Reading List 2021

I spent a lot of time reading in 2021.

A friend gave me the book Zero Day by David Baldacci for Christmas 2020 so it was my first book for 2021. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately bought the next three books in the series. Later on in the year I discovered the Memory Man series and the Will Robie series.

The Memory Man series by David Baldacci has a fascinating main character. Amos Decker had a bad football head injury that, “left him with an improbable side effect–he can forget nothing.” Later in life he is a police detective. One day he came home to find his family had been murdered. A perfect memory turns out to be both a blessing and a curse. Most of us (especially as we get older) would love a perfect memory. However, Amos Decker has a few bad memories that he wishes that he did not remember in perfect detail. It does make him a hell of a detective and makes him excellent at questioning witnesses and identifying inconsistencies and connecting details.

Another new author for me this year was Colin Falconer. I clicked on a Facebook ad (book ads are one of the few I will click) for one of his books and was taken to Amazon.com. The summary of the story read,

The Holy Land, 1260: Templar knight, Josseran Sarrazini is chosen to escort the Pope’s emissary, a Dominican friar, on a diplomatic mission to the all-conquering Mongol horde in an effort to broker a peace deal. To do it, they must undertake one of the most extraordinary journeys ever made.

Silk Road: A haunting story of adventure, romance and courage

This sounded like a great adventure story to me!

I ended up reading three more books in the series. The book Aztec (renamed The Feathered Serpent) was fantastic! It’s the story of Hernan Cortes conquest of the Aztec nation. The book Lord of the Atlas turned out to be another favorite. The Amazon summary of the book says,

Marrakesh, 1893: Two former army officers are offered a small fortune to help the Sultan of Morocco quell a rebel uprising. It seems like the easiest money they’ll ever make. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Later on the summary says, “This is adventure on a breath-taking scale, evoking the beautiful and the barbaric of nineteenth-century Morocco, and transporting the reader to a now-lost world.” I agree!

I actually purchased The Bone Collector back on June 17, 2019 but never read it until 2021. I remembered it was made into a movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. I loved the book! Jeffery Deaver has Lincoln Rhyme using some fascinating forensic science techniques to solve crimes. A big part of his technique involved using database technology to catalog and match evidence samples. Throughout the year I eventually read the entire 14 book series. I also watched the movie and a new series based on the novels.

I really enjoyed the book A Ripple in Time by Victor Zugg. He seems a fairly new author on Amazon.com, with the first book listed only published in 2018. Amazon describes the story,

It started as a routine Miami to Charlotte flight for the passengers, crew, and Federal Air Marshal Stephen Mason. But a freak storm over the Atlantic propels the airliner unexplainably back in time to the early 18th century. They find themselves on the sparsely populated coast of the Carolina Colony.

A Ripple In Time: A Historical Novel Of Survival

It turned out to be a fantastic story and since then I have read several other novels by Victor Zugg.

The new Dune movie finally came out. Before it was released I read the book again (I have read it several times over the years). I gained a new appreciation of the challenges that a film producer had when telling this story. The novel Dune has an interesting structure. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from fictional books written by Princess Irulan and Paul Atreides. Some of the excerpts gave us background information that the screenplay writers have to find a different way to present it to the viewers. I really enjoyed the movie and am looking forward to part 2.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler was a recommendation from my friend’s fifteen year-old son. He read it for an assignment at school and really enjoyed the story. It turns out it was a time travel story. A black women from the 20th century named Dana gets transported back to the early 1800’s in Maryland. It was fantastic! She ends up traveling back and forth between 1976 and various years in the early 1800. Every time she seems to be sent back to save the son of a slave plantation owner named Rufus. The story was able to explore aspects of slavery in addition to comparing cultural norms and attitudes of people in the 1970’s and the early 1800’s.

I read the book Rendezvous with Rama before, but it was many years ago. When I saw there was a Kindle version I had to get it. Even thought Arthur C. Clark was a science fiction writer, he had a excellent grasp of the practical side of science. The Rama ship design concept of the enormous tube with the living area on the inside surface is brilliant. Having the craft rotate could provide the artificial gravity. The Star Trek Next Generation episode named Relics used a similar concept with the Dyson sphere where they enclosed a sun with a large sphere and the inhabitants lived on the inside surface.

I also read next book in the series which is named Rama II. Clark wrote this story in partnership with Gentry Lee. I think they did a better job with the drama and conflict between characters compared to Rendezvous with Rama.

