"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

30 January 2012

Books, books and even more books...

In the words of Britney Spears...Oops I did it again! Yes I spent much needed money on even more books but they were only £1.99 from the Oxfam bookstore so not only am I giving to charity I am also making my bookshelves look as if they're bursting at the seams (which in my world is a good thing!). And to be honest I did note that I was going to trawl the charity stores for Terry Pratchett books (which I did but sadly only one for now) but I also found two books that I had been looking at last night on amazon so it was obviously meant to be (well thats my excuse for spending some dosh anyway!) So I ended up buying Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum, and Sharon Penman's historical fiction books The Reckoning and Falls the Shadow. The fantasy genre is mainly my favourite type of genre to read but I do love history and historical fiction comes a close second in the favourite genre rankings. I picked up Here Be Dragons, Penmans first book in the Welsh Princes trilogy in a charity shop a few years ago and loved it. Being a Welshie and loving history I enjoy reading about Welsh history and the fact that there were welsh word and phrases in the book just added to the historical authenticity book. Well worth the read!

Falls the Shadow - Sharon Penman (Welsh Princes #2)
A sweeping novel of thirteenth-century England, Falls the Shadow is the story of a weak and willful king and a brilliant but uncompromising baron: once they had been friends, yoked by ties of marriage and by mutual if irksome need; ultimately they became implacable enemies enmeshed in a brutal war from which only one would emerge alive.

Falls the Shadow is the story of Henry III, cursed with the Plantagenet temper but lacking the Plantagenet will: faithful son of the Church, faithless liege lord; father of England's most famous warrior-king, wretched ruler of a rebellious realm. But for an accident of birth, he might have been a visionary architect, content in the role of paterfamilias. Instead, he inherited a crown -- and with it, all the problems left unresolved by the untimely death of his father, King John. Unable either to rule or to subdue, he would retreat into querulous impotence.

And this is the story of Nell, Countess of Pembroke, youngest daughter of King John, favorite sister of King Henry. Widowed at fifteen, she swore a holy oath of chastity -- then broke it to wed an upstart Frenchman, scandalizing the pious and infuriating the powerbrokers, who saw her as a rich prize rashly stolen by a lesser earl -- a foreigner at that.

And Falls the Shadow, finally, is the story of Simon de Montfort, youngest son of an influential French family, entitled to inherit neither land nor titles -- who talked his way into an earldom and marriage with the King's sister. Theirs would be a singular union: founded on a lie, defended by intense carnality, yet preserved by a fidelity unimaginable in an age of shifting allegiances based on self-interest alone.

Uncommonly able and dangerously outspoken, a fierce battle commander and a ruthless ally willing to risk all in defense of honor, Simon de Montfort embodied the chivalric code, stirring passions -- for good and for ill -- in all he brushed. It was inevitable that he would clash with Henry.

Falls the Shadow is a tapestry drenched in the color of its times, rich in drama and human foible. Filled with the stench of battle and the stink of betrayal, awash in intrigue and deception, it a tale of lost hopes and broken dreams. Yet it is also the story of one man's refusal to surrender his vision of a just and righteous society, for Simon's clash with Henry was no mere struggle for wealth and glory. It was nothing less than a courageous stand against arbitrary power and as such, it was centuries ahead of its time. In Simon's challenge lie the seeds of England's greatest gift: parliamentary democracy. In making that challenge, Simon forfeited life, but became legend.

The Reckoning - Sharon Penman (Welsh Princes #3)
England, 1271: The last year in the reign of Henry III. Five years have passed since the brutal slaying of Simon de Montfort assured this puppet king his throne. In truth, though Henry wears the crown, his son Edward rules the kingdom.

For Simon de Montfort's family, these years have meant anguish and exile. For his Welsh ally Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, ruling uneasily over his fractious countrymen, they have meant a tense, unstable truce with Edward, now casting covetous eyes on Wales. Once plighted to Simon's daughter, Ellen, but released from that troth by her father's death, Llewelyn has never married. He has named his charming but untrustworthy brother Davydd as heir, knowing full well the dangers.

And so the players are in place and the game -- if life and death, love and war can be a game -- poised to play itself out to its bloody finale as English and Welsh cross swords in a reckoning that must mean disaster for one side or the other.

