SPQR—a book for the masses

Once upon a time I cut my teeth reading historians like Scullard, Cary and Gibbon. They were good chaps, in their own way, but their time is beginning to wane. We might well say when Byron falls, Rome falls and when Rome falls—the world, but the stuffy old professor approach to classics is finally making … Continue reading SPQR—a book for the masses

Hereward—Bourne Again

How have I not heard of this guy until well into my twenties? I’d like to think after a history degree and a lifetime’s interest in all things historical, I’d know all the key players in the time periods I was interested in. Apparently not. Que James Wilde, and his desire to bring Hereward to … Continue reading Hereward—Bourne Again

“But I blocked it!”—when your defence fails you

So I was re-watching Game of Thrones these last few weeks, you know, as you do, and I saw an interesting fight scene. It reminded me of something I’d learned from studying primary sources in history from a lot to of different cultures and times. Basically, fighting in reality doesn’t play by nice rules where … Continue reading “But I blocked it!”—when your defence fails you

On Wuthering Heights

“I have not broken your heart―you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.” Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights. Give me a dark, tragic romance that's bitter-sweet. Give me all the cliches. I don't care. Sometimes stories end on a nice note. Sometimes stories have good people rewarded and bad people punished and all … Continue reading On Wuthering Heights

Why Aussies have the best Children’s Fiction

The mid-90's and early 2000's was a great time to be a child in Australia. Not that I'm biased or anything but our Children's Fiction was the envy of the world. Years later I had friends in Britain telling me how Britain imported our TV shows at the time and that they, half the world … Continue reading Why Aussies have the best Children’s Fiction

Conn Iggulden—Lord of the bow

"As they faced a massed charge for the second time, the militia bunched even tighter, terrified and confused.   Twenty thousand buzzing arrows smashed the red lines to their knees..." Conn Iggulden, Lords of the Bow. Sometimes you just want a good battle. If that was all he did, that would be enough. But Conn … Continue reading Conn Iggulden—Lord of the bow

Philippa Gregory—The Other Boleyn Girl

"Jane had gone to pray for the dead queen, Anne would dance on her grave." Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl. Back when few people had heard of Game of Thrones, Philippa Gregory had taken the world by storm. On the one hand, The Other Boleyn Girl is like any other medieval court novel: intrigue, sex, … Continue reading Philippa Gregory—The Other Boleyn Girl

Bernard Cornwell—Over the Hills and Far Away

"O'er the hills and o'er the main Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain King George commands and we obey Over the hills and far away" Why is Bernard Cornwell such a successful Historical Fiction author? I have a slight confession to start with. While I've read almost every other book Cornwell has written, I haven't actually … Continue reading Bernard Cornwell—Over the Hills and Far Away