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A Saint Beckons
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Nye's Song
A Knight's Trial
Return To G15-275
Devil's Flight
Above The Waves
The Curse Of Drumer
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A Strange Week For King Melchion The Despicable
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Tomb Of The Ancients
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The Dead World
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Garden Of Bones
The Hypertrout
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In The Footsteps Of A Hero
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Wrong Way Go Back
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Isle Of The Cyclops
The Cold Heart Of Chaos
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Impudent Peasant!
Curse Of The Yeti
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Riders Of The Storm
Bodies In The Docks
House Of Horror
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Midnight Deep
Lair Of The Troglodytes
The Trial Of Allibor's Tomb

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Reading Club

Robert Douglas
Sun Nov 29 01:10:58 2015
Oh dear, oh dear! Seems I'm the first person to make a recommendation - very well....

'The Man in the High Castle' is an alternative history novel set in the year 1962 and a dystopia in which the Allied powers lost the second world war. Most of globe, including the United States, has been divided between the Japanese and the Nazis. A Cold War now exists between these two Axis superpowers. Meanwhile, Martin Bormann - Hitler's successor - has died so now the high-ranking Nazis are sucked into a power-struggle to become the next Reichsfuhrer. Such a candidate would certainly influence relations between the two spheres. Many Japanese officials fear a Third World War, since Nazi Germany is more scientifically advanced and in possession of nuclear V3 warheads.
The titular character of this book is in fact an author by the name of Hawthorne Abendsen, his work 'The Grasshopper Lie Heavy' is the novel within a novel, so to speak: his portrayal of an alternate world, a victorious outcome for the Allies, but one also very much different from our OWN world. While a more liberal Japan regards the book with some degree of fascination, the Nazis have outright banned it from bookshops as seditious material. As a precaution from vengeful repercussions, Abendsen has taken refuge within the neutral buffer Rocky States.
Juliana Frink is one of the main characters, a Pacific States citizen, and obsessed with meeting Abendsen. However, in this dark and dangerous world, nothing is certain...

This novel deservedly won the Hugo Award. Phillip K Dick in fact better known for intelligent, plot-twisting sci-fi stories such as Bladerunner ('Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep), Minority Report, and Total Recall ('We Can Remember It For You Wholesale'). And now there is 'The Man in the High Castle' TV series recently released by Amazon and co-produced by Ridley Scott. This is a worthy adaptation, although please note there are some changes in the plot and character names. You can watch Episode 1 for free as a taster. The novel itself is highly-regarded within 'alternate historian' circles and ranks among the most popular. It's also likely that it inspired the videogames 'Wolfenstein: The New Order' and 'Turning Point: Fall of Liberty'.

For more in-depth information on any of the above, I recommend a visit to Wikipedia.

Sun Nov 29 06:24:15 2015
Robert, I think I've gone crossed-eyed...

I've just finished Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin. An easy read and not so much ruggedness like in the movie as hoped.

Robert Douglas
Fri Mar 15 18:06:09 2019
'Death or Victory', my latest entry for the FF Reading Club! Historians - both professional and hobbyist - certainly know about the Capture of Quebec by daring General James Wolfe in 1759. However, in truth this was only part of a hard and brutal campaign of attrition - and British victory was by no means certain. The Seven Years War has often been seen as a 'world war' between the European superpowers of the day; the New French empire in North America was one such theatre of this conflict, a vast far-flung territory yet whose fate would have far-reaching economic and political advantages for whichever side that won. Although there were other armies and objectives active within Canadian territories at the time, the capital of Quebec was seen as the real prize. Author Dan Snow is best known as the TV co-presenter of 'Battlefield Britain' (alongside his father Peter Snow). 'Death or Victory' is a study complied from diaries and journals from various contemporaries present during such a difficult campaign; he has had to sift facts from exaggeration, conjecture, and even weigh up personal accounts based on political bias. Some acts and motives still remain a mystery and he states this while coming up with possible reasons. The arduous Quebec Campaign marked a steep learning curve for the British army that was often pushed to its very limit. Many valuable lessons were learned in the evolutionary face of warfare: the importance of a naval and army co-ordination along the treacherous Saint Lawrence, how light infantrymen played an integral part against the brutal savagery of Native American Indians during skirmishes in the forested regions, and even Wolfe's own policy on hygiene and the prevention of disease throughout his encampments. As Dan Snow explains with dramatic flair suited to a decisive war, the French garrison army under Montcalm - consisting of disciplined regulars, Canadian sharpshooters and militia, fierce Native tribesmen - in fact proved most stoic and loyal to preserving King Louis' hold over Quebec, frustrating several attempts at a British landing and assailing the Royal Navy whenever they could. Mistakes and miscalculations were made, opportunities found and missed, acts of gallantry and atrocities committed, the exhaustion and exhilaration, the feints and battles, and luck as always played its part in a campaign that, for both sides, certainly became a stark choice between 'death or victory'.

