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Historicals

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

A very pleasant Thanksgiving was had by all in the Black Gate rooftop headquarters. I’ve been away a long time and there’s a lot I intend to write about, but I’m going to pace myself and go for a series of short posts.

First, John O’Neill is closing on the end of the submissions pile and making final choices amongst those tales I forwarded him from e-subs. I have a handful of subs I need to address before month’s end and hope to get to them in the next few days.

Second, I’ve been meaning to write about a great swashbuckler I read on the plane to and from the World Fantasy Convention. Scott Oden’s Men of Bronze is the most fun I’ve had reading a historical in years. Set in the time of the Pharoahs, it’s a heads-down, swift-paced action novel that starts at a run and never really lets up. The central character is a Carthaginian mercenary named Hasdrubal Barca, who, while commanding a legendary border unit, stumbles upon a Persian invasion plan set in motion by traitorous Greek mercenaries. There’s soaring descriptions, vivid action, and heroics galore. I’m very much looking forward to more from Oden’s pen, and have added his Memnon to my Christmas list. Be warned — if you don’t like Robert E. Howard, or are into fiction where mopey people wander about emoting their woes and doing nothing, this book’s probably not for you.

I love a good historical adventure novel, and picked up another that’s been sitting on my bookshelf since I last read it at 12 or so, Kenneth Roberts’ Northwest Passage. I ended up spending a lot of time over my Thanksgiving break heads down over that compelling novel, wondering why I hadn’t ever read more by Roberts. That’s something I aim to correct soon, although right now I’m reading non-Hornblower nautical fiction to research the feel of, well, nautical stuff, for my own stories. I’ll read Hornblower again, someday, but I’ve already read almost every volume three times over the years, and wanted something different.

Howard

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