Book Review: Slaine, The Horned God by Pat Mills, Simon Bisley

Pat Mills had been writing Slaine for a while for the English comic 2000AD, and had had a mix of people drawing his character, usually in B&W. Simon Bisley comes along in the late 80s, and changes the game, not only for artists, but publishers and readers.

Some of the drawings in earlier strips were crude and not very attractive (Mike McMahon’s, left, is an example of a style I dont care for much). However, Bisley’s paintings (and they are painted rather than coloured line drawings) are superb, so that even as an 18 year old, I appreciated their beauty.

In 2017, 2000AD released multiple “ultimate collections”. Slaine was released as #1, since even they recognised the significance in what they had produced.

Anyway this review is of the 200AD ultimate collection of Slaine the horned God released in 2017.

Part of what attracted me to Slaine in the first was the heavy use of Irish Mythology, De Danaan and Tir Na Nog in particular. This is a Mills Script option. What also attracted me was Bisley’s colour and image rendering, which moved from McMahon’s B&W line images to Bisley’s Colour paintings.

The 2017 collection has the entire collection of Mills/Bisley. Written many years later by the Royal Parasite (the dwarf Ukko, under the guidance of Nest) this tells the story of Slaine,  having been kicked out of his clan as a teenager (after an affair with the King’s wife Niamh), trying to unite the multiple armies of Irish men  under the one true goddess, whilst giving up his need to be the dominant, misogynistic man.  All this to defeat their enemies The Lord Weird Slough Feg and the Fomorians.

He has to unite the other tribes together, in order to get access to their magical gifts from the goddess, such as the neverending Cauldron of plenty, who can feed the hungry, and restore the dead to some form of life. In doing so, he becomes The High King (the king above all Kings), which generates hostility within the tribes, and becoming a new incarnation of the Horned God Carnun. The large battle at the end, which includes Slaine’s trademark “battle warp” (and the catchphrase “Slaine killed hundreds of his enemies, he didn’t think it too many”).

By the end, a capricious goddess Danu – who had warned Slaine of her changing nature – has made sure that Tir Na nOg is flooded to the point of disappearance, and the tribes have been scattered to other parts of the island. Peace reigns – until the next story!

It’s only with the “The Book of Scars” – the new story for the 30th anniversary (with images from artists such as Glen Fabrey and Clint Langley have images (e.g. the below)) come close to what was done for Horned God, and I think it is a much under appreciated



Challenge: A Change in my Twitter

For the last few years I have been setting myself yearly challenges for my blog, which I nearly achieve, but not always. One big area I want to improve on is to increase my blog and Twitter followers, increased blog page views, and better use of scheduling, hashtags etc.

Over the Christmas period I decided to mainly tweet about my Christmas themed book reviews from the last few years. I’ve not been blogging much over the last few months, but the stats have been chugging along zero view Days!

Anyway I sat down on a Thursday in early January to auto schedule the next batch of 30 tweets and….blanked. I had several pages of draft tweets to choose from, but really couldn’t decide what to choose. I’ve been tweeting my Christmas stuff for the last two months, it’s no longer Christmas, so what should I do?

I chose to schedule nothing that day, though technically my engagement numbers would drop. Thursday afternoon I started looking at my overall stats, especially the pages that had low numbers over the last year or so. I noticed there were some themes, some of which tie into themes in the wider world. Therefore I’ve decided that I’m going to breakdown the year, and tweet reviews that seem to tie in. It’s not going to be prescriptive or anything – if I read a romance novel in September I’m not going to wait to next Feb to review it for instance, but this will help me have a soft guide as to what I should be tweeting about. I’m still struggling for January though.

Jan ;

Feb – Romance (For Valentine’s day, right? #Romance);

March/April (#SpringReads)

May – Comics and Graphic Novels (Free Comic Book Day is 1st Saturday in May, Star Wars Day is May 4th. #Comic #GraphicNovel) ;

June/July – Summer Reads (Cos it’s #Summer!);

August – Quilting (The FestivalOfQuilts is held in Birmingham each August. #Quilt #Sewing);

September – Gold Age Crime (Not only Agatha Christie, but Ngaio Marsh, Birmingham Library etc. #GoldenAge, then #Poirot #Marple, #Alleyn etc);

October – Spooky (in time for Halloween etc #Spooky);

November/December – Christmas (You know why! #Christmas)


Anyone else want to join me? Any suggestions for topics, especially around January?

2018 Blogger Resolutions

It’s now becoming traditional for me to set goals at the beginning of the year, then reflect how I’ve done by the end. Following my failure to achieve these the last few years, I’ve significantly dropped my numbers, in the chance of actually meeting a couple!

