The Master of Ballantrae

 

bookshelves: adventure, classic, historical-fiction, revenge, britain-scotland, victorian, seven-seas, war, published-1889, hardback

Read in June, 2009, read count: 2

 

Description: Set in Scotland during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, in the exotic French Indies, and in the North American wilderness, the story has as its hero one of the most compelling yet horrifying studies of evil in nineteenth-century fiction—James Durie, Master of Ballantrae. The Master is about his infective influence—on his younger, less attractive brother Henry; on Henry’s wife Alison; and on those narrators whom Stevenson so skilfully employs to present their experiences of this charming, ruthless, and evil man.

A very fragile copy of my mothers – faded red cloth, inscribed Gillian R Tanner(1956) and the price? 4/-, that’s four shillings to us who remember the ol’ conundrums. I think this is my favourite RLS; it is so dark.

At that time [1745:] there dwelt a family of four persons in the house of Durrisdeer, near St Brides, on the Solway shore; a chief hold of their race since the Reformation.

The Rising(from Wiki)

The novel is presented as the memoir of one Ephraim Mackellar, steward of the Durrisdeer estate in Scotland. The novel opens in 1745, the year of the Jacobite Rising. When Bonnie Prince Charlie raises the banner of the Stewarts the Durie family–the Laird of Durrisdeer, his older son James Durie (the Master of Ballantrae) and his younger son Henry Durie–decide on a common strategy: one son will join the uprising while the other will join the loyalists. That way, whichever side wins the family’s noble status and estate will be preserved. Logically, the younger son should join the rebels, but the Master insists on being the rebel (a more exciting choice) and contemptuously accuses Henry of trying to usurp his place, comparing him to Jacob. The two sons agree to toss a coin to determine who goes. The Master wins and departs to join the Rising, while Henry remains in support of King George II.

Ailean Breic Stuibhairt was an 18th-century soldier and Scottish Jacobite resistance figure. He was the centre of a murder case that inspired novels by Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Notorious as the Appin Murderer.

The Falcons of Fire and Ice

The Falcons of Fire and Ice - Karen Maitland

bookshelves: cover-love, published-2012, summer-2012, historical-fiction, iceland, hardback, paper-read, portugal, roman-catholic, jewish, medieval5c-16c, mythology, ouch, slaves, seven-seas

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Pat
Read from August 27 to September 03, 2012


No dedication
Three front quotes
Cast of Characters

Prologue – gripping, high drama twinned with a prophecy.

Opening of Chapter One:

Anno Domini 1539

The Queen of Spain once had a dream, that a white falcon flew out of the mountains towards her and in its talons it held the flaming ball of the sun and icy sphere of the moon. The queen opened her hand and the falcon dropped the sun and moon into her outstretched palm and she grasped them.

Cheese before bedtime will do that.

I wonder if anyone else felt the auto-da-fé section went on too long?

Some very exciting moments in this story however it is within the similarities of the Iberian Catholics and the Danish Lutherans of the period that gripped me most.

 

On the topmost branch sits an eagle, and perched between the eyes of the eagle is Vedfolnir the falcon, whose piercing gaze sees up into the heavens and down to the earth, and below the earth into the dark caverns of the underworld.” 11 comments

 

Little King Sebastian of Portugal 1564″

 

She was the most beautiful creature who ever lived”

 

Sintra, Portugal”

 


Torre de Belem portugal”

 

He is a Draugr, a Nightstalker.” 3 comments

 

Lucet is a method of cordmaking or braiding which is believed to date back to the Viking era. Lucet cord is square, strong, and slightly springy. It closely resembles knitted I-cord or the cord produced on a knitting spool. Lucet cord is formed by a series of loops, and will therefore unravel if cut.”

 

The doorway to possession = Dyra-dómr of Draugr (approx.)”

