Mr. Curiosity read several medieval classics this year, based on recommendations from The Well-Trained Mind. While I like their recommendations, it focuses on Western literature. I wanted Mr. Curiosity to read one of the great Asian classics. I have him a choice between this one (a Chinese classic) and The Tale of Genji (a Japanese classic). I chose this edition (there are many) because our library had it.
Translated and edited by: Moss Roberts
Published: this edition in 1976; originally in the 15th century
Genre: medieval classic historical fiction
Length: 304 pages of text, 318 pages total
Setting: third century China
Summary: Short version: A long-ranging fight over who will control China Continue reading
This was a free Tor book (provided to potentially get you hooked on the series). I read it while on San Salvador as a break from Discworld books.
Length: 310 pages
Setting: a high Medieval technology fantasy world
Summary: Short version: We follow the Black Company through various battles Continue reading
This is the fifth and final book in The Belgariad. I’m excited to finally finish the series, not only for my reading challenge but because I borrowed the series from a friend over a year ago. I’ll be able to return the books and remove the guilt of having taken so long to finish the series.
Genre: sword and sorcery fantasy
Length: 372 pages
Setting: Gar of Nadrak, Mishrak ac Thull, Mallorea, and the Isle of the Winds, soon after the events of Castle of Wizardry
Summary: Short version: Belgarion finally meets Torak and vanquishes him Continue reading
Genre: alternate history
Length: 471 pages
Setting: 531 AD, Middle East/India
Interest: It was a random book I picked off my Kindle to read while I was camping.
Summary: Belisarius is a general in the Roman army, but he has a special gift – a crystal life-form from the future named Aide. Aide has traveled back in time to help fight an evil cyborg named Link who is trying to change the past to make a future more favorable to its species. Link has commandeered the Malwa Empire (out of India) to take over the world. It’s given the Malwas an edge by providing them with gunpowder weapons. The Malwas are trying to conquer Persia. The Persian Emperor sent an emissary to the Romans to join forces and crush the Malwa army. The Roman army also has gunpowder weapons, so they are able to take on the Malwas and, through Belisarius’ skill, defeat them. At the same time, there are several subplots involving an Empress-in-exile in India and trying to bring Alexandria back into the Roman fold.
Final thoughts: An interesting historical fiction story that seems to have been written to answer the question, “What if the Romans had gunpowder?” Turns out this is the third book in the series (it starts with An Oblique Approach) that follows Belisarius and the two creatures from the future. I could tell there was some backstory, but I didn’t feel lost. I did appreciate the fact that several women got their own storylines and had power in their own right. Overall, it’s a pretty good war story, with lots of strategy sessions to minimize bloodshed, but the author’s don’t shy away from the battles themselves.
Title comes from: Belisarius’ descendant are destined to create the crystal creatures that came back to help him. Link is trying to destroy that future, so Belisarius is a shield to protect his future.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 52/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and a D in my title Alphabet Soup challenge.
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