Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Knight with Armour

By Alfred Duggan

I forget which, but one of the many wargamers-with-blog posted a review of this novel and it sounded like something I ought to pick up, so I did. I've never heard of Alfred Duggan and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I read the review and a few online comments, and I was quite encouraged. When the blurb on the back of the novel told me that 'Duggan looks upon the past with a connoisseur's relish of villainy and violence', I was impatient to begin.

It must be taken into account that Duggan lived in an age before re-enactment had cleared up a few erroneous ideas regarding armour, but once that's taken care of, 'Knight with armour' is a very nice little tale, packed with interesting details, and told, as the blurb stated, with a relish of villainy (the violence is neither here nor there when compared to contemporary films and novels).

The story tells of protagonist Roger de Bodeham who starts out on the first crusade to liberate the Eastern Christians, taking with him the meager assets afforded by his father and elder brother and the many hardships and difficulties he meets along the way, not least with his conscience and the oaths he undertakes in the name of his pilgrimage. The novel contains several accounts of sieges undertaken during the campaign, but never really gets into the nitty gritty, and some of the assumptions regarding siege towers seem a bit dated to me.

The Quantum Thief

By Hannu Rajaniemi.

As I was on Amazon buying books I came across this one in the ads and the cover illustration was sufficiently interesting to motivate a purchase. I don't often buy random books from Amazon, and for good reason, but sometimes you get lucky, much as you might in an old fashioned book store (and when was the last time I bought a book from a regular shop?).

'The Quantum Thief' is Rajaniemi's first novel, which as I read it seemed rather obvious as it was crammed with blatant attempts to create a sense of a distant future. In many ways it reminded me of 'The Golden Transcendence' trilogy, only clumsier. Being shorter it has more charm however, and that helped me read it because if this had stretched on to two more novels, I'd not have managed to gather enough interest to read them. As it is, the story is long enough to constitute a decent read and short enough to stay interesting, and that's all I ask of a story.

Though I wasn't all that impressed, the story was still enough that I may very well read the next novel Rajaniemi produces.


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

"Knight with Armour" - think that was probably me... but it would have been ages ago... seem to remember the book ends with the hero dying having fallen off the battlements or something?? If so I remember thinking it made a nice change to have a "realistic" ending...

moif said...

Thats the one Steve. Apparently it was Duggan's first novel. I looked over the list and a lot of the novels were about Roman's or set in historical periods I amless interested in. His last novel caught my attention however, it is about Count Bohemond and sees the first crusade from his perspective.
Naturally I ordered it.