Category Archives: Books & Novellas

VOK 702 – Agatha Christie Minipod 10 – The Seven Dials Mystery


In this spoiler-free episode Bina007 reviews the hilarious thriller, The Seven Dials Mystery, originally published in 1929. Slated by critics, the novel is a superb pastiche of po-faced boys-own spy novels of the time and stars Bundle Brent as a Bright Young Thing out to unmask a secret society. A spoiler-filled discussion of the solution is after the closing music.

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VOK 701 – Agatha Christie Minipod 9 – The Mystery of the Blue Train


In this spoiler-free episode Bina007 reviews the novel Agatha Christie struggled with before her disappearance, The Mystery of The Blue Train. In later life, she complained it was commonplace, but I find it to be a compelling Hercules Poirot murder-mustery set aboard a luxurious train, complete with a reckless heiress and her stunning jewels. A spoiler-filled discussion of the solution is after the closing music.

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VOK 698 – Agatha Christie Minipod 8 – The Big Four


In this spoiler-free episode Bina007 reviews the compendium mystery novel The Big Four, published by Agatha Christie in the wake of her mysterious disappearance in 1926 when she desperately needed money. She hated it, the critics hate it, but it’s actually a rather fun and satisfying set of mysteries with a bizarre James Bond twist – complete with secret evil lairs, poisoned darts and international criminal conspiracies!

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VOK 695 – Agatha Christie 7 – Her Mysterious 1926 Disappearance


Join Zander, Abby and Bina for a minipod that explores the 1926 disappearance of Agatha Christie that caused a nationwide manhunt and it still the subject of controversy today. Many of the themes around marital betrayal can be found in her later books; and the need for financial security after her divorce led to the rushed publication of some of her weaker late 1920s novels.

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VOK 694 – Agatha Christie 6 – The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd


Join Zander, Hannah and Bina for the first full-length review of the murder-mystery that made Agatha Christie a household name – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, published in 1926. The team discuss the plot twists, characters, themes and politics of the novel as well as the adaptations. Novels spoiled in this episode: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The Man In The Brown Suit. Also discussed without spoilers: The Secret Of Chimneys and The Mysterious Affair At Styles.

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VOK 693 – Agatha Christie minipod 5 – The Secret Of Chimneys


In this brief episode Bina007 critically discusses Agatha Christie’s mystery-thriller-adventure-comedy mash-up, The Secret Of Chimneys, originally published in 1925. It’s a story of blackmail, murder, hidden jewels, and royal coups! The novel is great fun and incredibly silly but tells us a lot about Christie’s attitudes toward men, and gives us a more grown up version of her New Woman. More negatively, it tells us about a certain kind of lazy racial prejudice circulating at the time. Spoilers after the end credit music.

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VOK 692 – Agatha Christie minipod 4 – The Man In The Brown Suit


In this brief spoiler-free episode Bina007 critically discusses Agatha Christie’s fourth novel and first standalone adventure, The Man In The Brown Suit, originally published in 1924. Smart, beautiful, courageous Anne Beddingfield sees a man murdered at a tube station and follows the clues all the ways to South Africa and romance! The novel is great fun and slightly silly but stars both my favourite Christie heroine AND my favourite villain. That said, it is of its time when it comes to depicting racial attitudes and has some rather bizarre things to say about marriage.

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VOK 691 – Agatha Christie minipod 3 – Murder on the Links


In this brief spoiler-free episode Bina007 critically discusses Agatha Christie’s third novel and second Hercules Poirot murder-mystery, published in 1923. The novel is flawed and doesn’t repay a reread other than to show us Christie in debate with herself about what kind of detective novelist she wants to be – and that is very much NOT a Gaston Leroux or Arthur Conan Doyle but rather someone who focuses on logic and psychology rather than material clues.

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VOK 690 – Agatha Christie minipod – The Secret Adversary


In this brief episode Bina007 continues her brief introduction to the full-fledged VOK Agatha Christie reread by reviewing Christie’s second novel and first Tommy and Tuppence thriller, The Secret Adversary, published a hundred years ago. It is a fast-paced fun novel that reads like a cross between John Buchan and PG Wodehouse with a side order of Evelyn Waugh’s Bright Young Things. It reflects the economic travails of post-war England – the rise of the New Woman – and the fear of communist revolution.

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VoK 680: The Prolific Works of George R. R. Martin (Ice & Fire Con 2021 Panel)


Decades before Martin began writing A Song of Ice and Fire, he was already an award-winning writer who had published a variety of science fiction, horror, and fantasy stories. In this panel, Amin and Duncan (Valkyrist) survey Martin’s other notable works, looking for connections to ASOIAF and discussing his overall development as a writer and his philosophy toward writing.

