How the Irish Saved Civilization (Hinges of History #1)

How the Irish Saved CivilizationHow the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The titular question of Thomas Cahill’s first Hinges of History book is one that gets people interested in picking it up. Yet the length of How the Irish Saved Civilization brings into question on if Cahill adequately answers his own question with such a slender book that promoted becoming a bestseller.

Cahill’s focus is on the end of the Western Roman Empire and how the literary tradition, in fact literacy itself survived the end of the Roman era and begin in the new Germanic aftermath of the fall of Rome. The survival of literacy in Europe is thanks to the efforts of the newly Christianized Irish, the people not considered worth the conquest by Rome that keeps the legacy of Rome alive in Western Europe. The Irish through the missionary effort of the future St. Patrick turn from a non-literate oral society into a literate and learning center in less than a century. The proud warrior-centered culture became “warriors” for learning that attracted scholars all over Europe to learn and read at the many monasteries, but then the Irish started spread away from their island home first across the Irish Sea to Great Britain than all across Europe founding monasteries as they went to continued their tradition.

Cahill attempts to create portraits of the Irish before and after their conversion to display how their culture changed, but also how it stayed the same and influenced the Celtic Christian tradition of the British Isles. In contrast, Cahill portrayed the Roman worldview and culture including how it influenced Roman Christianity. Although both these attempts were somewhat successful, the result in the book came off as a little disjointed in cohesion. The lack of firm historical data or sources for some of Cahill’s depiction of St. Patrick, acknowledged in the book’s bibliographic sources hurts of the quality of the overall work as well.

How the Irish Saved Civilization is a nice history for the general reader, however unlike later installments of the Hinges of History series it is lacking in a quality connected structure and solid sources. Cahill should be praised in giving readers understanding in how the society of Western Europe both changed and stayed the same with the fall of Rome and the beginning of the early Middle Ages, however the quality of the book is only so-so.

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The Last Continent (Discworld #22, Rincewind #6)

The Last Continent (Discworld, #22)The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once again Rincewind is running for his life and saving the day as a byproduct, but this time he gets to be drunk so no worries. The Last Continent is Terry Pratchett’s 22nd installment of Discworld, the sixth to feature his first main character (Rincewind), is the location that most of the action in and around the flat world is centered but while the last built it happens to have the oldest land as well which has interesting effects on a wizard search party looking to find their lost colleague. And we find out how duckbilled platypus’ came to be.

The Librarian is sick and keeps on turning into different things, whether another animal, plant, or inanimate object, and the faculty of the Unseen University figure out they need to find Rincewind to help heal their ape colleague. However Rincewind has been struggling across the red desert continent of XXXX and meeting interesting Eckians, who attack him when he asks about rain. Unfortunately for the inept wizard, the continent’s creator has taken an interest in him and sent a trickster god to led Rincewind to save the day. These two storylines are interconnected through time travel and the power of the gods, resulting in hilarity.

Throughout the entire book Pratchett keeps the humor and the narrative going forward, yet the quality is not consistent throughout. Both storylines take a bit to finally get going and some of the jokes were told too many times, but once the stories were going along the tiring jokes can’t impede the reader’s progress only annoy them.

The Last Continent is an example of a really good Rincewind book as Terry Pratchett uses his first main character’s unique traits shine and enhances a very well written narrative. In my reading of Discworld, Rincewind books are either really good or just okay, except for Eric which was just not good, and I can say that this particular installment from the Discworld is a worth to read.

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The Hunger Games (THG #1)

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the biggest young adult book and film franchises since Harry Potter has been The Hunger Games trilogy, named after the first book of the series. In The Hunger Games, author Suzanne Collins introduces the reader to a dystopian North America and a country that controls its citizens by taking their children and forcing them to watch them kill one another for honor and glory, because they can.

The reader is introduced to Katniss Everdeen who volunteers to take her little sister’s place in the titular Hunger Games via Katniss first person account of her journey from 16-year old young woman to victor of the 74th Hunger Games. Although from the beginning it is obvious that Katniss will survive to the end of the book, it’s her journey of preparation to victorious survival and possible finding love that keeps the reader interested throughout the book. The details and descriptions throughout the book bring added depth to the story, especially because of the first person perspective that Collins’ choice to write the story in. Even though the book is around 450 pages, Collins’ word choice makes it an easy read that has depth and breadth that makes the pages turn quickly.