  1. Zero Day (John Puller 1) – David Baldacci
  2. The Forgotten (John Puller 2) – David Baldacci
  3. The Escape (John Puller 3) – David Baldacci
  4. No Man’s Land (John Puller 4) – David Baldacci
  5. Silk Road – Colin Falconer
  6. Stigmata – Colin Falconer
  7. Aztec (renamed The Feathered Serpent) – Colin Falconer
  8. East India – Colin Falconer
  9. Toxin – Robin Cook
  10. Memory Man – (Memory Man Book 1) – David Baldacci
  11. The Innocent (Will Robie Book 1) – David Baldacci
  12. The Last Mile (Memory Man Book 2) – David Baldacci
  13. The Hit (Will Robie Book 2) – David Baldacci
  14. Tom Clancy’s Shadow of the Dragon (Jack Ryan Novel) – Marc Cameron
  15. The Bone Collector (Lincoln Rhyme Book 1) – Jeffery Deaver
  16. The Fix – (Memory Man Book 3) – David Baldacci
  17. The Coffin Dancer – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 2) – Jeffery Deaver
  18. The Fallen – (Memory Man Book 4) – David Baldacci
  19. The Empty Chair – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 3) – Jeffery Deaver
  20. The Stone Monkey – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 4) – Jeffery Deaver
  21. Redemption – (Memory Man Book 5) – David Baldacci
  22. Code of Honor (Jack Ryan Novel) Marc Cameron
  23. Another Time, Another Place (Chronicles of St. Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  24. The Vanished Man – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 5) – Jeffery Deaver
  25. The Twelfth Card – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 6) – Jeffery Deaver
  26. Walk the Wire – (Memory Man Book 6) – David Baldacci
  27. The Cold Moon – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 7) – Jeffery Deaver
  28. The Broken Window – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 8) – Jeffery Deaver
  29. The Burning Wire – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 9) – Jeffery Deaver
  30. The Kill Room – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 10) – Jeffery Deaver
  31. The Skin Collector – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 11) – Jeffery Deaver
  32. The Steel Kiss – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 12) – Jeffery Deaver
  33. The Burial Hour – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 13) – Jeffery Deaver
  34. The Cutting Edge – (Lincoln Rhyme Book 14) – Jeffery Deaver
  35. Time Tourist Outfitters, LTD – Christy Nichols
  36. The Ferguson Rifle (re-read) – Louis L’Amour
  37. Fast Ice – Clive Cussler
  38. Lord of the Atlas – Colin Falconer
  39. The Lions of Lucerne – (Scott Halverth series #1) – Brad Thor
  40. Path of the Assassin – (Scott Halverth series #2) – Brad Thor
  41. State of the Union – (Scott Halverth series #2) – Brad Thor
  42. Blowback – (Scott Halverth series #4) – Brad Thor
  43. A Ripple in Time: A Historical Novel of Survival – Victor Zugg
  44. Aftermath – Levar Burton
  45. Rules of Prey (Lucas Davenport #1) – John Sanford
  46. Shadow Prey – (Lucas Davenport #2) – John Sanford
  47. Takedown – (Scott Halverth series #5) – Brad Thor
  48. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
  49. The First Commandment: A Thriller (The Scot Harvath Series Book 6) – Brad Thor
  50. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
  51. Dune (Re-read) – Frank Herbert
  52. The Eighth Detective – Alex Pavesi
  53. Kindred – Octavia E. Butler
  54. Saving Time – Jodi Taylor
  55. Rendezvous with Rama (Re-Read) – Arthur C. Clarke
  56. The Bourne Identity (Re-read) – Robert Ludlum
  57. Harlem Shuffle –
  58. Rama II – Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee
  59. The Target (Will Robie Book 3) – David Baldacci

The Ferguson Rifle

The Ferguson Rifle is one of my favorite books by Louis L’Amour. The Ferguson Rifle was a breech loading rifle, which was extraordinary technology for 1780. The main character is named Ronan Chantry. When Ronan was a boy living in South Carolina in 1780, Captain Patrick Ferguson gave him this rifle before leaving for what would be known as the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Amazon.com describes the plot,

It began with gold that had once belonged to Montezuma. Stolen and cached in a church in Mexico, it was recovered by two army officers who fled north for the French settlements. Along the way one stabbed the other to death. The remaining officer was eventually killed by Plains Indians, but he buried the treasure just before he died.

Now Ronan Chantry, a handful of trappers, and an Irish girl whose father was killed after telling her a few vague landmarks are searching for the lost treasure. But they are not alone. The girl’s uncle, Rafen Falvey, wants it, too. Like Chantry, he is well educated, bold, and determined. Under different circumstances the two men might have been friends. But in all likelihood it wouldn’t have made any difference. When it comes to gold, even friendship doesn’t keep men from killing each other.

I was excited to find an article on the War History Online website named Revolutionary War Tech: The Ferguson Rifle. It meant that Louis L’Amour had done his research and the rifle was based on real technology of the time. The article included a diagram that showed how the breech loading mechanism worked.

