Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Another (great) review for Bloodwood

The central group of The Raiders of Bloodwood are a lovely bunch though, and the fact that they’re mostly just normal people makes their interactions and their journey the real highlight of the story. The small moments when they’re travelling together, telling stories around the campfire at night, or helping each other down a steep hill without falling down, make for some of the best moments. Mana gives you a chance to get to know them, to see them as regular people so that you come to like them and care about them; and so that you begin to worry about them when their lives come into danger.

UK based blogger Amy Walker posted a beautiful, in-depth review of The Raiders of Bloodwood – and she really liked it!
And I an particularly happy that Amy actually appreciated my choice of characters and the way I wrote them. I might start to think that I am actually really good.

You can find the complete review on the Trans-Scribe Blog.


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A memory called Empire

My insomnia keeps raging, and so I am filling my long nights with books and movies – because you can’t go on writing without a pause. A good opportunity to catch up with titles I have overlooked or left behind in the past years.

And right now I am really enjoying Arkady Martine’s A memory called Empire, that is the sort of smart, fun space opera that I have always liked. The reason, really, why I read (and sometimes write) science fiction.

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Flame and Crimson, a review

Having just finished Brian Murphy’s Flame and Crimson: a History of Sword-and-Sorcery, published in 2019 by Pulp Hero Press, I can now expand on my initial post of a few days back. I am doing this because I think this books deserves a wide circulation, and so we need to talk about it, and because I got wind of some less-than-positive opinions going around, and I’d like to address those, too.

So, for starters, let’s see what you get in the package.

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Hope & Glory review and a bit about utopia

THE world is undergoing immense changes. Never before have the conditions of life changed so swiftly and enormously as they have changed for mankind in the last fifty years. We have been carried along—with no means of measuring the increasing swiftness in the succession of events. We are only now beginning to realize the force and strength of the storm of change that has come upon us.(H.G. Wells, The Open Conspiracy, 1928)

40651289_1844226848964225_7031900626594299904_nThe first full review of Hope & Glory is in and it is just great – you can read it here, on the Ars Rolica blog. It’s in Spanish, but as usual Google Translate is your friend.

The review really made me happy and I was particularly happy of the fact that the reviewer started out cautious and a little diffident, but finally was captivated by the setting.

All the elements are perfectly interwoven with each other and, as I said before, once that initial caution is saved, it is very easy to get carried away by the exciting combination of genres that Hope & Glory presents.

… and I thought, we made it!

I am extremely grateful to Ars Rolica for their great and in-depth review of our game; I am sure I can speak for my long-suffering partner in this adventure – Umberto Pignatelli, that had to put order and numbers on my somewhat sprawling world – and the guys that did art and graphics. Thank you, Ars Rolica!

There was also a bit that caused me to pause, and laugh, and then an idea for a post, and here I am… Continue reading


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The Watchers, a review

Halloween is creeping closer, and it’s a good opportunity to roll out a few reviews of books I read over the last few months.
51abGQJhjoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Like, for instance, William Meikle’s The Watchers trilogy.
Meikle is one of the most reliable authors in the supernatural horror/thriller genre, with a side of sword & sorcery, and one of the first writers I started reading when I got my Kindle reader.
William Meikle got some absolutely undeserved bad press last year, when a noted critic singled him out during a rant review of an anthology. It was unfair, wrong-headed and inelegant, but that’s critics for you, I guess.
For this writer, William Meikle is good.

Case in point, The Watchers, a work that dos not only underscore the skills and imagination of the author, but represent a perfect read for those who are tired of a certain type of horror and want to try something different. Continue reading


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December, a review

Phil Rickman is an English author with a background in music and a deep knowledge of the traditions, legends and atmospheres of that region of the British Isles straddling the England-Wales border.

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In this territory Rickman has set his series of novels focused on the Anglican exorcist Merrily Watkins, mixing detective fiction with a supernatural that is more hinted at than made explicit. In this Rickman is admirable author in his ability to intercept two sectors of the public – that of horror and that of the British-style mystery (not necessarily a cozy), which are usually considered to be mutually exclusive.
Rickman is also the author of a series of mystery novels set in Elizabethan England and featuring Dr John Dee and the Earl of Essex as a team of sui generis, sort-of-X-files investigators.
At the same time, Rickman produced a number of stand-alone novels, more frankly horrific and generally ascribable to that typically British genre of “folk horror” or “rural horror” that is going through a renaissance in these last years1.
December belongs to this batch of stand-alone books. I originally reviewed it last year, for an Italian magazine – a friend borrowed me her copy, and I was able to meet the publisher’s expectations. I recently bought the book (together with four other stand-alone Rickman books), and here goes my review – suitably expanded and updated. Continue reading