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Review of Tim Willocks’s “The Twelve Children Of Paris”

The scorecard says it all. This is NOT for the faint of heart reader.

The scorecard says it all. This is NOT for the faint of heart reader.

 

This is the goods. This is real, bonded stuff. Folks looking for a summer read, only one with hair on its chest will find it in The Twelve Children Of Paris, the second book in a trilogy. I read the first one, The Religion, about seven years ago and enjoyed that tremendously. Willocks’s nail biting, stomach churning account of the Siege of Malta had me utterly spellbound and looking forward very much at the end to the next installment. Years passed without any sign of the sequel, however. I began to think it was one of those ambitious projects that for want of interest by publishers would languish.

A chance Amazon search turned up the sequel, which appeared in 2013, but isn’t available here in the USA. Willocks is British. This is a serious mistake since Game Of Thrones fans and medieval enthusiasts would simply eat this novel up. Scene, the late 16th Century with Europe embroiled in religious wars. A colossal atrocity in that internecine conflict is about to erupt, the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots in Paris. Into this giant warren of intrigue and debauchery rides grim Mattias Tannhauser, Knight of St. John, former Ottoman janissary, and the biggest ye olde badass who ever swung a battleax, hell bent on rescuing his wife, the fair Lady Carla, from a sinister, complicated revenge plot that involves the most powerful men in the Kingdom. Tannhauser’s enemies have no idea who they’re dealing with, however.

Ruthless, implacable, Tannhauser battles on through overwhelming odds and leaves a trail of carnage behind him, all against the morbid tableaux of endless scenes of massacre, looting, and rape. Readers who want a quick, crash course in how godawful the Reformation was couldn’t do better than Children. Along the way, Tannhauser collects a small menagerie of damaged, lost children, waifs who prove their worth in the course of their collective ordeal. Willocks’s strength at characterization shines here. His people are individual, distinctive from the start, and always consistent. They speak in a semi-Shakespearean vernacular, which Willocks also handles excellently, leavening high flying rhetoric with humor and commonplace observations, never falling flat or coming across as pompous.

This is one hell of a good read, but like I warned before, it’s not for those easily put off their food. Willocks is a doctor by trade. That combined with his expert knowledge of late medieval warfare, its methods and results, leads  to some revolting although page turning reading. Children reads like an Alexandre Dumas Pere novel only with a Grand Guignol twist, with scenes of gore and slaughter no stage could ever simulate.  This book and The Religion would both make incredible movies. Highly recommended. If you can handle GOT, you should get a big kick out of this novel.

https://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Children-Paris-Tim-Willocks/dp/0224097458/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497495094&sr=8-1&keywords=the+twelve+children+of+paris

 

How Much Is That Proton In The Window?

The One With The Free Radical.

The One With The Free Radical.

“Last Of The Aztec Riders” Accepted By Hinnon Magazine

The disturbing Mr. Lovecraft in chiaroscuro.

The disturbing Mr. Lovecraft in chiaroscuro.

My biker horror story, Last Of The Aztec Riders, has been accepted for publication by Hinnom Magazine. My sincere thanks to Editor/Publisher C. P. Dunphey for accepting the story. Last can be described as the kind of yarn an editor for Easy Riders magazine might have accepted back in the ’70’s if he’d come to work with a particularly bad hangover that accentuated his morbid streak and found this miscegenation in the slush pile. If horror is largely about being scared, I can say from personal experience. bikers strike fear into civilians very effectively. See what happens when tables get turned on scooter trash in the Nevada badlands. I’ll let everyone know when the issue with the story appears.

 

Such nice young men.

An Aztec idol?

 

https://gehennaandhinnom.wordpress.com/

Olmec Wheel Of Fate

Be Careful What Avatar You Land Upon!

Be Careful What Avatar You Land Upon!

Whether you know it or not,  you’re already playing this game. And will again, over and over, in an endless cycle of ritual and blood.

Clock Flower

Also known as a chrysanthemumometer.

Also known as a chrysanthemumometer.

Sunshine Sunflower Deep Sea Green

Now it's impossible for a sunflower to live underwater.

Now it’s impossible for a sunflower to live underwater.

Watching the sunrise from the bottom of the deep blue sea. A sunflower that’s experienced.

New Website Update!

I salute my shiny new website.

I salute my shiny new website.

