Book Review: The Tournament – Matthew Reilly

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In later life, Elizabeth would rarely lose at chess. And on the far more dangerous chessboard of her life- at court in London and on the high seas against the House of Castille – she never lost.

 I had visited a friend a few months ago and in due course of conversation she handed me The Tournament by Matthew Reilly. I love historical fiction and soon found myself borrowing the book to read.

The year is 1546 and the young Princess Elizabeth is third in line to the throne. After a sudden burst of plague in England, she is taken to Constantinople by her tutor Roger Ascham to attend a chess tournament hosted by the Sultan. What follows is an exciting tale of murder, mystery and above all, chess.

The balance between the two major plot-lines ties up beautifully and there isn’t a moment when the reader can loose focus. On one side, we have the chess tournament where players from around the world compete against each other for the title of the “best player in the world” and on the other, we have the investigation of the murder of a cardinal. All together it makes a brilliant historical thriller. The tournament scenes keep you at the edge of your seat and the whole investigation keeps you hoping our main characters make it out alive.

Though it starts a little slow, The Tournament gains pace as you progress through the pages and is guaranteed to keep you hooked until the last page.

My copy is 410 pages long and ends with a short interview with the author. It also has a map of the city of Constantinople and of the Sultan’s palace. It is an easy read for any type of reader. The book does contain some strong adult themes (sexual and abuse) so I wouldn’t recommend it for young readers as it may cause some distress.

So what is real? Did Princess Elizabeth really travel to the Ottoman Empire in her childhood? As far as being historically accurate, The Tournament is purely fiction. Apart from a few of the major historical characters mentioned in the book who did exist in the past, everything else is pure imagination and is meant for our enjoyment.

The Tournament is a great read and has introduced me to the works of Matthew Reilly. I can’t wait to read more.

About the Author

Matthew Reilly is an internationally bestselling author who’s books have been published in more than twenty languages and sold nearly five million copies worldwide. His works include Contest, Temple, Area 7 and Hover Car Racer among others.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Fall of Giants (Part 1 of the Century Trilogy) – Ken Follett

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AN EPIC OF LOVE, HATRED, WAR AND REVOLUTION.

Five families are brought together through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the struggle for votes for women. FALL OF GIANTS combines richly developed historical detail with fast-moving action and powerful emotion to deliver this absorbing narrative. 

Fall of Giants is the first book in the Century Trilogy written by Ken Follett. Set between 1911 and 1924, it follows the lives of five families through the shattering events of the early century. I love historical fiction. The events that took place in the past century have changed the course of history and of mankind forever. I remember learning about the First World War in high school. Never did any event in history captivate me as much as it did. Ken Follett has once again proven himself as a master in writing and this book only increased my interest in the subject. He has written the events in such detail, you will find yourself googling places and events to help you along the book. 

FALL OF GIANTS will captivate you and amaze you. There are many instances in the book where you will find yourself gasping in horror, crying in disbelief and sighing in despair. It is a book that will take you to the Battle of Somme, on a walk through London demanding for votes for women and onto the streets of Russia during the Revolution. It is a history lesson in itself and you will never want to put the book down. The book will take you from the trenches in France to the poor neighbourhoods in Russia, from London’s high society to the White House. Every page leaves you wanting more. 

Each character relates the story through their point of view and in many situations two or more characters experience the same events. This way we get to know both the sides of the story. The book follows the storyline in a beautiful manner. Every character is somehow connected to the other and there is never a dull moment as there is never any chance for the plot to fall through. 

The book puts every thing revolving around WW1 in perspective. It makes it easy to understand even though it is a work of fiction. Ken Follett has tried to include every single possible explaination regarding the historical events of the time. There are many true historical characters and most of the events are not that much of fiction.

Being almost a thousand pages long( yes you read that right) Fall of Giants is a heavy read. My copy has 852 pages to be exact and that is not including the introductory pages of the book. The initial pages list down all the characters you will come across and how each are related. This comes in handy when you forget who’s who mid-way, and who can blame you? It is an epic read. I wouldn’t recommend for novice readers though, the sheer size of the book would scare anyone new away.  

 If you love history, this book is for you. If you love the early 20th century then this book is for you. Basically, if you have a passion for the past Fall of Giants should be on your reading list.

