by S.J.A Turney
I may be at a disadvantage with this dark, complex and involved epic historical thriller from Richard Blake in that it is the fifth in a series and I have leapt in at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I fear I have missed a number of nuances of character relationships that have built up in previous books (relationships between characters and also between characters and the reader.)
That being said, I reiterate how much I enjoyed it. I have four points I noted as I read through it which are the bones of my review: Continue reading
Note: So many reviews all over the place, Mr Blake is barely able to keep up with them!
Conspiracies Of Rome ~ Richard Blake
Some periods in history are rarely represented within the realm of historical fiction, in large part because there is little known historically. However, as time passes and archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and, more often than not, nature walkers stumble onto finds or information that had been lost. However, in having little information about a particular period, a creative author can fill the gap. Without definitive information, the author can afford to take liberties that would be impossible for stories say, within the rather more well documented Tudor period. Why more authors don’t take this opportunity is, quite frankly a mystery to me. Continue reading
From Free Life, Issue 17, January 1993
ISSN: 0260 5112
Routledge, London, 1992, 251 pp., £12.50
(ISBN 0 415 08764 3(pbk))
The beginning of scepticism is to realise that I cannot be sure if material objects really exist. I can, for example, take up my snuff box. What do I perceive? I see an area of colour bounded by other colours. I feel a smooth hardness. I smell menthol. If I open the box and carry a pinch of snuff to my nose, I can describe further sensations, culminating in a brief but intense burning, followed by an agreeable change in my way of conceiving and ordering ideas. At all times, I perceive impressions of a snuff box, never the thing itself.
This is not an idle distinction, since I have often in dreams experienced all the normal impressions of an object without once later supposing that a real object had actually been there. For at least this reason, then, impressions and the objects to which they may refer are logically separable. Continue reading
by B.K. Marcus
Note: Never heard of Enoch? These Americans are endlessly provincial. Then again, vanity and mediocrity can only be kept in union by a thick bond of ignorance. SIG
I was recently reading a book (the historical fiction, Conspiracies of Rome
by Richard Blake if you were to wonder) and early on in the book there were a few references to pills. Of the medicinal kind. ‘Buying pills from the Apothecary’. ’ Pills rattling in a metal pill box’.
This got me to thinking about pills in Ancient Rome. I had not come across any reference to them in an early Roman setting before, not in non fiction and not in fiction. That is not to say that there are none, just none that I have come across or remember. And, as is the way with me when I sense there is something new for me to learn about periods of history that interest me, my mind was awash with questions. Continue reading
by Kevin Carson
A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell
The following article was written by Kevin Carson and published on his blog Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism, March 29th, 2011.
Thaddeus Russell. A Renegade History of the United States (New York: Free Press, 2010).
Unlike many dissident histories of the United States, which attempt to portray racial minorities, sexual subcultures and subordinate classes as “worthy victims” in terms of the social mores of the white middle class, Thaddeus Russell celebrates the kind of people that your parents may have warned you about: the low-down, no-count, not-respectable people. You know, the folks who “never amounted to anything”—and neither would you if you didn’t steer clear of them. Continue reading
Since Mr Blake is notoriously disinclined to blow his own trumpet and bang his own drum, I feel a compelling obligation to do so for him. As chance may have it, you can buy any of his books with just two clicks by following the links from the right sidebar of this Blog. SIG Continue reading
This is the 3rd Aelric novel. It is like the first two with lots of plot twists and buckets of blood but with more of both. Its a fine story. (spoiler alert) One thing I want to bring up is that our hero makes a momentious decision towards the end. As readers know, he is what we would call a secular humanist and it one of his goals to save civilization or at least the Empire of the Romans. He is horrified by what absolutely has to be done to accomplish this. Is humanity worth saving? Aelic finds the detritus of one who answered this question in their time. They found keys to a door which just keeps on opening for our race. But he in his time decided man was not ready for this key. Aelric could turn that key and revive this empire of unjust taxation, pointless violence, God’s vicegerent on earth and white marble. Yes he decides to carry on with his goal but also leave the key for others to find. He knows that humanity with the power of knowledge is not worth saving without freedom for all– a job for many of our little lifetimes to fulfill and renew.
