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A wilding

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  1. I have just finished a reread of James McClure's Kramer and Zondi series. I had forgotten how good they are, so I thought I would post a recommendation.

    The books are decidedly uncosy police procedurals set in apartheid era South Africa. While being a good read just for the stories, they also have the added bonus of their setting. The books are superb examples of "show not tell", showing the horrors and wrongs of apartheid in clinical detail without any authorial comment at all (indeed I have seen a review that seemed to think McClure actually supported apartheid). It works all the more in that Lieutenant Kramer is an unthinking supporter of the system, except that he is humanised by constantly surreptitiously breaking the rules in favour of his very able black sidekick Sergeant Zondi, with whom he has a close working relationship based on mutual trust and respect.


  2. 9 hours ago, Jo498 said:

    Sure, one could argue that the overall context of Sayers' novels is too realistic and they are to literary and ambitious for pulp so Wimsey certainly does stick out more than Conan

    I would agree with that.

    Though I disagree about Sherlock Holmes being a Gary Stu. Holmes undoubtedly has an extraordinary talent, enhanced by him dedicating his life to nurturing and developing it, but in many other ways he is a deeply flawed human being. (And we discover in The Missing Three-Quarter that he has little knowledge of sport and absolutely no interest in it.)

    I also found that the realism and literary intent made it grate when Wimsey hounds suspects from his position of superiority and privilege. My sympathies were often with the suspect, which was certainly not Sayers intention!

  3. Personally I don't enjoy Dorothy L Sayers because for me Lord Peter Wimsey comes across as a bit of a Gary Stu. He is a massively wealthy aristocrat who is good at everything, effortlessly superior, and has no flaws, apart from some trivial ones designed to make him even more attractive to the reader (such as being a little squeamish after his actions have sent someone to the gallows.)

    For example, a medium size spoiler for Murder Must Advertise:


    Wimsey is investigating undercover and has to play in an amateur cricket match. He intends to be discreet, but then when batting gets hit in the body by a delivery and loses it. It naturally turns out that while at Balliol (of course) he was one of the finest batsman ever to play for Oxford University. He starts clobbering the bowling to all corners of the field and is consequently recognised by someone who had seen him bat at Lords at the Varsity match. (In those days of course gentlemen batted, players bowled.)


  4. Another Australian series worth a try is Arthur Upfield's Bony series. They are set in the mid 20th century and feature the half Aborigine Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte (he was named that by the nuns at the Catholic mission that raised him). He generally investigates crimes in obscure parts of the Outback undercover, and the books give a vivid impression of the country back then.

    I think it was made into a TV series also.


  5. 11 hours ago, Jo498 said:

    Also the 10 Sjöwall/Wahlöö (Martin Beck) which are a mixed bag and heavy-handed politically sometimes (both were dedicated Euro commies) but they are the founding series of the "Scandinavian mystery" and worth a try (cannot remember which one's are the best, certainly not the first one but maybe one has to start at the beginning)

    I would say The Laughing Policeman was the best one by some way.


    11 hours ago, Jo498 said:

    Judge Dee: This is the only historical series I read and while I have not re-read any since I read them ca. 2005-7 I absolutely loved them. And all I know about Medieval China I learned there, highly recommended. 

    The books are deliberately stylised, with relatively little emphasis on characterisation, but they do drop you right into the period, and I also like them. The Haunted Monastery might by a good one to try.


  6. 40 minutes ago, Leofric said:

    Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy,  a bit different type of mystery, set in an alternate England where magic works, and Lord Darcy and his team uses the Laws of Magic to solve crimes. 

    His Too Many Magicians is one of my favourites, despite almost no one in the UK apparently having heard of it.

    It is an excellent twist on the locked room mystery - one committed at a London hotel hosting the triennial conference of the Most Ancient and Honourable Guild of Sorcerers. Not to mention the pastiches of various famous fictional characters scattered throughout the book.

  7. I also enjoy a good mystery and have tried most of those authors.

    A few UK based suggestions you might also like, given that list:

    • Josephine Tey: pseudonym under which she wrote a handful of miscellaneous golden age mysteries.
    • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles: cosyish contemporary London based police procedural series (Inspector Slider).
    • Reginald Hill: Northern England police procedural series written about a generation ago.
    • Possibly also Peter Lovesey, Ruth Rendell, Ngaio Marsh.


  8. Sure England will remain a better place to live than much of the rest of the world, and I have no idea how you got the impression that I was saying it is not a relatively good place for LGBT people.

    But as for using Brexit to "put off immigrants" - I am calling it as I see it, however much I would love to be wrong (our EU friends have all packed up and left already). For example right now I wouldn't want to bet that a desperately stretched NHS will still be providing free services to EU citizens in a few years time.


  9. My two pennyworth.

    As Xray says, being a straight white male I can't tell, and it probably does depend on what sort of circles you move in, but I would also say that most English people are quite relaxed about homosexuality, with the possible exception of the elderly (70+). We certainly know some lesbian couples who generally seem to have little problem.

