sich in Mähren ansiedeln wollen. Dass seine Pläne auf sehr wackeligen Füßen stehen, übersehen die Stadtväter gerne, und die jungen Leute sind von den Versprechen einer rosigen Zukunft geblendet. Da ist auch noch der mysteriöse Spielmann Hans Bunt, der für Gero die Auszugswilligen umgarnt.

In 'Der Ruf des Spielmanns' versucht Ingeborg Engelhardt den Ursprung des Märchens vom Rattenfänger von Hameln in einen historischen Roman zu verwandeln. Allerdings hat mich das Resultat nicht wirklich überzeugt. Engelhardt gelingt es sicher ein anschauliches Bild von einer Stadt im 13. Jahrhundert zu zeichnen, die Charaktere, mit der sie sie bevölkert, sind allerdings teilweise etwas charikaturenartig geraten. Doch bleiben allzu viele Rätsel ungeklärt. Zu viele Fragen werden aufgeworfen und dann doch nicht beantwortet. Am Ende bleibt man mit einem unbefriedigten Gefühl zurück. Das war's?

Der Roman ist zwar recht nett zu lesen, lässt aber zu viele Fragen offen und für jüngere Leser wird er, denke ich, zu langatmig sein.


Mercy Thompson 05. Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson 5)
Mercy Thompson 05. Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson 5)
von Patricia Briggs
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Old Problems and New Conflicts for Mercy Thompson, 26. Juli 2010
Verifizierter Kauf(Was ist das?)
'Silver Borne' is the fifth installment of Patricia Brigg's urban fantasy series about Mercy Thompson, car mechanic and shape-shifter. In the previous books she had to deal with all sorts of supernatural dangers from vampires to the fae to demons. Additionally, she has become romantically entangled with the leader of the local werewolf pack. But life isn't about to become less exciting for Mercy. Some of the problems are old, there is the ongoing frictions between Mercy and the werewolves and her continuing worries for her old friend Sam. But a new adversary enters the fray as well, seeking for something that may be in Mercy's possession.

Just as in the previous volumes of this series, 'Silver Borne' is a tense, highly suspenseful novel. The action is fast-paced and the story both entertaining, amusing and gripping. New foes and old friends appear and the dynamics between Mercy, her lover and his pack move forward, if not without some hitches. If the book may not feel quite as fresh and innovative as the earlier ones - to me at least - this is hardly surprising as it is the fifth volume of a series. In the end, it is also for this familiarity with characters and situation that one returns to a series like that, to find out more about the characters one has grown fond of.

'Silver Borne' can definitely be recommended to fans of the urban fantisy genre - though I recommend to read the Mercy Thompson books in order.


Simon de Montfort (British Lives)
Simon de Montfort (British Lives)
von J. R. Maddicott
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 43,65

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Readable, Detailed, Well-Researched = Excellent, 19. Juli 2010
Simon de Montfort was one of the most controversial figures in English history, seen as a saint by some and as an egotistical, hypocritical trouble-maker by others. Thanks to the fact that he lived in 'interesting times' (which he was instrumental to create) that always produce more records than peace and quiet, and thanks also to the survival of some private documents of the Montfort family, his life can be reconstructed in greater detail than that of most of his contemporaries.

J. R. Maddicott's book is a detailed biography of Simon de Montfort's life, discussing not only his involvement in the politics in England, for which he is rightly famous, but also his adventures in the wider world, his religious life, his relationships with his family, friends, followers and enemies. Highlighting both Montfort's abilities and skills and his flaws, this biography presents Simon de Montfort as a fascinating and complex character. By placing Montfort in his historical and ideological context, Maddicott allows the reader understand both Montfort himself and the disparate reactions he evoked in his contemporaries.

This is a 'scholarly' book, but it is not only addressed to or accessable for people who are scholars. Anybody who enjoys reading a well written biography and is neither afraid of footnotes nor the occasionly discussion of details, will thoroughly enjoy this book.


Falls the Shadow
Falls the Shadow
von Sharon Kay Penman
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 14,50

3.0 von 5 Sternen Simon de Montfort. Superman, 23. Juni 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Falls the Shadow (Taschenbuch)
In 'Falls the Shadow' Sharon Penman relates the life and times of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, his wife, Eleanor, and the bloody Barons' War of the mid-thirteenth century. She also picks up the story of Here Be Dragons, though to a much lesser extent. Starting with Simon de Montfort's arrival in England in 1330 the book covers English history to 1367.