Book pages text
Patrick Tomasso via Upsplash
  • Increase subscribers to this blog to 950, excluding twitter followers
  • Increase annual page hits to this blog (to 6500)
  • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 950)
  • Read and review 60 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks. I wont do a specific challenge this year – I did pretty badly last time I did one, so I wont set myself up to fail this time!
  • Get my Netgalley ratio into the 70% range (from 63%).
  • To aid in reading the books that I already have there will be a moratorium on requesting books from Netgalley or LibraryThing, and reviewing books I already have!
  • Post at least once a week
  • Make use of sharing with Facebook groups as appropriate.
  • Make better use of twitter, including the analytics, scheduling content.
  • Take part in twitter chats such as #Blogtacular #bookbloggers etc
  • Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.
  • Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate.
  • Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember!
  • Look to do more non book related posts – get out into Birmingham more and write about stuff! This includes stuff at the museums etc.
  • Do more posts about sewing, my cross stitch and quilting in particular. I’m not putting numbers on this.
  • Comment more on other people’s blogs – I’m not going to put a number on this as it’ll be a nightmare to track. Just “do more”.
  • Release more books via Bookcrossing, either in OBCZs or via RABCKs
  • Start making my own media (photos etc) and make use of them in posts

2017 Blogger Resolutions – The Results

Once again, a checkpoint against the blogging resolutions I made at the beginning of the year, which were admittedly quite aggressive.  I didn’t achieve many of these, simply because reading and general blogging was on the back burner for much of the year.

  • Increase subscribers to this blog to 1100, excluding twitter followers  The number of subscribers did increase to over 830, but didn’t come close to meeting the target. There are likely reasons mentioned below.
  • Increase annual page hits to this blog (to 12000). *This wasn’t met either, reasons given below. I pulled less than I did last year. Some months (e.g. Jan and April) I did significantly worse that the same time last year, but there are other months that I pulled similar numbers or did even better, even if I didn’t post as much*
  • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 1100)  *Whilst I did get my followers to over 750 (with some fluctuations), I didnt meet this target*
  • Read and review 60 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks.  *I came nowhere near any of this target, though I did read a mix of paper and ebooks. I’ve been quite strict on the Netgalley requests, and have managed to get my review ratio up into the low 60%*
  • Post at least twice a week *This certainly didn’t happen, and there are some weeks that I didnt post at all. I did however find a couple of new topics to write about, and published a couple*
  • Make use of sharing with Facebook groups as appropriate. *nope! did more than last year, but certainly not as much as I could have*
  • Make better use of twitter, including the analytics, scheduling content. This I did manage to do more of, especially after finding that tweets could be stored as “drafts”, which allowed me to keep a store of tweets to be scheduled. A cursory glance of  3 months of tweets shows I seem to have the 70:30 balance just the wrong way round.  At one point I managed to get my engagement rate at above 2k in a month, but have fallen back a bit – must find the stuff that works for people, whilst also talking to people as if they are real people (which they are!). I had a massive spike when I had Neil Gaiman retweet something of mine, so that pushed my numbers up high for part of November!
  • Take part in twitter chats such as #Blogtacular #bookbloggers etc *Happened sporadically, not good enough though*
  • Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.*Nothing has changed, so nothing needed updating*
  • Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate. *Because of a change in my technology, this wasn’t really feasible*
  • Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember! *Happened sporadically, not good enough though*
  • Continue doing more non-review posts, such as Sunday Salon posts, which I hope people find interesting – they certainly generate comments! *Did more of these, especially as a result of not reviewing books as much.*
  • Look to do more non book related posts – get out into Birmingham more and write about stuff! This includes stuff at the museums etc. *I had plans, and did write posts, especially for some Foyles events, and whilst I did have plans for others, they didn’t come to anything*
  • Do more posts about sewing, my cross stitch and quilting in particular. I’m not putting numbers on this.   *This I managed to do more off so that’s a win*
  • Comment more on other people’s blogs – I’m not going to put a number on this as it’ll be a nightmare to track. Just “do more”. *Commenting did take place, but I didnt note how many posts I commented on. Most were not book-review related*
  • Release more books via Bookcrossing. I still have half a crate left over from the closure of a couple of OBCZs and the bookcrossing UK meetup in Birmingham in September 2016. *I inherited a load of books during several clearouts, and managed to release many of them, especially at the Bookcrossing meetup in Loughbrough. I also managed to release a couple as RABCKs*
  • Reorganise my bookshelves (Haven’t been done in two years – about time they’re done!). *This was done – kinda. I even wrote a post about it!*

Things to not say to a book blogger/Book worm


Source unknown – attribution anyone?

If you know a reader, especially if they’re a bookblogger as well, here’s a list of questions you should avoid asking them!

