Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Puppy update and historical novels

First! I retired the feeding tube and threw the rest of the formula away FOUR DAYS AGO. Yay! The puppy is absolutely thriving. She’s gaining an ounce a day – and think about that for a moment: when a six ounce puppy gains an ounce in 24 hours,her weight has gone up by a whopping 16%. Wow.

Anyway, a healthy puppy is supposed to double its weight in 7 to 10 days, and Little Puppy G has done exactly that. She was 4.25 oz at the time of the section and today, seven days later, she is 8.5 oz. She is now the proper size for a newborn puppy, only fatter. There should be a picture up on my other website (www.anaracavaliers.com) in the next day or so if you’re curious. Also, just in case you have a burning desire to know this, puppies are basically out of danger when they reach three weeks (Or I expect three weeks and five days for my preemie), though since I’m not sure this one got sufficient colostrum, in her case I won’t be really happy till she’s had her first vaccination. I usually name them and register them they’re four weeks old.

Now! I love really good historical novels, which are just like fantasies, only, you know, without the magic. And my favorite historical writer is Gillian Bradshaw. Anybody want to weigh in with a really good historical author?

Bradshaw mostly sets her books in the classical era. My favorites are A BEACON AT ALEXANDRIA, THE SAND RECKONER, and CLEOPATRA’S HEIR, but I love nearly all her books, except if she’s the one who wrote that Arthurian trilogy early on in her career, I didn’t like that, but hey, can’t hold an early trilogy against a great author forever. The thing about Bradshaw is that she softens the attitudes of her main characters enough to make them sympathetic to modern sensibilities while still managing to hold onto the flavor of a substantially more brutal era. (I didn’t make that up; my brother-the-history-expert pointed it out.) Great characterization, good plots, great writing, and the occasional scene that sends shivers down your spine. I’m thinking here of a climactic scene in CLEOPATRA’S HEIR.

Anyway, just read IMPERIAL PURPLE, and although it didn’t unseat one any of the ones in my top three, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Also! I have finally managed to get some work of my own done, too. This is wholly due to Kenya settling down a bit and her puppy becoming more robust. Should be possible to really get ahead on some project or other over spring break, which technically starts next week although of course I stayed home all last week with the puppy. The weather’s too beautiful to stay in with a laptop, except that I’m stuck in here to keep an eye on the puppy anyway, so that’s useful even if I’m dying to grab a couple of dogs and hit the hiking trails. Hopefully I will be able to post a tidbit from this particular WIP in the next week or so.

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2 Comments Puppy update and historical novels

  1. Elaine T

    Bradshaw did indeed write an Arthurian trilogy as her first work. I liked it, although I haven’t reread it in years. An interesting feature to it that the magic goes away over the course of the trilogy. We’re closest to it in HAWK OF MAY (book 1), it is second hand and not nearly as prevalent in KINGDOM OF SUMMER, and hearsay in umm.. whatever the third one was – DOWN THE LONG WIND? I did like the attention to Gwalchmai/Gawain, who often gets overlooked for the Lancelot character. They were some of the last modern Arthurians I enjoyed. But BEACON is absolutely wonderful, and SAND-RECKONER captures the scientific mind in young Archimedes and CLEOPATRA’S HEIR is simply good historical story telling. I loaned it with raves to various friends, and got it back with raves. Which part of it sends shivers down your spine? Ceasarion ought to have been an unlikeable lout but she made me care for him.

    I’m also very fond of ISLE OF GHOSTS (speaking of softening the brutality while keeping the flavor, one of my favorite bits in that features the protagonist explaining about the skull drinking cups of his people.) and BEAR KEEPER’S DAUGHTER. The latter snuck up on me – I didn’t think I liked it that much when I was first reading it, but it haunted me. IMPERIAL PURPLE is a second-level book for me – it is Bradshaw, so worth reading, but nothing special, and I don’t care much for the HORSES OF HEAVEN as I keep wanting to swat the main characters or throw them into couples therapy or something. Have you read her English Civil War novels and her children’s novels?

    I haven’t found new authors of purely historical novels in quite a while. People keep recommending WOLF HALL by Mantel to me, and I keep bouncing off, as with other recent offerings and historical mysteries and they are ok once, but then the formula gets noticeable.

