Friday, 3 August 2012

Book reviews - Code to Zero & Warlord

Code to Zero by Ken Follett

Super read this one. Great cold war thriller with some terrific twists in it and good characters as well. The novel starts with a man waking in a public toilet in a railway station in Washington in the late 1950's. He has lost his memory entirely. You follow him trying to figure out who he is. Once in learns that though soon he knows someone wiped his brain and is still chasing him. Soon figuring out friend from foe and why this is happening now is a complex picture.  It turns out he is a rocket scientist, one of the best and has been working on the USA programme to get its first satellite into space.  His amnesia must be something to do with this.  But what?  Is he the spy or it is the spy who has done this to him?  Throughout the plot in the present of him trying to find who he is and why this may have been done to him you are given various flash backs with the main characters allowing you to slowly piece his past together at the same time the character is trying to as well.

Top book well written, a good story line, characters & twists and a tense climax.  Complete double thumbs up on the FITUBRS scale.

Warlord by Angus Donald

The forth in the series of books inspired by the Robin Hood legend.  I've covers these in other reviews before here and here at least... I like these series of books and found Warlord being downloaded to my Kindle on the day of release automatically from my pre-order - clever that (I know I'm supposedly an IT professional, honestly though folks it is getting on for at least 20 years since I really did anything technical, but this new found stuff just amazes me at times!).  Ok to recap all books are written from the point of view of Alan Dale, he of the old legends who as a boy joins Robin's band of thieves and outlaws when rescued from the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.. yes yes you all know the stories.  However in Angus's version Robin becomes a knight of repute standing alongside King Richard on his crusade and now in this novel in his fight in France against King Philip for the return of lands taken from English hold.  By this book Alan is a full knight who is betrothed to his love.  However life isn't smooth for Alan, firstly he has to do as Robin and the King bid, largely gory battles in France and also the need to discover more about his heritage and his father's death.  He father was hanged by the Sheriff of Nottingham but he's died with only telling Alan a tantalising fact that he had been ordered to kill his father by a mystery man.  So when not slaughtering the French Alan is in France tracing his father's early life.  He discovers who is his nemesis and why and a good adventure all around follows, with excellent weaving of the fictional and legendary Robin Hood characters around the factual campaigns of Richard the Lionheart.  I also find out that Mr Donald had a similar childhood library to me - he recalls a Ladybird book about Richard the Lionheart - I remember that but think maybe my brother or a friend had it... however I devoured many times the Silver Arrow a Robin Hood adventure that was in the old book cupboard in our hallway.  I've looked on line and it'll cost me nearly £20 to relive my childhood now... damn should have held on to all that "tute" as Mrs F calls it :-)

I will say it is a double thumbs up on the FITUBRS scale again from Angus (have to be good - last time he came and sort out the review here!)  No honestly highly recommended if you love this kind of historical adventure.  Now stop reading now to avoid a serious plot spoiler!

My kids noticed a long time ago that many of the books I read had Templars in them or the Holy Grail ... often both.  To date this series has only featured Templars in the periphery as they were on the crusade etc. but this time they feature more heavily and guess what... the grail appears!  Hooplar!!! The kids were ecstatic when I told them - well er no actually their eyes rolled and some muttering about every book I read having these two themes... untrue... a good percentage maybe but not every one!

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