By: Alexander Lernet-Holenia, Ignat Avsey (Translation), Neil Gower (Illustrations)
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley
‘Love does not need any comforting. It does not even need requiting. All it needs is itself.’
Florence, 1502. Marshal Louis de La Trémouille’s small army has stopped off en route to Naples, to buy objects d’art for King Louis XII of France. Naturally, Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop is on the shopping list; and during their visit to his house, the young nobleman de Bougainville chances upon the not-quite-finished Mona Lisa. He promptly, utterly and hopelessly falls in love with the woman in the painting, and is determined to find her – despite rumours that she has long ago died. A visit to an empty tomb, assault upon an Italian nobleman’s mansion, duel and execution later, the secret of la Gioconda’s smile is (possibly) revealed.
An entertaining story, told with style – about love, life, art, and the Quixotic things that a man will do to realise his dream.
I found out about this novella whilst parusing through NetGalley a few months back (a dangerous activity–ended up requesting for a number of ARCs, lol!). I’m always open to checking out lesser-known authors and translated works and the premise of this title sounded really interesting. So I was quite delighted to learn that I was approved a copy of this book to read. This book will be available on 14 June 2016.
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
In the Oresteia—the only trilogy in Greek drama which survives from antiquity—Aeschylus took as his subject the bloody chain of murder and revenge within the royal family of Argos.
Moving from darkness to light, from rage to self-governance, from primitive ritual to civilized institution, their spirit of struggle and regeneration becomes an everlasting song of celebration.
This Greek drama piqued my interest after it was mentioned in one of the Sebastian St. Cyr novels (see tag) I was reading at the time. To date the only Greek drama I’ve read has been from Sophocles (err…I never reviewed it? I’m surprised) but I’m always open to checking out more Greek drama and classical theatre, especially as I’m slowly dwindling down on the popular Renaissance/Jacobean titles (I know there’s plenty else out there to check out, not to mention those from other countries, but it’s nice to get through the famous ones first). Anyway, I was quite excited to start reading these plays after writing my board exam a few months ago (case in point) 🙂
By: Gaito Gazdanov, Bryan Karetnyk (Translation)
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley
While summering on the French Riviera, the young Seryozha secretly becomes the lover of the much older Liza – who is also his father’s mistress. As autumn approaches, they reluctantly part: Liza to return to Paris, Seryozha to take up his studies at university in London. When he finds out about their affair, Seryozha’s father attempts to convince Liza to leave his son, for the sake of the boy’s own happiness. She finally gives in – but a sudden, fatal catastrophe changes everything…
It’s been a while since I’ve read some Russian literature, so this book came at a good time (plus the added bonus that I never heard of this author before, so that was cool). This book will be available on 25 April 2016.
The Story of Kullervo
By: J.R.R. Tolkien, Verilyn Flieger (editor)
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase
The world first publication of a previously unknown work of fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the powerful story of a doomed young man who is sold into slavery and who swears revenge on the magician who killed his father.
Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. ‘Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny.
Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruellest of fates.
Tolkien himself said that The Story of Kullervo was ‘the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own’, and was ‘a major matter in the legends of the First Age’. Tolkien’s Kullervo is the clear ancestor of Túrin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion. In addition to it being a powerful story in its own right, The Story of Kullervo – published here for the first time with the author’s drafts, notes and lecture-essays on its source-work, The Kalevala – is a foundation stone in the structure of Tolkien’s invented world.
The publication of this manuscript of Tolkien’s in 2015 actually snuck up on me; I wasn’t aware of it until some three months before its release. Naturally I was excited; it’s always interesting to find out more of Tolkien’s works, finished or unfinished, things he was thinking about. I was especially excited about this piece because it’s his attempt to fashion his own story from one of the stories and characters from The Kalevala (review), the Finnish epic. I read the epic myself a few years ago after learning how much of his own work was influenced by the piece and here I was very interested to see how he handles such a tale.
Another batch of mini-reviews today (I think this might be something of a trend this year?)! This time it’s mostly classics, novellas, and one DNF *le sigh* —
The Devil’s Nebula (Weird Space #1)
By: Eric Brown
Format/Source: eBook; courtesy of Rebellion Publications
Best-selling author Eric Brown has created a brand new shared world for Abaddon Books: Weird Space. This thrilling space-opera series will begin with the release of The Devil’s Nebula. Brown will introduce readers to the human smugglers, veterans and ne’erdowells who are part of the Expansion – and their uneasy neighbours, the Vetch Empire. When an evil race threatens not only the Expansion, but the Vetch too – an evil from another dimension which infests humans and Vetch alike and bends individuals to do their hideous bidding, only cooperation between them means the difference between a chance of survival and no chance at all.
I received a copy of this book when I signed up for Rebellion Publication’s newsletter which was cool. Unfortunately a few chapters into the book I had to put it down: the characters didn’t strike my interest and despite throwing readers directly into the action from the get-go I just wasn’t interested. I’m normally all for spac opera but this just didn’t catch my attention at all, and with so many other books on my TBR pile, yeah, I had to put it down.