Credits:
Edited by Valkyrist

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Links:
George R. R. Martin’s “Thousand Worlds” Wiki

VOK 678: The Wisdom of Crowds (by Joe Abercrombie)



The Vassals of Kingsgrave dive back into the world of the First Law, created by Joe Abercrombie. Join Brett (White Raven), Greg (claudiusthefool), Alex (LuckyCharms), and Zach (Alias) as they review and discuss the final book in the Age of Madness trilogy, The Wisdom of Crowds.

Credits:
Edited by Zach/Alias

Music: Kellan the Undying by Drumurboy

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VOK 675 – Mystic Shenanigans – Dune Book 1 Discussion


Join Bina, Patrick, Kat and Hannah as they discuss the the first book of Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

We discuss Patrick’s viewing of the new film; Paul as an elf; the gender of Kynes; Alia as a Star Trek alien; Fremen vs Mereen; the tenuous position of Chani; the lack of nuance with the “bad guys”; the Fenrings as Lannisters; and the Bene Gesserit’s mystic shenanigans.

No spoilers for later books.

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VoK 672: Creature Chat – Zombies



Just a Saturday morning chat about walking corpses.

Hosts:
Peter/Shellfish
Sara/DrBlood
Abby/Daceymormont
Zach/Alias
Matt/Varley
Duncan/Valkyrist
Kat/kitkathistory24601

Credits:
Edited by Peter/Shellfish

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VOK 670 – Dune – Book 1 Discussion


Join Bina, Patrick, Jock, Kat, Hannah and Zach as they discuss the first book of the first book of Frank Herbert’s Dune series. The Atreides family move to Arrakis in a planet-swap with their enemies, the Harkonnens, and we get our first look at the infamous sandworms. We discuss how we came to the book; the role of the Bene Gesserit; the nature of Paul as a hero; and the various centres of power in the Dune universe.

No spoilers for later books.

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VoK 666: Creature Chat – Demons



The Vassals delve deep into devilry, and hope to escape with their souls intact. Why is it goats?

Hosts:
Peter/Shellfish
Sara/DrBlood
Jock/munrojock2
Adam/drownedsnow
Zach/Alias
Kat/kitkathistory24601
Patrick/Ser Patrick the Tall

Credits:
Edited by Peter/Shellfish

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VoK 655: Creature Chat – Werewolves



Absolute lunacy erupts as the Vassals come face to face with werewolves! Is the beauty of this beast more than skin-deep? Topics include the history of werewolf tales, possible inspirations, shapeshifters around the world, and general human-canine relations.

Hosts:
Peter/Shellfish
Sara/DrBlood
Abby/daceymormont
Adam/drownedsnow
Matt/Varley
Kit/kgcanary
Jock/munrojock2

Credits:
Edited by Peter/Shellfish

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VoK 651 – Klara and the Sun Book Review



Join Bina007 and Zach/Alias as they discuss the latest novel from Kazuo Ishiguro in a spoiler filled review.

Topics include: the notion of a sympathetic AI POV; the nature of religious faith; predicting remote learning and disrupted socalisation; lifting as a comment on helicopter parenting and the college admissions scandal; the future of work in a world of advanced AI and robotics; and the nature of love; the nature of service.


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VoK 650: LOTR Reread – Fellowship Part 4


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In this episode of the new reread of The Lord of the Rings, join Vassals Marie (Nymeria), Alix (Aiwendil), Zach (Alias), Matt (Varley) and Adam (drownedsnow) for chapters 6 through 10 of the Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2. We journey through Lothlorien and to the falls of Rauros, with many tangent discussions on Lembas, cherry tomatoes, and fantasy along the way.


Credits:
Edited by Marie

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VoK 649: A Seminar of Ice and Fire (Part 3) – Monsters


In the third installment of A Seminar of Ice and Fire—the VoK series that examines A Song of Ice and Fire through various theoretical texts—the Vassals take on Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s essay “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).”

We talk about what makes a monster, what monsters we see (or don’t see) in a Song of Ice and Fire, and what particular types of monsters might suggest about the culture that created them.

Hosts:
Sara/DrBlood
Ben/KingJucio
Varley
Peter/Shellfish
Wilson/The Wandering Prophet
Patrick/Ser Patrick the Tall

Credits:
Edited by Shellfish

A PDF of the Cohen reading is available here. For more reading on some of the other topics mentioned in the episode, you can start with Bauman, Zygmunt, Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World (2000); and Tajfel, H., “The achievement of inter-group differentiation” (1978).

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VoK 648 Witcher – The Tower of the Swallow Pt 1


Join the Vassals as we meander along with some beekeepers and avoid assassins sent by dangerous sorcerers…a normal day for a Witcher. 
Discussion brought by Adam/Drowned Snow; Bing/Shoeshiner; David/Davidhhh; Kevin/Nuncle Kevin; Marie/Nymeria

Hosts: Marie/Nymeria, Adam/Drowned Snow, David/DavidHHH, Bing/Bing; Kevin/Nuncle Kevin

Edited by: Kevin/Nuncle Kevin

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