By The Gods by Dazzy-P

By The Gods! epagomenal

One of my favorite cartoons has returned after a too long hiatus. By The Gods is an Internet cartoon from the drawing board of DAZZY-P (Darren Pepper), and it ran from 2013 until it unfortunately stopped in a few years later due to real work over taking him.

But when I was recently cruising around the Internet I saw one of his older panels and thought that I would revisit the site to waste a few minutes looking at older drawings. What I found was that, due to being threatened by members of the Ancient Egyptian Pantheon he has returned to the strip!

The strip is about the gods of Egypt, but it is no dry retelling of the Book of the Dead. Its a funny contemporary take on them. They play practical jokes on each other, have adventures, suffer from the same issues many of us do with its own unique twist and a whole lot more!

By the gods 3 khepri's head

Drawn in the classical two dimensional style of Ancient Egypt the characters look as if they were pulled directly from a tomb painting and just given a fresh coat of paint. And a decidedly modern sense of humor.

You will find resurrected T-Rexs, vampires, demons, zombies and host of other interesting characters interspersed with the gods. In one two of the gods are enticed into the underworld by Apep and Journey to the Center of the Earth. From there they venture back to the surface, but in a Mayan city and encounter a priest and the winged god Quetzacoatl. Later some of the gods engage Quetzacoatl in a good natured debate about the various captains from Star Trek. There is also an interesting case when a tentacled Japanese Hentai character accidentally stumbles onto the scene.

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I learned a great deal about the Egyptian pantheon as well. I knew of a few of the gods but really not that many and had only the vaguest of ides of what they stood for. The closest I have ever come to reading about them was as they were characterized in Roger Zelazny’s Creatures of Light and Darkness.

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The actual characters and rivalries between the gods are often played out as well, often with modern touches such as when Set lures Osiris into an underground room filled with landmines. I highly recommend this series as well as looking at his other artwork.

The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt

the wrong stars

 

It has been a while since I read a fun Sci-Fi shoot em up and The Wrong Stars: Book 1 of the Axiom by Tim Pratt really filled the billed. The first of two books that follow the Axiom by Pratt that also includes The Dreaming Stars. I have read reports that there will be a third book but unsure how accurate they were. The series follows the ship the White Raven and its crew as they go from part time cop and high speed transportation provider to galactic avengers.

The book focus is not on the science but the characters and action. And the action comes pretty fast and at a very solid rate through out the book. There does not appear to be a dull moment and the book only covers roughly the course of a week, give or take 500 years.

Set sometime over 500 years in the future the White Raven, captained by Callie Machedo and a crew of four encounters an odd looking space ship, the Anjou, floating unpowered in space. Upon investigating they find that it is what was called a goldilock ship, one of many that had been sent off to try and colonize distant stars because at the time it looked as if the Earth was dying. Onboard is Elena Oh, one of the original crew members, but no sign of the others. The ship has been oddly altered with strange, possibly alien technology discovered on the spacecraft.

This chance meet up starts a chain of events that will lead to huge loss of life, life threatening aliens named the Axiom who have been unseen for millennium; helpful but maybe not so helpful aliens, aptly named the Liars, battles, monster robots and a threat to all life in the galaxy, all in one book.

The book is very much both a character and plot driven story, and in many ways reminds me of The Long Way to a Small Angry, Planet, by Becky Chambers, a book I greatly enjoyed. Not in plot but in character development and variety. That book, as in this, has little use for intricate and plausible science instead focusing on the lives and interplay among the main cast of characters.

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The one weakness I found in The Wrong Stars is with some of its terminology and science. Not the lack of emphasis but the use of what seems to me what would be archaic terms and technologies. Riveted shields onto the space craft, mentioning middle school, using shotguns. They just felt wrong. The Wrong Stars was a very enjoyable, fast action book. Whatever the flaws you really do not notice except in hindsight.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jeminsin

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I was amazed at how much dust had accumulated on my copy of N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, the first in her Broken Earth Trilogy. I had purchased the book prior to its winning the 2016 Hugo for Best Novel after reading a few rave reviews. And then it sat, and judging from the dust, undisturbed. Having just purchased the first of the two sequels, The I felt it was time to read the first in the series.

Boy was I glad I did. I often find that books do not match the hype, and one of the warning signs I look for is if the blurb says something like “Lord of the Rings meets Terry Pratchett” or “Star Trek meets Star Wars.” However I tend to like the Hugo winners and really did this time.

