Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked with searching out and reporting signs of the end of the world. Breaking his journey in Piccolo, he finds a place filled with superstitious fears: of the unknown, of the forces of the sea and sky, of strangers. With him are his loyal friend and servant, Frieze, and his clerk, Brother Peter, as well as the Lady Isolde and her mysterious servant-companion Ishraq. The five of them are followed into the town by a huge children’s crusade, led by a self-proclaimed saint. Its young leader promises that the sea will part before them, and allow them to walk dry-shod all the way to Jerusalem. Luca and Lady Isolde are swept up in the growing excitement; but something dangerous is brewing far out to sea…
I’ve been watching with interest the storm of controversy regarding author Hilary Mantel which started late last night here, and is still flooding my Facebook news-feed. The Daily Mail published this article with selected quotes from a piece by Hilary Mantel entitled Royal Bodies, in which she calls Kate Middleton a “plastic princess”.
As is to be expected, people are rushing to Mantel’s defense saying the article quoted her out of context, as of course it has. The Daily Mail does make a rather vague reference to Mantel’s original article half-way through or so;
“I am in fact, a hobbit in all but size” J.R.R Tolkien
I have been enjoying a rather Hobbity holiday. This is usually the time of the year I start reading Lord of the Rings, and watching the movies (my new Blu Ray boxed set this year) but I don’t always read The Hobbit before I start LOTR, in fact I will usually read it later. Having read it directly before I started Fellowship of the Ring I was able to enjoy it more as a prequel, more than usual in any case. I sometimes forget the references to Dale and the Mountain during Bilbo’s birthday party, the last chapter in The Lord of the Rings in which we are still allowed to be children.
Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.
Warning! This review contains spoilers.
At the innocent age of fifteen, Lady Margaret Shelton arrives at the court of Henry VIII and quickly becomes the confidante of her cousin, Queen Anne Boleyn. But she soon finds herself drawn into the perilous web of Anne’s ambition. Desperate to hold onto the king’s waning affection, Anne schemes to have him take her guileless young cousin as mistress, ensuring her husband’s new paramour will owe her loyalty to the queen. But Margaret has fallen deeply in love with a handsome young courtier. She is faced with a terrible dilemma: give herself to the king and betray the love of her life or refuse to become his mistress and jeopardise the life of her cousin, Queen Anne.
She holds the key to a kingdom’s future! When young Mary Howard receives the news that she will be leaving her home for the grand court of King Henry VIII, to attend his mistress Anne Boleyn, she is ecstatic. Everything Anne touches seems to turn to gold, and Mary is certain Anne will one day become Queen. But Mary has also seen the King s fickle nature and how easily he discards those who were once close to him! Discovering that she is a pawn in a carefully orchestrated plot devised by her father, the duke of Norfolk, Mary dare not disobey him. Yet despite all of her efforts to please him, she too falls prey to his cold wrath. Not until she becomes betrothed to Harry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond and son to King Henry VIII, does Mary finds the love and approval she s been seeking. But just when Mary believes she is finally free of her father, the tides turn. Now Mary must learn to play her part well in a dangerous chess game that could change her life and the course of history.
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
As Henry VIII draws his last breath, two very different women, Jane Dudley, Viscountess Lisle, and Frances Grey, Marchioness of Dorset, face the prospect of a boy king, Edward VI. For Jane Dudley, basking in the affection of her large family, the coming of a new king means another step upward for her ambitious, able husband, John. For Frances Grey, increasingly alienated from her husband and her brilliant but arrogant daughter Lady Jane, it means that she—and the Lady Jane—are one step closer to the throne of England…
The infamous love of King Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn undertook a rocky journey from innocent courtier to powerful Queen of England. A meticulous researcher, Margaret Campbell Barnes immerses readers in this intrigue and in the lush, glittery world of the Tudor Court. The beauty and charms of Anne Boleyn bewitched the most powerful man in the world, King Henry VIII, but her resourcefulness and cleverness were not enough to stop the malice of her enemies. Her swift rise to power quickly became her own undoing.
I went to the library intending to get a copy of the Mary Boleyn biography by Alison Weir. After enduring a long wait and an irritating conversation with the librarian who kept telling me that I should read Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl as was completely historically accurate, I left the library completely exasperated and with a copy of Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, as they had lost the Mary Boleyn book. With about six of her non-fiction books at home I wasn’t sure why I decided to pick up one of her historical fiction titles to start off with, but little Lady Jane Grey has always fascinated me.
Year of the Dragon indeed. City of Dragons the latest instalment in the Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb, is the book I am most looking forward to in 2012. I think all of her fans were longing for a return to Bingtown and the Rain Wilds (well actually we’re also all longing for a return to the Six Duchies but I’m sure it’s not going to happen) and what a return it was. They were nothing short of brilliant. Something akin to when you get to the end of an epic fantasy series and everything happens exactly as you want it to happen and fills you with all sorts of rampant glee. Only these were just the first two. It could be because they were originally intended to be just a two volume series (the thought fills me with horror) and the pace is a lot faster than her usual sort. With the world building long established the books plunge straight in, with a disparate host of new characters and a group of Dragons who you fall desperately in love with and almost forget about the humans.
I actually managed to knock over a whole lot of my reading list this year, at least two or three books a month, including re-reads. I am, quite frankly, surprised at myself (and insufferably pleased with myself I might add) that I not only managed to get through a large quantity, I branched out a lot and read a good variety. It is no mean feat that I get through a book that (if not an Enid Blyton) does not grace me with the presence of a dragon.