Book Review: Die Geier-Wally

Von Hillem, Wilhelmina Die Geier-wally Kindle Edition.

This isn’t the sort of book I’d usually read in English, but it is well-known in German literature as an example of a Heimatroman and Alpenroman. And it was inexpensive, so I got a copy. The novel, about a young woman in the Ötztal in southern Austria in the 1870s proved to be an intriguing book, in part because of how differently a modern author would  probably depict some of the characters. But von Hillem’s landscape descriptions are spectacular, and her writing engrossing enough that I plowed through. Continue reading

Dialectic, Trialectic, or Just Tell the Story?

I’m in the process of reading a fascinating environmental history of the Yellow River valley during late Song Dynasty China (AD 1048-1128). The author does a very good job telling the story and putting all the environmental, social, and governmental pieces into place leading up to the Big Flood Disaster. But oh, the theoretical jargon and the footnotes! The author handles it well as such things go and does not get lost in the thickets of theories and analyses at the expense of telling the story, unlike some. But still, I’m reminded of the gulf that can exist between academic historians and history readers, even when it is unintentional. Continue reading

Posting over the Next Month

Howdy, your friendly neighborhood blogger here.

If things have been a bit sparse, it is because the End of the Semester is Nigh, with all that entails. You know, chaos, despair, the frantic rush for extra-credit, valiant fights to stay alert and paying attention, the clawing at the coffee maker to get that one last critical drop…

I have been writing posts and pre-loading them for June, as well as for May. I will be with spotty internet at best for several weeks, and so in addition to having posts pre-loaded, the comments will be closed because I might not have access in order to approve things. It will be a once-every-other-day schedule for the most part after Memorial Day until I’m back on solid ‘Net.

Thank you for your patience.

What the Author is Currently Reading – 5/17 edition

So, I had grand plans for a photo post today. Life intervened.

Non-fiction: Robert Gellately Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler  A very good, albeit depressing because of the time-span and subject matter, study of the three dictators of the 1910s-1950s.

Peter H. Wilson Heart of Europe A cultural and social analysis of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nations. An excellent book but having a little chronological background helps, because it is a topical history.

Joachim Whaley Germany and the Holy Roman Empire A different take on the balances and politics inside and around Central and northern Europe from the 1400s- on.

Joachim Radkau Wood A history of mankind’s use of wood and how different cultures view forests and wood products. A top-notch environmental history.

Helmut Neubolt  Die Staufer von 1025-1268 a history of the dynasty. Important in the settlement history of northwest Germany.

C. S. Lewis The Abolition of Man essays about religion and society. Written in the early 20th Century but still timely. Not easy reading, but good reading.

Philip Jenkins Decade of Nightmares A history of the 1968-1980 period in the US.

Jeffro Johnson Appendix N A look at the books that influenced Gary Gygax’s early ideas for Dungeons and Dragons. Interesting takes on different books, some I’ve read, some I had not.

Sheilagh Ogilvie Institutions and European Trade a very academic history about merchant guilds and social capital. Very academic.

Continue reading

RajWorld Scene

Marmolines are a bit like a cross between a marmot, a squirrel, and a raccoon – furry, cute when they are asleep, and thoroughly nasty marsupials that will destroy anything not made of concrete and steel, or so it seems. There is a shield around the army camp that is supposed to keep them, and larger creatures, out.

Kor and Tomás both made those gestures that she’d learned translated, “We really do not want to speak about this matter so we will pretend it has not been mentioned so that it will go away.” Her father did something similar, and Rigi added it to her list of multi-species-applicable indicators of male-ness. Rigi tipped her head back, resting it on the chair, and studied the interior ceiling of the shelter tent. The hanging lamp cast shadows in the corners and she wondered if she ought to check for webs and dust the next day. One of the shadows moved. Rigi focused on it. It moved again, and she caught a glimpse of eye shine. “Dear, Makana, I hesitate to say anything for fear of interrupting an otherwise lovely evening, but it appears that a marmoline or something similar has gotten in. There in the corner of the ceiling, above the wash-stand and water tap.” She stood and eased out of the way. “I believe I will step outside for some fresh air. Come Martinus.” Continue reading

Clawing Back from Chaos is Live

Love. War. Insanity. Just another year in Rada Ni Drako’s worlds.

Rada survived the Battle of the Tunnels in the Harz Mountain campaign, but at what cost? Even love may not be enough to save her soul. And if it is, will she ever heal enough to face the danger slowly building around her.

A patient enemy has been working far behind the scenes, stalking the halls of power, nudging England’s future toward chaos. An enemy that has Rada and her god-children in its cross-hairs.

The Dragon has retired. Can the Cat fight alone? Or will the chaos outside overwhelm even Rada as she Claws Back from Chaos? Continue reading

New Release: Clawing Back from Chaos: Excerpt

Book is Live!

Chapter One: Wintertide Respite

“Consider it the Graf-General’s farewell tour,” Captain Maria de Alba suggested as she looked over the list of things they were supposed to have had done already. In early December General Joschka Graf von Hohen-Drachenburg would be making an “informal inspection” of the 58th Regiment of Foot, better known as the Global Defense Force’s British branch, forcing everyone to catch up on all those things they hadn’t had time to do because they’d been too busy doing what they were supposed to do.

The adjutant shook his head, “No, if it were a farewell tour there’d already be t-shirts for sale, and I haven’t seen an order form for the commemorative DVD.” The rest of the staff officers and their advisor groaned at the Israeli’s abysmal joke. Even Commander “Rachel Na Gael” managed a laugh and Moshe grinned even more broadly. He liked the one-eyed alien and he missed hearing her laughter and her wise-ass comments. Ever since the regiment’s return from Germany, she’d been growing quieter and quieter, and Captain Moshe ben David worried about her.

“Actually, this is his way of settling bets, since there was a large chunk of the pool that wagered he’d just fossilize behind his desk and get rolled out for meetings and receptions like Jeremy Bentham,” Colonel Tadeus Przilas, the executive officer, confided to the others, drawing another round of chuckles. He switched topics. “Commander, what’s this I hear about no Christmas crackers?” It had been a hard few months and everyone was looking forward to the Christmas holidays, even the non-Christians.

She snorted. “Utter codswallop, as usual. Someone decided that,” she mimicked the logistics officer’s tone, “‘out of concern for those suffering from PTS,’ we would only have crackers that did not make a popping sound. Which, of course, do not exist. Thus no crackers.” She leaned forward conspiratorially, whispering “or so Oatmeal thinks.” Captain Edward O’Neil, now branded “Oatmeal” because of his behavior during the Harz campaign, had earned the disgust of the rest of the officers, and they made no effort to hide their unprofessional snickers. Then the conference room door opened and Regimental Sergeant Major Sheldon Smith, Captain O’Neil, Father Mikael Farudi and Major General James McKendrick joined them. Continue reading