The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

By: Tom Reiss

(http://www.tomreiss.com/)

Broadway Books; Reprint edition (May 14, 2013)

A history nonfiction review

 

BLACK-COUNT-COVER

 

Simply put, The Black Count is my new favorite history book.  Reiss reveals the story of General Alex Dumas, father of famed Alexandre Dumas, in many ways.  The investigation includes the tale of Alex’s renegade aristocrat father and what’s known of his beautiful slave mother.  Reiss also explains details about his own search for information, the unique racial relations in early Haiti and revolutionary France, and several of Alexandre Dumas’ own quotes about his father.  With the premise that Alex Dumas was the true “Count of Monte Cristo,” this book includes enough swashbuckling and political analysis to inspire a film quite similar to something based on Dumas.

Reiss matches his grand premise and literary inclusions with a passionate and memorable writing style.  Napoleon treats conquered societies like medieval Lego sets he can dismantle and rebuild as he pleases and “France didn’t have a regular government, it had a bunch of caffeinated intellectuals holding all-day screaming matches in the old royal riding hall.”  It’s great fun.  Marinated in adventure, rather than a dry textbook, you can still tell that Reiss trusts his audience because of his thorough exploration of tangents.  The central figure has no competition, but Reiss realizes that there are side-stories that we want to know, like more about this mulatto master-swordsman of Europe and the backstory of one of the early French slaves to win his freedom in court.  Whereas many authors simply note such side things and leave it to the readers to look them up later, The Black Count fits it all in, without slowing down or drying up.  The swings between detail and the overall picture make the timeline slightly harder to follow, but this is a book, not a timeline, and you won’t regret it.  Even the footnotes are delightful!  They tell the truly glancing tales like the reason it’s called the “Marseillaise” and the man who pioneered vegetarianism in the west.

I can’t recommend it enough.  Go forth and find out the story behind Alexandre Dumas’ novels.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/folvilles-law-the-john-swale-chronicles/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/the-master-of-verona/

Top Ten Favorite Secondary Characters

Yoinked from: http://hardcoversandheroines.com/2013/08/26/top-ten-favorite-secondary-characters/

 

1. Will from “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman  (I say anyone not in all books of a series can be considered secondary, if you’re wondering.)

2. Inigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman (This one’s a little iffy, as it’s really an ensemble cast, but…dammit, I love him and I am taking this chance to declare it!)

3. Rob Anybody from the Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett.

4. Maddie from “Fever” by Lauren DeStefano (She is by far my favorite character overall.  I desperately want her to wind up in charge of everything.  This is my head-cannon.)

5. Thorin from “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkein (The primary reason why I detest the old cartoon version is their horrid characterization of Thorin.)

6. The Jester from “King Lear” by Shakespeare (He has, by far, the best and most brilliant insults of all the bard’s works.  And THAT, my friends, is saying something!)

7. The Persian from “Phantom of the Opera” by Gaston Leroux (WHY does he not show up in more movie versions??  He is wonderful!)

8. Puddleglum from “Silver Chair” by C.S. Lewis (You TELL that witch, you beautiful pessimist!)

9. Calcifer from “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones (I want him to run my house!)

10. Gollum in everything by J.R.R. Tolkein (I know I already did something from “Hobbit”, but this counts as separate since it covers “Lord of the Rings,” too.  The sneaky creature stole my love from “Riddles in the Dark”.)

 

Who are yours?

Civilizing Frances (The Mad Hatterlys #3)

Civilizing Frances (The Mad Hatterlys #3)

By: Marguerite Butler

(http://www.amazon.com/Marguerite-Butler/e/B004SUR0FG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1)

Musa Publishing October 2011

A regency romance novel review

 

(Reviews of The Mad Hatterlys #1 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/compromising-prudence-the-mad-hatterlys/

And of The Mad Hatterlys #2 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/becoming-mr-brooking-the-mad-hatterlys/)

 

Every girl’s first London season is nerve-wracking.  For a girl raised in the country with the same pursuits and athleticism as five brothers, it’s stifling.  When that country girl is one of the “Mad Hatterlys,” it’s downright disastrous.  Used to going her own way, Frances finds herself both at war with the Duke of Ainsley, and compromised by him.  The scandal must end in her marriage or her exile from society.  A man of honor, Ainsley surrounds Frances with eligible suitors…So why do they constantly seem drawn to each other?

