Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Book Review: The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell

On a recent visit to hospital I was advised that as well as having cancer I have a heart condition, such is life, and then I settle down to read the latest Bernard Cornwell offering, 'The Pagan Lord' featuring Uhtred of Babbenburg and Cornwell nearly kills me off along with the hundreds of Danish horde that his creation Uhtred dispatches throughout this latest in 'The WARRIOR Chronicles' as my heart is pounding almost from the opening paragraph to the very end. Dear Lord Sir, but you can write!

Uhtred is in trouble from the beginning, again when he sets of with son number two and a small band of warriors to retrieve son number one who has become mixed up with the Christians, them Christians will be the death of poor Uhtred one of these days.... Only to find that son Uhtred has converted to the faith and has become a priest.   

In trying to retrieve his son from this folly Uhtred inadvertantly, for a change, kills of a Bishop and disowns his son renaming him Judas and promoting son No 2 up the ranks to be henceforth called Uhtred........

On returning to his hall he finds it burning and Sigunn his woman gone. Cnut Ranulfson has visited to exact his revenge, and while he and Uhtred are sworn enemies, on this occasion Uhtred has no idea what he has done, this time.....

Cornwell goes on to describe Uhtred's criss crossing the country and the seas to Frisia.  It starts off on horseback crossing these green, pleasant and wonderful lands, at a trot and then into a full canter before galloping across blood filled fields and streams and rivers with Uhtred and his small force of loyal men attempting to reclaim his home of Babbenburg.

Once again and to save the Christians he so loathes but time and again saves from destruction giving them England from the massed armies that Cnut Ranulfson has been building,  to finally take over Wessex and Mercia to once and for all create a Daneland and to consign the English to what they deserve, Slavery and Death.

No spoilers from me here suffice to say that Cornwell really is a master story teller spanning the 20th and 21st Centuries and his characters and stories pull you in from page one and get you turning page after page into the wee small hours gasping for air as another wave pounds over the longship as she fights the storms or gasping for breath through the blood and snot and sweat as you take up position in a shield wall with the blood lust screaming from every pore as you wait to kill or be killed ....   you become part of the story, you are involved and you have a vested interest in it's eventual outcome.  Cornwell has clearly mastered the art of making the reader feel all these things, making you cry out in despair when you get to the end and find that there is still more to come and you are left hungry waiting in anticipation for the next stanza in this epic tale of the birth of England and it's rescue from the Danish hordes.

Editing for Kindle: 5 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Chapters: 13 (in 4 parts)
Page length: 321 but again not evident on Ipad or  Kindle devices, sort it out folks for goodness sake

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Lunch on the Thames....

Ishbel, hiding her large glass of red
from you
Ishbel and I received a voucher from our Daughter Marie and our Son-in-Law Peter for Christmas 2012.  We had meant to take advantage of it earlier in the year but with one thing and another happening, being diagnosed with cancer for one with little prospect of survival, we forgot all about it until last week that is when Marie, reminded us again, with the portent that it was likely to be expiring soon, I know how it felt then!

So, with that thought I went on line and then made a call to book the cruise. As luck would have it we were able to get a booking for the 2nd October, Ishbel's Birthday so once on and with  nice glass of red in her hand and a soft drink in mine we toasted both her birthday and last Christmas, hopefully looking forward too, to this Christmas!

It was a fairly murky day in town on Wednesday but not cold.  You couldn't even see the top of the Shard when we first got on, but never the less you could still see all that was described to you in the commentary, once the cruise got under way.  Ishbel and I are pretty good with our knowledge of London and her many wonderful sights.  But the commentary was informative, even imparting some stuff we didn't know.

The waiting staff, on board were attentive, we had the lovely Lucia, waiting on us and she took our order for drinks while pointing out the menu to us, asking if we were happy with it or did we need to change to vegetarian? No, it all looked fine and as it tuned out it was more than fine..

Smoked and Poached Salmon Roulade with pickled cucumber (forgot to take photo)

Chicken En Croute with Celeriac mash and green beans

Vanilla Pannacotta with chocolate macaroon

The amount of food was just perfect and well presented the only slight, and it was slight, was the macaroon which was just a bit over baked, but never the less thoroughly enjoyable.

The only downside and again it was only a minor complaint, was that you didn't really get any time to spend 'on deck' but then it was a 'lunch cruise' after all.

