deliabarry: (Boo Radley)
The Murder of King Tut
by James Patterson and Martin Dugard

The story of the discovery of the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen is well known, and the story of the boy king who died so young nearly three thousand years ago has captured the imaginations of generations around the world. Advances in technology have allowed archaeologists to examine his remains; many of them are of the opinion that he was murdered. This book is Patterson's take on that hypothesis.

I'd never read a book by Patterson, but of course I had heard of him. Perhaps naively, I had assumed that his enormous success meant that his books contain good stories that are well-written and a pleasure to read. Unfortunately, that's not the case; at least not in this book. The book alternates between fiction and non-fiction – episodes from Tut's life in the past, and Patterson’s research and hypothesis concerning Tut’s death in the present. The structure is an interesting approach, and could make an interesting and entertaining book. Here, however, the differences between the two parts are startling. The fictional story of the young king's life and death in the distant past were excellent, and would have made a terrific novel. The "investigative" chapters were of a significantly lower quality. The final one, in which they concluded that Tut was murdered by a conspiracy of all the people closest to him, seemed to pop out of the ether in response to a page count rather than to the story being told, and left me with the suspicion that a publisher's deadline had arrived and the book was ended in order to meet that deadline; ultimately it was a very unsatisfying reading experience. However, if Patterson (or Dugard) went back and expanded the fiction chapters into a full-fledged historical novel about Tut's life and death I'd read the heck out of it.
deliabarry: (girls)
The Other Boleyn Girl
by Phillipa Gregory

Mary Boleyn was Anne Boleyn's younger sister and was one of Henry VIII's mistresses until Anne returned from France and replaced her in the king's affections. This novel purports to fill in the missing details of Mary's life.

Hmmm. I've read a lot of history and historical fiction about the Tudors, and Mary Boleyn usually disappears from the stage when Anne enters, so when I heard about this book, I thought the rest of Mary Boleyn's story would make an interesting novel. I was right, there is an interesting novel in here; unfortunately, it's surrounded by way too much extraneous detail. Maybe it's because I've read extensively about the Tudors that I found long stretches of this novel very boring. It has very good bones; it just needed to be about 50% shorter.

I hear that there's a movie coming out this fall, I just hope the screenwriter has been ruthless in his/her editing.

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