With daggers drawn right from the start, Frances and Ainsley make a stickier pairing that in the previous Hatterly books, with Frances matching her unorthodox ways and physical prowess against the Duke’s authoritative respectability.  Frances acts younger than her years while Ainsley acts older.  The heroine knowing from the start that the hero will have to propose to her wrenches Civilizing Frances out of the usual groove of eccentric heroines paired with eligible bachelors, with side characters twisting this into more of an ensemble story.  The focus on how the main characters grow through their relationships with others, as well as each other, really brings this book to life and invites the reader to care about all these people outside of the love story.

All in all, this is a large caramel pretzel of a book, with a smoothing dose of sweet caramel bringing the expected fluffy finish to an unusually salty and bumpy romance.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/the-grand-sophy/ (“The Grand Sophy” by Georgette Heyer book review)

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/miss-prattle-says/ (“Escapade” by Joan Smith book review)

Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2)

Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2)

By: Kaitlin Bevis

(http://kaitlinbevis.com/)

Published by: Euterpe (December 2012)

A young adult fantasy review

 

(Review of Daughters of Zeus #1 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/persephone-daughters-of-zeus-1/)

 

Persephone’s victory over Boreas proves short-lived.  Suddenly, a siren of a sister goddess rises and Persephone is saddled with acclimating Aphrodite.  Persephone’s realization of her powers causes friction with both Demeter and Melissa.  Zeus poses an increasing threat.  And no one can declare war on a deity quite like the god of death.  The stakes keep getting higher and Persephone finds herself sacrificing everything.  Will there be anything left to salvage in the end?

Daughter of Earth and Sky takes readers steadily further into the dark side of mythology.  No longer playing with the safe, familiar stories, Bevis thrusts Persephone straight into the world of endless appetites, divine demands for sex, death, and cruelty.  The effects feel much more immediate when you don’t already know at least the frame for the story.  Persephone acquits herself well, without losing her accessibility or plausibility.  The plot turns just fast enough so that predictions don’t overshadow the suspense.  The romance between Hades and Persephone turns easily with the story, a key part of the plot rather than gratuitous fluff.

In short, Daughter of Earth and Sky is the exemplary second book: new elements are introduced without encroaching on the old, obstacles are overcome to the point of facing the ultimate danger without giving away anything about the climax, characters experience real growth, romance reaches a level of satisfaction to offset the unfinished plotlines, and you want to read the next one.  Particularly because this book ended so abruptly.  If Persephone refreshed the roots for spring, Daughter of Earth and Sky grew the story’s stem.  Now we just need the blossom.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/rapunzels-roots-fulla/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/luka-and-the-fire-of-life-review/

The White Queen 1×4 “The Bad Queen”

Also known as “Everyone gets divided, and if there are reunions there’s something creepy involved so we can’t ever all just be happy.”

We have finally reached regular historical drama genre standards of this era of “Game of Thrones” and “Borgias’.  Sex is horrifying, no one trusts anyone else, and it is clear that absolutely everything will get fucked over.  So far, so good.  The show contains its tone by continuing to draw lots of parallels between anyone it possibly can and by doing so through quiet moments.  That’s the odd thing about this show-its hardest attempts at realization are always through quiet, odd moments rather than anything with flair or that causes that satisfying click that most show parallels manage.  Yet, it seems to be that way by choice, rather than misdirection.  It is interesting.  “The White Queen” is clearly going for the opposite of instant gratification.  I’m not sure what all that is yet, but I’d better find out by the end of the season.

 

SPOILERS:

First, let’s count the divisions that happened:

-Margaret from her son Henry

-Elizabeth from her oldest 2 sons

-Henry from his mother, then his other guardian

-Izzie from Ann

-Margaret of Anjou from Henry VI

-Elizabeth Woodville from Edward IV

-Warwick from his family

-Jasper from Henry and Margaret

-Elizabeth from Jaquetta

Reunions with something creepy/weird involved:

-Henry’s total fealty reunion with his mom

-Everyone’s reunion with Henry VI

-Jaquetta’s reunion with Elizabeth was too convenient and timely to be plausible

-Jasper’s reunion causes even Margaret’s long-suffering husband to get his creepy glare on

 

It’s just the thing.  Now, onto other notes:

 

1. Now Edward Lancaster looks like the creepy teenage hoodlum lurking creepily outside a drugstore.  WHY do the two princes involved with Ann Neville have modern-day teenager stereotype looks??

2. I really like the way Countess Warwick’s hair looks when she’s wearing her tiara and at official functions.  It’s my first costume ooh.

