The last stand of a grizzled veteran whose name really is worth a thousand men, defending a doomed siege. I really like David Gemmell's Troy series but this wasn't quite as appealing to me - I'm not the greatest one for war books, even fantasy war books, and this was his first book and the writing definitely isn't as polished as his later work.
And it's undeniably derivative(though personally I think originality is vastly overrated in books. Most people don't have the skill to make something brand new without reusing parts, but that certainly doesn't mean that many of them can't make something that is well worth reading).
That said, I shall definitely be reading this one again. Druss the legend is likeable, the coward (or as I think of it, 'sane sensible caste member', Rek is likeable. I quite like it when characters in books are people that you'd really like to meet. And the story is readable, well told and has some nice twists.
Elizabeth Knox : The Rainbow Opera & The Dream Quake
I got the first one for Christmas and had to buy the second one as I needed to read it. This is a good thing. These are two Young Adult novels- well, that's how they are printed, but really they are one long one that's been printed as two books: don't read the second one first, you'll be utterly baffled. They are set in an alternative very early twentieth century, in a country/world where providing dreams for entertainment and profit is an industry. Only, some of the dreams are nightmares, and are being used for terrible purposes.
Wilkie Collins : The Moonstone
I don't know why I hadnt' read this before. Anyway, I heartily recommend it. It's an excellent detective story containing Mysterious Indians, a phlegmatic detective who adores roses, an opinionated steward, a tragic maid and an irritating spinster, told from a selection of viewpoints.
If you like Dorothy L Sayers, the vibe is quite similar though it pre-dates Sayers by a long way, being published in 1868. Kudos to Wilkie Collins that it's still so readable despite its age.
Katharine Briggs : The Fairies in Tradition and Literature
Though mine is a new edition, this was published in 1967, so its survey of fairies (in which it encompasses elves, brownies, hobgoblins, imps, Black dogs, Fairy Plants and the Devil) ends up with Tolkien as the final word, which is quite nice. And of course she doesn't know that the Cottingley Fairy photos were faked.
None the less it contains some wonderful anecdotes and folktales, and is also comprehensively referenced, so I may need to read some of the references next. And it hadn't occurred to me previously that the lyrics of the playground dance/rhyme 'in and out the dusky bluebells' - where each verse ends 'I am your master' is actually quite creepy. (At our school we sang 'Now I am your master' which possibly makes it even more like a spell).
Pratchett : Unseen Academicals
He's done crime, war, newpapers, post, cinema, communications, apparently now it's time for football. Pratchett is always very readable, of course, and always has interesting things to say. I am not quite sure about the way that all the Authorities of Ankh Morkpork now seem to be all so basically benevolent. Even the Patrician is now essentially a nice guy. Nasty people are basically isolated loners and everyone hates them, and where they are supported by others, it's only through fear and ignorance...
I think what made 'Night Watch' one of his stronger stories for some time was that there was a bit more genuine conflict there.