Robert Douglas
Fri May 10 01:37:12 2019
'War of the Wolf' -
This is the eleventh book in the Saxon Stories series by leading historical fiction author Bernard Cornwell. And, at time of this RC recommendation, the latest Uhtred Ragnarson adventure set in late Dark Age Britain. Uhtred, the ageing warlord of Bebbanburg (later to be known as Bamburgh Castle) has journeyed from Northumbria to help the besieged city of Caester (Chester) from a rebellious army. However, this is only the start of a serious undertaking: Uhtred soon sets about finding Skoll, a ruthless Norse chieftain with designs on becoming a powerful king in his own right. His ambitions prey upon smaller kingdoms, including that of Bebbanburg: of this Uhtred is all too aware. But Skoll's fearsome reputation rivals that of Uhtred and soon the wolf banner of Bebbanburg must duel the wolf banner of Skoll - the War of the Wolf must be fought to its brutal, bloody end!
Yet another fantastic adventure in the Saxon Stories. Towards the end of this year we'll likely see a twelfth instalment, depicting a power struggle between two strong contenders for the Saxon Crown....

Robert Douglas
Fri May 24 15:19:28 2019
'Battle Scars' is the biography of Jason Fox, perhaps best known to many of us as one of four instructors from reality/challenge TV series 'Who Dares Wins'. In 'Battle Scars', he describes action-packed episodes from his time during special forces operations in war-torn countries. However, this is only one side of the story: Jason's own private war with the symptoms of PTSD, battling depression, self-doubt, a loss of purpose for even life itself, and desperately searching for answers to end the darkness, a way out, a new life - it all makes for a grim yet very informative and recommendable read for those likewise struggling with mental health issues or to stir up awareness amongst those who do not and dispel the stigma often attached. The writing is itself so immersive and easy to digest, often pulling at heartstrings of readers with even an ounce of empathy. Rest assured, throughout the narrative Jason includes a little tongue-in-cheek humour and respectable worldly attitude to help relieve the pressure of what would normally be a difficult subject to read about. A book worthy of the Club and written by one of the UK's famous special forces veterans - by whose admission that anyone can suffer with mental health problems but, more importantly, with the correct tailored therapy and some commitment that there is light at the end of the tunnel. A great read that hopefully should one day be on bookshelves everywhere.

Robert Douglas
Sat Nov 9 02:33:26 2019
My ninth read for this year is something different to the genres I normally read: the only horror titles I'm familiar with are by James Herbert. However, although this short novel was by far more disturbing in comparison to Herbert's style, it had a high entertainment value and kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The Wisconsin town of Safe Haven is off the beaten track, nestled around a lake and surrounded by a dark, immense forest. But the tranquillity of this quiet, close community is soon shattered when a helicopter crashes on the outskirts. And then a brutal, murderous onslaught begins, gradually depopulating the town in sickening ways that defy the imagination. Who are these deadly hostiles? Why have they chosen peaceful Safe Haven to practise terrible atrocities? And what is their objective? As the story progresses, the reader is steadily drawn into a world of conspiracy and unbridled ambition. Only a handful of redoubtable townsfolk endeavour to survive against the odds - even perhaps learn the answer to their one desperate question: 'Why is this happening to us?' A potent mix of fear and defiance drives them along a nightmarish path of pain and sheer terror to the ultimate truth.... Jack Kilborn (he has also written many titles under his real name J A Konrath) has written an excellent horror conspiracy story with true shock value that, for days after, will haunt a reader's mind!