The book is centered on Earth, it could be an alternate universe Earth or just one a millennium in the future. It is wracked by huge seismic upheavals that have the potential to destroy most of the life on the planet. These events are called The Fifth Season, essentially the season of death. Sky blocked for decades preventing plants from growing, infectious air, poisoned water; it happens over and over, often centuries apart. This has led to the rise and fall of multiple civilizations.

As these events continually occur a subgroup of humans develops the ability to stop temblors and help stop or alleviate the damage. In polite society they are called orogenes but most commonly they are referred to by the derogatory term rogga. Their powers extend beyond simply quelling shakes, and as the book progresses the full capabilities are starting to emerge, but I suspect we will see even greater capabilities in the future. There is also a non-human element of intelligent life called Stone Eaters who can assume human-like shapes and have powers, most of them mostly undefined, and a role that is intriguing and very unclear at the end of the first novel.

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The book starts at a time when an empire called the Sanzed Equatorial Affiliation centered in its capitol Yumenesa has learned to harness the powers of the orogenes and so help lessen or stop the damages caused by the temblors. They have additional powers, ones that they are not allowed to explore, and the Sanzed have developed a caste called the Guardians who are immune to the powers of the orogenes.

Thie ability of the orogenes, along with a set of rules called ‘stone lore’ have helped the Sanzed and the society it spawned to survive multiple Fifth Seasons. The planet has a single continent, called the Stillness as an obvious parody of what it is really like. Along the equatorial region, where there are no faultlines, there are real cities but elsewhere across the land communities, called comms, are smaller, with large food caches and a semi-rigid caste system that is ever preparing for the arrival of the next Fifth Season.

And another Fifth Season has arrived, and it looks to be the worst on record. As the book opens we see the events that lead up to the catastrophe in a quick summary. Then we are introduced to the cast of characters, some much earlier than the event, some a few years before and the main thread of the book which follows how people are dealing with the emergence of a Fifth Season.

The book follows the converging path of several characters, some orogene and some not. It provides the backstory to some of the characters in detail, some with a bit of backstory and none for others. and leaves you with some surprising conclusions as you progress through the book. You get a strong feeling of who the people involved are, if not what their individual motivations are.

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A feature that I really enjoyed was how the history of the world is fed to the reader in bits and pieces instead of a big data dump chapter. You have to figure out how the Earth and society have reached the point it is in at the start of the novel. As you read your understanding increases, but also changes as additional facts are added to established histories. There are continual surprises woven in all along the book that make any early presumptions about its direction very likely to be wrong. Mine were.

As I read the book I really had no idea how it was going to end. Every guess I made turned out to be incorrect, even when the book provided me with some healthy hints along the way. It ends with a huge question hanging unanswered and it was something that I had not really considered until it was mentioned.

I loved the book and hopefully will not wait several years to read the sequels.

 

The Black Company by Glen Cook

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I originally read The Black Company over 20 years ago, and then lent out the book, never to be seen again. So when I saw that Tor.com was offering a free download, I quickly took it up on its offer. Per my usual modus operandi I then forgot about it for around year. BTW if you do not get the Tor newsletter you should give it a look, I really enjoy it and it offers up a great deal of info on new books as well as old.

Having miraculously finished several books over the holidays that I had started long ago I was looking for something that was a bit different that the histories I had been reading and decided to take up the book again. A bit of background for those who are unfamiliar with Cook, or the Black Company series. These books are often viewed by some of the founding fathers, so to speak, of the Grimdark genre.

The company is very dark, using underhanded tactics to win. More than that it commits the crimes that ravaging forces often do on an innocent population. Although its rape, murdering and pillage are just mentioned as a minor note, the actions are present. However I cannot recall any book I had read up to the time I originally read this that had the side I was rooting for do such evil. Conan always talked about it in the past tense but whenever presented with an opportunity he usually took the chivalrous route. I have read that people put Corwin from Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes of Amber series in this category but I don’t really see it. Written earlier, but read by me much later is Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane series and he is openly much worse.

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The Black Company bills itself as the last of the Free Companies of Khatovar, a band of highly trained mercenaries that has the ability to fight way above its weight class. The book (first in a series) follows the adventures of the company as it extracts itself from a sticky situation and into a much more dangerous one.

The story is narrated by the company’s surgeon and annalist Croaker. Keeping records of the company is something of a mania for both Croaker and the company as a whole as it carries around its histories and regularly has portions read to the men to remind them of their brothers who have passed before them. Some segments of its history have been lost.