    My impression is that there was a real sea change in public opinion about 10 - 15 years ago (one of my friends puts it down partly to Big Brother). When Cameron pushed through the gay marriage law a few years back the story is that most of his MPs - older white males almost to a man - were in shocked disagreement to it, until they went back to their constituencies, took soundings, and realised how much out of step with public opinion they had become on the issue.

    However, you tangentially mentioned Brexit. What is going to happen after Brexit is in practice still totally up in the air. Any promises of EU citizens being able to live here should, in my opinion, not be counted on. It is also quite possible that England may end up not being a very good place to live full stop. If at all possible I would suggest holding off for a year or so until the situation becomes clearer.

  10. It has several badass castles (which were some of the strongest pre gunpowder ones in Europe). Sadly they were all built by the invading Edward I to secure his conquest.

    (For those interested, the strongest of them was probably Harlech Castle, which has an impressive track record; on one occasion it was besieged for 7 years before its garrison finally surrendered.)

  11. One point that has not been made yet.

    There have been a good many posts from people saying variations of "the system is not serious, anonymously negging people can't possibly be considered a form of cyber bullying, people who get negged should just get over themselves."

    Doing a quick search, all the people saying this appear to have positive reputations. I wonder if that is what they would really feel if they were on -20 or so. I also note that they seem mostly to be prominent members of the board who I would judge to be confident of the esteem of their peers.

    Personally I would get slightly annoyed if my posts got negged. Disagree with me to my face if you are going to and tell me why. Or if you are doing it a joke, well I doubt that I personally would generally consider it particularly funny.

    I also agree entirely with Ser Scot's posts.

  12. [quote name='El-ahrairah' post='1708788' date='Mar 5 2009, 05.55']Apparently Westeros is a real place[/quote]
    It is a real place, a region of the Highlands of Scotland. (Okay the Scots spell it "Wester Ross", but that just shows that they are poor spellers. :))
  13. I have done some digging and you are correct. Here is the most relevant SSM quote [url="http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Month/2000/04/"]SSM April 2000[/url]

    [quote]You cannot imagine how much it thrills me to be able to tell you all that A STORM OF SWORDS is finally finished.


    I fear I lied about the four weddings and the funeral. Now that I am done, I see there are four weddings, =two= funerals, and a wake. Four trials as well. And three dragons, four bears, many mammoths, an unkindness of ravens, and a turtle of unusual size. More battles, swordfights, and deaths than I can count, but two births as well, just to remind us all that life goes on.[/quote]
  14. [quote name='sholtzma' post='1554536' date='Oct 14 2008, 03.30']The whole situation with Ramsey seems strange to begin with. Why would Roose want his tainted blood, bastard son who obviously has some serious issues to marry a real (or fake, doesn't matter) Arya Stark in order to become a new lord of Winterfell? Why wouldn't he arrange for his fat Frey wife to have an unfortunate accident and marry Arya himself, and leave the Dreadfort for the bastard son until the fake Arya bore him sons to then replace Ramsey? Wouldn't Ramsey ALWAYS be a danger to Roose and offspring until he was killed?[/quote]
    Agreed. I think that the answer is that Roose, at least in ASoS, still needed Ramsay. Roose was after all still stuck south of The Neck, and his hold over the North was not exactly secure. This makes "Arya", and the legitimisation, bribes to keep Ramsay onside.

    Ramsay OTOH now no longer needs Roose, certainly not once he has got his hands on "Arya".

    I will not be at all surprised if they turn on each other in ADwD.
  15. Another thought on rereading this:

    The surviving women from Winterfell have apparently also been brought to the Dreadfort. This may include Kyra, Theon's bedwarmer at Winterfell, last seen running off sobbing after Theon had abused her fairly badly. It is possible that she and "Reek" might cross paths again, which might be interesting, given the change in his fortunes.
  16. [quote name='DocBean' post='1433472' date='Jul 9 2008, 19.02']In Feast for Crowns Arianne explains to Arys Oakheart that:

    House Toland of Ghost Hill's Sigil is a Dragon biting it's own tail.
    The dragon is time; it has no beginning, no ending.

    Could be another reference to The Wheel of Time.
    Aeis Sedai wear a ring with a snake biting it's own tail, that signifies Time without end.[/quote]
    See my post above: [url="http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?s=&showtopic=784&view=findpost&p=1371071"]#308[/url]
  17. [quote name='semiramis' post='1370716' date='May 26 2008, 04.43']Also, while I'm on a Jordan kick, the arms for House Toland of Ghost Hill is a serpent eating it's own tail, and the serpent is Time.[/quote]
    The Tolland family of English nobles play a substantial part in [i]A Dance To The Music Of Time[/i], a series of novels written about 50 years ago by Anthony Powell. One of the major themes of this series is the cyclical nature of time, which has been represented as a dragon eating its own tail as far back as the Ancient Greeks, certainly long before Robert Jordan.

    But I am not sure that this is a deliberate reference on GRRM's part. There is so much in ASoIaF that some things may well be simple coincidence.
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