3. Margaret of Anjou was not as impressive as I wished her to be.  Perhaps if she had some time to be odious with just her son?  Maybe it’s just that I already know how her judgment of things works out.  Hmm.

4. Warwick beheading random lords who’ve just been upgraded to good lands with his own hands is odd.  Him going to behead a random kid and then immediately taking him at his word at the cry of “Tudor” stretches the mind.

5. Didn’t Jasper also tell the boy about him having a claim to the throne and being a total Tudor?  Cause it was pretty clear that he was all “Henry Tudor” and also much closer to the kid.  Why is the recognition of the Tudor name leading solely to Margaret here?  Shouldn’t the kid be all, hurrah-Jasper was right?  Or at least, hurrah!-Lancasters should totally always guide me?

6. I kept expecting Henry VI to yell out nonsense or somehow embarrass his supporters.  Next time, perhaps?

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/the-white-queen-1×1-in-love-with-the-king/

https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/the-borgia-bulletin-3×7-lucrezias-spoilers/

https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/the-night-lands-got-2×2/

The White Queen 1×3 “The Storm”

Otherwise known as: No matter what the scheme is, women always suffer the most.  *shrug*  It’s a common theme.

I think the real problem here is that not a lot of character development happens here.  This episode is more about entrenching who these people were before, although it does broaden horizons enough to admit that people from different sides have valid grievances.  On the other hand, the plot picked up more action and snarky scenes than before.  I love me some historical snark.  I do, however, have some notes on how things could have been improved:

 

SPOILERS

1. Let George TALK more, so we can all revel in the fact that he is a glorious bastard and take a personal stake in his defeats.  It works, he proved it as Juan Borgia.

2. Stop spending so much time with this Jasper character.  Not that I’ve anything against him per se, but he seems like the token feel-sorry-for-this-woman! card, and in my head it is keeping Beaufort too victimized.  The woman has an iron fist, let her just do her job without all this pity-playing about menfolk around her.  Bonus, that’d leave more screentime for little Henry VII.

3. If Warwick is going the insanely stormy route, let him ham-it-up, already.

4.. Less witchcraft, more Jaquetta being awesomely practical about everything. Why was Edward IV the most practical person in this episode?

Other Comments:

1. Dude, EDWARD IV WAS THE MOST PRACTICAL PERSON IN THIS EPISODE!  I don’t even know what to make of that, except to say that this characterization has officially won me over for the fact that we somehow got here believably.

2. I feel like Warwick’s character is being sacrificed.  It makes me sad.

3. Isabel is really carrying the bulk of the empathy-play to a huge degree.  Not great for the show, but impressive for the actress.  I think she pulled it off.

4. Here’s the thing: I feel like Elizabeth played her feelings off as if reacting directly to everything and kept all emotional things really consistent, while everyone else played it as if spans of time were happening and therefore their feelings were shifting around.  It made Elizabeth more accessible, but also just oddly without depth in comparison to everyone else.  They should really all get together on this timespan-vs.-immediacy issue.

5. Anyone else just really feel it was totally Jasper’s fault for telling Wells the plan in the first place and maybe he should feel bad about it sometime?

6. It is really interesting to me that all of the tensiony sex scenes in this episode were actually about people plotting things about people who were not the one they were having sex with.

7. I do like Richard’s actual appearances this episode.  It makes me more uncertain about how they’re planning to portray him later.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/the-white-queen-1×1-in-love-with-the-king

https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-borgia-bulletin-spoiling-paolo/

‘Crossbones’ Pirate Pilot

‘Hannibal’ Producer David Slade to Direct ‘Crossbones’ Pirate Pilot for NBC.

“He definitely won’t have much vacation time while he waits to start work on season 2 of Hannibal; Deadline reports that Slade has now signed on to direct the pilot episode of NBC’s new pirate show Crossbones, which stars John Malkovich in the lead as infamous pirate Edward Teach (AKA Blackbeard). ..Crossbones is based on Colin Woodard’s non-fiction book “The Republic of Pirates,” and is set on the Bahamian island of New Providence in 1715, during the ‘Golden Age’ of piracy. The show is being produced by husband-and-wife team Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald (Men in Black 3), and Cross will also act as executive producer alongside his writing duties.”

Hannibal level direction, John Malkovich, history, AND Blackbeard!  I am looking forward to this.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/hannibal/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/neverland-review/

Previous Older Entries