The book opens with the company idling its time in a decaying city called Beryl, ruled (mostly) by a man called the Syndic. Wanting to depart the dead-end job they develop a work-around to their contract, which their honor would not allow them to out and out break. They facilitate in the killing of the Syndic, an action that gives you an idea about the men. To reinforce this image as they march out of town they cast a spell on one of the cities military units putting it to sleep and then massacre its men.

They have already agreed to a new contract with a visiting wizard that goes by the name of Soulcatcher. Soulcatcher is one of ten, called The Taken, that are ruled by a greater wizard, The Lady. They, along with The Lady’s husband the Dominator, had ruled a might empire, been overthrown and imprisoned for centuries until she was released, and then the Taken, but not the Dominator. She resurrects her ancient kingdom and meets with a revolt, just like old times.

The company is sent north to the fighting, wins many battles but the Lady is losing the war, due to the poor overall performance of her armies and the backstabbing of the Taken. The company does capture one of the enemy leaders. Named Whisper, she is their best general and one of its pack of wizards, named the Circle of Eighteen. The Lady turns her into one of the Taken and then she is sent to the Eastern front, where she instantly starts racking up victories.

However the outlook is very different on the Northern Front, as losses start to pile up. The company, along with remnants of the northern armies are forced to retreat back to a huge monolith called the Tower, where the final showdown will occur between a quarter million rebels and roughly 25,000 troops of the Lady. With the wizards on both sides making major contributions.

The final battle in many ways reminds me of David Gemmell’s Legend, which has a final battle that I have always found to be unsatisfactory.

legend

While I remembered the bare bones of the story I was surprised at how much I had forgotten, including Raven, who emerges as one of the main characters. I think that when I originally read the book I just devoured it because it was unlike anything I had read before and when I read like that I am waiting for the next page and not really thinking in detail about what is occurring on the page I am reading. I just want to see how it ends.

There are a number of minor points that annoy me about the book. Few characters are very well described. I have a mental image of almost none of them. The Lady is described as the most beautiful woman ever, but that is pretty much it. She seems to fall for Croaker, no idea why unless it has to do with the school boy fantasy that he writes about her.

Some interesting plot twists, one that I guessed but others that I did not and that you can see at the end of the book how they will influence future books in this series.

Another is distance and logistics. The company travels over 1,000 miles to the north, and later is forced to retreat, followed by a multiple enemy armies numbering around 250,000 men. Yet the retreat is very rapid and logistics for both friend and foe are not really mentioned. Yet they travel through one desert and a huge forest, both of which would put immense pressure on having adequate food for the men and the animals

Overall I found the book very readable and a great look back at the roots of what could be called the rise of the anti-hero. However not sure if I would recommend the book to friends because it has a dated feel to it, particularly the worldbuilding.

In The Company Of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez

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It is not often in fantasy that you have heroes with names such as Regina, Ward, Frank, Ace, Miriam, and Tate. It is even odder when the heroes are orcs, goblins, ogres, Amazons, sirens and so forth. But that is the way of the world in “In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez.

However the star of In a Company of Ogres is Never Dead Ned. Ned’s issue is not that he cannot die, he often does and usually in a grim manner, it is that he does not stay dead. He does not come back as a zombie, although zombies do exist in his world, but as a not too motivated human.

In a time of peace, providing troops for ‘emergencies’ and peace keeping is a very profitable business and Ned has found himself assigned to lead Ogre Company in Brute’s Legion. The reason for the promotion is his skill in coming back to life, since the unit, the last stop for misfit soldiers, has been loosing commanding officers.

Ned reluctantly takes over the command of the unit only to discover more death (not surprising), love, the most powerful force ever, conflict, leadership and a whole lot more. There are demons, evil wizards, combat and personal issues all needing to be overcome.

I have always enjoyed humorous books and this one has shot to become a leader of the pack in terms of how much I enjoyed it. The humor is constant and not forced. Not a lot of laugh out loud moments, it just keeps a grin on your face sentence after sentence.

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While other books of this style often give a sly wink to other novels in the same genre, but not this one. I had thought maybe a Lords of the Ring, or any of the similar type stories would be somewhere in the book but no, it seemingly blazes its own trail and the only reference, that I caught, was of all things, Arlo Gutherie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.

