Since I’m only just now finishing work at 7:30 in the evening, I don’t want to eat into too much of my time tonight with typing an update, so I’m going to substitute this quick review of two things I recently read.
First up is John Withington’s Britain’s 20 Worst Military Disasters. It’s certainly a remarkably fun topic, but there are a few points against it. First, it spends a lot of time on battles from the ancient era to the Dark Ages, of which we actually know very little. The chapters covering battles before about 1500 are dry, padding out the essential half-page of facts to five or ten pages of informed guesses and wild speculation. After 1500, things pick up a little. The chapters on colonial wars in Africa have been my favorite so far, citing as they do letters and cables from such figures as Redvers Buller and other veterans of campaigns from the Dark Continent. The First World War chapters were the same sort of slog as the First World War itself; the casualty counts left me as numb as they usually do. Two chapters on the Second World War round out the book, and they’re quite good, if a little shallow (by nature, the whole book is). For me, it’s about a 5 or 6 out of 10. Worth a read, but if you can find it cheap from Half-Price Books or abebooks.com, that’s probably a better move.
Second is the first entry in R.1 M. Meluch’s Tour of the Merrimack series, The Myriad. The genre is science fiction, and the setting is pretty standard in some places, and amusingly and cleverly implausible in others2. The characters and plot are on the larger-than-life side, which fits the kind of story it is: a throwback to the old-fashioned days of science fiction when men were men, women were women, humanoid alien overlords were extremely similar in terms of anatomy to humans, and the semi-sentient bugs were, as always, the mortal enemy. The mid-book twist struck me as very clever, but the twist at the end left a sour taste in my mouth. Still, the ride was enjoyable enough, and I’d call it a 7/10.
Next on my reading list is Young Nelsons, a history piece about the youthful officers and midshipmen of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. I’m looking forward to it.
There’s also a new recipe (if you can call something so easy a ‘recipe’) up at http://many-words.com/recipes.
1. Rebecca, if you care about that sort of thing, as opposed to whether it’s a good story.
2. Like the conspiracy theory underpinning the background of one of the major polities. You’ll know it when you read it.