Other than that it was, as I never looked at the prices, before hand,  an enjoyable, pleasant  and value for money, couple of hours from our KIDS and BATEAUX LONDON and BUYAGIFT.COM  

A murky London skyline (but still a pleasant day) 

Some photos from our table view:

Saw this and thought it said: PORN FREE
Canary Wharf and odd shaped buildings 

Quite busy on the river today, cruise ships and working barges 

Passing under Tower Bridge
Sir Francis Drakes Golden Hind

Shakespeares Globe, Courtesy of American Sam Wanamaker

After our lunch cruise we decided to head up into town to Soho and Carnaby Street where we bought a couple of birthday gifts for Son-In Law Steve who had taken a few days off work to decorate the hall, stairs and landing for us, bless, he really is a good lad even although he might look like one he is little bit past the lad stage now turning 31 on the 3rd,  so Happy Birthday kid,  and thanks.....

It was a great afternoon with Ishbel. stopping off at side street bars for the odd glass of wine to fortify her walking legs, so she says and enjoying all the shops and weird looking folks who inhabit or visit this city and listening to Ishbel's acerbic comments as we pass yet another 'unusually attired' walker, she can be so funny in her descriptions of them, and as I say to her, they are just different, the eyebrows raise quizzically as if to say, 'yeah right!'

The Blue Cockrel on a plinth in Trafalgar Square, WTF!
A street performer. sitting on air! 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Book Review: Never Go Back (Jack Reacher 18) by Lee Child

No 18 in the Jack Reacher series and there isn't much to say that hasn't been said before. I read a review recently that tore into Mr Childs and his character of Reacher commenting that it is all repetitive with Reacher just stumbling along finding the same old same with different names and graphically detailing how he takes apart the same old villains in a blow by blow account making it unreal and unnatural......

Yeah, well hard to argue too much with some of that as Reacher does wander about finding those in need of help who are being ground down by the little bad guys supported by the brainless hulks BUT, and especially if you are British, it is a bit like marmite you either love it or hate it, me I love it. The thing is though that Childs has mastered his skill as a writer over the years and while it may seem to be a tad repetitive he writes a flowing dialogue that is pretty seamless and you find yourself just turning page after page until you get to the end.  The previous book I read (not a Childs one), really engaged me,even allowing for the errors in it, but it took me nearly three weeks to finish it, a Reacher book, if you aren't careful you could start in the morning and probably finish it be the evening, easily, and  supposing you set aside your other life commitments like work and family and life and that I suppose is the mark of a good writer. Someone who gives you a narrative that flows along and compels you to keep reading his or her words!

On this occasion though it isn't your typical small town nice folk who are in need of help but Reachers contemporary a female Major now running his old unit, the 110th MP.  Reacher, we don't know why, has phoned the old unit and spoken with Major Susan Turner.  Liking the sound of her he decides to head to Virginia from South Dakota and turn up unannounced and ask her out to dinner.  On arrival he finds that Major Turner is no longer in charge and some stuck up Colonel is running the unit.

Reacher finds that,  a) Major Turner has been arrested and placed in a cell off base, b) he is accused of a 16 year old murder and c)  that he has fathered a child and being sued for maintenance and of course the 'icing on the cake' well as far is the efficient Colonel is concerned, is that he has just drafted Reacher back into the Army as a Major, making him subject to all military regulations.  He should have read Reachers file in a bit more detail and he would have known, like us, that Reacher was never one to really pay much heed to those regulations the first time round and so we knew he wasn't going to pay much attention to them on this little merry go round.

We then spend the next 417 pages finding out why these old cases have reappeared and what is the connection to Maj Turner who has been arrested and jailed.  I have to say here, even allowing for the comments above about my love for this character and Childs flowing writing, that I did find the story of two Deputy Chiefs of Staff  being involved in a nefarious enterprise and the poor 'help' they employed to take out Reacher and Turner more than a bit weak overall.  The introduction of a daughter who on first introduction was, well never mind, no spoilers, but it was an intriguing side bar to the story and it is entirely believable that Reacher may well have killed someone in the past as he beats down on them,  leaving them on the sidewalk and walking off into the sunset. Who's to say that one of his victims hasn't then died and he never knew ............

As a side issue, not really, but for the first time in 18 books I did find a little error; the e was missing from like in one sentence, oh my, but.........

Editing for Kindle: 5 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 4 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Chapters: 69
Page length: 417 and evident on my devices, see it can be done!