Friday, 11 April 2014

The Best of The Review: Favorite Posts From the First Half Year (Volume IV)

Wolf's Head by Steven A. McKay~~

We all know of Robin Hood; the archetypal swashbuckler in Lincoln green, from the Hollywood sanitised Errol Flynn to the family friendly recent BBC TV series; although personally, being a bit of an aging hippy, I’ll always have a love of the 1980’s Michael Praed series… besides, do you remember Maid Marion back then? Wow! But I digress… Robin Hood was a Wolfshead, an outlaw, living in brutal times on the periphery of feudal society. Chivalry, the concept to curb the blood lusty excesses of the nobility, would not apply to the outlaw. Outlaws would be desperate men, forced into theft and murder in order to survive. Therefore for, gutsy realism, my first choice will be Stuart’s excellent review of Wolfs Head, from the talented pen of Steven A McKay. Perhaps this intro is a bit long but it's true about Lady Marion*sigh* ~~Rob

When you take such a well known and well loved tale as Robin Hood and his Merry Men it would be only too easy to go down that well trodden path so familiar to all who know the legend. "Hail fellow and well met!" greetings between rosy cheeked outlaws who dress in green tights and short tunics like medieval tranvestites while swinging through Sherwood Forest laughing like giddy schoolboys. It was therefore a delight to read this book and find that Steven A. McKay has taken the legend, given it a good shake and let this thoroughly enjoyable version fall out.

From the very first page you find yourself in Yorkshire rather than Nottinghamshire, in the village of Wakefield rather than Loxley. Here Robin is a common man who through a moment of anger is forced into fleeing his home, his family and his love Mathilda. These changes add a genuine fresh twist to the tale which adds so much to the book. 

His travails in the wild woods as he is forced into seeking the company of a band of outlaws in order to survive allows the author to introduce some well known names while fleshing out their characters and giving them a background history which makes them feel like real people. What all these outlaws have in common is by and large they have been forced into a life of theft and murder through forces beyond their control. Rich landlords, royal officials and sheriffs are the villains of the piece here and there are plenty of stand-out scenes which allows you to cheer on Robin and his friends as they battle the forces of oppression.

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Lorri Covers It: Steampunk Cover Review~~

You can’t judge a book by the cover, but you can get an inkling of what it’s about. For lovers of Steampunk, that subgenre of Sci-Fi set in a Victorian world, the imagery is important. Lorri’s analysis is superb and the covers featured are stunningly beautiful.~~Rob

The Affinity Bridge by George Mann,
Tor Books
For the uninitiated, Steampunk is a subgenre of Sci Fi, and one that has many explanations. My take on this quirky and slightly wonderful “thing” is to imagine the console of the Tardis, add the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and plonk it all into a late Industrial Revolution setting (London or the Wild West). I think the best summing up of it comes from The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, who state “if Jules Verne or H.G. Wells were writing their science fiction today, it would be considered “steampunk”.

When I first looked at this genre, I had trouble getting it – much like the first time I picked up a Terry Pratchett book, but I have since become a convert, and I am now considering an entire wardrobe change as a result. Reviewing Steampunk book covers has also proved more difficult than the other genres; mainly because there is no right or wrong. Steampunk continues to evolve, and so therefore does reader taste and the art associated with it. To that end, I have decided that there are no bad Steampunk covers – just lots of different ones. Here are some to whet your appetite.

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