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Books 2011: 180-183

180. Tamora Pierce, Mastiff.

The third and final Beka Cooper book. A little darker and more treacherous than the others, but a great read. I hope my review will eventually appear at Tor.com.

181. Elizabeth C. Bunce, Star Crossed.

A sixteen-year-old thief disguised as a lady's maid in a snowbound castle. Heresy. Politics. Magic. Betrayal. An engaging first-person voice with a sense of humour. Recommended.

182. David Weber, A Rising Thunder (eARC).

Acquired from Baen's Webscriptions through the generosity of a friend. Weber no longer even attempts to tell an engaging story or mini-plot-arc in a single volume. He's got the worst case of epic POV bloat I've seen short of Robert Jordan, and I'm not sure if we actually have any protagonists protagging around here somewhere. Disappointing: feels a lot like a volume trying to set up for the next book, and not really doing any of its own thing.


183. Pindar, The Complete Odes. Oxford World's Classics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007. Translated by Anthony Verity, with an introduction and notes by Stephen Instone.

Pindar came from Boeotia, from the city of Thebes. Born c.518 BC, he lived during the Persian Wars, dying prior to the Peleponnesian Wars in the fifth century. He is famous for his victory odes for athletes - an art form which is exactly contemporary with his life, as it seems to have gone out of vogue in the mid to late fifth century. (cf. Currie 2005, Hamilton 2003.)

This book comprises Verity's translation of Pindar's odes for the victors in the Panhellenic games at Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia and Nemea. The odes themselves are an interesting look at the culture of praise and the culture of elite athletics - the athletes themselves were members of the elite: your average free stonemason in the street couldn't expect to send his sons off to compete - and how this relates to the portrayal of civic praiseworthiness in the Classical period. The translation is reasonably lucid, as a translation of Greek poetry: it's not itself particularly poetic, but it's clear and fairly literal, which is all to the good.

If you have an interest in Classical panhellenic elite culture, Pindar is worth the read. If you don't, it'll probably be all Greek to you.

Date: 2011-11-29 06:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddleshark.livejournal.com
Mastiff was surprisingly dark (for Tamora Pierce), wasn't it? Kept me hooked though, even if I was a little disappointed that Pierce had abandoned the very good streets-of-the-city setting...

With so much of popular culture trying to tell us how wonderful the aristocracy is (The King's Speech, Downton Abbey et al), I'm more than ever in need of bolshie lower class protagonists with a chip on their shoulder. (I may need to re-read the Cat books, by Joan Vinge to cheer myself up).

Star crossed just got added to the wish list.

Date: 2011-11-29 10:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hawkwing-lb.livejournal.com
Oh, but the aristocracy is wonderful!

...As long as you're one of them, at least.

I liked Mastiff a lot. And now I want a whole book about Sabine of Macayhill. :P

Star Crossed is a lot of fun, and doesn't take itself too seriously. Win!

Date: 2011-12-10 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] endlessrarities.livejournal.com
The Pindar sounds very interesting. I shall have to check it out...

I'm still wading through Kagan's populist summary of the Peloponnesian War & enjoying it thoroughly!! I'm still trying to figure out where the Spartans got their Don't Mess With Me Or I'll Wipe You Out reputation from - they seem to be very good at shilly-shallying & pussy-footing & hideously bad at Winning Friends & Influencing People.

Gah. I wish I'd rediscovered the Classical World twenty years ago - when I was young firebrand at the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference, someone once suggested I should try my hand at Classical Archaeology.

At least the weather would be warmer:-)

Date: 2011-12-10 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hawkwing-lb.livejournal.com
Plutarch, mostly. No, really, Plutarch, almost entirely.

Date: 2011-12-10 08:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] endlessrarities.livejournal.com
Oh dear. Whatever has he done for their reputation?

Still, I do like his 'Sayings of Spartan Men'. And his 'Sayings of Spartan Women'. They always make me smile...

Date: 2011-12-10 08:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hawkwing-lb.livejournal.com
Created it. :P


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