Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Book Reviews - The Empty Throne Bernard Cornwell and On Wings of Eagles Ken Follett

Bernard Cornwell - The Empty Throne.

The next instalment in the Lord Uhtred saga.  I've always really enjoyed Bernard's books, great historical research and then placing great fictional characters with great stories into real life historical events.  This saga now on the eight instalment.  We've followed Uhtred from his forcible exit from his family home of Bamburgh Castle as a child, through his time as a slave to his unusual alliance as a pagan with the most pious King Alfred helping Wessex to eject marauding Danes from it's borders and helping Alfred in his quest for a united England.  In this one Alfred is dead, Uhtred himself is recovering from the near fatal wound he received at the end of the last book The Pagan Lord.  He is grievously ill and with his failing strength others manoeuvre around him to try to ensure the crown of Mercia is grabbed by enemies.  Of course Uhtred whilst ill is not to be ignored and he soon is politically dealing to reinstate his mistress Alfred's daughter on the throne and also challenging those in battle who have been fighting for another outcome including him engaging in a major fight with a new Viking foe who'll return again in further episodes in this story.  Great historical novel gets a thumbs up on the FTUBRS*

On Wings of Eagles - Ken Follett

I like Ken's writing.  This is however different from him to me, rather than a fictional story woven into a history setting this one is the recounting of a true story.  In 1978 during the Iranian revolution two executives from the American computer company EDS were arrested and imprisoned in Tehran.  Simply put Iran was broke and corrupt to crazy.  EDS had not been paid for some months for the work done but also had been paid some millions of US dollars already.  Some people in the Ministry for Health seemed to think they could extort the payments back out of EDS by setting the bail for the executives at $12million.  EDS felt extremely let down by the USA Embassy that did nothing to help them and the dithering in the Carter administration didn't help.  In the end Ross Perot the owner of EDS set up a rescue team who went to Tehran with the plan to break the executives out of jail.  However once there on the ground the prisoners were moved to a prison where a jailbreak was impracticable until they were able to whip up an anti-regime protest to enable a complete jailbreak of all prisoners and then the team had to drive through a fractured and dangerous Iran to get over the border into Turkey.  I have to say I very touched by some of the story - esp the ending.  However throughout I was also worried about how Ken portrays the story - he seems a little bit hero worshipping some involved, particularly Ross Perot.  So a two thumbs horizontal - a great story to read but I'm concerned how some of the events and characters are portrayed and not Ken's best writing I feel.


* Furtheron Thumbs Up Book Review Scale - 
lowest is both thumbs down with a frown
two thumbs down, 
one thumb horizontal,
two thumbs horizontal, 
one thumb up, 
two thumbs up 
two thumbs up with a grin - very rarely awarded

1 comment:

  1. These both sounds like great books! I'll have to check them out :).