The Mark of the Horse Lord – Review

The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff

Illustrations by Felix Miall

Published in 1965; 2017 Edition by The Folio Society

Pages: 288

Genre: Historical fiction, children’s literature

 

Disclaimer: This review will be different from the norm in that it is split into two parts: a standard, albeit shorter, book review and a specific review of this Folio Society edition. I am endorsing this product through my own volition and belief in its high quality.

 

Part I: The Story

“In the long cavern of the changing-room, the light of the fat-oil lamps cast jumping shadows on the walls; skeleton shadows of the spear-stacked arms-racks, giant shadows of the men who crowded the benches or moved about still busy with their weapons and gear; here and there the stallion shadow of a plume-crested helmet.”

The above sentence describes a scene that could most likely have been taken from a historical account of a gladiator’s life. The Mark of the Horse Lord, by Rosemary Sutcliff, follows one such gladiator from gaining his freedom to becoming a central figure in a conspiracy to reclaim a tribal throne in Northern Scotland. Filled with swordplay, interesting characters, and intricate descriptions that cause the reader to become immersed in this ancient world, The Mark of the Horse Lord is entertaining in its character driven storytelling. Continue reading “The Mark of the Horse Lord – Review”

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Someone – Review

Someone: A Novel by Alice McDermott

Published in 2013

Pages: 232

Genre: Fiction

“Pegeen Chehab walked up from the subway in the evening light.”

Though she is the first character mentioned and plays an important part in the story, Pegeen Chehab is not the protagonist. Someone, by Alice McDermott, encompasses the events of an ordinary life. From a child playing among friends in the streets of Brooklyn, to a young woman working as the consoling angel of a funeral parlor and mother, we see how Marie’s life was formed and fashioned. Through intense imagery, strong prose, and memorable characters, Someone becomes far more specific in its splendor than its innocuous title suggests. Continue reading “Someone – Review”

Fire from Heaven – Review

Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault

Published in 1969

Pages: 370

Genre: Historical fiction

“The child was wakened by the knotting of the snake’s coils about his waist.”

Those familiar with the myth of Heracles will notice its connection to the opening line of Fire from Heaven, by Mary Renault. Hera, jealous of Zeus’s infidelity, sent two snakes in Heracles’ crib in order to kill him. In this tale about the childhood of Alexander the Great, however, the snake is a friendly creature owned by his mother. Connections between the strongest of Greek heroes and Alexander abound in the novel and, as the young prince grows into his glory, the hero becomes a sort of patron god for the young conqueror whose greatness was apparent from childhood. Continue reading “Fire from Heaven – Review”

Mythology – Review

Mythology by Edith Hamilton

Illustrations by Steele Savage

Published in 1942

Pages: 465

Genre: Mythology

“Greek and Roman mythology is quite generally supposed to show us the way the human race thought and felt untold ages ago.”

This sentiment, which begins Mythology by Edith Hamilton, expresses the limited worldview of not only the author, but the book itself. Primarily concerning the Greek and Roman myths and gods, Mythology collects some of the most famous stories in one place. All the greatest hits are here, including Jason and the Golden Fleece, the Judgement of Paris and Fall of Troy, and Oedipus’s folly at trying to escape fate. Mythology also contains lesser myths and the histories of tragic families; the only kind that the Greeks had in their myths. Continue reading “Mythology – Review”

Geek Love – Review

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Published in 1989

Pages: 348

Genre: Novel

“When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,” Papa would say, “she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.”

Come one, come all, and see the strange weirdness of Binewski’s Carnival Fabulon! Narrated by Oly, the hunchback, albino dwarf, Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love is an esoteric tale of love, lust, and infatuation that challenges the accepted norms of our society. Embrace the weird, hold onto the ugly, and cast away the normal with a story that is thought-provoking in its blunt honesty. Continue reading “Geek Love – Review”

The History of Love – Review

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Published in 2005

Pages: 254

Genre: Immigrant novel, lost literature, pastiche

“When they write my obituary.”

As befits a story of difficult subject matter, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss begins with thoughts on mortality. A winding tale of love, loss, death, and life, The History of Love is not for the faint of heart; through seemingly disparate stories, the narrative twists itself in intersecting trails to come together in the end and create a story whose sum is as beautiful as its parts. Concerning writers, books, tragedy, and humanity, The History of Love is a book that views interaction and life through a clear lens. Continue reading “The History of Love – Review”

The Voyage of the Narwhal – Review

The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett

Published in 1998

Pages: 394

Genre: Historical fiction, maritime fiction

“He was standing on the wharf, peering down at the Delaware River while the sun beat on his shoulders.”

Befitting a story that has water and maritime exploration at its heart, the first lines of The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett place the reader along the Delaware River. We then set sail with the crew of the Narwhal toward glory and fame in the endeavor to recover a lost explorer. Unfortunately, despite the book’s premise and promise of a tale of adventure, what follows is lackluster execution marred by missed opportunities for genuine tension. Continue reading “The Voyage of the Narwhal – Review”