Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni by Laurel A. Rockefeller

RockefellerBoudiccaWhere I Got It: I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks!

Narrator: Richard Mann

Publisher: Laurel A. Rockefeller (2014)

Length: 50 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Legendary Women of World History

Author’s Page

Set in the 1st century ancient Britannia, Rome is still attempting to expand their empire. This short, creative non-fiction historical account follows King Prasutagus of the Iceni and runaway Gaulish slave Boudicca.

The author does a good job of making these characters accessible to the reader by showing the story through their eyes. Events do move rather quickly as decades of their lives are covered in a mere 50 minutes. Luckily, I was able to connect with the characters quickly because of the first person point of view.

I found this an interesting, quick overview of Boudicca’s life during Roman conquest. The listener gets the clear idea of the culture clash between Romans and the various Britannic tribes. For instance, most, or perhaps all, of the Brittanic tribes held women as equal to men in most areas of life whereas the Romans felt a woman’s place was in the home or as a slave. The timeline had to move swiftly for most of Boudicca’s life to be covered in such a short amount of story time. I think this book would be of interest to those just getting into the historical fiction genre or for folks wanting a short recounting of Boudicca’s life and deeds. If you are looking for a history (not fiction) or a more in-depth historical fiction, this may not be for you. The author doesn’t steer clear of the harsher side of Boudicca’s life: slavery, battles, rape, etc. are included in this historical fiction, though the author does not go into graphic detail.

The book left me wanting more. Often drama was used, and perhaps over used, to get the poignant parts of Boudicca’s life across to the listener. I think this work would have been a little better if even 2 hours were given in which to tell Boudicca’s tale. For instance, the ending was pretty dramatic (if historically accurate) but I didn’t really understand Boudicca’s choice at the end as she fought her whole life to stay alive and free. Also, I wanted to know how her kinsman, loyal followers, etc. reacted on a personal level to her final choice.

The Narration: Richard Mann has a very nice voice. He put it to good use for the male characters. However, since much of the story is told through Boudicca’s eyes, I wonder why a female narrator wasn’t used. Mann had a distinct voice for Boudicca, though it could have used a touch more femininity to it.

What I Liked: Ancient history; focus on women leader/warrior; connected quickly with the characters; a quick overview of Boudicca’s life & deeds.

What I Disliked: Sometimes a little overly dramatic; probably would have been better if given a bit more time to tell the tale.

What Others Think:

Rabid Readers Too

Looking on the Sunny side

A Memory of Light, Part III

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

This week, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, is our host this week and can be found in the comments. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia has cool non-spoilery fan art. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has tiny violins for our bad guys.

This week, we covered Chapters 8-14. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1.  Rand is traveling around, giving precious gifts to Elayne and Lan (so far.)  Is this his way of saying goodbye, his final will? Do you think he is being unnecessarily fatalistic?

Yes, I think this is one way in which Rand is saying goodbye, and no, I don’t think he is being fatalistic. It’s the Last Battle. Any and all could die and it is a big hairy deal to everyone. For many, it will be the last thing they do – though I hope we don’t lose any of the main characters.

My fatalistic side is afraid that Perrin may be the one to fall…..but I may just be overly worried about losing my favorite character of the series.

2.  Egwene stands strong in Kandor, but the other two battlefields are suffering setbacks.  Do you think the Light has to do something drastic, or will they be able to weather the storm with the current plan?

I expect there will need to be something drastic, otherwise this will be a very long and boring book. 🙂 If Tarwin’s Gap falls, and if they can’t reclaim Caemlyn and close off the Waygate, then a whole lot of people will be screwed. But, at the same time, our heroes will have to realize that they can’t save everyone. They simply need to save enough and defeat the evil in order to be able to rebuild.

3.  Mat joins the story, on his way to Tuon in Ebou Dar.  Will the “Seanchan Question” finally be resolved?  Rand seems to be hesitating, too…

The Seanchan question has to be resolved before the end of this book, and I expect that Mat will be instrumental in that. I have to wonder if the married couple need to exchange some boon or such in order to be completely wedded. Maybe Mat could ask Tuon to stop conquering and enslaving folks as his boon?

4.  Rand takes his turn on the battlefield, but is turned back.  Do you expect him to try again, or is this the last we see of him on the field before the invasion of Shayol Ghul?

I have a hard time seeing Rand sitting things out. While I can understand the logic – he needs to minimize the chances of being taken out by a baddie and also conserve his strength, he still has this big bleeding heart that makes him think he needs to protect everyone. Besides, it is more fun (or nerve racking) seeing him risk his neck.

5.  Perrin leaves and takes the battle to the World of Dreams… in the flesh.  Do you think it is as evil as it’s claimed?  Did you like his speech?  Was it wise to bring Gaul, untrained, to this fight?