British Army manual for the Ferguson rifle
A sketch of one of the world’s first breechloaders, the Ferguson. Image: Antique Military Rifles / CC-BY-SA 2.0

The article goes on to explain,

As the story goes, Ferguson managed to produce several prototype rifles that he placed in the hands of ten trained marksmen who, along with Ferguson, demonstrated their use in front of the British War Office and Board of Ordnance. Despite being forced to perform in driving rain and gusty winds, Ferguson’s cadre of sharpshooters won the immediate admiration of the Board.

Among other accomplishments, the test demonstrated that the rifle could “put 15 balls on a target at 200 yards in 5 minutes,” and, “after pouring a bottle of water into the barrel… fired as well as ever.” Ferguson’s design was a vast improvement over the Brown Bess, which was only reliably accurate up to about 50 yards.

Revolutionary War Tech: The Ferguson Rifle

The article goes on to say,

Claims that the Ferguson Rifle later saw action during the Southern Campaign of the war are unsubstantiated, although Ferguson himself was killed in action at the Battle of Kings Mountain (South Carolina) on October 7, 1780. Contrary to some popular reports, Ferguson was not armed with his breech-loading rifle at his final battle.

Revolutionary War Tech: The Ferguson Rifle

Mr. L’Amour was very clever to use this historical fact to explain how Ronan Chantry ended up with this marvelous piece of Revolutionary War technology.

2019 Reading List

Shogun Book CoverBirds of Prey Book CoverOutlander Book Cover

In 2019 I re-read some old favorites, discovered some new authors and enjoyed many Wilbur Smith novels.

I started off the year re-reading Shogun (one of my favorite novels of all time) and finished the year reading Black Samurai, which both took place in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s in Japan. Shogun is a fiction novel by James Clavell (based one real life adventures of William Adams) and Black Samurai more of a non-fiction book about real person.

In 2018 I discovered Douglas E. Richards and his Split Second series. 2019 gave me the opportunity to read a lot more of his novels. These include the Quantum Lens series and the Nick Hall series.

A new author for me in 2019 was Douglas Phillips and his Quantum series. Through his novels I was able to learn more about quantum particles and mechanics.

This was the year I was able to take a deeper dive into one of my favorite all time authors. Wilbur Smith. I first read his books back in the 90’s and became a fan. I did not read his novels for many year but re-discovered him in the past few years. In 2019 I read (or re-read) 12 more of his novels. I recommend every one on the list!

This was also the year that I got into the Outlander series (A bit late I know). Diana Gabaldon is a brilliant story teller and writer! Book one is awesome! Stay tuned for the 2020 reading list to hear more about books 2 through 8.

  1. Shogun (Re-read) – James Clavell
  2. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  3. Tia-Pan (Re-read)– James Clavell
  4. Oath of Office (Jack Ryan novel) – Marc Cameron
  5. Nobel House (Re-read)– James Clavell
  6. The Hunt for Red October (re-read) – Tom Clancy
  7. Seeker – Douglas E. Richards
  8. Journey – James Michener
  9. The Enigma Strain – Nick Thacker
  10. Quantum Lens – Douglas E. Richards
  11. Infinity Born – Douglas E. Richards
  12. Wired – Douglas E. Richards
  13. Amped – Douglas E. Richards
  14. The Dark of the Sun (Re-read) – Wilbur Smith
  15. Mind’s Eye (Nick Hall series 1) – Douglas E. Richards
  16. Brain Web (Nick Hall series 2) – Douglas E. Richards
  17. Mind War (Nick Hall series 3) – Douglas E. Richards
  18. Quantum Space (Quantum Series 1) – Douglas Phillips
  19. Quantum Void (Quantum Series 2) – Douglas Phillips
  20. Quantum Time (Quantum Series 3) – Douglas Phillips
  21. Game Changer – Douglas E. Richards
  22. The Never Game – Jeffery Deaver
  23. Lord Foul’s Bane (Re-read) – Stephen R. Donaldson
  24. Celtic Empire – Clive Cussler
  25. The Triumph of the Sun – Wilbur Smith
  26. The Romanov Ransom – Clive Cussler
  27. Wild Justice – Wilbur Smith
  28. Birds of Prey – Wilbur Smith
  29. Monsoon – Wilbur Smith
  30. The Tigers Prey – Wilbur Smith
  31. Ross Poldark – Winston Graham
  32. The Falcon Flies – Wilbur Smith
  33. Men of Men – Wilbur Smith
  34. The Angles Weep – Wilbur Smith
  35. The Titanic Secret (Isaac bell) – Clive Cussler
  36. King of Kings – Wilbur Smith
  37. The Burning Shore – Wilbur Smith
  38. Power of the Sword – Wilbur Smith
  39. The Leopard Hunts in Darkness – Wilbur Smith
  40. Rage – Wilbur Smith
  41. Final Option – Clive Cussler
  42. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
  43. Doing Time – Jody Taylor
  44. Ghost Fire – Wilbur Smith
  45. Black Samurai – Thomas Lockley

2017 Reading List

2017 was a year of nostalgia and new discoveries. In January I re-read The Second Deadly Sin by Laurence Sanders, which featured his character, Edward X. Delany. I enjoyed that so much I re-read the four books in his Commandment series which features a variety of interesting main characters which Sanders is famous for creating.

