May. 18th, 2016

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The Bleeding Land, by Giles Kristian

One of the requirements (not by me) for this category was a book that wasn't pro-Royalist. This left us with a choice of... one book.

Now, I realise a reason for reading historical fiction is to get immersed in another time and place, and therefore it is to be expected that there will be lots of setting the scene stuff, but you know, it is possible to have too much. The opening chapters seem to be just setting the scene and starting on the road to establishing the characters' motives.

It doesn't help that the POV is... awkward in places. It's a loose POV, switching every few paragraphs between two or three main characters, and at other times, mostly in the descriptive stuff, there's an more omniscient narrator, which is fine. Not my preferred approach but it works, except there are insertions that force what should be narrator's comments into the POV of one of the main characters, so "Tom had heard" or "Tom knew that" or such. It feels like the author is trying to make the POV tighter but instead it is jarring and draws attention to the info dumps.

Still, I read through to chapter 4, then on the bus trip home, I picked it up to resume reading and accidentally read some later pages, which weren't very appealing. I flicked few more pages and, basically, decided gorish/ghoulish/whatever to read anymore.

It is book one of a trilogy (but I'm not sure the last book has been written yet) and a large part of it seems to be manuevering the characters into their positions for the rest of the story. I'm not really that interested. It apparently picks up and is better, if a bit violent, in the second half, but I have given up.

If you like immersive historical fiction that gives you plenty of room to dwell on happenings and has, I assume, lots of highly detailed battle scenes, you might like this.
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Gently at a Gallop, by Alan Hunter
From Doon With Death, by Ruth Rendell

I'm putting them together as they're similar books. Short police procedural/crime novels that were published in 1971 & 1964. They both rely for their resolution on something that, was at the time, somewhat unthinkable, and therefore works as a twist. When it is thinkable, after all I've encountered it before, the endings become predictable and even a little dull as you watch the investigators went their way to the "obvious" solution, while still hoping there might be another twist. The Gently book in particular was particularly slow in this respect, also there were a lot of things that... I'll call them lumps in the plot. Things that suggested something was not as it should be but were not followed up on. Not so much red herrings as a feeling the author wasn't sure where the story was going, or changed the end, and didn't go back to smooth out the loose threads.

I'm not sure about reading these books. They're the literary equivalent of an episode of a police drama TV series. Someone dies, the regular characters investigate with little/no side plots, the problem is resolved and everyone goes back to whatever they were doing; and they do that well but I tend to think if I'm reading a book I want something other than what I can get on TV.

Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, by Ruth Rendell.

This is more of a... actually not sure what to call it. I'd say psychological suspense but that is something different. Someone dies and as a result, lives are change. However, it's obvious from the start who will die and by whom, and the murder occurs about half way through. The book looks at the lives of various characters who were affected by the (soon to be) dead guy and what happened to them. Even though I didn't really care for the characters much, a shortcoming on the part of the reader I suspect, I was happy when they came to a happy end and sad when they didn't. I wanted to like the book, but nothing happened and slowly. Although, I think overall, I did enjoy reading it.


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