Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unseen Academicals

I've enjoyed Terry Pratchett's Discworld series for a long time now. I enjoy Pratchett's sense of humour, his characters are fun, the little asides in the footnotes and the banter. Pratchett's latest novel Unseen Academicals doesn't change this formula and that is a good thing. Picking up a Pratchett Discworld novel is like slipping on a comfortable pair of shoes.
In Unseen Academicals Pratchett looks at foot-the-ball in Ankh-Morpork and its effects on the citizens of the great city. When Patrician Vetinari (personally my favourite character in the Discworld series) decides to allow foot-the-ball he wants the wizards of Unseen University to clean the game up. Through circumstances beyond their control, the wizards also find that they have to put a team together as well. Throw in a dwarf fashion show, Glenda and her pies, the beautiful Juliet, a boy who can kick a tin can like nobodies business and the mysterious Mr Nutt.
Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Greece and Rome at War

I first discovered Peter Connolly as a child. I loved reading about Greek and Roman history, and here were a series of books that talked about their military history. Also the books had amazing artwork by the author that really brought the text to life. Re-reading the books now in the one volume collected edition I find that they are just as good as I remember.
Greece and Rome at War is by Peter Connolly a respected historian who also happens to be an amazing illustrator, and this second talent is what really sells the book. The book begins with the Greek army and talks about hoplites and phalanxs and how Greek military tactics developed. Next is the Roman Republic and its wars with the Carthaginians led famously in the Second Punic War by Hannibal. Finally Connolly discusses the Roman Empire and the role of the legionary. Accompanying these histories are the authors paintings of armour, weapons and maps of battles as well as paintings of various soldiers in their battle gear.
Overall this is a great read. You can marvel at the artwork while learning a lot about the armies of the various time periods described. This book also makes a great reference tool for wargamers trying to get a feel foe the period, or looking for ideas on how to paint their models.
Here's an example of a painting by Connolly showing Greek Hoplites in battle.