  • How much money do you make from reading and blogging? When are you going to give up your real job and do it full time?

haha, “nothing” and “never, can’t afford to”. This is done because I enjoy doing it, not because I think I could make a living out of it (though that would be nice, of course!)

  • It’s easy isn’t it? All you’re doing is reading and writing, surely?

Errm, no. It’s reading and writing, sure, but a post can take hours to write, from finding inspiration, through producing output that I hope and pray is interesting, through to promotion. Talking to other bloggers IRL. Reading other blogs and trying to write a decent comment. Going to events. Sourcing/creating images.

  • You get all your books for free now don’t you?

I get *some* books for free, but never (ok rarely) for the bigger hitting authors. There was a time when I had a glut of books but virtually all of them from authors I’d never heard of. Many were self-published and all were of variable quality.

  • Who reads your stuff anyway?

Believe it or not, people. Those who follow my blog because they’re interested in what I have to say or like the authors/genres I write about. And I do it primarily for me, so that I can look back and remember what I’ve read, what I’ve written

  • Recommend a book to me

No. What I like may not be what you like. Read my reviews and see if any of them sound the type of book you want to read.

  • Can you lend me a book? You know that book you lent me, well I lost it/gave it to someone else.

I’ve given up lending people books, as I’ve been burnt too many tomes with them not coming back. Even when I explicitly tell someone “I want this one back as I haven’t read it”. This person now gets to choose from the box in the corner and nothing else. I’ve also had someone else be at the top of the list to read a specific book (1 of 15 people), take it, “lose” it in their house, “find” it again, lend it to someone else (who’s not on the list), who promptly kept it for a year, then gave it back to the original reader, who promptly “lost” it again. Needless to say, this person doesn’t get lent books by anyone in the extended group

  • No, No, I don’t need a bookmark – oh that? I dog-eared the page so I wouldn’t lose my place.

Fer crying out loud – I offered a bookmark, use it. Or a bus ticket. Supermarket receipt. Anything, just anything but dog earing a page. That’s just rude




Bookshelf tidyup

If subject to copyright please advise and give attribution so it can be rectified
If subject to copyright, please advise and provide attribution so it can be corrected

Sometimes I feel my bookshelf is a little like that on the left – always moving, never neat!  And sometimes it’s like the one on the right, where everything is in a pile out on the floor and tables.

Current arrangement

My shelves were reorganised about 2 years ago into some kind of “theme”. For example: all the books by one author were out together; books based in or set around “Asia” or “Indian Subcontinent”) were grouped together.   This worked well for a while, until I realised that if I had just finished a book set in India, I rarely wanted to go straight into another book based in India – I often wanted something completely different.

Also, with the movement of some stuff on the shelves, and the absorption of some books from Bookcrossing, the shelves started getting a little messy to say the least.

The picture above is an example of the mess it was in. Stuff stacked with no rhyme or reason, and generally looking a mess.

One of my objectives at the beginning of the year was to reorganise my bookshelves, but when it came down to it, I wasn’t up to a full reorg.  The picture below gives some indication of what I was up against!  These are JUST the TBRs!


What I ended up doing

What you cant see from the photos above is that there is storage space below the books, that I took the chance to tidy up as well. This meant that I moved crates of stuff away, but it did mean that there were crates lying all around my sitting room, making it even more cluttered. I needed to put them back but it meant that I wasn’t in the mood to therefore dismantle so many books in order to do a full reorg (those shelves are double deep in books, so there are twice as many as you would think.

Therefore I did a partial reorg, going back to my original stacking process of going by book height. Below is what my shelves look like now: not a huge difference but it makes the place look a little tidier


So: what do your shelves look like? Do you need to do a tidy up? How do you organise them – is there some kind of plan in place?


Armchair BEA 2017 Day 1: Introductions


I usually attend Armchair BEA (Now called Armchair Book Expo), and I am usually a LOT more prepared than this!” It only really came up in my twitter feed the other day, and it turns out that I can’t get to the main site from here! Boo!  We shall see how we get on. Anyway, as usual, there’s the space for Introductions, so here’s my answers to some of the questions.

I am…Nordie, a crafter, reader, tweeter, comic book nerd etc.

Currently, I am not reading as much as I should, even with 3 books on the go.

My favorite genres are: Romance, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction,

My Least favourite Genre is: Christian Fiction. I end up feeling slapped around the head with a very unsubtle brick. I dont read non-Fiction or Poetry, not because I hate it, but because I simply don’t find it interesting.

My Social Media Links include: twitter (as @Brumnordie), Facebook (closed, Personal account), this blog, google+.

My summer plans . . . there’s a lot going on this summer In Real Life, so there is nothing planned for the summer. However, there is a bookish meet later in the year, that I am currently planning on atteding

My blog/channel/social media . . . chat with me on any of the following social media outlets