I think Perrin has the right of it. It doesn’t smell evil to go into the Dream World in body, but it is very risky. And, obviously, it has been used by evil people for evil deeds.

Perrin’s speech was very cool. To the point and I think it crystallized some things for Rand – there are no ‘good’ choices left.

I think it was wise to take Gaul. He is good in strange circumstances and should be able to handle most things on the fly. However, I do worry that he is the Red Shirt for this adventure.

6.  Lanfear makes another plea to Rand, and he lets her into his mind to prove he is over her.  She then appears in the World of Dreams to pester Perrin.  What game is she really playing at?

She’s looking for a protector that is also a patsy – she needs help getting out of her predicament but also wants to control/use her would-be rescuer. Since Rand is obviously not going to assist her and can’t be manipulated by her, she has to find someone else.

Of course, I think the Wheel will Weave her actions into the Pattern for the good of our heroes and Lanfear may very well end up ‘assisting’ the good guys even though that is not her intention.

7.  We find out how people are turned to the Shadow.  What do you think of this mechanism?  Are the turned really turned, or just taken over, as Androl seems to think?

It seems that if a person is willing to be Stilled (or perhaps it is a voluntarily giving up the Power) then they can’t be turned. Now that we the readers know that Stilling can be healed to some extent, I think more folks will be able to resist this turning. Logain has been unStilled once before, so hopefully all his loyal Channelers will recall that be able to unTurn themselves. Then the healers can return some of their Channeling ability afterwards.

Or we might not have time for that and the lot of them will have to be killed, or Still en masse by Rand and left to muddle through the end of the world as best they can.

8.  It appears Taim and his cronies are finally ejected from the Black Tower, although Taim is still alive.  What do you think of how this went down?  Will we now see the good Asha’man lend their strength to the fight?  Could that turn the tide of the war?

It seemed pretty sudden to me. I think Taim must have had some place he was suppose to be and couldn’t put as much time or effort as he wanted in fighting back. In any event, it leaves our good Asha’men free to join the fight. Under Androl and Pevara, I can’t see them doing anything else.

Will the Asha’men be the thing that turns the tide? I don’t think so. We have a lot of tides to turn and a lot of people chipping in to help win this battle. No, I think the force that will change the tide one way or the other are the Seanchan. Will they continue to harrass and enslave Randland as they fight the Last Battle? Or will they see the light and come to the aid of Rand and his fellow warriors? I really hope Mat knocks some sense into Tuon…..by bedding her! 😉

Other Tidbits:

Elayne gave Rand a dagger that makes him invisible to the Dark One. I wonder how it works and what’s it’s limitations are. I can’t recall where Elayne picked it up, perhaps in that stash she had Birgitte lugging around for a while.

 

 

Emperor: The Field of Swords by Conn Iggulden

Why I Read It: Books 1 & 2 were excellent, and I love this time period.

Where I Got It: paperbackswap.com

Who I Recommend This To: Roman Empire enthusiasts, and Gaulish warriors aficionados.

Publisher: Dell Books (2005)

Length: 594 pages

Series: Emperor Book 3

Once again, Conn Iggulden has kept me up late, distracted at work, and spouting Roman marching commands in my sleep. Naughty author. Book 3 picks up right where Book 2 left off, with Julius Caesar in Gaul, conquering as far as he can see through battle and road building. Marcus Brutus is still his right-hand man, Octavian grows into a very capable horseman and soldier, and Marc Antony becomes a growing presence in Julius’s life. Back in Rome, Crassus and Pompey must match wits and resources with some less-than-savory rising powers of the city, Milo and Clodius.

So far in the series, I think this is the best novel. Iggulden switches smoothly between the two main locations, but also smoothly between the main characters, showing the rift building between Caesar and Brutus over years, the friendship growing between Marc Antony and Julius, the wrangling back and forth (with mutual respect) between Crassus, Caesar, and Pompey. I also like how the cultural arrogance of the Romans was captured: The mighty civilized Romans bringing trade, roads, light, and civilization to the heathen Gauls. Iggulden does this without passing a judgement on the rights or wrongs of the supposed moral superiority of the Romans, but simply telling it in context. The interactions with Vercingetorix, king of the Gauls, were true to form.

There’s plenty of action and intrigue to move this story forward, but it is well balanced with insights into the motivations of the characters and nuggets about life at that time. While there are few ladies and all of them secondary characters, Servilia (Brutus’s mother), Alexandria (the goldsmith), and Julia (Caesar’s daughter), they have full lives and depth of character.

What I Liked: Straight-forward writing; character-building; the way Caesar absorbed Gauls into his armies; Pompey and Crassus have to learn to rule Rome without Caesar; left in a bit of cliff-hanger (looking forward to next book).

What I Disliked: No main character women.