May Reviews, part one

Hey, I’ve had a not so great few weeks, and have got behind with my reviews (sorry!) but to make up for it, here’s four book reviews.

Writers of the Future Volume 31

David Farland


Published by: Galaxy Press
Pub Date: 4th May 2015
ISBN: 9781619863224
Currency: USD
Edition: Paperback


From Alien Invasion to Alternate History, from Cyberpunk to Comic Fantasy to Post-Apocalyptic Worlds, these are the winning writers who have mastered every version and vision of sci-fi and fantasy. Let your imagination soar with these amazing stories of the New Golden Age.

My Review

I enjoyed the variety of stories in this collection, the occasional essays from renowned sci-fi writers gave insight in to the genre, and the artwork complemented the stories well. There is a great deal of artistic talent, both graphic and literary arts, in this volume.


Irona 700
Dave Duncan


Published by: Open Road Integrated Media
Publication Date: 18th Aug 2015
ISBN: 9781504005920
Price: 9.99
Currency: USD
Edition: Paperback


Fantasy at its most enchanting: An original and absorbing tale from a master storyteller about the profound effects of a single life on the battle against ultimate evil

It is Midsummer Day, the beginning of the year 700, in the city of Benign. All the children born in the year 684 celebrate their joint sixteenth birthday by passing in front of the statue of the blind goddess Caprice—but only one will become the Chosen and join the Seventy who govern and guide the city.

Much to her surprise, Irona Matrinko, one of the many children of an impoverished fisherman, is chosen. Irona 700 moves into the palace and, with the help of a new mentor, recognizes and cultivates her great talent for guiding wars: strategy and tactics, leadership and inspiration.

As Irona gives her life to the city, an ancient enemy, Maleficence, attacks again and again, corrupting Irona’s friends, destroying her lover, and continually defeating her grandest plans for peace and harmony. Along the way, Irona becomes a masterful politician, a shrewd judge of character, and, even at great cost to her personal happiness, a true heroine.


In general I enjoyed this story, though I’m not sure it’ll go on my re-read list. It was an adventure, with the protagonist’s world firmly realised, but the denouement was obvious from about a third of the way through and when it came was a let down. Irona was not a particularly likable character although there was some character development towards the end.


The Dignity of Chartism
Dorothy Thompson


Published by: Verso
Publication Date: 19th May 2015
ISBN: 9781781688496
Price: 24.95
Currency: USD
Edition: Paperback


Groundbreaking studies of Britain’s first major working-class movement

This is the first collection of essays on Chartism by leading social historian Dorothy Thompson, whose work radically transformed the way in which Chartism is understood. Reclaiming Chartism as a fully-blown working-class movement, Thompson intertwines her penetrating analyses of class with ground-breaking research uncovering the role played by women in the movement.

Throughout her essays, Thompson strikes a delicate balance between down-to-the-ground accounts of local uprisings, snappy portraits of high-profile Chartist figures as well as rank-and-file men and women, and more theoretical, polemical interventions.

Of particular historical and political significance is the previously unpublished substantial essay co-authored by Dorothy and Edward Thompson, a superb piece of local historical research by two social historians then on the brink of notable careers.


This collection of essays displays the vast knowledge of Dorothy Thompson regarding Chartism. The introductory essay puts Dorothy Thompson’s work in the academic context of her times, as well as sharing fond anecdotes about the Thompson family. The remaining essays cover the breadth of Chartism with depth. The second part of the book focuses on Chartism in a localised context – Halifax, Yorkshire.

The essays are fluently written, with cogent arguments and supporting evidence.

Thoroughly interesting and educational. Worth the effort to read.

Also, I love the cover.


Rome’s Revolution: Death of the Republic and Birth of the Empire

Richard Alston


Published by: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 1st Jun 2015
ISBN: 9780199739769
Price: 29.95
Currency: USD
Edition: Hardcover


On March 15th, 44 BC a group of senators stabbed Julius Caesar, the dictator of Rome. By his death, they hoped to restore Rome’s Republic. Instead, they unleashed a revolution. By December of that year, Rome was plunged into a violent civil war. Three men–Mark Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian–emerged as leaders of the revolutionary regime, which crushed all opposition over the next decade. In time, Lepidus was removed, Antony and Cleopatra were dispatched, and Octavian stood alone as sole ruler of Rome. He became Augustus, Rome’s first emperor, and by the time of his death in AD 14 the 500-year-old republic was but a distant memory and one of history’s greatest empires had been born.

Rome’s Revolution provides a riveting narrative history of this tumultuous period of change. In addition to chronicling the drama of aristocratic rivalries, author Richard Alston digs beneath the high politics of Cicero, Caesar, Antony, and Octavian to reveal the experience of the common Roman citizen and soldier. Portraying the revolution as the crisis of a violent society–both among the citizenry and among a ruling class whose legitimacy was dwindling–Rome’s Revolution provides new insight into the motivations that drove men to march on their capital city and slaughter their compatriots. An enthralling story of violent politics, social upheaval, and personal betrayal, Rome’s Revolution is a brilliant new history of an epoch which still haunts us today.


A well-written and enthralling description of events in the Roman Empire between 44 BCE and 15 CE. I found this book throughly interesting, and throughout the narrative the author describes events with sympathy, making connections to modern politics and ideas. The maps were very helpful, too.


— And that, m’dears, is that for this week’s reviews. More next week.

— In other news, my ESA hasn’t been paid, so I’m a bit worried about paying the rent, my replacement door between the kitchen and sitting room has arrived, and I’ve been to vote. I’ve never seen the polling station so busy. There was a queue!


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