Overall, The Hunger Games follows in the great tradition of dystopian science fiction but is still original in concept and execution. The finish and aftermath of the 74th Hunger Games sets up the further story of Katniss Everdeen that will have the reader wanting to continue on to see what twists and turns in her life that she has in front of her. So I cannot give a big enough recommendation.

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Mid-June Update

Cleaning Blog

Hey everyone, I just wanted to give you all a heads up about the future of this blog.

Why no update?

I’ve been busy for the last few weeks since creating this blog both with real life stuff, attempting my own writing, and reading Marlborough: His Life and Times which was 1000+ pages thus meant I focused a little more of my time to finishing it.  But now I’ve got some more free time coming up and so I’m going to get to working on cleaning up the blog.

What do you mean “Cleaning in Progress”?

My friend Bookstooge gave me a heads up about how to import my posts from my Blogger site, but as a result my categories and tags are really messed up.  So over the coming months I’ll be going through the 300 posts I imported and begin straightening them up.  As you can tell most of those posts are from Goodreads  but because of the star rating system on GR having no half stars I’ll be changing some of the posts to be reflect my true rating.  I just have to find some good star icons that include half stars.

Anything else?

I’ll be continuing to post new book reviews–one will be up tomorrow–and I still have to review the two Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows films as my reread & rewatch of Harry Potter that I started back in December 2013.  As things progress, I’ll do as I promise in my Welcome post plus many other things I didn’t mention.  However, it’ll all take time.

Thanks for those that have already started following me and hopefully you’ll won’t regret it in the future.

Marlborough: His Life and Times (Book One)

Marlborough: His Life and Times, Book OneMarlborough: His Life and Times, Book One by Winston S. Churchill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first Duke of Marlborough during his life and afterwards was a controversial figure that tended to be seen in a rather bad light by history until Winston S. Churchill set about to fully rehabilitate the English/British general and statesman. Marlborough: His Life and Times (Book One) contains the first two volumes of Churchill’s four volume biography of his ancestor John Churchill that cover the first 55 years of the general’s life.

The first volume of Churchill’s biography of Marlborough covers the first half of the book from the Duke’s birth to the death of William III at the beginning of the War of Spanish Succession. Events and Marlborough’s actions throughout this period colored contemporaries views of him as well as later historian’s opinions of him. Yet this was a turbulent time in English history, as politics was first dominated by Roundheads and Cavaliers before becoming Protestant and Catholics along with Tory and Whig followed by Jacobite and Anti-Jacobite. Without the deep understand that Churchill gives the actions of Marlborough would make him look wish-washy. The second volume consists of the first four years of Marlborough’s time as commander-in-chief of the Grand Alliance as well as de facto co-Prime Minister of England. Throughout this second volume of Churchill’s biography, the life of the commander-in-chief of an alliance was not easy and many of Marlborough’s military plans were frustrated by the want of will by his allies, mainly the Dutch. But it wasn’t until Marlborough marched to the aid of the Holy Roman Empire that he was able to conduct the military operations that he wanted which gave him the first great English victory on the Continent since Agincourt, yet the next year his designs were once again frustrated leading to military and political unrest amongst the Great Alliance.

Given the author’s relationship to his subject and stated purpose to readjust the historical view of his ancestor, one could expect a true glorification of Marlborough but to Churchill’s credit he did not. While Churchill does take time give the reader an understanding of the changing political environment throughout Marlborough’s life and explained his actions in relation to them. When it came to Marlborough’s military operations, Churchill is actually balanced in his approach to his ancestor’s military decisions as well as “what if” scenarios when Marlborough was frustrated in his planning. Yet Churchill savages those who did frustrate Marlborough’s planning through either over caution or plain envy.

Marlborough: His Life and Times (Book One) gives an in-depth look at the second half of the 17th century and the early part of the War of Spanish Succession through the life of John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. Winston Churchill writes engagingly and makes a full picture of events that leaves the reader in no doubt the facts surrounding an issue. After finished Book One, you’ll be wanting to start Book Two.

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Welcome

This blog will be dedicated generally to book reviews and thoughts on books or on series.  One of these series is A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) and my thought on theories posited across the Internet from here on WordPress to YouTube.  From time to time I will actually review or discuss movies and TV shows, besides Game of Thrones, when the mood suits me.  And I will also talk history or alternate history ideas from time to time as well, again as the mood suits me.