Bernard Cornwell – The Sharpe prequels.

In the beginning……

Advertisements

If you ever read the Sharpe series of books, they are try to be an historically accurate stories based on real events with a swashbuckling romantic underdog side.

If you don’t like this sort of thing, you’d best not read on.

Prior to Sharpe’s Rifles, the actual first published Sharpe book, the prequels fill in the back story.

Sharpe’s Tiger – This is the first book which introduces us to Private Richard Sharpe, a Redcoat in the the Indian Army. Thinking about deserting, Sharpe falls foul of Sgt Obidiah Hakeswill who sets him up and has him flogged. The siege of Seringapatam leaves Sharpe standing as a Sergeant, a bit of a hero and a fabulously wealthy one at that after some light looting see him set for life

Sharpe’s Triumph – revolves around Sgt Sharpe and The battle of Assaye. Chasing a murderous traitor, Sharpe ends up in the thick of the battle. After risking life and limb ends up saving the life of his commander and earning a field commission to Ensign.

Sharpe’s Fortress – Is about Ensign Sharpe, now working in stores and his involvement in the siege of Gawilghur. Chasing the enemy, the British Army end up having to storm a seemingly impregnable fortress.

Sharpe discovers and investigates corruption in the British rank and nearly pays with his life. Having faked his death, Sharpe eventually overcomes all and helps lead his side to victory.

Sharpe’s Trafalgar – This story revolves around Sharpe’s return to England via The battle of Trafalgar. After eventually securing passage home, our hero embarks on an adventure involving, piracy, theft, love and loss. Out of his comfort zone fighting on the sea, Sharpe shows his leadership skills to contribute to the victory – is he ever on the losing side?

Sharpe’s Prey – This story Is about the British expedition to Copenhagen to stop Napoleon taking the Danish fleet.

Sharpe, contemplating leaving the Army, gets drafted in to assist on a side mission and finds himself in the middle of a siege.

Fighting for his life alongside those of friends and lovers, Sharpe comes out the other side in a reflective mood ready to take up his post in the next book – Sharpe’s Rifles.

If you’re a fan, these are fine, if formulaic, stories that are historically accurate.

Good, swashbuckling, action and adventure.

George the Collie reviews ‘stretchy harness thing’ for running with Dad. Verdict just in.

Run, Forest.

‘It’s alright’

George the Collie reviews – I, Robot.

I, Robot? Aye.

I really enjoyed this book.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/I,_Robot?wprov=sfti1

I had seen the movie and, as the book had Will Smith on the cover of the book, I presumed it was the same story and was presently surprised to find it was anything but.

The book is a different entity and is far more wide reaching, exploring the impact of Robots and AI on the world – perfectly set out by the author Issac Asimov.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov?wprov=sfti1

Set in the near-ish future, the world had been on its knees with disease and famine but has divided into ‘blocks’ for easy governance.

You have the subject of the story travelling around interviewing different people in different roles about their contribution to how the world now runs.

This runs along side a couple of side plots involving some of the characters growing up, their experiences with robots and how this impacts on their current life.

It goes on to explore the rules of robotics and ends up expanding on an outcome where these rules are interpreted in way I did not forsee.

It was eye opening and made sense – oddly

George the Collie reviews…American Psycho

Unsettling stuff.

Well. Pat Bateman is just awful.

Written by Bret Easton Ellis, this is hard going. I’m not into horror/slasher films let alone books so, initially, I had trouble sticking with this.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bret_Easton_Ellis?wprov=sfti1

It is, fortunately, worth sticking with.

Set in lates 80s Manhattan, the books main character certainly lives up to the books title.

It starts innocently enough but you know that Bateman is not right. The obsessions, the attitudes and points of view make him a hard individual to like and this is not improved once the killings start.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Psycho?wprov=sfti1

The detail Ellis goes into for the killings and attacks is hard to go through and it gets to the point when you are hoping that Bateman gets caught, that it all goes wrong for him but he keeps going.

More killings, more horrors.

Probably one of the worst buts is recognising tiny parallels with the main character and yourself – scary stuff. Not that I’m a crazed killer.

The obsession gets comical at times, the way Bateman goes to lengths to describe everyone’s clothing and the designer, the quality of a business card and the jealously about almost everything.

The random chapters about Whitney Houston, Genesis, Huey Lewis & The News or high-end electronics just add to the crazy of Bateman.

It’s a good story but does Bateman get his comeuppance?