In the spring I got back into Jack Higgins novels after many years of not reading anything from him. Back in the early 80’s I discovered the book, The Eagle Has Landed. It’s the story of a secret mission by German Paratroopers to parachute into England and assassinate Winston Churchill. It has remained one of my favorite novels to this day. In the early spring, one of my co-workers was reading a Jack Higgins novel from his Sean Dillon series. I purchased the first book in the series, titled The Eye of the Storm, and was hooked.

Reading List

  1. Odessa Sea – Clive Cussler
  2. The Second Deadly Sin – Laurence Sanders
  3. The Sixth Commandment – Laurence Sanders
  4. The Tenth Commandment – Laurence Sanders
  5. The Eight Commandment – Laurence Sanders
  6. The Seventh Commandment- Laurence Sanders
  7. 1984 – George Orwell
  8. The Emperor’s Revenge – Clive Cussler
  9. The Einstein Prophesy – Robert Masello
  10. The Lost Codex – Alan Jacobson
  11. Duty and Honor (Jack Ryan Jr. Series) – Grant Blackwood
  12. Deception Point – Dan Brown
  13. Eye of the Storm – Jack Higgins
  14. Thunder Point– Jack Higgins
  15. Angel of Death– Jack Higgins
  16. Drink with the Devil– Jack Higgins
  17. The President’s Daughter – Jack Higgins
  18. Dragon Teeth – Michael Crichton
  19. Midnight Runner – Jack Higgins
  20. Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles – Bernard Cornwell
  21. Nighthawk – Clive Cussler
  22. Raiders Wake – James L. Nelson
  23. The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival – John Vaillant
  24. Medicus (did not finish) – Ruth Downie
  25. Bad Company – Jack Higgins
  26. The Archers – Martin Archer
  27. Tucker – Louis L’Amour
  28. The Eagle Has Landed (re-read) – Jack Higgins
  29. Without Mercy – Jack Higgins
  30. The Archer’s Castle – Martin Archer
  31. Touch the Devil – Jack Higgins
  32. The Dogs of War  (re-read) – Fredrick Forsyth
  33. Confessional – Jack Higgins
  34. Lost City of the Monkey God – Douglas Preston
  35. The Bormann Testament – Jack Higgins
  36. The Holcroft Covenant – Robert Ludlum
  37. Shock Wave (re-read) – Clive Cussler
  38. The Odessa File (re-read) – Fredrick Forsyth
  39. Typhoon Fury (Oregon Files)– Clive Cussler
  40. Pharaoh –  Wilbur Smith
  41. Myths of the Norsemen (Puffin Classic ) – Roger Green
  42. Loch Garman – James L. Nelson

2015 Reading List

AmazoniaIt was another good year for reading during which I finished 46 books. I enjoyed stories from several new authors like James Rollins, Brad Meltzer and John Heldt. I read more from some of my favorite authors like Dan Brown, Bernard Cornwell, William Dietrich, Stephen King and Tom Clancy.

Inferno by Dan Brown was a great book to start the year with. It is another Robert Langdon story and takes place in Italy. I learned a lot about many of the famous art works, buildings and architecture of Florence and Venice. If you enjoyed the Da Vinci Code, you will love this novel.

I discovered author James Rollins this year. His writing reminds me of Michael Crichton, which is high praise. The teaser on his Website for the book Amazonia says, “The Rand scientific expedition entered the lush wilderness of the Amazon and never returned. Years later, one of its members has stumbled out of the world’s most inhospitable rainforest: a former Special Forces soldier – scarred, mutilated, terrified, and mere hours from death – who went in with one arm missing…and came out with both intact.” The story was just as fantastic as it sounds. I went on to read five other James Rollins novels during the year.

StormchildThe Fort by Bernard Cornwell tells the story of the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 during the American Revolutionary War. It is the story of an attack by the militia of the Province of Massachusetts Bay to take a British fort in Castine, Maine. The expedition and attack was a major screw-up. The American fleet was destroyed and the assault force ended up making a long journey over land to Massachusetts. Be sure to read my Blog article about the book.

