Sixteen Ways

Historical Fantasy: A “New” Genre in K.J. Parker’s Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City

The school year’s done and I, as an overworked teacher, have a stack of books to tackle this summer. A few of them fall into a category of fiction I have recently discovered called “historical fantasy.” Essentially, these are books set in a quasi-Earth world that is very recognizable as a historical time and place in human history, but also fantastically different. Good examples of such books are Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale (which I recommend) or A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (haven’t read, but hearsay makes it seem like a good fit).... Read More
Sucker

Scholar of Many Worlds, Part II: Who’s Afraid of Spoilers?

I have a spoiler problem. Let me clarify. No, I don’t lose my temper when finding out the ending to a decades-old movie I’ve never seen, nor do I purposefully avoid all trailers for an anticipated movie so that I can see it fresh the first time; quite the opposite. I became infamous among our friends at Gettysburg for blithely spoiling all manner of stories as I excitedly shared my own knowledge and passions with others.... Read More
Roman-Empire-Caligula-The-Mad-Emperor-1798136

Dashed Hopes: Netflix’s Roman Empire: The Mad Emperor

About a year ago, Francis and I watched the second season of Netflx’s ancient historical docudrama, Roman Empire (reviewed here on Concerning History). On the whole, we were disappointed. Production value was low, and its narrative of Julius Caesar’s rise to power was both sensationalized and oddly understated. Still, I’m never one to forego anything set in the ancient world; I get so little of it these days, and beggars can’t be choosers. In my previous review, I even expressed some hope; I didn’t mind the show’s many flaws if, as I hoped might be the case, it could serve as a platform for telling the stories of lesser known figures from Roman imperial politics. When I saw that Roman Empire’s third season was upon us, then, I dutifully powered up the computer and settled in to watch.... Read More