Can’t remember if I’ve posted this one:
The Sword of Damascus
By Richard Blake
Jarrow in the Dark Ages. Also the cold and wet ages, a particularly wearing combination for Brother Aelric, aged 94. Even worse, a pack of Vikings is threatening dire consequences unless the door of his monastery is opened. Surprisingly, they want him rather than plunder. It turns out they have been paid to bring him to their (unspecified) employer, who Brother Aelric suspects may be the Emperor of Byzantium. This is because he was once the Lord Alaric, legate extraordinary of the emperor, and his last departure from Constantinople was not a happy one. However, things are not as they seem, and the journey into the Mediterranean soon takes a very different course. Continue reading
Note: Mr Blake’s Ghosts of Athens is out in paperback on the 25th April. Place your orders now to avoid disappointment!
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written, February 23, 2013
Richard Blake continues his high standard of detail and storyline with his latest book. I recommend it to anyone interested in the period.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Incredible Work By Blake, February 5, 2013
This review is from: The Ghosts of Athens (Aelric) (Paperback)
The author’s fifth book in the series continued to amaze and delight this reader and I cannot wait for the next installment! His main and supporting characters are wonderful and so well developed over this long a series that they are like old friends. Of course the same action, intrigue, and naughtiness permeate this book as in the first four. I encourage all persons interested in Roman Empire Era fiction to read the entire series. Kindle readers will be happy that the “Aleric” books are available in that format.
Review of “Foundation” by Isaac Asimov
Policymakers, aka “social scientists,” tend to have a simplified framework for understanding man. We live in an era in which one understanding, homo economicus, is steadily being replaced by another, homo statisticus. If the church of homo statisticus has a patron saint, it’s probably the Hari Seldon that emerges in this book. Continue reading
Review of “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James
A while back, I had drinks with one of this blog’s best commenters, and he strongly recommended this book (he also provided some thoughts, some of which I’ve taken).
The recommendation came with a set of warnings, which should be heeded. To put it bluntly, the book is quite horrible. I merely repeat the obvious by saying that the writing is poor (it’s not just not good, it’s prole, it’s juvenile, it’s absurd), the characters are unbelievable, etc. Consult a mainstream review for more on these obvious aspects of the book.
And yet . . . Continue reading
From Free Life, Issue 19, November 1993
ISSN: 0260 5112
The New Joy of Gay Sex
Dr Charles Silverstein and Edmund White
The Gay Men’s Press, London, 1993, 220 pp., £16.95
(ISBN 0 85449 214 3)
Reviewed by Sean Gabb
I did think of turning this review into a plea for the toleration of sexual differences. But where homosexuals are concerned, I suspect I am about a decade too late. I will not claim that they have today no justified grievances. The criminal and civil law of this country embodies a mass of prejudice which ranges from the petty to the viciously destructive. Even so, the argument for removing that prejudice has been largely won in the minds of those who matter. There are very few middle class people left who regard homosexuality as something abominable – as justifying an exclusion that amounts to social death, or even as justifying the slightest legal disability.
Of course, such people do still exist. But they are the despised minority. They are the ones often excluded from polite society. They are even the ones whom this journal may soon be defending from a legal persecution.
This being said, I will deny my readers an unnecessary effusion, and move directly to consider the merits of this book. Continue reading
by Sean Gabb
It may have been observed that no issue of Free Life appeared between last October and January. The blame for this lapse is entirely mine, but the reason is Edward Gibbon. I opened the first volume of his Decline and Fall one Sunday afternoon in September, and closed the last volume early in December. During this time, almost every moment not reserved to earning a living or to the cares of married life was given up to reading Gibbon. I read him on railway trains and in the gaps between lectures. I read him in bed and once very furtively in the Church of St Mary le Bow. I read him sometimes with enthusiasm and sometimes with helpless envy. I read him sometimes with impatience. But always I read him in the knowledge that he was the greatest of English historians, and one of the four or five greatest of all historians, and easily one of the greatest of all English writers. Continue reading
Review of “Everyday Drinking” by Kingsley Amis
“Your writing,” she stated, “is getting more and more biased and entrenched in reactionary fuddy-duddyism.” An excellent summing-up, I thought, of my contribution to the eighties’ cultural scene.
