Bernard Cornwell's fourth book in the immensely enjoyable Saxon series is due out on January 22 here in the United States. Sword Song continues the tale of Lord Uhtred and his continued quest to overthrow his usurper uncle and restore himself as the true Lord of Bebbanburg. The series is set during the viking invasions of Saxon England, and introduces the reader to a host of well characterized Northmen, and to the man who who would be the first king of England, Alfred of Wessex.
The previous entries into this series (The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, The Lords of the North), for me, have been a measuring stick for other works of historical fiction, and have admittedly made it difficult for this reader to swallow any historical fiction that does not swing the sword (pen) as elegantly or mightily as Cornwell has in this series. I have waited patiently for this next book, for it was published in Great Britain about six months ago. I could have bought it online easily, but I was engrossed in a few other books. With all of the reading material that I received as Christmas gifts, I can hardly suggest that I need another book. Such is the hold that Cornwell has over me with this Saxon series, though.
A review will follow as soon as possible. Stay tuned.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Many things happened this Holiday worth noting, the most noteworthy being my son's 13th birthday. It's almost unfathomable that I, at a modest 31 years, should have a teenager and have any idea whatever to do with him. Fortunately for me, he is a model kid. Aside from the expected laziness, moodiness, and selfishness that are the hallmarks of teendom, he is a joy to be around.
But on to the gifts!
I asked for (and boy did I get) several books for Christmas this year, and a few other miscellaneous items. The intent was to give my loved ones some relatively inexpensive ideas for gift ideas. I didn't know that they would attempt to buy me every single gift on my list. A bit ridiculous, but welcome nonetheless. Here are some hi lites:
The Sagas of Icelanders
The Histories of Middle Earth, Volume 1-5
The Children of Hurin
The Atlas of Middle Earth
Bran Mak Morn: The Last King
The Maps of Tolkien's Middle Earth
The Lord of the Rings
Dire Straits: On Every Street
Dire Straits: Love Over Gold
The Princess Bride (Soundtrack)
Mark Knopfler: Kill to Get Crimson
Still Water Kilts Weathered Mackenzie
T-Shirt from Things Celtic
You may have guessed at my love for history and things Celtic. The kilt is my second from SWK, and my new favorite! The kilt came in a little behind schedule because Jerry over at SWK was out of my size. My girlfriend Kelley was pretty upset, but it was definitely worth the wait. When I opened it last night I was speechless. I honestly was in shock. My sister got me the t-shirt with the refrain Pants are overrated, Real men wear kilts: which I proudly wore for several days in a row (yes I washed it). I also received, from my dad, a very handsome set of knives from Winchester. One was a quick open pocket knife, another was a straight boot knife with a holster, and the last was a folding knife with different blades in it. They came in a very nice wooden display case. The Dire Straits Cd's wrap up my collection, as they are the only Dire Straits Cd's that I didn't previously own. I am trying to collect all of Mark Knopfler's solo work, and I have everything but a few soundtracks (Cal, Last Exit to Brooklyn, and a few others) and his work with Chet Atkins. I already had Kill to Get Crimson (and will be posting a review here soon), so I plan to exchange that CD for The Waterboys' Fisherman's Blues as soon as possible!
I've read The Lord of the Rings before, but my copies were in a bit of a tattered state, so Kelley kindly gave me a fresh new set. Jack Dixon wrote The Pict and has his own blog here: Jack Dixon's Blog. It's his first novel and is self published. Check him out, if you like history. I am only a few pages into the book, but so far so good. I have read a few of the short stories in Bran Mak Morn: The Last King and I have enjoyed them, but cannot highly recommend them. If I had to rate the collection thus far, I would give it 3 stars. I will post reviews of the others as I finish them.
Thanks to my parents, sister, girlfriend, and her mom and sisters for all of the wonderful gifts. This year's haul will keep me in the reading and listening for quite some time.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May you begin 2008 with the loftiest of aspirations and see the fruits of your labors grow ripe and sweet in the new year.