    Among the older(deceased) I like Rosemary Sutcliff whether juveniles or adult), Dorothy Dunnett (2 series & one standalone about MacBeth – I prefer the six book series with chess titles to the other), Madeline (?)Polland (she wrote a ton of kids’ historicals set all over Europe & into Asia, then I discovered she’d written adult historicals, too, mostly centered on Ireland). My favorite Polland may be THE HEART SPEAKS MANY WAYS, wherein the main character (starts as a teenager) loves three men at different times and in different ways. This was written when novels were still clean – no gratuitous detailed sex scenes. it’s a nice exploration of the way emotions work and tangle. Set in the 1930s and into WWII.

    There was a rather oddball Du Maurier where she finished someone else’s work, which was a Tristan retelling set in 19th century (IIRC) Cornwall. Other than REBECCA, that’s the only DuMaurier I think I’ve read.

    Barbara Hambly under a slightly altered name (I think Barbara Hamilton) is writing historicals, but I never remember to look for them when I’m at the library. I can take her Benjamin January historical mysteries and enjoy them as long as I let at least nine months pass between installments. My favorite is the one where she sent him out West, though. She broke the formula. I think you like the B. January books so you might well like her non-genre historicals, if you can find them.

    Among the really older stuff, I much preferred Jane Porter’s SCOTTISH CHIEFS to anything from Sir Walter Scott. (It apparently outsold his stuff.) And it probably has lots of prose that could be called purple, to tie in to the discussion down below. (invokes gutenberg) Here’s a sample
    “Thus checked at the opening of life in the career of glory that was his passion-secluded in the bloom of manhood from the social haunts of men–he repressed the eager aspirations of his mind, and strove to acquire that resignation to inevitable evils which alone could reconcile him to forego the promises of his youth, and enable him to view with patience a humiliation of Scotland, which blighted her honor, menaced her existence, and consigned her sons to degradation or obscurity. The latter was the choice of Wallace. Too noble to bend his spirit to the usurper, too honest to affect submission, he resigned himself to the only way left of maintaining the independence of a true Scot; and giving up the world at once, all the ambitions of youth became extinguished in .. Teens will read amazing things. I doubt I’d pick it up now if I flipped to page 1 and saw that. But it’s a great story.

    Oh, I knew there were a couple other modern writers … I don’t know if she’s still writing, as I haven’t run across anything from her in some years, but Valerie Anand wrote a trilogy set before, during, and after the Norman Conquest that I thought was really good. Never liked her other books nearly as well. First book was GILDENFORD – starts in the 1040s in England. It also helped me follow the Dunnett book on MacBeth as a lot of the same characters turn up. The Dunnett is rather dense on first go round.

    And Patricia Wright’s WHILE PARIS DANCED which starts at the end of WWI features a heroine I respect even though objectively she makes some pretty bad decisions. I haven’t yet figured out how the author did it. It’s also a look at a period that isn’t much covered in novels (that I’m aware of) – the year or so between the Armistice and the actual treaty. Things were really messed up in both France and Germany. Our main character is an American who gets involved with an Alsatian/French (not considered the same thing at that time and place) major who was at the front for most of the war and his ‘loving’ family. JOURNEY INTO FIRE about the Russian Revolution and after has some scenes that I haven’t read in years but just thinking of them I still get shivers up the spine.

    Great news about the puppy, and I look forward to seeing a tidbit of the WIP.

  2. Rachel

    Oh, yes, I love ISLE OF GHOSTS. That’s top-rank for me. I got rid of HORSES OF HEAVEN, like you, I just couldn’t stand how people kept not talking to each other and getting into trouble. I liked her werewolf story, too. And I just read LONDON IN CHAINS, which was fine, but not one of my favorites. I love how the main character falls in love with a scarred-up man instead of a handsome rich guy. Good for Bradshaw!

    Oh, it was the scene between Caesarian and Caesar Augustus — very intense.

    I love the Lymond stories by Dunnett! Though they get pretty grim before they get better. When I was reading her Niccolo series, she put her poor characters in such a terrible situation that I just quit reading for a year or so even though I was sure things
    would work out in the end. Which they did, of course.

    And, yes, come to think of it, I did read one of “Barbara Hamilton’s” Abigail Adams books, and liked it, but somehow I haven’t got around to getting any more. Glad you reminded me, because I should. And I’ll have to try Patricia Wright — maybe the JOURNEY INTO FIRE you recommend. Thanks!

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