Odd few days

The plane crash in Smolensk has been very much at the forefront of our minds over the past few days. Not only because it’s a tragedy of unprecedented proportions but also because it’s such a strange thing to have happened, at such an opportune time; my dad’s decided it’s the Russians, my mother seems to agree, I don’t know what to think. We’re a bunch of UK-born Poles whose families left Poland, one to escape the Nazis and the other to escape the Communists, so I suspect conspiracy theories are part of those legacies. Still – it’s so very strange and sad.

I’ve been reading The Cardinal’s Blades and I’m enjoying it a great deal. It’s easily written, the plot’s interesting, the characters are a little difficult to distinguish but it doesn’t really matter – it has swash and buckle and people spinning through the air to decapitate their opponents with shiny swords. I can’t complain. I wish the writing didn’t feel that little bit distant – it’s a bit like someone’s writing a report on the events – which might be because it’s been translated from French, but it doesn’t detract from the fun of it at all. It’s the Three Musketeers with dragonnets, lizard-eyed young men and women pelting about in red corsets. There is a lot to enjoy in this book, especially if you’re a fan of fight scenes and people being all cloak and dagger (literally), and the chapters are nice and short too. The dragonnets seem to have a limited purpose but the historical detail about the building of Paris and the descripti0ns of various buildings are nothing short of fascinating, so I’m a bit bewildered as to the point of making it a fantasy instead of a historical piece.  That said, if I gave books stars, this would be four out of five. Because I don’t give stars, I would say this is brilliant holiday reading, especially if you liked the Three/Four Musketeers films with Michael York, Christopher Lee and Oliver Reed. I haven’t finished it yet but it’s getting better as I go…

I tried reading Steph Swainston’s The Year of Our War before Cardinal’s Blades. It was interesting with some fantastic ideas – it just got me completely confused far too much and I had to give up on it when I realised, 130 pages in, that I couldn’t keep the plot straight at all. When I’m back on the ADHD medication I’ll give it another go, but it just felt too much like the issues I had with The Court of the Air – Court took me a full five days to work through and I have lots of books I want to read, so I’ll come back to this one when I haven’t got Spellwright and Retribution Falls eyeing me balefully from my bookcase.

In other news, giant penguins.

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