Wednesday, September 29, 2010

pillars of the earth

The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett was, as you might expect, completely different from Follett's other stuff. Just after I started reading it, a few people asked me what it was about, and I replied that I had just started, but it seemed like it was about building cathedrals. [That's when I got the funny faces, wrinkled noses, you know, like someone stepped in something.] But that's not what its about, thankfully.

Follett uses the building of a cathedral as a framework on which to hang his story; maybe saga is a better word. The story is really about people. Its an historical novel about people in the 1100's and what life was like for a group in England, who happen to have a cathedral in common. The energy and effort that goes into the building of a cathedral in this era is huge, and that's what drives the story.

Follett has a fresh take on the people of this time period, and seems to take some of his clues from other early evidence, such as The Canterbury Tales, to give his characters life in a way that modern day readers can relate to. Characters fall into two main groups: the church folk, and the not church folk. Each group is further broken down into good guys, and bad guys. That is: there those factions within both the men of the cloth, and the laymen, who want to get the cathedral built, and there are those within each group who don't. Got it? Maybe that's why it takes just shy of a thousand pages to get this story wrapped up.

I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. I was concerned when I first started it, that it would be a retelling of The Heaven Tree trilogy by Edith Pargeter--which was also very good, by the way--but I'm happy to say that it wasn't.

Apparently, there was a TV mini-series based on the book. I found this whilst doing a little research. Did anyone see it?

Read this book, first.

book size

Found a good one! Carl Pyrdum's blog, titled Got Medieval, is a treat for us geeks who enjoy the old timey stuff; specifically, medieval stuff. Pyrdum is a grad student in Medieval Studies at Yale. His posts typically have to do with things medieval and/or modern things which either describe themselves as, or could be seen as medieval. Where else are you going to read about what a sixty-fourmo is in the blogorama?

So how did I find him: it was this entry on 'Why are books so big? (Google Penance)' which describes why books are the size that they are. Its based on the size of a sheep of course. I won't spoil the fun for you, you should just clicky-click on the link and read it fer yerself. Of course the whole thing makes complete sense once you read it, and I found myself scanning through lots of his blog posts in search of more gems and witicisms.

Carl also points out that he is Bacon number 4. You can find out how at his blog.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the sanctuary

I'm not even sure what The Sanctuary is. I don't mean that I couldn't tell what kind of book I was reading. I'm talking about the title; I'm not completely sure what it refers to. It could refer to a place, or maybe even a state of mind. It probably refers to a couple of things. Or maybe it's just not all that important.

In any case, Raymond Khoury writes a pretty good story. I have his 2005 book, The Last Templar, but I haven't read it yet. I read a Steve Berry novel called The Templar Legacy, which shows up in read-alike lists, so I'll probably read Khoury's Templar book too. You know you luuve those crazy Templar knights as much as I do. Its okay, we can't help ourselves. Just give in. ((Dan Brown whispers in our dreams.))

If this book had one draw back, it was the fancy vocabulary. I've complained about this before. This is an action story, right? A fast-paced, page turner. Throw in any throw away review cliche you like, just don't slow down the action, am I right? You know what slows down the action: versciciously. You know what that one means? Nothing, I made it up. I think its great to build your vocab skills. Word-o'-the-Day calendars are swell gifts for someone you don't know that well. But all the words from May 3rd 'til June 21st, really don't need to go into your manuscript.

It just seems so verscicious.

Monday, September 6, 2010

the twelfth card

Geneva is a well-to-do inner city girl, who, despite her hard work, attention to her schoolwork, and the misfortune of being without her parents, has also had to deal with an attempted rape and assault. Will this poor girl ever get a break? Nope, sorry.

Lincoln Rhyme and his able assistant and girlfriend, Amelia Sachs, step in to help Geneva but it seems that the wannabe rapist/killer is still looking for her. When the Rhyme-Sachs team dig a little deeper, they find that Geneva may be in a whole lot more trouble than they originally envisioned. And not only do they need to figure out who's after her, but why. The historical twist to this one added some fun too.

Jeffery Deaver does a good job of laying out an interesting and twisty crime mystery for Rhyme and company to solve. And solve it they do, but it doesn't all just drop in their laps; there are some bumps along the way. Deaver's sense of character development seems to be in overdrive in this volume. One can only guess that he's been feeling that he hasn't given it enough attention in the other Lincoln Rhyme stories, but I don't read enough of them to be sure. Maybe his character's are always cranking away with their personal demons, friendships and love lives.

I've read a couple of Lincoln Rhyme novels and this one holds up well. I'd read another based on this experience, certainly.