About the Author

Ken Follett is an award winning English author. Most notably known for his works in Thriller and Historical Fiction, many of his books are bestsellers worldwide.

 

Book Review: The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett

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Set in the turbulent times of twelfth-century England when civil war, famine, religious strife and battles over royal succession tore lives and families apart, The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the building of a magnificent cathedral.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is a historical novel set in 12th century England. It follows the lives of various characters as they are involved in the building of Kingsbridge Cathedral. The novel spans many years, beginning with the construction and ends with the completion of the building. This is the first historical novel by Ken Follett, who is otherwise knows for his books in the thriller genre.

The story is told through the viewpoint of all the main characters and the reader can get easily confused if they do not concentrate on the book. Once you get engrossed you will feel like you are a part of the book. You see Kingsbridge grow around you, you feel the pain and suffering of the characters. He writes so beautifully, and in such detail that you fall in love with the cathedral. You can close your eyes and see the minutest details, the carvings on the walls, the glow of the sun shining through the large windows.

A look at some of the main characters:

1) Prior Philip – Prior Philip is the prior of Kingsbridge Cathedral. He is a strong God fearing man who wants to build up Kingsbridge to it’s former glory.

2) Tom Builder – Tom is the Master Builder who takes up the responsibility to build the cathedral under Prior Philip.

3) Jack Jackson – The stepson of Tom Builder, He takes over the construction after his step father.

There are a host of other characters, both main and supporting. Each with their own personality and their own involvement in the building of the cathedral.

Coming to the appearance of the novel, my edition is gold on black with the illustration of the cathedral in gold. This grabs the attention of the buyer when you surf through books in the book store. The Pillars of the Earth has a total of 1076 pages excluding the introduction. This isn’t a book you can rush through. It took me three weeks to finish the entire novel.

I wouldn’t recommend this as a first book for somebody who wants to start reading as it may be too heavy for them. But if you are an avid reader, then go ahead!!! This is an amazing book and it is sure to keep you intrigued till the end.

After some research, I found that this book has a miniseries and a board game that is based on the book. The first chapter of the sequel “World without End” is also included at the end of the book. I definitely know which book I want next.

Book Review: Cleopatra’s Daughter – Michelle Moran

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After their parents death, Cleopatra Selene and her brother Alexander Helios, son and daughter of Queen Cleopatra and Mark Anthony are taken captive to Rome, where they are brought up in a Roman household. Meanwhile Rome is going through a turbulent time as the ‘Red Eagle’ is calling for an end to slavery.

Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran is one of the best novels I have read so far. Set in ancient Egypt and Rome, it follows the life of Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios, the twin children of Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and Mark Anthony. The story is written from the viewpoint of Cleopatra Selene.

First of all I have to say that the author has written the book in a beautiful descriptive way, while reading you can imagine the beautiful skyline of Alexandria and the bustling roads of Rome as if you were really there. While reading the novel I kept on being transported back to Rome. I could feel with the characters. It is very interesting. It captures the reader and I could not put this book down even for a minute. Michelle gives us an inside look into the lives of a Roman household. Their various outlooks towards slavery and justice.

The story also is about the growing Selene and we get to know her emotions while she is growing up. We get a look into the various emotions and feelings of an adolescent. Love, hatred, jealousy are a few of d feelings that are brought up.

The book has got two maps in the beginning, one of the Roman Empire and the other of Rome at the time of Emperor Augustus. It also includes a timeline which the readers can refer to. The book has a glossary at the back explaining all the terms, words and phrases used in the book. The author also takes her time in pointing out the true historical facts that have been included in the book and those which are fiction.

A few of the main characters are :
1) Cleopatra Selene : Known as Selene in the story. She is the only daughter of Queen Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. The entire story is written in her viewpoint. She is compassionate and feels for others. Selene has a love for drawing and loves architecture.

2) Alexander Helios : He is know as Alexander in the story. Named after Alexander the Great, Alexander is the eldest son of Queen Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. He is the twin brother of Selene. He and his sister are taken captive to Rome when there father is defeated in the ‘Battle of Actium’. He has a love for horses.

3) Octavian : The Emperor of Rome. He is referred to as Augustus later in the book. He defeats Mark Anthony in the battle of Actium and takes Selene and Alexander captive to Rome. He is the father of Julia and the husband of Livia.

The story is historical fiction. If you are an avid history lover then you would find this book amazing.