April 24th, 2012

Labyrinth: Jareth Eyes

Book 1 - Death Comes To Pemberley by P. D. James

In this novel the original main characters from Pride and Prejudice are revisited, including Mr Darcy and his wife Elizabeth, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Georgiana Darcy, Wickham and Lydia Bennet. Initially I imagined Wickham would fall foul to the murderer, but this was proven not to be the case. Instead, his friend, Captain Denny, another minor character from the original, is the victim, and Wickham is prime suspect, ending up on trial for the murder. It is then for Darcy, not Wickham’s greatest fan, to try to learn the truth as to what happened, as for all Wickham’s faults he doesn’t believe him capable of murder.

This book was okay, but doesn't really inspire me to be any more enthusiastic than that about it. I imagine that most people who come to this book are very familiar with Pride and Prejudice, its plots and characters, having read the book at least once and probably seen at least one tv or film adaptation. So, I didn't really see the need to have so much of that original story regurgitated and mulled over for much of the book.

It began in this way, and went on so long that I was wondering when we would get to the original and new story, and ended in the same way, which I thought was a real shame. The Epilogue, Darcy sitting with Elizabeth discussing his past conduct in the lead up to his second successful proposal just needed unnecessary. This book is set years after the original, so surely all this wouldn’t be so prominent as to be the closure of the book?

I really wish I had more positive to say about the book, I wanted to enjoy it, although I do admit I’m a little uneasy when delving into the realms of sequels/prequels to great novels written by other authors.


Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

While waiting impatiently for a patient to get back from an MRI, I read Osprey New Vanguard #182: Italian Battleships of World War II which was oddly interesting. As an early teen, I used to read everything I could get my hands on about WWII, especially naval issues, but I knew little about the Italian forces of the period. This book filled in that gap nicely.
book and cup

#45 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark (1961)

I read this for the Muriel Spark reading week which I was alerted to by stuck-in-a-book’s blog. I hadn’t read any Muriel Spark before and didn’t really know what to expect, although I did see the film many years ago.

'Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life

Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher at the Marcia Blaine School, it is a conventional school, but she is far from a conventional teacher. Miss Brodie develops her set of girls – the girls she intends to develop and influence so they become the crème de la crème. This relationship sets the six girls apart from their peers, and puts them at odds with the other teachers. The girls become her confident, through them she lives vicariously – while the girls weave their own stories around Miss Brodie.  They even become involved in her odd relationship with the art master.

The narrative is told across several time frames – as the girls grow from 10 years old to 15 and then 18 years old, with the adult girls looking back at their time with Miss Jean Brodie. Their reflections centre on their memories of what Miss Brodie saw as her betrayal by one of her girls.

"We shall discuss tomorrow night the persons who oppose me' said Miss Brodie. 'But rest assured they shall not succeed. ''No,' said everyone. 'No, Of course they won't. ''Not while I am in my prime. It is important to recognize the years of one's prime, always remember that,..'

The novel is short – and yet manages to pack quite a punch. The relationship between Jean Brodie and her girls is quite sinister Miss Brodie’s influence is all encompassing – although she certainly doesn’t wield all the power. Sandy particularly comes across as the rebel of the bunch – and was the most likeable of any of them.

I did enjoy this little novel, but I have found it hard to review it and I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I expected to. If I am honest I didn’t entirely like the writing style of this novel – although I do think it is well written, very witty as well as a little dark. I can’t work out exactly what it is about the style of the writing that didn’t gel with me – but something jarred. However overall I am glad I have read it– but I’m not sure I will be rushing out to get more Muriel Spark to read just yet.


Book 41: Egypt: Book of Chaos by Nick Drake

Book 41: Egypt: Book of Chaos (Rai Rahotep #3).
Author: Nick Drake, 2011.
Genre: Historical Thriller. Ancient Egypt
Other Details: Hardback. 349 pages.

In this final instalment of Drake's trilogy set during the time that Egypt was ruled by the 18th Dynasty, Rai Rahotep, Seeker of Mysteries, finds himself once more caught up in dangerous royal politics that will determine the future of Egypt.

Rahotep is asked by Queen Ankhesenamun, widow of King Tutankhamun, to accompany the royal envoy, Nakht, to meet with the King of the Hittites. Nakht is to attempt to broker a royal marriage between one of the King's sons and the Queen, who expects to soon become a widow for a second time. The need for an alliance is important as the powerful military leader Horemheb had been poised to take the throne after Tutankhamun's death but was thwarted in this ambition when Ankhesenamun married Ay, an elderly distant relative who is now close to death. With no children from either marriage, Ankhesenamun has resorted to the extreme measure of seeking an alliance with Egypt's long term enemy to ensure the continuation of her dynasty and to bring peace to Egypt.

Aside from fulfilling the request of the Queen and providing protection for Nakht with whom he has shared an unlikely friendship for some years, Rahotep has another reason to wish to make the journey. Recently in his duties as a Menjay he has become aware of a new threat to Thebes in the form of a gang of opium dealers who are utilising extreme violence to eliminate their competitors. They appear to be being supplied by a group known as the Army of Chaos. After someone close to him become a victim of the gang, Rahotep swears to extract a personal revenge. He hopes to learn more about the group and their secret supply route during the journey to the North.

The novel has a historical basis as records indicate that Queen Ankhesenamun did make overtures to the Hittite king, Suppiluliuma I, for a royal marriage alliance. Drake gives the details of what is known of this in his Author's Note as well as including a bibliography of non-fiction works about the period.

I have read the previous books in this series and found both quite enjoyable even if sometimes the conscious parallels he makes to modern-day life has led me to dub the series as CSI: Ancient Egypt. This was no exception but I enjoyed it very much. Rai Rahotep remains a sympathetic character and able narrator. Drake does once again captures the ambiance of his setting despite some of the modern sensibilities within the narrative.