Overall I really enjoyed the book, enough that I read it twice-the second time on a flight where a little girl in front of me was seemingly enamored or puzzled by the cover.

Just as a side note I recently watched what might be the worst Sword and Sorcery movie from the 1980’s. I was a fan of this type of movie, just for the corny fun, but Deathstalker II may have killed that enjoyment forever.

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The dialog was horrible, the sets and props apparently stolen from a failed Renaissance Faire, and the action scenes some of the worst I have ever seen. The climactic battle between Deathstalker and the evil wizard/swordsman will not bring to mind Errol Flynn versus Basil Rathbone in The Adventures of Robin Hood, or for that matter even the original Deathstalker. The female lead, Monique Gabrielle is possible the worst female actress I have ever watched. They should have made a Krull II, I mean look at the original cast!

Bloodstone by Karl Edward Wagner

bloodstone

 

If someone recommended a book to me that combines Sword and Sorcery with aliens and space ships I would have nodded my head in appreciation and made a mental note to never ask them for recommendations ever again.

And yet that is what Bloodstone, one of Karl Edward Wagner’s five books on his immortal anti-hero Kane, features. Kane, cursed by an insane Eldur God to forever wander the earth after murdering his brother, does so in a sour and evil manner. Whereas Conan, a character in many ways close to Kane, solves everything with violence and hates magic, Kane often resorts to violent magic as well.

conan

In this book, really almost a novella, Kane is once again seeking to conquer, but this time he is thinking big. In the first of the Kane books I read, a collection of short stories called Night Winds, he was often trying to conquer a single kingdom but here he has set his sights on the entire world.

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To do so he is playing two nations against each other and using one to help him find and exploit an ancient city that was founded by a now almost dead alien race and then use the technology to help his erstwhile allies beat its foe. His allies in theory, at least .

In this book you see that numerous alien races had visited the planet long before the ascent of man, and that remnants of them can still be found. You also see Kane in a role that is often just hinted at in the short stories, as a man behind the scenes pulling the strings of others. Wagner does all of this in a smooth and believable manner, slowly evolving the aliens role in a believable manner and adding a few interesting twists.

One of the things I liked about Bloodstone was that it had a host of full fleshed characters and Wagner has the ability to paint a portrait of a person quickly and yet give you a clear image of them. Important since more than a few die pretty quickly after you meet them!

I greatly enjoyed the book, but I think that Night Winds was more stylistically more to my taste, but I can see how others might enjoy this story better. One thing about Kane. The man is untold years old, always seen plotting to conquer a town, a city, a region or a nation. Yet he always seems to fail. I wonder if this is intentional or just part of the development process and that if Wagner have lived longer we would have seen him as a planetary ruler?

One’s Company: A Journey to China by Peter Fleming

one's comp

 

When a book opens with the author reading the London Time’s Agony Column, and the author is English I am pretty sure I am going to enjoy it. The Agony column, a favorite of Sherlock Holmes, was a sort of advice column mixed with miscellaneous random or statements

That is how Peter Fleming starts out One’s Company: A Journey to China, a journal of his trip to China in 1933 as a special correspondent of the London Times. The book is basically dividend into two segments. The first is about his departure from England, travel through Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway and his time in Japanese occupied Manchuria.

On his way to Manchuria he stops and visits his brother Ian Fleming, a reporter at that time just returning from Moscow where he was covering the Metro-Vickers Trial and who later working for the British Secret service and then authoring the James Bond books. His train trip is interrupted with a derailment but is relatively uneventful.

In Manchuria he visits cities and goes out on an anti-guerilla campaign with Japanese and local forces. I picked up a good deal of history from that era. It was an era of warlords and he meets people that served with or against many and drops names such as One-Arm Sutton, Chan Tso-Lin (Zhang Zuolin), Henry Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China and Feng Yu-hsiang (Feng Yuxiang) among others.

Leaving Northern China he heads south to where the Nationalists and Communists are at each other’s throats. He manages to get to the front lines twice, but just misses any action. He does however meet Chiang Kai-Shek, who was one of the few officials or officers to impress him.

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Chiang Kai-shek

I love Fleming’s writing style and his ability to frame a scene. He does not go in for flashy language or overheated prose. Overall it is rather droll. He is constantly wishing for excitement, a fight with bandits, and battle with the Red Army, or anything. His one brush with danger is with a bounding boulder. His travels take him to areas in China that were at that time so remote and rarely visited by non-Chinese that in one case he is mistaken for being Japanese.