This is a difficult book for me to review.
On one hand, the subject is very important and should be given its full due. On the other hand, Amis is a wonderful writer and it’s difficult not to set the substance aside and quote him a lot. Continue reading
by Keith Preston
A new study of the psychology of political beliefs indicates that Pareto was correct when he said that an individual’s political views are as much an indication of their own innate personality type and psychological makeup as much as anything else. In other words, we may be “hard-wired” to adapt certain political outlooks. Read about the study here. And see what the same study said about liberals and conservatives here.
Emma Goldman once said that anarchists are born and not made, and Sean Gabb said in his interview with me that being a libertarian is like being a homosexual in that it appears to be innate to the person’s own essential characteristics and not something that is merely adopted. I generally agree with that with the qualification that political beliefs, like sexuality, are something of a continuum. Someone can be either a hard-core libertarian or merely be a libertarian-leaning liberal, conservative, socialist or centrist. Also, I’ve noticed that people raised in libertarian or anarchist families seem to be much more likely to hold those views as adults when compared to people raised in environments where more conventional political views were the norm. The ironic observation that we can make from this is that people who are normally herd creatures (which is most people) can in fact adopt libertarian or anarchist views if such views are the norm for the “herds” with which they are the most closely associated. There is also the question of “libertarians of convenience,” that is, folks who adopt libertarian views because they believe their values or references groups are under attack by the existing state and embrace libertarianism as a survival strategy for their own kind. Continue reading
Communism in the US has a long history. Let’s set aside the earliest bits and focus on the two most recent periods. These periods are the US-Russian Alliance period and the modern progressive period.
The US-Russian Alliance period was characterized by – unsurprisingly – an alliance between American Communists and Russian ones. This story is relatively well documented, if still not exactly well known. Continue reading
by Andy Nowicki
Note: Derek Turner and I have been friends for many years. I haven’t yet had time to read and review his novel, but will do do over Christmas. In the meantime, here is a review and interview by somebody else. SIG Continue reading
by Norman Horn
The War on Drugs is a War on Freedom
Book review of The War on Drugs is a War on Freedom by Laurence Vance. Vance Publications, 2012. Orlando, FL. $9.95 at Amazon.com. Cross-posted from LibertarianChristians.com.
To many newcomers to libertarian ideas – especially Christians – it is not always perfectly clear why libertarians oppose the War on Drugs so strenuously. Some Christians even think that the only reason libertarians oppose government prohibition is so that they can get high legally. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply put, we despise government prohibition because it is a power no government should have. Moreover, the War on Drugs is an incredible example of precisely how a government usurps liberty, destroys lives, and consolidates power unto itself. This short book by Dr. Laurence Vance, writer at LCC, LewRockwell.com, Mises.org, and the Future of Freedom Foundation, explains in great detail why everyone should oppose the War on Drugs . Continue reading
Review of “Back to Blood” by Tom Wolfe
“Miami is the only city in the world, as far as I can tell—in the world—whose population is more than fifty percent recent immigrants… recent immigrants, immigrants from over the past fifty years… and that’s a hell of a thing, when you think about it. So what does that give you? It gives you—I was talking to a woman about this the other day, a Haitian lady, and she says to me, ‘Dio, if you really want to understand Miami, you got to realize one thing first of all. In Miami, everybody hates everybody.’”
. . .
try mixing the white, the black, the brown, and the yellow in a place like this! It wouldn’t last one hour! It would explode! Nothing left but blood and sexual debris—
. . .
“You will have a picture of mankind with all the rules removed. You will see Man’s behavior at the level of bonobos and baboons. And that’s where Man is headed! You will see the future out here in the middle of nowhere! You will have an extraordinary preview of the looming un-human, thoroughly animal, fate of Man!” Continue reading