I also discovered Cornwell’s “sailing thrillers” which takes place in the present day, unlike many of his novels. Of the three I read I enjoyed Stormchild the best. The Amazon Website description reads, “A British yachtsman sails to Cape Horn to reclaim his daughter from eco-terrorists.” But of course the plot and story has more depth than that one sentence description.

I’m ashamed to say that I got behind in reading Tom Clancy novels. I sure made up for it this year when a good friend recommended The Bear and the Dragon, featuring John Clark and Jack Ryan. It was so good that later in the year I went on to read Debt of Honor and Executive Order. Executive Order picks up right where Debt of Honor ended so it read like one long novel rather than two. Both are fantastic stories!

112263 Book CoverOne of my favorite stories of the year was 11/22/63 by Stephen King. King is another author that I had not read anything from in years. Instead of a horror story this is a time travel story. Jake Epping find a way to go back in time to 1958 and finds he can change the lives of people in the present by changing events in past. He ends up undertaking the difficult task to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, hoping that it would change the world for the better. It’s a great story and has become my new favorite Stephen King novel.

In December a friend lent me the book, The Journey by John A. Heldt. It’s the second book in his Northwest Passage series. After the unexpected death of her husband after a tough marriage, a 49 year old women returns to her hometown for a high school reunion. After visiting an room in a mysterious old house in town, she finds herself back in 1979. She encounters her younger self and has the opportunity influence the path she takes in life. It turned out to be a great story. Since I find the concept of time travel interesting I was hooked on his time travel stories and ended up reading three other books in the series.

  1. Inferno – Dan Brown
  2. The Temple of the Winds – Terry Goodkind
  3. Firefight – Brandon Sanderson
  4. Amazonia – James Rollins
  5. Sandstorm – James Rollins
  6. Altar of Eden – James Rollins
  7. Soul of the Fire – Terry Goodkind (Did not finish)
  8. Ice Hunt – James Rollins
  9. Deep Black – Stephen Coonts
  10. Subterranean – James Rollins
  11. The Fort – Bernard Cornwell
  12. The Roman Hat Mystery – Ellery Queen
  13. The Inner Circle – Brad Meltzer
  14. The Recollections of Rifleman Harris – Benjamin Randell Harris
  15. Piranha (Oregon Files) – Clive Cussler
  16. Elantris – Brandon Sanderson
  17. The Fifth Assassin – Brad Meltzer
  18. Scoundrel – Bernard Cornwell
  19. On Writing – Stephen King
  20. Stormchild – Bernard Cornwell
  21. A Bone in the Throat – Anthony Bourdain
  22. Dourado (Dane Maddock Adventure) – David Wood
  23. Crackdown – Bernard Cornwell
  24. The Lightening Stones – Jack Du Brul
  25. The Bear and the Dragon – Tom Clancy
  26. Grey Lady – Paul Kemprecos
  27. Dragon Seed – Pearl S. Buck
  28. The Martin – Andy Weir
  29. The Einstein Papers – Craig Dirgo
  30. The Tesla Documents – Craig Dirgo
  31. The Christos Parchment – Craig Dirgo
  32. Hadrian’s Wall – William Dietrich
  33. Adventure – Jack London
  34. The Sea Wolf – Jack London
  35. Scourge of God – William Dietrich
  36. 11/22/63 – Stephen King
  37. Getting Back – William Dietrich
  38. The Pharaoh’s Secret – Clive Cussler
  39. Debt of Honor – Tom Clancy
  40. Executive Order – Tom Clancy
  41. The Door Into Summer – Robert Heinlein ( re-read)
  42. Without Remorse – Tom Clancy
  43. The Journey – John A. Heldt
  44. The Mine – John A. Heldt
  45. The Fire – John A. Heldt
  46. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway

Recollections of Rifleman Harris, (old 95th)

Rifleman Harris book coverBack in the summer I read an interesting historical non-fiction book titled, Recollections of Rifleman Harris, (old 95th). It’s the memoir of  Benjamin Randell Harris during his service the British Army during the Peninsular War Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars.

I downloaded this book from Google Books (for free) because I read that author, Bernard Cornwell, used this memoir as inspiration for the Richard Sharpe series. Since I have enjoyed many of the books in the series, I was curious to read the “source” material.

Rifleman Harris shares his experiences while participating in the 1807 Bombardment of Copenhagen, the Peninsula War in 1808 and the Walcheren Campaign (Netherlands) in 1809. After reading this story I was able to see where Cornwell used Harris’ experiences for his research and story inspiration.

Rifleman Harris first saw action during the Bombardment of Copenhagen. In the book, Sharpe’s Prey, Richard also participates in the 1807 Bombardment of Copenhagen.

In 1808 Harris was sent to Portugal during the Peninsular War Campaign and saw action fighting the French at Rolica and Vimeiro. In the book Sharpe’s Rifles, Sharpe also fights against the French at Roliça and Vimeiro.