 

Features a completely current bibliography plus more Mellon lit on the home page you can order with a single click:

www.mellonwritesagain.com

 

Politely Polytheistic Paganism

He doesn't want to make too much of a point about it. He's already got two.

He doesn’t want to make too much of a point about it. He’s already got two.

Burn a raw deer haunch (hide and all) on your backyard grill and maybe he’ll leave you alone. You never know with these Keltic types, though. Green of hue and wild in nature, forever borne where whimsy carries, sometimes kind, more often savage, no different than the wild wind and storms that once blew through trees hewn long ago.

Hell Bent For Stardom: Barbara Stanwyck, Steel True

Determined to reach her goal despite terrible obstacles.

Determined to reach her goal despite terrible obstacles.

While I’ve always been a big Old Hollywood fan from my youth, it’s only comparatively recently that I’ve come to appreciate some of the real greats of the Silver Age. Two male actors who serve as good examples of that are Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. I was simply too fascinated by Bogart as a kid to really pay any attention to them.

The best female example of this is Barbara Stanwyck. While she was an enduring presence in the pop culture world, probably most familiar to me from the long-running The Big Valley, popular during the antediluvian times of my youth, I didn’t really appreciate her magnificent qualities as an actress. It was only when I recently saw her films that I understood her range and force, from wonderfully timed comic performances in Xmas In Connecticut and The Lady Eve to her emotional, dramatic tours de force in such noir thrillers as Double Indemnity and The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers. I consider Barbara Stanwyck a powerful, emotional actress who was able to project personality and purpose way and above her diminutive, slight frame.

I therefore read Victoria Wilson’s exhaustively researched, lengthy biography of Stanwyck with a great deal of interest and pleasure. Stanwyck had a harrowing childhood, basically abandoned to a large extent at an early age after her mother’s tragic death, forced to live in different strangers’ homes with periodic interventions by her much older sisters, busy with their own lives and children. Like something from a corny old movie or play, she got into show business in emulation of her older sisters, first working as a dancer and then getting a big break with a small part as an actress where she excelled. She worked her way up through persistence, talent, and a hard boiled willingness to do what it took to succeed, to include dispensing sexual favors. Wilson describes in intricate detail how Stanwyck met her first husband, Frank Fay, a wildly successful vaudevillian considered by many to be the man who invented stand up comedy. Fay was the one who brought Stanwyck to Hollywood, figuring he’d conquer films just like he had Broadway. Reality intervened and Fay reacted by crawling into a bottle all while Stanwyck became increasingly more successful, scoring in one film after another, until her star far outshone his. Wilson describes Fay’s fights with Stanwyck, his increasing alcoholism and insane behavior, and, most unforgivable of all, his abuse of their adopted son Dion.

Wilson relates all these distasteful bits along with thumbnail portraits of other people in Stanwyck’s life both personal and professional, some of them highly informative, most notably about Robert Taylor, Stanwyck’s second husband. Rather than take a narrow gauge approach and focus on the personal detail of Stanwyck’s life, Wilson tries to give a broad picture, to show the actress’s life and career in the context of the United States at the turn of the 20th Century as it entered an era of unprecedented change and upheaval. Stanwyck was very much a part of that change, staking out a career for herself in the still young film industry and making a tremendous go of it. She always worked her hardest, gave nothing less than a hundred percent, walked on set knowing all her lines and everybody else’s too, and made a point of knowing everyone on the crew. Her dedication, professionalism, and talent shine through in every film she made, even pedestrian oaters.

I recommend this book highly, but with one caveat. Like I wrote before, it is lengthy, almost nine hundred pages worth and might prove to be a tough slog for someone who’s not really all that interested in so much information. I kind of nodded off myself when the author extensively described the stables Stanwyck had built on a horse farm. Still, if you’re a real old film buff, I think you’ll find that the trek is worth it.

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Barbara-Stanwyck-Steel-True-1907-1940/dp/0684831686/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491358076&sr=8-1&keywords=barbara+stanwyck+steel+true

Altered Europa Interview

A votre service, mesdames et messieurs.

A votre service, mesdames et messieurs.

In connection with Altered Europa release, my interview with Martin T. Ingham, publisher of Martinus Press, in which I opine on writing and how miserable it is, Waterloo, wormholes, and how much I like kung fu flicks:

http://martiningham.blogspot.com/2017/03/altered-europa-interview-mark-mellon.html