 

1 comment

 

Gilitrutt the troll wife”

 

Zaphod Beeblebrox is remembered, lampooned, a dress-up favourite; I have a feeling the characters here won’t pass the test of time in the same way”

 

Ptarmigan”

Solid 3*

5* Company of Liars
5* The Owl Killers
4* The Gallows Curse
3* The Falcons of Fire and Ice
TR Hill of Bones (in bedroom stack)

=====================================================
BOOK BLOG – the lead up:
9/3/2012 email to Karen Maitland:

Hello there Karen,
We* are wondering where we can get our handsies on The White Room, are you planning to re-publish now you are garnering such prestige?

* Goodread readers Bettie and Pat

Thanks in anticipation.

……………………………………..

10/3/2012 email back:

Dear Bettie & Pat,
Thank you for your email. I only wish I was garnering any prestige. But its lovely of you to say so.

No, I’m afraid there are no plans to republish The White Room. It was a a modern story about a British girl being drawn into the fringes of terrorism. At the time it was written no Middle Eastern Terrorist acts had been carried out in England, but events have now sadly overtaken fiction. It was based on events I experienced in Belfast and Nigeria, so was in a sense a piece of cathartic fiction I had to get out of my system before I could write anything else.

I’m in the process of getting a new website (going live next Thursday I hope) and I will drop the mention of the book on the new website, as it isn’t available, apart from the occasional 2nd hand copy popping up from time to time on Amazon etc.

Sorry, I can’t be more help, but thank you so such for getting in touch and happy reading!
warmest wishes,
Karen

……………………………….

Karen Maitland with a side order of Iceland is my only weakness (hah) – jeeeepers this is going to be good. Now I know of this it will seem like a l-o-n-g drag until the autumn.

More recent history: The Order of the Falcon or Hin íslenska fálkaorða is a national Order of Iceland, established on July 3, 1921 by King Christian X of Denmark and Iceland.

The Order has five classes:
Keðja með stórkrossstjörnu or Collar with Grand Cross, only for heads of state
Stórkrossriddari or Knight Grand Cross
Stórriddari með stjörnu or Grand Knight with Star
Stórriddari or Grand Knight
Riddari or Knight

DAY OF PUBLICATION 16/8/2012: You know how I swore that there would be no new books bought because of our boracic straits after crawling over northern europe like a cheap suit – I lied.

I lied to myself and to you.

Just pressed the ‘place order’ button. I can’t be trusted.

23/8/2012: Still not here!

 

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

bookshelves: pirates-smugglers-wreckers, philosophy, zoology, seven-seas, winter-20112012

Read from January 02 to 03, 2012

Dedication – To Sophie, who has a quarter of a million pounds

Opening – ‘The best bit about being a pirate,’ said the pirate with gout, ‘is the looting.’

There be footnotes and a map – what more do you need to add to a humourous script about Darwin and pirates and Mr Bobo

Funniest moment – page 82. Luckily they were not having their climactic fight in the Prague Natural History Museum which is full of trilobites and not much else

*nods*

4* for me – others (not needing a humorous palate cleanser) will have to be guided by a 3*

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab

bookshelves: adventure, doo-lally, flufferoonies, winter-20112012, seven-seas, series, published-2006, pirates-smugglers-wreckers, ouch, period-piece, paper-read, amusing, young-adult

Read from January 02 to 03, 2012

** spoiler alert ** dedication: To Sophie, who still has a quarter of a million pounds of which I have not seen a penny, even though this is the second entire book that I have dedicated to her

Opening: ‘That one looks almost exactly like a whale!’

Again – lovely-jubbly maps and interesting factual footnotes such as #7 – The cement exuded by barnacles is an extremely tough protein polymer. It is twice as strong as the epoxy glue used on the space shuttle. Also, the barnacle penis is ten times as long as the rest of its body.

On page six the cap’n is making a list of when it is acceptable for a pirate to cry:

1 – when holding a seagull covered in oil
2 – when singing a shanty that reminds him of orphans
3 – when confronted by the unremitting loneliness of the human condition
4 – chops

If you like Pterry-like humour, and like the idea of a send-up of ol’ Ahab this will suit you just fine. The lads here are arguing over who will read this next.

