Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hornet Flight by Ken Follett

I have a huge TBR pile, as does pretty much any book blogger or reader. I've been working my way through slowly but surely. I think I'm about 5 books into a box that holds at least 50...It's a marathon, people!

I would say that most of the books I'm going to be reviewing for a while are books that are a little older. I'll try to throw in some other books--I've got a Sherrilyn Kenyon book and a new Elizabeth Moon book review coming up soon. There will also be an interview!

But on to the book! I have a confession. I love reading about World War II. It's an absolutely fascinating time period. There was so much going on, so much corruption, so much amazing sacrifice, and so much triumph of the human spirit. Most of the time, the books that you find about this time period are set in Germany. This book was set in Denmark. 

I learned a lot about Denmark's history reading this book. I know that the author does quite a bit of historical writing, so I'm assuming that he's historically accurate. I'm just thinking in terms of the big facts--Denmark's king gave up to Nazi occupation with no resistance. The Nazis occupied with little difference in the country other than to institute a curfew, require ration cards, and prevent the Air Force from flying anything other than gliders. There was a Danish resistance, and the Author's Note at the back states that the Danish resistance was the most successful resistance during the war.

There were quite a few characters in the book, and Follett kept jumping about telling their stories in different places. I had a bit of trouble keeping up with exactly where each person was because I am not familiar with Denmark and its cities other than Copenhagen. The people were very distinct, and I had no difficulty following who he was writing about.

The main characters were Hermia, a British government official who has helped to set up Danish Resistance, her fiancee Arne, and Arne's younger brother Harald. Arne and Harald are pulled into the Danish Resistance despite Hermia's attempts to keep them uninvolved. Harald takes a shortcut through the German camp one night and discovers a radar array that is helping the Germans shoot down the RAF planes. He is asked to take photos by one of the resistance members, Poul, who is then blown up by a vengeful Danish police officer.

Harald is left with no way to get the photos to Britain, although he tries to meet up with Hermia who has crossed over into Denmark because her resistance fighters have been disappearing. He has fallen in love with Karen, the twin sister of one of his classmates and is living in an abandoned monastery on the family's property after a fight with his very conservative Puritan father. Karen's family has an old Hornet Moth airplane stored in the monastery, and Harald's only chance to get the photos to the British in advance of the next raid is to repair the airplane, steal the gasoline, and fly to England with the film.

The book was exciting and interesting. Of course, it was made even more so because I enjoy the time period. I was never quite sure what was going to happen next, and if there would be a happy ending or not. I would absolutely recommend this book, especially if you are interested in World War II history.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon

Have you ever read a book that drew you in immediately, that captured your heart and your imagination so deeply that it brought you to tears? I just finished reading this trilogy for the 3rd, possibly 4th time, and am transported to another world, inspired, and no less entranced than I was the first time I read the book.

Originally written as three novels, Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold, Moon's trilogy is the story of a common girl who leaves home to join the army instead of fulfilling the betrothal her father has arranged for her. I feel like saying anything more than that about the novels will spoil the story!

There are so many things I love about the trilogy that it's hard to narrow it down. I love that there are women who are active in the military in a medieval fantasy. I appreciate the casual treatment of a homosexual relationship. I love the sword fighting! There's magic, elves, royalty, the fulfillment of the daydreams of a young girl. I think I most love the epic triumph of good over evil. The good guys and the bad guys are easy to identify, and that's something I wish was true about "real" life. How amazing is that book cover, btw? It's the UK version, and I wish it was available here in the States! I would buy it in a heartbeat.

This is on my list of Top 5 Books I would want on a deserted island. If you've never read it, go pick it up! Right now!