Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: Trade Winds To Meluhha

I let a few days pass before I wrote my review - then re-read the book again to refresh my thoughts and found myself enjoying this book all over again.

I loved the concept of a novel being set in the ancient Indus Valley, long before "civilisation" came to Europe - it is a period I was greatly unfamiliar with (besides the basics taught in school) - so this afforded a welcome opportunity to immerse myself in this period (without all the scholarly research which the author has kindly done for us).

The author does take some liberties - as he clearly states - to provide the reader with some clarity and to enhance the storytelling. There is a much welcomed map and cast of characters to assist the reader - which I look forward to with any novel that may lead me slightly out of my comfort zone.

The novel follows the adventures of a young man, falsely accused of murder, as he struggles to escape from those who wish him harm. He leaves Babili (ancient Babylon) on a journey that ultimately ends in Meluhha. We are introduced to a number of protagonists who either aid or hamper young Sam, and just when the reader thinks there is some closure, off we are sent on another journey. 

Like all novels with a number of prominent characters, the chapters end with one and begin with the tale of another - all converging upon the same goal in Babili. Here all loose ends are finally tied up in the last few chapters - and all is revealed.

I found the story captivating and the characters (well, our hero and heroines) engaging and the villains suitable odious. The reader was not overly bogged down with too much detail (ie: landscapes, customs, etc) which kept the story flowing.

I am looking forward to more stories from this period of time and this region from the author, Vasant Dave, so I do hope there are more adventures to be read.

Note: after posting this review via Goodreads, I read the other reviews posted prior to mine (which I didn't read prior to reading and writing as I had no wish to be subconsciously influenced). Obviously, my edition of Trade Winds was a little different, and one can only presume re-edited based upon these comments. All in all, my edition was easy to read and the story flowed.

Highly recommended for those looking for something a little different from their historical fiction.

About the Author (in his own words):
Vasant DavĂ©, an electrical engineer from the University of Bombay. Besides providing Industrial Market Research services in India, I have catered to corporate clients in Australia, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Singapore, the UK and the USA. My work called for extensive travelling throughout India. It helped me to address a deep interest in archaeology by visiting numerous ancient sites.

Trade winds to Meluhha was conceived and written after my retirement from business. It took three-and-a-half years. My technical background helped me to understand and apply historical, geographical, environmental and cultural nuances bearing upon the life during the 3rd millennium BC, the period in which the plot is set.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May Book Madness In The Library

New arrivals in the Library for May 2013:

The Kingdom of the Crusaders by Dana Carleton Munro
This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original.  I don't know much more about this book so I am taking a punt that this will be worth the $$$$ spent.

William Rufus by Frank Barlow
William II, better known as William Rufus, was the third son of William the Conqueror. This biography recounts his brief 13-year reign leading up to his assassination. The author weaves his account of the king's life into the wider history of Anglo-Norman government.

Gendering the Crusades by S.B. Edgington
This work provides an exploration of the issue of gender in relation to the crusades. It discusses a range of subjects, from the medieval construction of gender to the military participation of women in the crusades. It provides both readings of well-known texts and examinations of newer source material, as well as discussing other topics such as masculinity, the role of female saints and religious figures in the crusades, and the realtionship of crusaders to their families.

Before the Normans by Barbara M. Kreutz
Histories of medieval Europe have typically ignored southern Italy, looking south only in the Norman period. Yet Southern Italy in the ninth and tenth centuries was a complex and vibrant world that deserves to be better understood. In Before the Normans, Barbara M. Kreutz writes the first modern study in English of the land, political structures, and cultures of southern Italy in the two centuries before the Norman conquests. 

James the Good by David R. Ross

Sir James the Good, one of the finest soldiers Scotland ever produced, is sometimes better known by the name given to him by the English - the 'Black Douglas'. He terrified the northern shires of England throughout the reign of King Robert the Bruce and the Wars of Independence. This book tells the history of one of Scotland's greatest warriors.

Malta, the Crusades and the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem by John Heathcote
Malta is a small archipelago in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea and consists of three inhabited islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino. Small it may be but it has the most remarkable and diverse history of any country in the world spanning a period of almost 5,000 years.

Eleanor, the Secret Queen by John Ashdown-Hill
From the day when Edward IV married Eleanor, or pretended to do so, or allowed it to be whispered that he might have done so, the House of York, previously so secure in its bloodline, confronted a contentious and uncertain future. John Ashdown-Hill argues that Eleanor Talbot was married to Edward IV, and that therefore Edward's subsequent marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was bigamous, making her children illegitimate. He thereby offers a solution to one of history's great mysteries.

Norman England by Trevor Rowley
The Norman invasion, headed by William the Conqueror, meant revolutionary change throughout English life. Soon there was a new ruling class, new language, new styles of dress, behaviour and architecture, as well as a new capital and new forms of landholding. The elite Normans themselves brought England much closer to Continental Europe, lived in their new castles and brought in novel styles of military training, founded monasteries and set up schools.

Medieval Naples by Caroline Bruzelius
Two leading American experts on the subject offer the first comprehensive English-language review of Naples' architecture and urban development from late antiquity to the high and late Middle Ages. 

The Deadly Sisterhood by Leonie Frieda
This book is one of drama on a grand scale, a Renaissance epic, as Christendom emerged from the shadows of the calamitous 14th century. The sweeping tale involves inspired and corrupt monarchs, the finest thinkers, the most brilliant artists and the greatest beauties in Christendom. Here are the stories of its most remarkable women, who are all joined by birth, marriage and friendship and who ruled for a time in place of their men-folk.

Son of Blood by Jack Ludlow

11th Century Italy. The Normans are the most feared warriors in Christendom. At their head is Robert de Hauteville, who has many enemies, not least the ever-powerful papacy. His first-born Bohemund seeks acknowledgement as the heir of Robert's dukedom. But difficultly and conflict lie ahead, and loyalties and blood ties will count for nothing.   This follows the Hauteville trilogy of: Mercenaries, Warriors & Conquest.