4* – The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (2004)
4* – Pirates! In an Adventure with Whaling (2005)

 

Forbush and the Penguins

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, antarctica, published-1965, zoology, under-20, sciences, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, debut

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Charles
Read from April 16 to 24, 2014

 

Description: ‘Forbush and the Penguins’ is the story of a young man on a solitary mission in Antarctica who finds the challenge of being “the only man in the world” as enriching as it is terrifying.

The main man is hunting down the film whilst I hunt for book bargains. Thanks Charles, this definitely looks right up my alley/down my street.

HUZZAH – found a ‘v. good condition’ one-penny-wonder

Dedication: FOR LYNDSEY

Opening: When the helicopter had gone and its sound was no more than a minute concussion of the air on the eardrums Forbush stood in the centre of the ring of stones to look up at the smoking mountain, Erebus, and ask for a safe conduct through the summer. In return he pledged truthfulness, the will to try.

The pages are sepia coloured but clean and barely opened, so my guess is that this has stood on a shelf since 1965.

Shackleton’s motor car

Mount Erebus

The Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is a species of penguin common along the entire Antarctic coast, which is their only residence.

Hayley Mills with John Hurt, set before the antarctic journey

“Mr Forbush and the Penguins”

The Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae), also called the Tasmanian spotted owl, is a small brown owl found throughout New Zealand, Tasmania, across most of mainland Australia and in Timor, southern New Guinea and nearby islands. This bird is the smallest owl in Australia and is the continent’s most widely distributed and common owl.

The bird has almost 20 alternative common names, most of which – including mopoke, morepork, ruru and boobook itself – are onomatopoeic, as they emulate the bird’s distinctive two-pitched call.

MacCormick’s Skua

sea leopard

seal

The Count of Monte Cristo

bookshelves: re-visit-2014, re-read, revenge, epic-proportions, betrayal, published-1844, france, seven-seas, pirates-smugglers-wreckers, treasure, napoleonic, spring-2014

Read from January 01, 1986 to April 23, 2014, read count: 2

 

I promised myself a re-acquaintance with this epic back when I was reading The Black Count, so this re-visit comes via the 2002 film, with Jim Caviezel in the lead rôle. Look at the stats for the book:

4.13* · 409,590 ratings · 10,981 reviews

Chateau d’If

The Count of Monte Cristo – Finding The Treasure

The Count of Monte Cristo – The Ball

Magnificant film with a distorted ending. All I want to do now is re-read the book from top to toe.

Orkney by Amy Sackville

bookshelves: orkney, britain-scotland, hardback, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, spring-2014, library-in-norway, seven-seas, newtome-author, contemporary, lit-richer, under-500-ratings, handbag-read, midlife-crisis, mythology, fantasy

Recommended for: Wanda, TA
Read from March 26 to April 19, 2014


Dedication: For my grandparents, Nancy and Joseph

Description: On a remote island in Orkney, a curiously matched couple arrive on their honeymoon. He is an eminent literature professor; she was his pale, enigmatic star pupil. Alone beneath the shifting skies of this untethered landscape, the professor realises how little he knows about his new bride and yet, as the days go by and his mind turns obsessively upon the creature who has so beguiled him, she seems to slip ever further from his yearning grasp. Where does she come from? Why did she ask him to bring her north? What is it that constantly draws her to the sea?

Opening: She’s staring out to sea now. My young wife. There she stands on the barren beach, all wrapped up in her long green coat, among the scuttle and clatter of pebbles and crabs. She stares out as the water nears her feet and draws back, and when that soft and insistenet suck of the tide gets close enough to slurp at her toes she shuffles herself up the shore. Soon the beach will be reduced to a strip of narrow sand and she will be forced to retreat to the rocks; and then, I think, she’ll come back to me.

I ordered this paying little attention as to just what the story was about. An Orkney island, Westray, and a one-penny deal on a hardback – sorted!

