Thursday, June 18, 2009

Books read this Week

Shadow Kingdoms, by Robert E. Howard

This is a collection of short stories and poems all published back between 1927 and 1930, by one of my absolute favorite writers. All of them are filled with hard-hitting action and poetic descriptions, and this particular volume doesn't even have my favorite REH tales, those come later. Still all in all a good collection of his earliest published works. An example of a poem.

The Harp of Alfred

I heard the harp of Alfred
As I went o'er the downs,
When thorn-trees stood at even
Like monks in dusky gowns;
I heard the music Guthrum heard
Beside the wasted towns;

When Alfred, like a peasant,
Came harping down the hill,
And the drunken Danes made merry
With the man they sought to kill,
And the Saxon king laughed in their beards
And bent them to his will.

I heard the harp of Alfred
As twilight waned to night;
I heard ghost armies tramping
As the dim stars flamed white;
And Guthrum walked at my left hand,
And Alfred at my right.

I especially liked that piece because my great aunt went to England and did a lot of genealogy and found we are related to Alfred the Great, and that was something cool to me as a kid. An awesome set of books related to this I read are 'The Saxon Tales' series by Bernard Cornwell, they were my favorite reads last year. 4 in the series so far, can't wait for the 5th.

Like a Lamb to the Slaughter, by Ted Gibbons

This was an interesting historical piece that explained a few things I remember reading in D. Michael Quinn's 'Origins of Power'. It made a lot more sense to me about Presiding Bishop Marks clash with Brigham Young than I had previously thought, seems Marks was suspected of treachery just as much as William Law at one time.

Marcus King,Mormon, by Nephi Anderson

I actually liked this more than I thought I would. It seemed typical enough but every now and again Anderson throws out some gems of thought or lyricism. The rundown=King converts, loses girl, joins a handcart company, meets girl but agonizes over old one, becomes Bishop and is admonished by Brigham Young to, "I charge you to get a wife, or two if you like, as soon as possible." He then meets back up with the now wayward missionary who converted him, and the girl he met on the handcart trek. She loves him but wants him to resolve things with the old flame, and if you're interested read the rest, that's it in a nutshell. Like I said I was surprised that I did like it.

Batman: Going Sane, by J.M. DeMatteis and Joe Stanton

Quick premise, the Joker thinks he has killed the Batman, so what does he do but try and go straight since his whole reason for being, his torment is gone. He is still haunted by his former alter-ego even after finding a decent normal job and a girlfriend who loves old 40's comedies as much as he does. But the Batman isn't dead he has just been in convalescence and he comes back to pick up the pieces, finds the Joker who can no longer hold it together and things end up similar to as we expect, Joker gets away but hey its business as usual in Gotham. I liked it alright, except that I was supposed to buy that nobody has seen the Batman in like six-months, atypically if Batman is missing a few days Gotham goes to hell in a hand-basket but not this time. I can have suspension of belief but I already know what to expect out of the DC Universe and this clashed a bit much to me.


Th. said...


I've heard Marcus King is one of his best but I haven't found a copy yet.

David J. West said...

As I said, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I did like it. My copy is 109 years old but imagine you could still find a copy at some of the specialty shops that wouldn't hurt the wallet too bad. Would you like me to e-mail you a more in depth review?

Th. said...


Sure, yes.

Brian Murphy said...

Cornwell's The Saxon Stories are indeed awesome. Come on Bernard, I want no. 5!