Robert Douglas
Sat Nov 9 02:35:27 2019
I've had these books since the early 90's, it's far easier to recommend them as an epic boxset - and yes, from May to mid-September of this year, I've finally got round to completing all five titles: 'Pawn of Prophecy', 'Queen of Sorcery', 'Magician's Gambit', 'Castle of Wizardry', and 'Enchanter's Endgame'. As one of many fantasy worlds inspired by Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, The Belgariad by David Eddings is a quest to fulfil an ancient prophecy in restoring order to a world blighted by the evil god Torak. After sleeping for thousands of years after his famous defeat at Vo Mimbre, he is soon to awake and lead the Angarak hordes against the Alorns who are loyal to the Rivan King, guardian of the powerful Orb. Beginning with Pawn of Prophecy, farm lad Garion is soon caught up in events beyond his reckoning.... But then he isn't alone: the sorcery of wise Old Wolf, trusted Aunt Pol a woman of fearsome stature, the great fearless warrior Barak, the confident Silk who is a man of many talents, Mandorallen the gallant knight of Mimbrates, Hettar the horse-kin and deadly swordsman, and even spoilt Ce'Nedra has hidden strengths and qualities of her own - all prove most worthy companions to protect and train him on the long, dangerous journey ahead. This is a breath-taking adventure of epic proportions, excellently written with wonderful characters of true depth, an easy, enjoyable dialogue with some room for humour. Although there are other books on my shelf listed for future reading, I'm hoping one day to get my teeth into The Mallorean, a series that follows on from the Belgariad and thus continue the adventures of Garion and his friends. I can't wait - and they'll likely be a future recommendation for the Reading Club!

Robert Douglas
Fri Jan 3 17:28:58 2020
My tenth read for 2019 - and ashamedly my first taste of Simon Scarrow's superb style - is entitled 'Invictus'. It follows protagonists Macro and Cato as they are given command of a Praetorian Cohort with one vital mission: to help crush a massive rebellion in Hispania led by renegade Iskerbeles. But, as nearly always, the best laid plans are not so straightforward and seldom go accordingly. Continuously defying the odds, Macro and Cato endeavour to thwart both rebel and imperial ambition, while victory is by no means certain.... This is a breath-taking adventure with such page-turning descriptive of bloody battles in the same vein as Bernard Cornwell's stories. The various characters are themselves very intriguing and memorable, each with a background and their own integral part to play. Along the way, Simon Scarrow also gives an insight into how the Roman Army often behaved, performed and functioned - a true historical novel of epic proportions

Robert Douglas
Fri Jan 3 17:32:28 2020
My eleventh read for this year's bookwormathon is another SAS: Who Dares Wins presenter biography. 'Break Point' tells the story of how Ollie Ollerton shrugged off his actions of being a young offender and endeavoured to realize an ambition of joining the army. Although this seemed like a complete turnaround, however, only in recent years has he finally settled into a way of life that satisfies his personal goals - one of which is to help others in their struggle with physical and mental barriers. But his positive outlook and gratitude for 'silver linings' (as he often quotes!), an ever restless non-conformist with unbounded energy, has pushed him from one type of job to another, from one situation to another. But one lesson here is that Special Forces soldiers, while highly trained and truly exceptional in their skills, are also as human as the person in civvy street, subject to emotional turmoil, boredom and self-doubts, prone to making mistakes just like the rest of us. Ollie's witty, breath-taking, and at times humbling biography is an excellent example from which to draw inspiration. It's never a sin to learn from the mistakes of others, nor is it ever wrong to applaud their achievements - a sentiment to which I'm certain Ollie would agree. A book very hard to put down....in both the physical and metaphorical sense!

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