Thursday, 24 February 2011

Maid Marian and a Song for Nero

I just finished reading Thomas Holt’s A Song for Nero. I picked it up because it’s a historical fiction told in a modern style with a few deliberate anachronisms and a contemporary flavour. My own novel I’m working on is a light-hearted anachronistic historical fiction. I’m trying hard to find published novels following that sort of principle.

Song for Nero was easy to read with a good concept. The light-hearted style made it a much more enjoyable read from other historical fiction. The characters were strong and well described. The whole ambience of the story put me into that time in history without alienating me.

The book was excessively long considering nothing much actually happens. It was over the top to the extent that though I guess a lot of stuff did happen, it seemed to be negated by the OTT barrage of stuff that I couldn’t relate to. All the mishaps that occur bled into one another creating a spiral of repetition. Despite such a formulaic repetition, the characters never learn from their previous experiences. Though Galen does seem to develop towards the end, I felt character development was thin on the ground. I had no reason to root for the characters because it was never made clear what the characters actually wanted, other than to be in a different situation.

Having said all that, I did enjoy reading it. I just felt it came so close to being an amazing perfect book, but it never quite connected, never quite filled its potential.

Has anyone out there read a good historical fiction in a similar vein to A Song for Nero? I’m talking modern language, no excessive description into intricate historical fact, a lot of deliberate anachronism, tongue in cheek and chilled out? I’m talking Maid Marian and Her Merry Men but in adult novel form. If anyone can suggest something similar (that isn’t the book I am writing) then point me that way.

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