The book is just an enjoyable snapshot of a time prior to World War II where a huge part of the world was already at war and the West simply was not paying much attention.

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Years ago I had read a previous book by Fleming, Brazilian Adventure, about his joining an expedition to find the lost explorer Percy Fawcett. The Lost City of Z is a recent movie about Fawcett. The trip failed but I loved the book. Sadly all I can really recall about the book is that I enjoyed it. An interesting note is that he is discussing the adventure with a fellow traveler in One’s Company when they find a scrap of newspaper that mentions another expedition has returned in failure after searching for the lost explorer.

Fleming was quite a traveler in his youth and it is interesting that he notes in the book that he dislikes sightseeing, does not describe scenes well and dislikes traveling with others, hence the title.

There are some odd things that I enjoyed about this specific version of the book. Inside was a cutout picture of the author from what appears to be a French magazine. He is looking over his shoulder wearing a fur lined parka and smoking his pipe, somewhere in the Far East. The cover has him playing what appears to be solitaire on a small trunk while also smoking his pipe. He looks very engrossed in the game.

On the inside of the cover is a bookplate that says “Ex Libris Mach and Mike Heimlich.” The version I have was printed in the U.K. and this has made me wonder who owned the book previously. I gave a quick attempt to track down the owners on line. A couple of hits but nothing I would hang my hat on. Then the book has a note written in red ink in the back saying to copy some pages for Judah B.

Two minor things I disliked about the book. The lack of maps is first and foremost. He visits a lot of small villages and towns and it is very hard to trace his steps. The second is the lack of photos. He talks a bit about taking numerous pictures; it would have been nice to see them.

One’s Company is a nice addition to my collection of travel books. I think I have always enjoyed this genre ever since I read a children’s version of Robinson Caruso as a young child. I know that technically it is not a real travel book but it is what ignited the flame.

 

Dancer’s Lament by Ian Esslemont

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Dancer’s Lament (Path to Ascendancy #1)

 

After reading Deadhouse Landing a few months ago I decided to reread Dancer’s Lament. It took me a month to locate the book in my (small) house, and then I had to finish the annual holiday magazine deluge before I could start.

I really enjoyed the second reading more than the first as I caught a good deal on the second reading that I missed the first time. Names and events that are just mentioned once often loom much larger in later books by both Esslemont and his partner in the Malazan universe Steve Erikson. The same with how people develop into friends and foes.  Just as Dancer and Kellanved undergo name changes as they mature and their roles alter so to do the names and identities of people that they interact with in this book as they emerge as allies or enemies.

Overall, just as Kellanved emerges as a more fully developed character in Deadhouse Landing, Dancer is filled out in this book. Originally named Dorin he was the last pupil of the last practitioner of a legendary school of assassins. He has big ambitions, but they are relatively undefined. He has all of the arrogance of someone who is young and inexperienced but very talented.

DeadhouseLandingCover

Just as so many do when they are young some of his actions puzzle him, as they go against what he desires, or thinks that he desires. Even his eventual partnership with Kellanved, named Wu in this book, is mostly involuntary and he cannot quite understand how it comes about. Eventually he gives up and just starts following where Wu leads.

The basic plot is that the two are traveling on the continent of Quon Tali and both end up in the city of Li Heng, which has been shielded from outside conflicts for ages by a might wizardess called the Protectress, who is aided by a cadre of mages in guarding the city.

Close behind the two travelers is a young man sworn to Hood, the god of death and further behind is an invading army from Quon Tali that has been slowly subjugating half of the continent.  After the two arrive, separately, they get involved in everything from petty crime to helping to deal with the invaders. We also see Wu’s first steps into Shadow, and a hint at some of the forces behind him leading him there and the potential forces that will seek to thwart him.

Map_Quon_Tali

I was interested in the degrees of potency that the different mages had, as compared to some of the other characters that inhabit the pages namely the elder races and elder gods. It is much clearer here than in any opf the other books in the series and helped me understand the balance of power between different forces in later books.

Overall once again the one trend that really leaped out at me and greatly impressed me is how well the overall Malazan universe is knitted together. With the huge existing body of work split between two authors I would expect some gaping holes in plot lines and character motivation, and yet if there are any, aside from no doubt some very minor ones, I did not find them.

Originally this series was set to be a trilogy but it now looks like it might go longer, something I hope it does. Here is an interesting read on the creative process from the author given to Fantasy Book Review. If you are a fan of the Malazan novels this is a great read and if you are new to it, it’s also a great place to start.