You’d have to read it.

George reviews- It’s so easy…and other lies.

The good, the bad and the ugly side of rock and roll.

This is the autobiographical account of the life and times of Michael ‘Duff’ McKagan, bass guitarist with American rock band Guns ‘n’ Roses.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duff_McKagan?wprov=sfti1

I first heard about the band 30 years ago visiting my mother in the West Midlands one summer. They were just a rumble then. Not the behemoth they would become.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns_N’_Roses?wprov=sfti1

Being a hotbed for rock music, G’n’R had been found early by the Midlands and I picked up in this band and bootlegs of their music. I would get the album, Appetite for Destruction for another few months.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appetite_for_Destruction?wprov=sfti1

At that time I wanted to be in a band. A rock band.

My father was VERY musically minded and can play multiple instruments. Me? Too lazy to stick at learning the guitar.

I kept trying but couldn’t get it to stick – 6 strings was clearly too many.

Now, a bass guitar, four strings, seemed easier but I could never get my hands on a bass but, for some reason, the bass guitarist in a band was always the one I wanted to be.

In G’n’R that man was Duff McKagan.

When I saw the autobiography, it was something I wanted to read. I know the band and its members had had their problems and it had all ended pretty badly but I was interested to find out how the band I’d idolised had come about and then destroyed itself.

The story starts out with the authors current day reflections on his own fatherhood and how different his own was compared to his family growing up.

It’s clear that he comes from a close, large family and this, along with friendship, is a thick vein running through the story.

It goes on to early age drug use and criminality, the move to L.A. and early band work before the band comes together.

This is interesting with all the personalities floating about and their influence on matters but the resounding feeling is of 5 young men, tight as a group and their desire to succeed.

The band eventually go on to stellar success and it’s then the cracks develop.

Learning about the personality changes, the drinking, the drugs and all other rock related problems – you wonder how he’s survived. At times it can seem a bit cliched but, as the author suggests, times and the music industry have changed.

Although the egos are still there, the industry seems fine tuned to milk the most out of the customers. A lot more controlled in order to get the most out of an artist.

There is also a major part about recovery and the unorthodox approach to cure taken by McKagan and, ultimately, finding exactly what he was looking for.

It has an happy ending which, at times, you don’t expect. It’s an interesting story and definitely worth a read if your a fan.

George reviews- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

A nice, short scare.

Not the movie but the book by Washington Irving.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Irving?wprov=sfti1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_Sleepy_Hollow?wprov=sfti1

Published in 1820, this a short story about the Supernatural and an old Dutch American community.

If you’ve ever watch the film, you’d think this was the trailer for it as it beautifully describes the town, the region, the people and their idiosyncrasies.

The short story centres around the superstitious community and more so around Ichabod Crane, the nomadic teacher.

Greedy for the affections of the heiress to a local landowner, Crane come up against some love rivals and the Headless Hessian Horseman himself before becoming part of the folklore of Sleep Hollow itself.

This story is expanded upon by the movies but the Tim Burton movie seems to capture the stylings of the story the most.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleepy_Hollow_(film)?wprov=sfti1

A nice, short story to spook the kids with before bed.

George reviews Flash for Freedom

Flashman Book 3. Dirty work.

Flashman books can upset a lot of people.

The language. The subject matter. The character himself.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_for_Freedom!?wprov=sfti1

George McDonald Fraser does another thoroughly researched turn through some of history’s memorable moments and the 3rd Flashman is quite a divisive one.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_MacDonald_Fraser?wprov=sfti1

Bottom line, this book is about slavery. It’s written in the style of a turn of the century (last century – not this) empire subject. And British at that.

Flash himself gets into some bother, as ever, and has to disappear for a bit and gets semi-pressed onto a ship bound for Africa to collect slaves bound for the Americas.

As usual, the well laid plans go awry and Flash is fighting/running/hiding for his life ending up as a slave plantation worker.

Unusually for Flash, it keeps getting worse. You get used to his ‘skin of his teeth’ escapades but this ones a little different when he ends up being seized as an actual slave.

Poetic justice you think but does put an interesting spin on the story, going from slaver to slave and, eventually coming out the other end – after being saved by Abraham Lincoln.

The account given by Flash of the slave trade and what happened in and around it is all based on fact and makes grim reading.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Paget_Flashman?wprov=sfti1

Don’t take this book the wrong way. It is not glorifying the business but, if it’s not too wrong, bring a lighthearted view to things at times.