The Reckoning is a novel about a Celtic society on a collision course with a formidable feudal realm ruled by the most predatory of Plantagenet kings. But it is also a story of broken fortunes and grim vengeance, of the poisoned love between two brothers and the rare love between a man and a woman who overcame nearly insuperable obstacles to form a bond that would never break. Above all, it is about two extraordinary men whose dreams were so large and so antithetical that they were destined to clash in a conflict that brooked no compromise.

For Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, the dream of an independent and united Wales was all-consuming and would cost him dearly. A man of courage and vision, he was also single-minded and ruthless -- as only a dreamer can be.

For Edward, hot-tempered, unscrupulous, utterly fearless, the dream was of a crown unfettered by any opposition and of an England whose borders stopped only at the edges of the sea. In pursuing that vision, Edward would become England's greatest warrior king -- and possibly its most lethal.

The Reckoning is a richly textured mantle that is woven through with strong characters and intense drama. To wrap oneself in it is to become -- for an enchanted, timeless moment -- beguiled by the spell of a master storyteller, for Sharon Kay Penman, with her superb sense of story and her sure grasp of history, makes the thirteenth century so compelling it is hard to return to the twentieth.

I copied these very thorough descriptions form the Sharon Kay Penman website so if you want to know more about these books or other series click here!

Carpe Jugulum - Terry Pratchett
Mightily Oats has not picked a good time to be a priest. He thought he'd come to the mountain kingdom of Lancre for a simple little religious ceremony. Now he's caught up in a war between vampires and witches, and he's not sure there is a right side. There're the witches – young Agnes, who is really in two minds about everything, Magrat, who is trying to combine witchcraft and nappies, Nanny Ogg, who is far too knowing... and Granny Weatherwax, who is big trouble.
And the vampires are intelligent – not easily got rid of with a garlic enema or by going to the window, grasping the curtains and saying, "I don't know about you, but isn't it a bit stuffy in here?" They've got style and fancy waistcoats. They're out of the casket and want a bite of the future. Mightily Oats knows he has a prayer, but wishes he had an axe.

The plot is a version of an earlier Discworld novel, Lords and Ladies, with the predatory elves of that novel being replaced here by suave and deadly vampires, and the tiny kingdom of Lancre being defended by its witches. But plot is the least of Pratchett's appeal, and Carpe Jugulum is loaded with marvelous characters (not least the witches themselves, about whom we learn a deal more), comic touches and scenes of genius, and even some of the renowned down-to-earth Pratchett wisdom (about the inner ethical conflicts we all face and the wrongness of treating people as things). Pratchett's vampires are elegant Bela Lugosi types, and they come up against an unlikely but engaging alliance of witches; blue-skinned pixies like Rob Roy Smurfs; a doubting priest with a boil on his face; and a magical house-size Phoenix in a seamless, completely absorbing, and feel-good-about-the-universe mixture. Highly recommended. --Adam Roberts, Amazon.co.uk
So there's the descriptions of the three new additions to my book family. They're sitting nice and snug on my bookshelf (where there is no more room for anymore eeek!) Also the two discworld novels that I ordered off amazon arrived today: Mort and Equal Rites, so once I've slowly gone through them I'll post up my reviews!

Anywaaay, I had a nice little waddle around town (I say waddle because I was weighed down with a ton of toiletries and new pads of paper, pens etc; starting a new term means all new things!) It started to snow but it didn't stick at all, Swansea being so close to the sea so it was just abit of fuzz. Where I live (when not at uni) when it snows, oh boy does it snow. We live right at the top of a valley in the hills, way above sea level so when it snows everything comes to a standstill. I hate snow though. You can't do anything in it, can't go no where and its cold and wet and I hate that warm feeling you get in your fingers after being out in it. But I do miss being snowed in and being snuggled up warm, with no school. 

Well I am now going to hop into bed with my book, a mint hot chocolate and a hot water bottle and get some shut eye for my lecture tomorrow at 12 (nice lie in for me yay!) Here's a little photo of a lush wall plaque that I bought whilst on holiday last year in Kefalonia, a little Greek Island. I instantly fell in love with it and knew I had to have it, so it now hangs over my bed :) Goodnight!

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