The Bread of Pompeii

 

One of the many hobbies I practice, as opposed to ones such as chess that I only wish I practiced, is baking. The smell of bread first rising and then baking is a wonderful aroma, and since there are a number of breaks in the process I can actually accomplish a number of tasks while baking bread. Well I theoretically could.

I have baked a wide range of bread types and styles and have more than a dozen types of flour and flour substitutes in my pantry ranging from almond, rice and potato to just about every variation of wheat.  When I see a new or interesting variation of an old recipe I almost always save it and then try and bake it- only about 50 loaves behind, so better than my reading list.

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So with that said I found this foodies journey on Atlas Obscura about baking a unique loaf of bread to be very interesting. Farrell Monaco, who has a blog that covers her research in ancient food called Tavola Mediterranae, decided to take on an interesting challenge from the ancient world, she is recreating bread as it is believed to have come from the bakeries of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

Over the years many have gone on to duplicate recipes from ancient times with Marcus Gavius Apicius, an ancient gourmand who reputedly wrote De Re Coquinaria (On the Subject of Cooking) being a good place to start. To see some of his recipes converted to modern food go to PBS. If you are interested in ancient Chinese cuisine, at least from one region, you might try and find Dongjing Meng Hua Lu (Dreaming of Splendor of the Eastern Capitol) by Meng Yuanlao, from around A.D. 1187.

pompeii

A bit of background on Pompeii. It was a Roman city, on the side of Mt. Etna, near modern Naples. In AD 79 the volcano erupted covering the city of approximately 11,000, along with neighboring Herculaneum, under up to 20 feet of ash and pumice.

Back to the bread. Monaco got a job with the Pompeii Food and Drink project, which covered a great deal more than just baking such as restaurants and what animals were sacrificed to the gods. She has been developing recipes based on ancient writings for some time but admits that this seems to have a special place in her heart.

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Panis Quadratus

She is going to recreate bread called Panis Quadratus, which has no recorded recipe, although we know what it looks like from examples from Pompeii. If you are interested in how it turns out, and what other ancient foods might look and taste, she along with Ken Albala, a professor of history at the University of the Pacific, will be having demonstrations and lectures on this topic in Italy this summer.

All of this has inspired me to bake some this weekend, although of a slightly more modern take. I plan to create Multigrain  Dakota Bread from a Cooks Country, although I am substituting Bob’s 10-grain hot cereal mix for the 8-grain, which I could not find.

Outlaw Tales of Oregon by Jim Yuskavitch

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Over the holidays a friend gave me book entitled Outlaw Tales of Oregon: True Stories of the Beaver State’s most Famous Infamous Crooks, Culprits and Cutthroats by Jim Yuskavitch. I must say I looked at it with a jaundiced eye since it looked like one of the books that you give children that has a sterile, sanitized version of history, somewhere between Paul Bunyon and George Washington cutting down an apple tree.

I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. The stories were interesting, well researched and well written. They covered the nitty gritty of what the criminals did and made no excuses or whitewashing their actions for them.

The 12 stories covered a wide range of topics from vigilante gangs, range wars, mass murders, train and stagecoach hold ups and more. There are criminals that even the most casual reader wandering through the pages would recognize such as Black Bart and Butch Cassidy, as well as many that would only be familiar to a fan or Oregon history.

One of the stories that I really enjoyed was entitled Dave Tucker: From Bank Robbery to Redemption. It was about an embittered young man who robbed a bank, was captured and did time. But when he was released he reformed his life to such an extent that decades later he was made president of the bank that he had once tried to rob.

The author mentions some myths, such as one robber was reputed to be the first to say “Hands Up” during the commission of his crime, and then usually dismisses the myth. He has a fine eye for detaiuil noting one criminal was jailed three years for stealing $8, that Oregon had one of the first State Penitentiarys and that one character later committed the first train robbery in Canada, at the relative late date of 1904.

Another nice feature for me was that it mentioned so many cities, counties and areas that I was pretty unfamiliar with I got my map out and followed along to see where much of the action took place. Some of the town names are near where I live in Portland, and yet I had never heard of places such as Goble.

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It is interesting to see that it appears that there is an entire Outlaw series covering a range of states and I might get a few others to see what happened in a few other states, Alaska seems to be one that could be ripe with interesting crime, as does Montana. Interesting that the Montana cover closely resembles the Oregon cover.