Richard II

Richard II by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This is one of my favorite plays by Shakespeare that I’ve read and have seen adapted on film. The question of kingship is at the center of the play in the figure of Richard II, both as a reigning and deposed sovereign, along with the power he possesses or is seen to possess. The character of Bolingbroke at first seen banished only to later return to reclaim his inheritance leading to his usurpation of the crown. The future Henry IV wants to first cleanse Richard of the bad influences, but through the influence of Northumberland and others he takes the crown. The juxtaposition is subtle but effective as well as the foreshadowing mentioning of the unseen Prince Hal.

Royal Assassin (Farseer #2)

Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy, #2)Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second installment of The Farseer Trilogy sees Fitz truly become a Royal Assassin as the Six Duchies is torn apart from by both external and internal forces.  The majority of the book centers on Fitz’s home, Buckkeep, as he assists his uncle Verity both physically and magically to help protect the common people.  However their efforts are hampered by Fitz’s other uncle Regal who uses the Skill-trained nobles trained by his own half-brother to disrupt communications and slowly kill his father, King Shrewd.  To add to these complications, Fitz must first deal with his health, his love for Molly, and his Wit-bonded wolf Nighteyes.

The various intrigues and duties Fitz must keep juggling is a realistic struggle that is the book’s strongest part, however as the book continues it also burdens the narrative the closer to the end than helps.  Given the style of the book, as an autobiography by an aged Fitz, the reader always has in the back of their mind that any dangerous situation that Fitz is in that he’ll survive because if he dies he couldn’t write the story.  However Hobb uses this knowledge to have a nice twist at the end of the book help Fitz escape his predicament right after the death of his grandfather, Shrewd.

Royal Assassin is a wonderful continuation of Assassin’s Apprentice as Fitz grows not only as a character through struggles both personal and “professional.” At the end of the book, the reader yearns to know what happens next to Fitz and all the characters Hobb peopled the fortress of Buckkeep with as the Raiders continue their campaign while the government heads inland.

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Love Labour’s Lost

Love Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare
My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

What can be the word I describe this play, literally. While the ending of the play does go with the play’s title, I found the whole set up for Act V Scene II strange. It might have to chalk it up to a 400 year cultural difference between playwright and reader, or this might be one of those plays one literally has to see to get.

The Rape of Lucrece

The Rape of Lucrece by William Shakespeare
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The second long poem I’ve read in my read-through of Shakespeare and unfortunately I don’t have a good opinion. It was not the subject manner nor the quality of the rhyme, but the various shifts of point-of-view are confusing and the long deviations, I call them this because I couldn’t figure out the relevance to the narrative, are confusing. However, in the end it could just be me.

The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This play by Shakespeare was delightful romp of situation comedy at it’s best, and might be the template for twin sibling shenanigans for centuries. The various interactions between the twin duos of Antipholus and Dromio along with the Ephesian citizens with the travelers from Syracuse are well thought out and funny. Of the three comedies I’ve read of Shakespeare this is the best so far.

The Portable Greek Historians: The Essence of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius

The Portable Greek Historians: The Essence of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, PolybiusThe Portable Greek Historians: The Essence of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius by Moses I. Finley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I originally purchased this book when I started college to prepare for my Senior Oral Exam, I skimmed but didn’t really retain much of each writer’s style save perhaps Herodotus.  After thoroughly reading the excerpted selections for these four writers, I can say the my decision to skim it originally was the correct one.  If M. I. Finley, the selector of this volume, gave an accurate representation of each writer through the excerpts he chose then Herodotus and Xenophon are the best readings while Thucydides gets bogged down in speeches and Polybius in the discourse of governmental comparisons.  However if the excerpts aren’t representative of each writer than the fault is with Finley.

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Venus and Adonis

Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The first poem in my reading, Venus and Adonis, is a smooth constructed story based on the Greco-Roman myth. Though I did get lost a few times when figuring out if the narrator, Venus, or Adonis was speaking it was an enjoyable piece. The ABABCC stanzas were well done and I often found myself admiring the precision of rhymes than the actual content.