I would highly recommend this book, especially if you are fan of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series.

Resources

Wikipedia Article: The Recollections of Rifleman Harris

Wikipedia Article: Sharpe (novel series)

Full Text eBook: https://archive.org/details/recollectionsofr00harr

2014 Reading List

It has been another interesting year of reading. I enjoyed some novels from a few favorite authors. I also “discovered” a few new authors to add to my favorites list.

One of the authors I “discovered” this year is Judson Roberts and his Strongbow series. The description from Amazon.com tells us, “an epic tale of one man’s unstoppable quest for justice and vengeance that carries him across the 9th century world of the Vikings.” It’s obvious that Judson Roberts has done his research and extreamly knowledgeable about Danish and “Viking” history and society of the 9th century. The series is as good as Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Series.

Since reading the first book in the series in 2013, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, I was eagerly awaiting the second one titled, Words of Radiance, released in March of 2014. It was just as good, if not better than The Way of Kings. I am eagerly awaiting book three.

I finally got around to reading  book Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I have been a big fan of  his show, No Reservations, for years. Strangely enough, I had not read any of his books.  The book was really good. He is a very good writer. The book provided some insightful background to his shows. I also learned a lot about the restaurant industry. I have a new appreciation how hard it is to work in a restaurant.

I continued to enjoy Paul Kemperkos novels about Aristotle Socarides during the fist half of the year. While on vacation in Key Largo in July, I started reading the The Emerald Scepter thinking it was another Aristotle Socarides mystery.  I was pleasantly surprised that he created a new character named Matt Hawkins. The story is modern day adventure thriller about solving a mystery from the past involving the legendary king, Prester John. I was inspired to do some background research and write a Blog article about my findings.

I read my first Andy McDermott this year titled, The Hunt for Atlantis. The story had lots of action coupled with historical mysteries. Out of the four I have read so far I liked, The Secret of Excalibur the best.

Bernard Cornwell released the 7th book in the Saxon Series titled The Pagan Lord. Uhtred is an older man, still trying to recapture his ancestral family home of Bebbanburg. I was thrilled to read that BBC America is adapting the Saxon Series for a TV mini-series.

I read my first James Rollins novel titled, Excavation. Excellent author and story! The story starts with the discovery of the 500 year old mummified remains of a Franciscan Monk high the Andes mountains. His stories remind me of the novels Michael Crichton use to write, which is high praise.

In the fall, Cussler released his book Havana Storm, which i really enjoyed. The book was so good that I was inspired to do some research about the USS Maine and the Spanish-American War and write a Blog article. I learned a lot about the USS Maine. Especially about the various investigations into the cause of the incident and the salvage operation.

I also read my first Terry Goodkind novel, titled Wizards First Rule, and became hooked on his Sword of truth series. It was a hard story to put down. Once I finished the first one I kept right on going until I finished the third one in the series.

Wanting a break from the fantasy genera, I started The Lost Symbol bu Dan Brown. This is the next book in the Robert Langdon series, following The Da Vinci Code. Although I see many similarities to his other novels, I like this one a lot since it takes place in Washington DC and involves the Masons and all the symbolism and rumors about the organization.

I finished the year by reading the first book in a new series by Brandon Sanderson titled Steelheart. It’s from a series named The Reckoners. it was an excellent story. I immediately ordered the second book in the series titled Firefight, which was just released on January 5th, 2015. I know I will be reading that one in early 2015.

  1. Cool Blue Tomb – Paul Kemprecos
  2. Notorious Nineteen – Janet Evanovich
  3. Death in Deep Water – Paul Kemprecos
  4. Pandora’s Curse – Jack Du Brul
  5. Neptune’s Eye – Paul Kemprecos
  6. River of Ruin – Jack Du Brul
  7. Takedown Twenty – Janet Evanovich
  8. Viking Warrior – Judson Roberts
  9. Feeding Frenzy – Paul Kemprecos
  10. Dragons of the Sea – Judson Roberts
  11. Road to Vengeance – Judson Roberts
  12. Deep Fire Rising – Jack Du Brul
  13. Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson
  14. Bluefin Blues – Paul Kemprecos
  15. The Long Hunt – Judson Roberts
  16. The Mayflower Murders – Paul Kemprecos
  17. Ghostship – Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
  18. Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  19. The Hunt for Atlantis – Andy McDermott
  20. The Emerald Scepter – Paul Kempercos
  21. In Search of the Perfect Meal – Anthony Bourdain
  22. The Tomb of Hercules – Andy McDermott
  23. The Pagan Lord (Saxon Tales) – Bernard Cornwell
  24. The Secret of Excalibur – Andy McDermott
  25. The Nasty Bits – Anthony Bourdain
  26. Fletch, Too – Gregory McDonald (re-read)
  27. The Covenant of Genesis – Andy McDermott
  28. Son of Fletch – Gregory McDonald
  29. The Janson Directive – Robert Ludlum
  30. Excavation – James Rollins
  31. Havana Storm – Clive Cussler & Dirk Cussler
  32. Deep Fathom – James Rollins
  33. Wizards First Rule – Terry Goodkind
  34. Stone of Tears – Terry Goodkind
  35. Blood of the Fold – Terry Goodkind
  36. The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
  37. Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

