Norse Mythology – Review

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Published in 2017

Pages: 293

Genre: Mythology, Norse mythology

“It’s as hard to have a favorite sequence of myths as it is to have a favorite style of cooking (some nights you might want Thai food, some nights sushi, other nights you crave the plain home cooking you grew up on).”

The above sentence is probably not what one would expect to introduce a collection of Norse myths. Those intimately familiar with Neil Gaiman’s work will not be surprised that he jumped at the chance to retell the myths he loves most from Norse Mythology. The aptly titled Norse Mythology is his love letter to the tales of the Vikings, which feature not only action and suspense, but love, lust, poetry, and shapeshifting tricksters. In an attempt to pay homage to the stories that so deeply affected him, Gaiman succeeds in creating an accessible book to guide a new generation of readers into the nine realms. Continue reading “Norse Mythology – Review”

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Dracula – Review

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Published in 1897; 2011 Barnes & Noble edition

Pages: 399

Genre: Horror, supernatural

3 May. Bistritz. – Left Munich at 8:35 P.M. on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late.”

One would not suspect such a beginning to the most famous vampire story in the world, but it is the nefarious tendency of the undead to sneak up on their victims that this introduction replicates. Dracula, by Bram Stoker, follows the conquest of London by a melodramatic lord of the undead. After purchasing an estate in England, Count Dracula travels by ship to begin his malicious intent, only to be challenged by friends of the very man who helped him with the financial transaction that put his plan in motion. Told through the correspondence of the brave souls who stand up against this dark malice, Dracula created the template for the vampiric menace and kick-started a golden age for tales about the creature of the night. Continue reading “Dracula – Review”

Charlotte’s Web – Review

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Illustrations by Garth Williams

Published in 1952

Pages: 184

Genre: Children’s literature

“Where’s Papa going with that ax?”

Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White, is a classic and well-loved children’s story. The tale follows Wilbur; the runt of the litter, he is beset by the possibility of death from birth, but is saved by the kindness of friends. A book for children containing such themes as friendship, loyalty, growing up, life, and death, it is no wonder that it has remained as popular all these years after its first publication. Continue reading “Charlotte’s Web – Review”

Peace – Review

Peace by Gene Wolfe

Published in 1975

Pages: 264

Genre: Fantasy, ghost story, supernatural

“The elm tree planted by Eleanor Bold, the judge’s daughter, fell last night.”

Though this sentence seems imbued with significance, it will ultimately become one lost among thousands in the course of reading Peace, by Gene Wolfe. The story follows the rambling memories of Denny Weer; his thoughts run from one into another as flashbacks and flash forwards meld together, creating a spiderweb of connections in his mind. Life, death, pain, love, loss, the permeability of human memory, and sorrow all get their due time in this twisting tale about a man’s life. Continue reading “Peace – Review”

Xenos – Review

Xenos by Dan Abnett

Published in 2001

Pages: 314

Genre: Science fiction

“Hunting the recidivist Murdin Eyclone, I came to Hubris in the Dormant of 240.M41, as the Imperial sidereal calendar has it.”

To someone who has never read a story taking place in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, this sentence probably sounds like a bunch of gibberish. Despite this, Xenos, by Dan Abnett, contains a compelling mystery at its heart, which quickly overcomes any confusion by the reader. Taking the main character Eisenhorn from the hibernating world of Hubris, into the fourth dimension in search of a demonic text held by corrupt aliens, the novel sets up a series of books in a universe where war is the norm and intrigue lurks around every corner. Continue reading “Xenos – Review”

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes – Review

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf

Published in 1983

John Rothschild Translation

Pages: 266

Genre: Nonfiction, history

“Baghdad, August, 1099

Wearing no turban, his head shaved as a sign of mourning, the venerable qadi Abu Saad al-Harawi burst with a loud cry into the spacious diwan of the caliph al-Mustazhir Billah, a throng of companions, young and old, trailing in his wake.”

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, by Amin Maalouf, tells the story of the crusades through an Arabic perspective in a narrative format. Running the gamut of the initial invasions by Western crusaders, through the riposte of Saladin’s reign, the book covers all of the intrigue, civil wars, and truces that happened in over two centuries of conflict. The book explores not only the events, but the histories of some of the most interesting people of the age, their motivations, and the way in which people can come together despite differences. Continue reading “The Crusades Through Arab Eyes – Review”

Night Watch – Review

Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

Published in 1998

Andrew Bromfield Translation

Pages: 455

Genre: Supernatural

“The escalator crept along slowly, straining upward.”

So begins a tale of Others; supernatural beings that range from magicians and shape-shifters, to vampires and werewolves. Sergei Lukyanenko’s 1998 novel, Night Watch, tells the story of a member of the Night Watch; a secret society keeping the balance between Light and Darkness in the world of humans. What begins as a promising story with interesting world-building and moral dilemmas is eventually bogged down by a less-than-fulfilling ending in this first book of a series by the Russian author. Continue reading “Night Watch – Review”