I was distracted from writing this review at the time I actually read the book, so this will be brief…
When I was young, some of my favourite books were by Enid Blyton. Oh sure, my favourite book was The Lord of the Rings. But aside from that, Enid Blyton was high on the list. I never read Noddy; I think I only ever read one Secret Seven. And most shockingly, I never read any Famous Five at all (though I did once have a very complicated sort of choose-your-own-adventure Famous Five kit with dice and special apparatus).
What I read, and what I adored, were her eight Adventure novels, starting with this, The Island of Adventure.
At the end of my boyhood and at the age of being able to manage a horse, I was brought to Lille before Duke Charles of Burgundy, then called the Count of Charolais, who took me into his service. This was the year 1464.
When Legends was published, in 1998, it seemed not only welcome, but necessary. The empire of literature, it goes without saying, has for at least a century been too broad for any one reader to know it all first-hand in one lifetime. Even in a single field, a single subgenre, it can be hard for a reader to really have a firm grasp of the state of the art (let alone the canon of classics). We all hear names, from time to time, of this writer or that, and make a mental note to catch-up… but how often do most of us follow through? It’s a perennial problem… but it may never have been a more pressing problem than in the epic fantasy genre of the late 1990s.
I had, until recently, never read Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t really know, therefore, what to expect: the witty, piercing Austen acclaimed by critics, or the comfortable fantasyland of bonnets and bridal attire trumpeted by many of its general readers.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ is a peculiar sort of a novel. Its interest does not lie where the reader might expect.
In theory, Diary is, as the name suggests, a (comedic) epistolary novel, formed from the diary entries of a young boy navigating adolescence in England in the early 1980s. Taken as that, the reader will very soon develop an objection: Adrian Mole is not a teenage boy; Adrian Mole is a wholly unbelievable character written by an author who was evidently never a boy, and had not been a teenager for some time, and had largely forgotten what it was like.
I recently reviewed Gentle’s Ash – but the review was ridiculously long. I thought I’d better produce a condensed version. I usually do that for my Goodreads reviews anyway, so here’s the review I wrote for GR… (you can still find the full review over here)
The first thing that should probably be said about Ash: A Secret History is that it’s probably the apex of the epic fantasy genre – or at least, the best thing written in the genre since The Lord of the Rings.
I’ve always had a little difficulty reviewing short story collections – in part because I don’t do it enough to have developed a clear method. So how about this: I’ll give a few words in general, then give some words about each story, then go back to the general again for a conclusion. OK?