East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The French Swordmistress: Julie d’Aubigny

I am about two thousand words into a story that starts with a swordfight between a woman in a green silk dress and a nun, in the smoke-chocked corridor of a burning convent.
This will be my entry – should the editor deem it worthy – in the new collection of Italian sword & sorcery published by Acheron Books.
And the woman in green is, obviously, inspired by mademoiselle de Maupin. And really, I was sure I had posted about her in the past but I did not, so here we go.

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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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Tides, Mornings and Ghosts – fantasy at sea

68041An unexpected post.
Fact is, a friend of mine, Mauro Longo, a fine writer and an even better game designer, did a post yesterday in remembrance of Ursula K. Le Guin, and reviewed the Earthsea series on his blog.
One of the comments hit hard the books, claiming they are boring and badly written, and that in general the sea is no place for fantasy, because the sea is boring.

When I stopped laughing, I thought…

I guess nobody ever told it to all those screenwriters that penned Sindbad movies, nor to Disney when they did Pirates of the Carribean.

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Swashbuckler is not dead: On Guard, 1997

ThreeMusketeers_w302_5077Two days ago I had to suffer through some pretty asinine observation about swashbuckler fiction, by a lady that claimed that swashbucklers, being sad violent misogynistic poorly written drivel without a decent female character, had fizzed out and died, and good riddance.
The Three Musketteers? Gone and forgotten, with all the rest of the rubbish that poor hapless hack Dumas published.

To which I begged to differ, of course, but my opinions did not carry – apparently – enough weight in that refined circle.

For sure, I find it hard to believe that someone would pronounce the swashbuckler genre dead while at the same time enthusing about the Pirates of the Carribean franchise.

But that’s fantasy

… was the dismissive remark.

In a desperate attempt at defending the genre – which I happen to love – I finally summoned a movie, one of my all-time faves, based on a swashbuckler novel that represents the perfect defensive argument. It’s a story set in Paris and in France at large, and it’s about a hunchback… Continue reading


Scaramouche’s cynicism

Life imitates art, or something.
I was looking for some light entertainment, and so I started reading Rafael Sabatini‘s Scaramouche.
Published in 1921, Scaramouche is one of Sabatini’s most famous novels.
Set during the French Revolution, it follows the adventures – and the growth – of Andre-Louis Moreau a lawyer turned adventurer and revolutionary, as he joins a company of comedians to escape his enemies, assuming the titular role of a sword-wielding buffoon.
The novel combines a fine historical background with some great swashbuckling action, and it is a fun read indeed. Continue reading


Swashathon!: The Court Jester (1955)

It’s the Swashathon!, boys and girls!
Devised and hosted by The Movies Silently, this is a blogathon about swashbuckling adventure movies.
Could Karavansara miss the opportunity?
Of course not.


Please head to the Movies Silently blog for the full list of participating blogs, for fun browsing and to discover movies you might not know.

As for what we are about to do here, well, we are about to do this…

… because swashing the buckle is no laughing matter, but doing it singing?
AND dancing?
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