Sharpe’s Trafalgar by Bernard Cornwell

Reading Sharpe’s Trafalgar and the historical notes at the end of the book allowed me to learn details of the Battle of Trafalgar that I had not known. Although I had heard about the battle, I only knew the basic facts. I knew that Lord Horatio Nelson had used unorthodox navel tactics to win the battle and that he also died from a musket wound received during the fight.

Since Lord Nelson is famous for using the strategy that won the battle I had assumed it was his idea. Not so I discovered. Cromwell writes in the historical notes,

“It is often said that his tactics were revolutionary, and so they were in the context of eighteenth-century naval warfare where the accepted mode of fighting one fleet against another was to form parallel lines of battle and fight it out broadside to broadside. Yet, in 1797, off Camperdown, Admiral Duncan had formed his fleet of sixteen British battleships into two squadrons that he sailed straight into the broadsides of eighteen Dutch ships of the line, and by battle’s end he had captured eleven of those ships and lost none of his own.”

Even though Nelson was not the first to use the tactic, I think he should be given credit for recognizing a good (yet risky) idea and having the nerve to try it himself. English ships would have to endure cannon fire while approaching the French and Spanish without being able to fire back until they sailed through their line. Had the French and Spanish gunners been better, Nelson’s fleet could have been shot to pieces while approaching the French and Spanish ship’s broadside.

Battle of Trafalgar Map

Cornwell explains that the ship Purcell from the novel was fictional.  He tells us, “The Pucelle, when it raked the ship alongside the Victory, was stealing the Temeraire’s thunder.” The Temeraire is the name of the real ship that assisted Lord Nelson’s ship, Victory, during the battle. However, the substitute was a clever way to get Sharpe (and the reader) close to the action near Lord Nelson.

Cornwell did a wonderful job letting the reader experience the Battle of Trafalgar through the eyes of Richard Sharpe. As usual Bernard Cornwell’s historical research is excellent.

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell

Agincourt Book CoverI had mentioned the novel Agincourt when writing about the Grail Quest series. Like the Grail Quest series, Agincourt illustrates the military advantage that the longbow gave the English during the 100 Year War.
The story exceeded my expectations and I learned quite a bit about the battle. While the longbow did give the English at tactical advantage, which enabled them to win the battle, there are other factors that made a difference. I think the muddy battlefield was the decisive factor that allowed the English to gain the upper hand. Cornwell writes in the Historical Notes,

“The fields of Agincourt had recently been plowed for winter wheat and it is true, as Nicholas Hook says, that you plow deeper for winter wheat than for spring wheat. It had also rained torrentially the previous night, and so the French were trudging through sticky clay soil. It must have been a nightmare. No one could hurry, and all the while the arrows were striking and, the closer the French came to the English line, the more lethal those arrow strikes were” Cornwell later observes, “The French men-at-arms were weary, half blinded, disordered, and mud-crippled.”

It’s astounding that the leaders of the French forces did not see the disadvantage for armored men to fight in muddy terrain. Without the mud I suspect the French would have taken heavy losses but might have been able to defeat the smaller English army.

Another advantage for the English in addition to the mud was the use of wooden stakes as a defensive barrier. The English archers drove sharp wooden stakes into the ground in front of each man to deter and defend against cavalry attacks. The defense worked to break a french cavalry attack intended to destroy the archers before the main French attack by the knights and men-at-arms.

It was the combination of multiple factors and a bit of luck which enabled the English to win the battle.

Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe Series

After reading several series by Bernard Cornwell I finally dug into the Richard Sharpe series. I am reading them in  the chronological order of the storyline as opposed to chronological order of the publication date. Cornwell published Sharpe’s Eagle in 1981. Sharpe’s Eagles takes place in 1809 during the Peninsular War. The series was so popular that Cornwell later wrote seven Richard Sharpe novels as a prequel to Sharpe’s Eagles which takes place in India as the British are expanding their empire.

Sharpes-TigerSharpes-TriumphSharpes-Fortress

This is an interesting time in history that I know very little about. It is interesting due to a strange relationship between British East India Company and colonial government in India. The Wikipedia article sums it up well when they write,

“The Company eventually came to rule large areas of India with its own private army, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions. Company rule in India effectively began in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey and lasted until 1858 when, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Government of India Act 1858 led to the British Crown assuming direct control of India in the new British Raj.”