I have read a number of other historical novels by Sharon Penman and I was always impressed by her ability to bring the past to life and to create credible, three-dimensional characters whose motivations are understandable. While in this book she definitely achieves to present the thirteenth century in a vivid manner, I became increasingly irritated with her presentation of characters and motives. Naturally, some of this is a question of interpretation, but the way Simon de Montfort is glorified was just too much for me. Everything about him is magnificent and way above avarage, be it his eloquence, his horse or his battle strategies. Even his hair is blacker and thicker than other people's. Too much praise can be quite off-putting. Montfort's flaws are conveniently forgotten or only mentioned in passing. Against this almost superhuman Montfort Ms Penman pitches an array of silly, incompetent or egotistical opponents who often are more caricatures than credible characters. Instead of Ms Penman's usual balanced approach, showing both sides of the conflict, 'Falls the Shadow' is the Barons' War according to Simon de Montfort.

I also thought it strange that the further the story progresses the less we hear about Llewelyn ap Gryffydd. (Sharon Penman apparently decided to shift this to another novel.) I also can't refrain from pointing out that there are some points were the depiction of events is, historically speaking, just plain wrong.

This said, if you are looking for a well-written, colourful and entertaining historical novel, if you like a story with a larger-than-life hero and are not too fussy about historical accuracy, this is a novel I can warmly recomend. People who prefer an even-handed approach may find themselves more than a little irritated.


The Last Man (Wordsworth Classics) (Wordsworth Classics)
The Last Man (Wordsworth Classics) (Wordsworth Classics)
von Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  Taschenbuch

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2.0 von 5 Sternen A Novel Like a Long Trek Through a Bleak Landscape, 19. Juni 2010
A while ago, I was struck by the idea to read something else by Mary Shelley, whose Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus (Penguin Classics) I have read and re-read several times. 'The Last Man' was a book readily available and the subject also sounded interesting. I embarked on reading this novel with curiosity but it did not take long before this feeling was replaced by quite a different one: irritation.

'The Last Man' is, as the title implies, a novel about the end of humanity and, as I have learned in the introduction, the first of its kind. It lies in the nature of the subject of the tale that the tone of the story is rather bleak, but the relentlessness of the negativity of this book was more than I could handle. (A reaction I apparently share with the unenlightened critics of the 1820s.) I had to take several long breaks from reading it to get to the end at all. It was, however, not only the depressing mood that irritated me. The characters are utterly unrealistic and I don't care if they represent people Mary Shelley knew (notably Percy Shelley and Byron). The rhapsodical parise for some characters made me feel nauseous. The women are swooning, dainty damsels in distress who exist soley to support their husbands or look after their children. Typical for its time, of course, but still annoying. The characters' reactions are, in my opinion, often inconsistent with their previous behaviour. Moreover, the tale is so overflowing with methaphors and similes that I got quite sick of them. That the end of the 21st century as depicted here looks more or less exactly like the time 1820s is understandable, but I could not help feeling somewhat let down.

At the end of the day and despite my continued irritation, I was curious enough to slog through the entire book to find out how the story ends and how all of mankind, except the narrator of the story, dies.


Der Vampirglaube in Südosteuropa: Studien zur Genese, Bedeutung und Funktion. Rumänien und der Balkanraum
Der Vampirglaube in Südosteuropa: Studien zur Genese, Bedeutung und Funktion. Rumänien und der Balkanraum
von Reinhard Krüger
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Interessante Studie über die Entstehung des Vampirmythos, 18. Juni 2010
Nachdem ich schon einige englische Bücher über das Thema Vampire gelesen habe, habe ich mich trotz leiser Bedenken ein deutsches Buch zu diesem Thema vorgenommen, ist doch manch deutsches Sachbuch nicht wirklich eine Freude zu lesen. Meine Bedenken sind aber bei der Lektüre rasch verflogen. Peter Mario Kreuters Studie ist sehr gut zu lesen und seine Ergebnisse sehr aufschlussreich und interessant.

