Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hand of Fire by Judith Starkston

     I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review Judith Starkston's debut novel, Hand of Fire. This novel focuses on Briseis, a queen who is often no more than a footnote in the beautiful story of the Trojan War. I absolutely adore books that really flesh out otherwise minor characters since it is imperative for world-building. In Hand of Fire Briseis is given a beautifully woven back story. We see her spring to life as a young healing priestess who is taken captive by the Greeks.
     Leading the Greeks in their attacks is strong, handsome demi-god Achilles. Unlike many portrayals of Achilles in other works, Ms. Starkston's Achilles is well rounded and more complex. He is shown not as a mindless war machine, but as a young man who is aware of destiny and capable of being tender. Even after all the grief Achilles has caused for Briseis their relationship feels believable and real. 
      This story is so incredibly well researched, but not at all textbook-like that any reader, from the casual reader looking for a strong story to die hard history buffs, will find this book a pleasure. I really loved how this book made the ancient world come to life and be relatable to audiences while not losing its authenticity. It is evident Starkston felt such an attachment to her characters, because they are just so real! 
      All in all, I give this novel 4.5 out of 5 stars! If you are looking for an except of Hand of Fire, please click here, or if you are interested in purchasing it click here.
Judith Starkston

Find Q&A, book reviews, ancient recipes, historical background as well as on-going information about the historical fiction community on Starkston’s website www.JudithStarkston.com
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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Real Life Game of Thrones


   The number-one reason I am loving George R.R. Martin's fantasy epic, A Song of Ice and Fire book series, is the hardcore political action. The second reason, is all the similarities between the fictional characters and real-life historical figures. The third reason, Jon Snow.

I mean c'mon...
But back to reason number two...

Martin's book series is the inspiration behind HBO's hit television show, Game of Thrones. The series is set in the land of Westeros, or the Seven Kingdoms. Martin has said he used The Wars of the Roses, which was a series of wars fought in England in the 15th century between warring families the York's and the Lancaster's. One of the most obvious relationships between the fictional and the factional are the names: two of the major families in Westeros are the Stark's and the Lannister's. However, more in depth, individual characters seem to be very similar to historical figures.

  • Robert Baratheon, king of the Seven Kingdoms seems to have a lot in common with the infamous King Henry VIII. Both kings were very athletic in their youth but as they aged declined into obesity and drunkenness. Kings Henry and Robert also both left the governing of their kingdoms to others.
  • Cersei Lannister, queen of the Seven Kingdoms and wife to Robert Baratheon. To me, Cersei is a character who seems to be based on pseudo-history. Cersei shares traits with the much maligned Queen Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn was accused of high treason and incest with her brother, much like the character, Cersei. However, Cersei was guilty... and there is still tons of debate over Anne's innocence.
  • Robb Stark, is the son of Eddard Stark, best friend to Robert Baratheon. In the chaos after the death of King Robert, Robb declares himself King in the North and fights many battles trying to win governance over Westeros. He gets so caught up in battle victory and love that marries a girl of little wealth and of little political gain. Much like King Edward VI. King Edward was a young King who fought hard to declare his place on the throne, but jeopardized the whole thing by marrying Elizabeth Woodville.
  • Daenerys Targaryen- The Targaryen family ruled Westeros long before Robert Baratheon fought his way to the Iron Throne. Daenerys is the only heir to the Targaryen family. Like the future King Henry VII, Daenerys was raised in exile, where she is plotting to regain her family's throne.
The Wall which stands to separate the known world from the wilderness is very similar to Hadrian's Wall. Hadrian's wall was built along the borders of the Roman Empire to keep out any outsiders. Imagine who scary a wall such as that would be.

Anybody see any different similarities to characters? And would like to see more Game of Thrones/ historical figures or events articles? I am very open to suggestions!


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