Friday 25 November 2022

Light Perpetual by Andrzej Sapkowski

This last book of Sapkowski's Hussite Trilogy, sees our hero, Reynevan, journeying across war torn Bohemia and Silesia in search of his true love Jutta of Apolda, who's been abducted and effectively imprisoned in a nunnery. It seems like a journey of 'one step forward, and two steps back', as Reynevan is sent in first one direction then another, following information about where Jutta might be being held, trying to avoid his enemies, being sent on missions which take him in the wrong direction, and ending up captured himself. Through it all though he holds true to his purpose, ever striving for news of Jutta,

Sapkowski is better known as the author of fantasy novels - The Witcher series - rather than historical,  and, although the Hussite trilogy is set firmly in central Europe during the wars of the early 15th century, there's more than a touch of fantasy about it; Reynevan uses magic in his work as a physician, or amulets to help him pass unnoticed; his arch-enemy, Grellenort, shape-changes between man and bird. So it should appeal to fans of both genres. Be warned, this isn't historical romance but a story set during times of war, and aiming for a level of realism, meaning there's a lot of violence and casual brutality. 

I've come to the series late, starting with the last book, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment, although some aspects are not totally clear at the beginning, and there seemed to be a plethora of characters - good and bad - to become acquainted with in the first few chapters. At over 600 pages, it's long - normal for fantasy novels, less so for historical (unless you're thinking of Wolf Hall) - but settle in for a long consuming read and you won't be disappointed.

Friday 4 November 2022

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett


Review by The Mole

It's the 30th anniversary of the death of John Keel - a former mentor of Vimes and a founder of the Watch. An annual pilgrimage to Keel's graveside is underway by Watch men when Vimes, chasing a hardened criminal, is transported magically back in time along with Carcer, the chap he's pursuing. 

Arrested by his younger self, for fighting with Carcer, Vimes is put in a cell alongside the man who killed John Keel. Upon his release he heads to the Unseen University to ask to be transported back when he is accosted by time controlling monks who explain he must assume the identity of John Keel who has been murdered.

While Pratchett plays with time travel in ways so many authors have, he stays true to the Discworld and the style of writing we all love. I often find I criticize time travel in plots while reading but Pratchett manages to use it in a way where I don't feel such a need.

Excellently plotted and excellently executed this story explains much of the origin of Vimes who is, to many, the best character in the entire series.

While this book has won awards (as so many Pratchett books have) it has also been serialised for Radio 4. A truly magnificent creation that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend and the sixth book with Sam Vimes in.