Im Gegensatz zu vielen anderen Büchern wirft Kreuter nicht Volksglaube und literarische Vampire bunt durcheinander, sondern beschränkt sich ganz auf die Entstehung des Vampirglaubens in Südosteuropa. Einer Definition des Vampirs und Abgrenzung zu anderen ähnlichen mythischen Kreaturen, wie Werwölfen und Zombies, folgen die originalen Beschreibungen der Vampirepidemien, die in der ersten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts für so großes Aufsehen sorgten. Auch die Erklärungsversuche des Vampirs durch Psychologen und Mediziner werden angesprochen. Die Geschichte des Südosteuropäischen Raumes wird ebenfalls besprochen, auch wenn mir bis zuletzt nicht ganz klar wurde, was das osmanische Reich genau mit dem Vampirglauben zu tun hat. Im letzten und für mich interessantesten Teil des Buches behandelt Kreuter die Funktion des Vampirglaubens und wie er möglicherweise entstanden ist. Ich konnte seiner Argumentation zwar nicht immer folgen, was aber natürlich ist, wenn es um Fragen der Interpretation von Quellen geht oder wie belastbar diese sind.

'Der Vampirglaube in Südosteuropa' ist eine faszinierende und gut geschriebene Studie, die die volkstümlichen Anfange dieses Phänomens eingehend beleuchtet.


Miss Pym Disposes
Miss Pym Disposes
von Josephine Tey
  Taschenbuch

3.0 von 5 Sternen Slightly Old-Fashioned and Sedate Crime Novel, 10. Juni 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Miss Pym Disposes (Taschenbuch)
'Miss Pym Disposes' is a crime novel by Josephine Tey, who also wrote such classics as The Daughter of Time and The Franchise Affair (Classic Crime). It tells the story of Miss Pym, a spinster of a certain age, former teacher, and lately writer of a surprise beststeller on psychology. Following the invitation of an old school-friend she visits Leys Physical Training College to give a lecture on psychology and is persuaded to stay on. She spends her time observing the students of the college and, eventually, she has to solve the crime that happens there.

While I enjoyed reading the novel, I have to admit I could not completely find my way into the story. For one the pace was a bit too sedate for my taste. (Additionally and irritatingly, the blurb on the book revealed almost the entire plot of the book (a crime I am committing here too).) I also had some difficulties really envisioning the scene. What the students are trained for and how old they are were questions I kept puzzling over during the entire time I read the book. Perhaps my confusion and the slow pace is due to the fact that the book was first published in 1946. It may be simple the author's decision to write a different sort of crime story. (I am no expert on the history of crime fiction so I am guessing here.)

Slow-paced and unspectacular as the crime story may, 'Miss Pym Disposes' is well-written, the characters are nicely drawn, taking the reader back to the past, that in the end proves to be no more innocent than our own.


Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II
Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II
von Paul Doherty
  Taschenbuch

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Whatever Happened to Edward II?, 7. Juni 2010
The reign of Edward II and its spectacular collapse at the end of 1326 are a fascinating period of English history, not least of all because it was Edward II's wife, Isabella of France, who was responsible for the uprising against Edward's rule and his deposition. Edward II disappeared into a dungeon and, so it was rumoured, was nastily killed on the orders of his wife and her lover Roger Mortimer. Or was he? In this book Paul Doherty tries to solve this vexing question and to make sense of some of the contradictory evidence.

The book is a strange mixture of facts and speculation that in the end did fail to convince and on several occasions manage to irritate me. To me it seemed more than a bit odd that on the one hand Doherty obviously did some serious research about the period, but on the other hand he is often relying heavily on out-dated and not exactly trustworthy books. While he puts forward an objective discussion on how the evidence may be interpreted, he also presents supsicions or conjectures as facts. Doherty also seems to think he knows exactly what the different actors in this drama thought or felt and what their motivation was so that sometimes the book is more akin to a novel than a work of non-fiction. That he gets some facts wrong - particularly when dealing with events not directly connected with the period discussed - will probably only annoy people who are as nitpicky as myself.

Nonetheless, 'Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II' is a very readable book and Doherty puts forward an interesting theory about the fate of Edward II. It is, however, not a 'scholarly' book and anybody who is looking for more than entertainment should take it with a grain of salt.


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