However after 50 pages or so, I was thinking that this is going to a place I don’t particularly want go. And if you had missed the subtle leads up to that point, Sackville starts lumping her readers over the head with clues for the rest of the book. You are left in no doubt at all and it all ends the way these myths are supposed to end.

The writing is worth the ramble, it is what kept me to the end – those wonderful descriptions of the bays, skies and seas I am a sucker for.

There is just one question left: did he?

2.5* Orkney
2* The Still Point

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

bookshelves: autumn-2011, published-2011, radio-4, seven-seas

Read from October 07 to 22, 2011

 

** spoiler alert **

Book at Bedtime in 10 episodes.

Blurbies – The Cat’s Table follows the course of a 21 day voyage from Colombo to Tilbury on a luxury passenger ship called the Oronsay.

It is the early nineteen-fifties and the eleven year old Michael whose parents’ turbulent marriage has resulted in his mother living in England for the past three or four years, is being sent to join her in London. He becomes friends with two other young boys – Cassius and Ramadhin who are also seated at the table, dubbed the Cat’s Table by one of their fellow diners, which is the lowliest of the low, the other end of the scale from The Captain’s Table. For the next three weeks these children have the run of the boat, they are invisible to authority, literally and emotionally feral. They feel their way amongst the adult world, observing and being baffled by the overheard conversations and secret glances. It is a journey towards an understanding of maturity, a journey which forges friendships and lays the foundations of love as well as of betrayal.

Among their fellow passengers are the exuberant travelling pianist Mr Mazappa; a botanist transporting a miraculously exotic garden of powerful and dangerous plants all growing in the hold of the ship; the enigmatic Ms Lasqueti and her prize pigeons; a troupe of acrobatic performers with remarkable powers of discernment and the mysterious and terrifying prisoner whose nightly exercise is observed by the breathless boys. The lives of all those on board become entwined in a compelling narrative whose events have an impact which ripples out into the future and the world of adulthood.

Abridged by Jill Waters Read by Sam Dastor

Produced by Jill Waters A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.

Victory by Joseph Conrad

bookshelves: published-1915, seven-seas, spring-2014, classic, fraudio, indonesia, psychology, adventure, bullies, casual-violence, gangsters, lifestyles-deathstyles, recreational-homicide, revenge, suicide, tragedy

Read from March 13 to April 09, 2014


Narrated by George Guidell. Sometimes known as ‘Victory: An Island Tale.’

Original cover.

Description: Victory presents a philosophical story of a man who learns that his own philosophy has robbed him of a life worth living. The novel is Conrad’s answer to the prevailing view that only facts matter, that emotions such as love have no basis in reality.

The protagonist, Axel Heyst, is the son of a philosopher who once wrote, “Of the strategems of life, the most cruel is the consolation of love.” His philosophy Conrad compares to a “terrible trumpet which had filled heaven and earth with ruins…”After his father dies, Heyst wanders the globe, looking “only for facts” until he becomes enchanted with a South Sea archipelago. Therafter, he is drawn to two people who provide models of friendship and love. Morrison, a small craft owner whose generosity has left him bankrupt, Heyst helps out of his bind only to fail to understand why the man is so grateful and anxious to repay him. But it is the girl Lena who fills him with an emotion that he cannot express or understand until the novel’s end. After rescuing her from a life of exploitation, Heyst takes her back to his island where he is determined to live apart from the world.

This has been a listened to bit by bit over the last month and I found it compelling: couldn’t wait to get a few free moments to listen to some more. A tragic, psychological tale lushly written and so well read by Guidell, whose voice lends itself to the classics. There is a film of this to hunt down – where’s my net!

3.5*

Shall have another tilt at Heart of Darkness to see what I make of it now.

