Tag: Books: Translated Texts


Review: The Story of Kullervo

Posted 24 March, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 8 Comments

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.

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Books: Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 10 March, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

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.

Rating: DNF

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 28 January, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

And here we are, first batch of mini book reviews for 2016! Sort of…granted, the reviews featured below were from titles I’ve read in 2015, but no matter, it was an interesting assortment of titles I read towards the end of last year 😛 Included in this batch of reviews are:



So without further ado…

The Last Witness
By: K.J. Parker
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

When you need a memory to be wiped, call me.

Transferring unwanted memories to my own mind is the only form of magic I’ve ever mastered. But now, I’m holding so many memories I’m not always sure which ones are actually mine, any more.

Some of them are sensitive; all of them are private. And there are those who are willing to kill to access the secrets I’m trying to bury…

I’ve been eyeing the Tor novellas for some time; the stories sound interesting and the artwork for them are fantastic. I decided to pick up this novella first as the premise sounds really interesting and holds a lot storytelling promise and direction. Suffice to say it didn’t disappoint; I found myself really gripped to my eReader, chest tight with anxiety as I read this unnamed narrator’s story as a man who could wipe your worst, most unwanted memories away. It’s eerie what he can do–and why he can be such a dangerous person and/or weapon–and his dubious morals makes him a rather fascinating character to follow. Despite of his faults, which he freely admits to, I found myself strangely rooting for him, hoping that his shady dealings doesn’t catch up with him, even as some of the things he had done were pretty =S

The novella was also interesting in that the narrator finds himself contemplating about memories, how they define us, how they are tied to truth, etc. I really appreciated how these themes weaved in and out of the story, not necessarily on the fore, but it’s there, especially as our narrator proves to be terribly unreliable. The story can be dark, the character flawed and dubious, the worldbuilding interesting enough with a lot of political changes happening in the backdrop, but overall it was a fantastic novella. Definitely worth checking out!

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Review: The Viceroys

Posted 18 January, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Viceroys
By: Federico de Roberto
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley

A classic of Sicilian Literature, first published in 1894

The Viceroys tells the story of three generations of the aristocratic Uzeda princes of Francalanza. De Roberto portrays a world undergoing fundamental change, where the family must try every means in order to hold onto their power and position. Through this drama, a portrait of a complete society is carefully drawn as it discards the old ways and stumbles into an uncertain future. At every level the stains of corruption and decay taints lives, and hope. A lost literary classic, comparable to Lampedusa’s The Leopard, The Viceroys is an important novel that still resonates with a contemporary readership.

I requested an eARC of this book as I’m always excited to check out more classic Italian literature. This is indeed a lost literary classic in that it’s not as well known as Lampedusa’s The Leopard (which I have yet to read) and Manzoni’s The Betrothed (sitting on my TBR queue right now). So I was curious. This book will be available on 19 January 2016.

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 23 December, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Okay, here we are, last batch of mini book reviews for the year 🙂 Included in this batch of reviews are:



So without further ado…

The Complete Father Brown Stories
By: G.K. Chesterton
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

Father Brown, one of the most quirkily genial and lovable characters to emerge from English detective fiction, first made his appearance in The Innocence of Father Brown in 1911. That first collection of stories established G.K. Chesterton’s kindly cleric in the front rank of eccentric sleuths.

This complete collection contains all the favourite Father Brown stories, showing a quiet wit and compassion that has endeared him to many, whilst solving his mysteries by a mixture of imagination and a sympathetic worldliness in a totally believable manner.

Whoo, I finally got around to reading–and finishing–this book! I had long been intrigued by the Father Brown stories after seeing its recent adaptations here and there (haven’t watched them myself but my family has) and it has sat for an equally long time on my TBR pile. I started reading it over the summer and slowly made my way through it for a good part of the year. I admit, I found it a little harder to go through his stories compared to other short stories or novellas of such length; I don’t know if it was partly because the font in my edition was ridiculously tiny, but I find you really have to concentrate quite a bit with his stories, they’re not something you can pick up and read on a whim like contemporary mysteries. G.K. Chesterton crams quite a bit of background and detail into his stories, which I appreciate.

Which brings me to Father Brown himself. He’s quite the character, never quite in the forefront, his appearance rather average (short, homely-looking). But his remarks and observations were interesting and sometimes amusing, and I love the way he just shows up and solves things. His approach, his mix of Catholic teaching and insight on human behaviour, was wonderful, he really is quite a different “detective” from the likes of Sherlock Holmes.

I’m glad I finally read The Complete Father Brown Stories. Perhaps not the best choice if I wanted to unwind, but they’re an interesting set of stories with a lot of quirky mysteries and plenty of characters. Despite this collection containing all of the stories featuring the titular character, my favourite stories are still the first two, “The Blue Cross” and “The Secret Garden.” I also really liked “The Hammer of God”, “The Eye of Apollo,” and “The Oracle of the Dog.” Readers of classic mysteries who haven’t checked out Father Brown’s stories should!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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