Sharpe’s Tiger

Sharpe’s Tiger starts in 1799 during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in India. Private Richard Sharpe and the 33rd Infantry is marching to besiege and take the city of Seringapatm.

Cornwell tells us in the Historical Notes section of Sharpe’s Tiger that,

“The novel’s description of the city’s fall is mostly accurate. Two Forlorn Hopes, one headed by the unfortunate Sergeant Graham, led two columns of attacking troops across the wide South Cauvery and up the breach, and there the columns separated, one going north about the city’s outer ramparts and the other south.”

Cornwell does tell us that he “took some liberties” with the story of the trap with the giant explosive that Sharpe set off prematurely. Corwell explains,

“The idea for the mine came from an enormous and spectacular explosion which occurred in the city two days before the assault. It is believed that a British shell somehow ignited one of the Tippoo’s magazines, which then blew up. 1 changed the nature of that explosion, and delayed it by two days, because fictional heroes must be given suitable employment.”

Sir Arthur Wellesley appears in several of the Sharpe series novels. He makes his first appearance in Sharpe’s Tiger as a colonel in the 33rd.

Tipu (Tippoo) Sultan was the ruler of the Sultanate of Mysore who died during the siege of Seringapatam. The Historical Notes tells us there is a bit of a mystery surrounding the death of Tipoo. It is not generally known who killed Tipoo but all his jewels were missing.  Cornwell explains, “his killer never came forward and it is presumed that this reticence was caused by the man’s unwillingness to admit to ownership of the Tippoo’s jewels. Where many of those jewels are today, no one knows.”  This mystery worked perfectly for Cornwell who was able to have Richard Sharpe kill Tipoo and take the jewels without having to contradict historical fact.

Sharpe’s Triumph

Sharpe’s Triumph takes place four years later in 1803 during the the Second Anglo-Maratha War during the Battle of Assaye. This is a conflict between the Maratha Confederacy and the British East India Company. Cornwell writes in the Historical Notes section that the battle of Assaye,

“happened much as described in the novel, just as many of the characters in the story existed. Not just the obvious characters, like Wellesley, but men like Colin Campbell, who was the first man over the wall at Ahmednuggur, and Anthony Pohlmann who truly was once a sergeant in the East India Company, but who commanded the Mahratta forces at Assaye.”

Battle of Assaye
Battle of Assaye (Image from Wikipedia)

Cornwell devotes a fair amount of time discussing Arthur Wellesley in the Historical Notes. he tells us that,

“Assaye is not the most famous of Arthur Wellesley’s battles, but it was the one of which he was most proud. Years later, long after he had swept the French out of Portugal and Spain, and after he had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington (as Arthur Wellesley became) was asked what had been his finest battle. He did not hesitate. “Assaye,” he answered, and so it surely was, for he outmaneuvered and outfought a much larger enemy, and did it swiftly, brutally and brilliantly.”

I would say the credit for the victory should be given to the brave infantry that attacked through heavy artillery and gunfire while taking heavy casualties.

Sharpe’s Fortress

Gawilghur
Gawilghur fort walls from Wikipedia

Sharpe’s Fortress takes place during the Siege of Gawilghur in 1803.  Gawilghur “was a well-fortified mountain stronghold of the Maratha Empire north of the Deccan Plateau.”

Cornwell begins his Historical Notes section saying,

“I have done the 94th, sometimes known as the Scotch Brigade, and their Light Company which was led by Captain Campbell, a great disservice, for it was they, and not Sharpe, who found the route up the side of the ravine and then across the Inner Fort’s wall at Gawilghur, and who then assailed the gatehouse from the inside and, by opening the succession of gates, allowed the rest of the attacking force into the fortress”

British casualties would have been horrendous had it not been for 94th and Captain Campbell.

Cornwell theorizes that the ease of these victories did not help Wellesley later in life during the Peninsular War. He writes,

“it is claimed that he underestimated the difficulties of siege work, having been lulled into complacency by the ease of his Indian victories. There may be truth in that, and at Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Burgos and San Sebastian he took dreadful casualties.” Cornwell continue on, “My own suspicion is that he did not so much underestimate the ability of defenses to withstand him, as overestimate the capacity of British troops to get through those defenses and, astonishingly, they usually lived up to his expectations.”Cornwell concludes “their bravery helped disguise the fact that sieges were terrible work”

These first three books in the series have me hooked. I have no doubt that I will work my way through all of the Sharpe series books. I also plan to watch the television adaption. I have seen episode one and like it so far even though it does not follow the chain of events in the books.