2* Heart of Darkness
3* The Nigger of the Narcissus
3.5* Victory
3* Typhoon

Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims

bookshelves: currently-reading, first-in-series, newtome-author, net-galley, published-2014, winter-20132014, wars-of-the-roses, medieval5c-16c, historical-fiction, war, series, e-book, adventure, religion, plague-disease, seven-seas, superstitions, britain-england, pirates-smugglers-wreckers, france, betrayal, medical-eew, revenge, spies, travel

Read from February 12 to 20, 2014

ARC received with thanks from Net Galley and Random House UK, Cornerstone in exchange for an honest review.

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick One of the Yorkist leaders in the Wars of the Roses, he was instrumental in the deposition of two kings, a fact which later earned him his epithet of “Kingmaker” to later generations. (wiki sourced)

Description: February, 1460: in the bitter dawn of a winter’s morning a young nun is caught outside her priory walls by a corrupt knight and his vicious retinue.

In the fight that follows, she is rescued by a young monk and the knight is defeated. But the consequences are far-reaching, and Thomas and Katherine are expelled from their religious Orders and forced to flee across a land caught in the throes of one of the most savage and bloody civil wars in history: the Wars of the Roses.

Their flight will take them across the Narrow Sea to Calais where Thomas picks up his warbow, and trains alongside the Yorkist forces. Katherine, now dressed as a man, hones her talents for observation and healing both on and off the fields of battle. And all around them, friends and enemies fight and die as the future Yorkist monarch, Edward, Earl of March, and his adviser the Earl of Warwick, later to become known as the Kingmaker, prepare to do bloody battle.

Encompassing the battles of Northampton, Mortimer’s Cross and finally the great slaughter of Towton, this is war as experienced not by the highborn nobles of the land but by ordinary men and women who do their best just to stay alive. Filled with strong, sympathetic characters, this is a must-read series for all who like their fiction action-packed, heroic and utterly believable.

Dedication: To Karen, with all my love

Opening is February 1460: The Dean comes for him during the Second Repose, when the night is at its darkest. He brings with him a rush light and a quarterstaff and wakes him with a heavy prod.
‘Up now, Brother Thomas,’ he says. ‘The Prior’s asking for you.’

Epic adventuring that had me hooked by page 52. In the time-honoured way of honest reviewing I shall point out the things that stopped this excellent story from being the 5* this read really deserves:

-The present tense prose: didn’t bother me at all once I was into the story but it will not appeal to some of my reading pals.

-That carrot ending: this really is a turn-off to many a reader and could be the kiss of death for a series. We don’t want to have it taken for granted by the author that we will buy into the next installment.

-Some secondary characters were barely fleshed out: I’m especially looking at a giant of a man who comes across as cartoon thug.

I loved this story, non-stop action featuring a lovely pair of modest but surprising heroes and that is all I can say for the moment as this is not due to be published until April. To I recommend it? Oh yes, the best adventure novel I have read in quite a while.

A word on Scrofula, sourced by The Science Museum:

In the Middle Ages it was believed in England and France that a touch from royalty could heal skin disease known as scrofula or the ‘king’s evil’. Scrofula was usually a swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck caused by tuberculosis. The practice began with King Edward the Confessor in England (1003/4-1066) and Philip I (1052-1108) in France.

Subsequent English and French kings were thought to have inherited this ‘royal touch’, which was supposed to show that their right to rule was God-given. In grand ceremonies, kings touched hundreds of people afflicted by scrofula. They received special gold coins called ‘touchpieces’ which they often treated as amulets.

By the late 1400s it was believed that you could also be cured by touching a type of coin called an angel, which had been touched by the monarch. After angels ceased to be minted in the 1620s the same effect was said to be achieved by touching a gold medallion embossed much like the old coin.

Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset (26 January 1436 – 15 May 1464) was an important Lancastrian military commander during the English Wars of the Roses. He is sometimes numbered the 2nd Duke of Somerset, since the title was re-created for his father after his uncle died. He also held the subsidiary titles of 5th Earl of Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Dorset and 2nd Earl of Dorset.Source

Kidwelly Castle

EXTRAS: You too can watch Dating in the Middle Ages

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