Monday Minis

Lost in Time by A.G. Riddle is a high-stakes, fast paced time travel thriller. It revolves around the murder of scientist Nora, and father and daughter Sam and Adeline who were the last people to see her alive. Nora and Sam were part of a group of scientists who created a time machine, allowing the government to essentially eradicate crime by sending criminals into the past, into parallel universes, to have them out of the current timeline for good. Adeline knows that her dad is innocent, but can’t prove it before he is sent to the Jurassic Period… Nevertheless, she doesn’t give up, and is determined to find the true killer – only to find a more intricate plot than she ever suspected. It is a fun read, though I found that it ultimately fell short for me, as do many time travel narratives with how it dealt with the question of predetermination of the timeline. I felt that there wasn’t enough thought put into the ethical, philosophical and moral implications, ending up with a book that read like an action film, with more plot than sense, characters who remained rather shallow and a frustrated Fab who wanted to know more about the WHY of it all.

The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan is classic Grimdark, taking police procedural, but making it medieval and dark. Set around Justice Konrad Vonwalt and his assistant Helena, it is a murder mystery, it is a classic fantasy novel, but also a well-written piece of fiction on its own. While this ultimately wasn’t quite my cup of tea as a whole, I can see why so many adore this book. It’s a solid start to a new series, introducing a compelling set of new characters. It is gritty, it isn’t quite on the side of morally right and it tangles with right and wrong throughout. It makes for an interesting story, though it took me far too long to finish – I may have started this months ago, only to breeze through the last third in a single gulp, drawn in by the mystery and the intrigue. It is a great read for fans of Grimdark, but not necessarily something that will mesh with everyone. Check out a sample of this one first!

Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It by Janina Ramirez is a very interesting take on a popular history book looking at the Middle Ages under a new perspective. Having come to this straight after a certain book with similar aims, but much less solid scholarly underpinnings, Ramirez’ work made me very very happy. This isn’t a feminist manifesto or a rewriting of what is known about the period, but a look at smaller chunks of the Middle Ages through what we know about some of the women who lived at the time. Often ignored for their more famous and traditionally accomplished male counterparts, these women may have done much to have been remembered or, simply, been at the right place at the right time for their burials to survive and be discovered. I found Ramirez’ writing engaging and accessible, drawing parallels to modern times, but still rigorously academic where it matters. I did find that some of the chapters strayed perhaps a bit far from what they intended – for example when talking about the Birka burials, there was extensive discussion of Viking burial culture and archaeology – which wasn’t what I was reading the book for, but then, as someone who used to be a medieval historian isn’t necessarily the target audience for a book like this. These discourses were still interesting, though my brain went “but I wanted to know about THIS, not GENERAL TOPIC I already know about!”. So, most definitely one I recommend picking up!

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