Gods and Heroes: Myths and Epics of Ancient Greece – Review

Gods and Heroes: Myths and Epics of Ancient Greece by Gustav Schwab

Published in 1946

Olga Marx and Ernst Morwitz translation

Pages: 743

Genre: Fiction, mythology

“Often I have told my youngest daughter the legends of ancient Greece, and have found myself wishing that I could give her a book that would show her more of that magic world which was the delight of my own youth, and to which I love to return, now that I am older.”

Though I typically start my reviews with the first line of the book, I chose to begin my review of Gods and Heroes: Myths and Epics of Ancient Greece by Gustav Schwab with the first sentence of the introduction. Though it isn’t technically part of the stories told in the book, this section gives the reader necessary context (as an introduction is wont to do) regarding how the myths are presented. This information is integral to understanding the mighty deeds and tragic ends of the heroes of ancient Greece. Continue reading “Gods and Heroes: Myths and Epics of Ancient Greece – Review”

The Prince – Review

Il Principe (The Prince) by Niccolò Machiavelli

Published in 1532

H. Thomson translation (1910)

Pages: 71

Genre: Political science, nonfiction

“All the States and Governments by which men are or ever have been ruled, have been and are either Republics or Princedoms.”

The Prince is arguably one of the most well known works of political literature ever written which is saying something for a pamphlet written almost 500 years ago. Written by Niccolò Machiavelli as a guidebook on how to successfully rule, this book has transcended the troubles of its period and holds advice that continues to be relevant today. Continue reading “The Prince – Review”

Love in the Time of Cholera – Review

El amor en los tiempos del cólera by Gabriel García Márquez

Published in Spanish in 1985, in English as Love in the Time of Cholera in 1988

Edith Grossman Translation

Pages: 348

Genre: Latin American literature, Colombian literature, romance

“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”

This first line’s sentiment is expressed as the inner monologue of Doctor Juvenal Urbino who, upon inspecting the dead body of a friend, introduces the two themes evident in the title of the book. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez is a story of infatuation that spans decades and explores the feeling in its many variations. Set in a Caribbean town over the course of 50 years, it is a tale of two people whose lives intertwine through the love held in their hearts. Continue reading “Love in the Time of Cholera – Review”

The Long Ships – Review

Röde Orm by Frans G. Bengtsson

Published in 1941 and 1945, first published in English in 1943 as The Long Ships

Michael Meyer translation

Pages: 503

Genre: Adventure saga

“Along the coast the people lived together in villages, partly to be sure of food, that they might not depend entirely on the luck of their own catch, and partly for the greater security; for ships rounding the Skanian peninsula often sent marauding parties ashore, both in the spring, to replenish cheaply their stock of fresh meat for the westward voyage, and in the winter, if they were returning empty-handed from unsuccessful wars.”

The Long Ships is an epic that would feel welcome on a mahogany bookshelf sitting between Beowulf and The Odyssey. At least, that’s my understanding. I’ve never read Beowulf and it has been years since I read The Odyssey so I kind of have to take people at their word as far as that comparison goes. I also arrange my bookshelf by author and when there are multiple books, by date of publication.

Anyway, The Long Ships focuses on the tale of Orm, who comes to be known as “Red” Orm due to his red hair (clever, no?) and his temper (racist). Orm finds himself the reluctant hero in that the story begins with him being captured by a group of Vikings. His village is attacked and he runs out to fend off the assailants, only to be knocked unconscious and taken prisoner. Not a great start, but he proves himself to his captors and so begins a journey that spans the remainder of his life and a little over 500 pages. Continue reading “The Long Ships – Review”