Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rome - First episode on HBO

I wonder if any of you guys saw the first episode of Rome, on HBO (Sunday, August 28).

I really liked the first episode and I think it has the right look, very accurate in terms of how I imagined the city would look like. HBO seems to have put in a lot of time and effort into this series and I thought the sets / costumes alone are worth the price of admission (in this case, a premium subscription to HBO). I am sure all those who are fascinated by Rome will be delighted with this production, which is much better than the series "Empire", that was recently shown on ABC. Well, I guess the overall quality is so much better than ABC because the BBC is also involved in the production.

I thought the acting was superb and the British actors really flesh out the roles well, especially the women. Atia (mother of the future Augustus - in this series, he's still a young boy - Octavian) is played by Polly Walker and she's an excellent actress. I really liked her performance as well as some of the others in the cast.

Looking forward to the rest of the series as this is one of the most exciting shows to be broadcast yet on cable. HBO pulls no punches and you can expect this to be raw, brutal, sexy, exciting and extremely dramatic.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Another great site for historical authors (Rome) !

This link was suggested by Skarr, one of our volunteer reviewers.

This site has some of the best research links and material on ancient Rome and should be bookmarked by any author or writer doing books set in Rome. There is also a great, interesting and lively forum where you can post and share views with others.

This link is at : http://unrv.com

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Great site that encourages all writers !

Check out this site, which has tons of resources for all writers! I have also added a link on the sidebar - "Historical Fiction Resources".

Link to site


Thursday, August 18, 2005

New review will be published soon

Check out the Books awaiting review section for details - The Final Solution : A Sherlock Holmes Mystery set in 1892 - London, England. Will be reviewed by LT.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Review of novel set in ancient Rome / Greece 148 - 146 BC

Woman of Stone - a novel by Debra Tash [ Publisher Zumaya Publications]

In 148 BC, the praetor or Roman governor assigned to Macedonia, Quintus Caecilius Metellus, crushes the revolt in that province, putting to bed any dreams of Macedonian independence inspired by Andriscus, a pretender to the throne, who claimed to be the son of the famous Perseus. While Metellus was busy with his new army, later honored by the senate on his return to Italy in 146 BC with the cognomen Macedonicus, the Greeks sought to lead a semi-revolt against Rome, appointing Critolaus, one of their pro-independence leaders as a dictator in Corinth. Envoys sent by Rome were mistreated and to teach the city a lesson, the Roman senate sends Lucius Mummius (later awarded a cognomen Archaicus for his victories in Greece) to teach the Corinthians a lesson, prompted by mercantile interests in the region, as Mummius is a known, rapacious plunderer and not only razes Corinth to the ground after massacring its citizens but steals its most precious works of art and has them shipped back to Rome.

This novel by Debra Tash cleverly blends her story of a young priestess of Apollo at Delphi and the unexpected love that blossoms between her and Macedonicus against this backdrop of war and tumultuous conflict in Greece. Not only does she manage to keep a consistent, dramatic and at times, poignant thread between the lives of the ordinary characters in her book and these tremendous events that were to shape the history of Greece, but she also paints a vivid, colorful and historically accurate portrayal of those times, by transporting the reader to that time through the sheer power of her prose.

There is quite a seamless transition between the way the characters relate to one another in their personal capacity to the actual historical events that shape and direct their lives. Debra also presents the inner workings of a general’s soul as she delves deep into his thoughts to flesh out the man for who he really was, rather than relying solely on historical accounts of the life of Macedonicus. The priestess, Timarete, for whom the great general develops a powerful attachment is a little mysterious and I think portrayed as a little too virtuous, the ideal of the perfect, chaste woman who is utterly blameless and without a single fault. This to me was the sole defect, if any, that you can find in this novel, as regards the way this character was presented. In my mind, a few flaws in her character would have made her a little more believable. However, this is a very minor nit and the novel is not only full of excitement, but moves at a dramatic pace and builds up to a thrilling climax, when the reader can find the opportunity to be a part of history as Corinth is razed to the ground by the avaricious Mummius.

There were a couple of other things, again minor, which I didn’t care for. One was the frequent reference to ‘One God’ and other concepts which I felt detracted a little from the overall theme of the novel, as the characters try to justify their thoughts and actions. In the case of the general, it is remorse for the inevitable deaths that he is personally responsible for and in the case of the priestess; it is a sense of shame tinged with a slightly misogynistic view of the world, a recurring theme whenever a female character expresses her thoughts and feelings. Again, these are relatively minor nits and a matter of personal preference and in no way detracts from the overall excellence of the book. Debra writes very easily and her prose is often lyrical and very evocative of the times, giving you a real sense of what it must have felt like, living in ancient Greece. There are scenes of everyday life and life in the camp and numerous other touches which I found wonderful.

Although there is an undercurrent of romance in the novel, I would hardly classify this as a Historical Romance novel and would instead categorize this more as Historical Fiction, as the author has done some pretty painstaking research and it shows throughout the novel. This is overall, a great read and for any young adults out there who want to really learn about history and forget about Harry Potter for a minute, try reading this work and you will find that history can be truly fascinating and can not only educate you but really push the envelope insofar as your imagination is concerned. Due to adult and mature themes in certain parts, I would recommend this for young adults or mature teens.

Link to author's site - Debra Tash

Link to publisher's site - Zumaya Publications

The ebook is available at ebookad.com and you can locate this easily by doing a search by Title or by Author. You can also pick up a paperback edition at amazon.com or on the publisher's web site. For all fans of historical fiction, this is a must read!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Our First Review should be published soon

Skarr has found a book that he would like to review / feature on this site, as he was intrigued by the description. The central character is a famous Roman, Quintus Caecilius Metellus and by a curious coincidence, this same character, a famous Roman general, featured in a short story submitted by Skarr some months ago, well before he came across this book.

Update : The author of this book is Debra Tash and her book is titled "Woman of Stone", published by zumayapublications.com

The Books awaiting Review section has accordingly been updated.

The book set in the Victorian Era turned out to be a romance type of novel, not really a work of historical fiction. I think it is all right if the work contained romantic elements and did involve a romantic story at its core, but the work should primarily have a lot of historical detail for this to qualify as a work of historical fiction. Sometimes, authors categorize novels under Historical Fiction but it turns out that there are few details when you actually read the book, except for the names of places and maybe character names and little else. In my mind, that doesn't really count unless there is a sense of history and there are little details that put you in a different time and place from a reader's viewpoint.