I'd never read an e-book before. I struggle just to read articles on Gather if they get too long–scrolling down the page, remembering where I was, and keeping my eyes in focus while the text moves out of view. But all that may be changing.
Last week I got new glasses–plain, ordinary, boring reading glasses. (Oh no! I feel old.) And they really work. Of course, if I look away from the computer everything's blurry, but I can see the whole screen with all the words in focus for the first time in years. I can even read small print!
And the week before, I won a competition where the prize was two e-books by Minnette Meador–the Centurion and the Queen, and the Edge of Honor.
Last Friday, I decided to give my newfound computer vision a serious workout. I started up Adobe Acrobat, opened the file labeled the Centurion and the Queen, and began to read. I had to shrink the text to make the pages fit the screen, but it was still legible. And with the mouse safely settled over the forwards arrow, turning pages was simple as long as I didn't let my hand move around too much.
I'd read Minnette's fantasy novel, Starsight, a while ago and really enjoyed it. But I wasn't quite so sure what I'd think about historical romance, particularly not without the comfort of a nice warm bed and cup of hot cocoa, and particularly not when it's set in the land of my birth. I'm kind of possessive about England and its history; I people its past with characters from the Rosemary Sutcliffe novels I read as a child. And the memories run deep because she always made me cry, much to my brothers' amusement.
Minnette didn't make me cry. But she did create a very plausible England with fine characters and intriguing background. The centurion is predictably heroic (should I put that in capitals?), but none-the-less interesting, particularly when Minnette begins to sketch in more of his background. And the queen projects a satisfying combination of power, education, impulsiveness and vulnerability. The other characters each arrive with fully realized histories and possibilities, giving them surprising depth. And Minnette paints an appealingly cosmopolitan picture of the culture of the time, with world travel, education, law, slavery and friendship all falling into place. The pages flew by.
And so, I really did sit at a computer and read a whole book! It must have been really good, to keep me sitting still so long with neither coffee nor cocoa, though I think my back would rather I wait a while before reading the sequel.
Anyway, if you're looking for an exciting read, empowered heroine, romantic love, and intriguing vision of English history, the Centurion and the Queen will supply your needs and more.
And meanwhile, thanks Minnette. I'm really enjoying my prize.
© Sheila Deeth, October 2008