Book Review – La Gran aventura del reino de Asturias

La Gran aventura del reino de Asturias: Asi comenzó la reconquista (The Great Adventure of The Kingdom of Asturias: How the Reconquest Started) has been probably my favorite read of 2020. This book is fantastic. It narrates the history of the Kingdom of Asturias starting from the Visigothic Kingdom, and its fall under the hands of the Umayyad Caliphate, to later its evolution to the Kingdom of Leon. You’ll read about the different phases of the Asturian kingdom. From surviving annihilation, to consolidation, and finally expansion. You’ll read about the birth of the counties of Castile and Portugal in liege to Asturias, the establishment of the Kingdom of Navarra, and birth of the Frankish counties of Aragon and Catalonia. Also the role that the Franks played during this era.

An important element of this book that I really enjoyed is that it goes equally into incredibly detail of the history of Al-Andalus.

The history of The Kingdom of Asturias literally felt like it came straight from an epic fantasy novel. I love reading fantasy novels because of the incredible immersion they provide, and I definitely felt deeply immerse reading this book. Not to mentioned that Kings, Knights, battles, political intrigue, and magic are included here! Which was very fitting when I saw the following tweet posted by the official Spanish tourism account:

The author’s eloquent writing is fantastic, and to be admired given the sources during this period of history are limited. He constantly reminded us what is myth and what possibly happed. I really hope this book gets an English translation soon, so everyone can read and learn the spectacular history of The Kingdom of Asturias.

Sauron Vs The Numenorean Army Polystone Diorama

Sauron Vs The Numenorean Army Polystone Diorama Statue

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Sauron Vs The Numenorean Army Polystone Diorama Statue

For quite some time, I’ve been wanting to buy the Sideshow Collectibles Battle of The Last Alliance: Sauron Vs The Numenorean Army Diorama statue. Originally release in 2010 with an edition size of 700 units made. Finding the statue for a decent price hasn’t easy, and I wasn’t willing to pay the reseller’s two to three times of its original price of $300. Needless to say, patience has its reward, as I was able finally buy the statue for just above its original retail value. The statue is roughly 1:10 scale, and although it’s fairly small compared to my other 1:4 statues, the detail on it is fantastic. Even for a ten year old statue.

My statue collection continues to grow, and with my Moducases soon to be arriving, and my current existing pre-orders, it will continue to grow. Exiting times for my newly expensive hobby. 

Geralt of Rivia Skellige Undvik Armor – Prime 1 Studio

The Geralt of Rivia Skellige Undvik Armor statue is my fourth Prime 1 Studio statue in The Witcher 3 line. This time around, I opted to get the exclusive version since it was different and compelling enough for me to consider alternating with the regular version. This exclusive head sculpt is based on the fantastic “Hearts of Stone” expansion, so to me it was a no brainer. Although, the armor is not necessarily one of my favorite’s, in the statue itself is extremely well detailed. Just like the rest of my Prime 1 Studio Witcher statues, the incredible detail of the sculpt and paint on this statue is absolutely fantastic. People may find it shocking to see a $800 plus price tag on these statues, but looking at them in person, you see these beautiful pieces of art come with a hefty price tag.

Geralt of Rivia Undvik Armor

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Geralt of Rivia Undvik Armor

Unlike my first Geralt Prime1 statue. The base of this particular statue is a lot simpler. From what is looks like, it appears to be some sort of castle ruin with rocks and wooden ruins. As with the Triss Merigold and the original Geralt of Rivia statue, I didn’t originally planned on purchasing this particular statue back when it was originally announced.

I have numerous statues by Sideshow Collectibles and Gaming Heads, and I must say Prime 1 Studio completely blows both out of the water. The detail on this statue (and all of Prime 1 Studio statues) is absolutely incredible.

Book Review – The Life of the Very Noble King of Castile and Leon, Saint Ferdinand III

The Life of the Very Noble King of Castile and Leon, Saint Ferdinand III is a very interesting book. To start, I mistakenly thought it was a chronicle of this legendary Spanish king. Instead to my surprise, this book was written as a novel. This novel is a biography of histories’ most successful crusader king. It can be divided into different stages of St. Fernandos life. Starting from his childhood and upcoming, his relationship with his estrange father, and the importance of his mother. The famous, and somewhat cliché quote “behind every great man is a great woman”, is certainly truth with Fernando III and his mother Berenguela of Castile. Then, like just very great king, you’ll read about the different rebellions and difficult Fernando had once he came to power. Lastly, the bulk of the book deals with the military campaigns in Andalusia.

A very interesting thing about this book is its title. In Spanish, the literal translation of this book’s title is Our Lady in the Saddletree. Upon reading this book, you’ll learn why that’s the title described here is the subtitle. This translation is a fairly easy read, although I haven’t read the original source, from what I’ve learned, it uses a more poetic archaic Spanish. This really picks my interest since I love such type of works.

The only drawback of book is that the annotations are fairly limited. Which is understandable as this book written by the nun María del Carmen Fernández de Castro Cabeza, to give homage to St. Fernando, and not by a historian as a scholarly work.

Vote 2020

As I dropped off my mail-in voting ballot earlier today, I was reminded why I stopped posting politics related content on this blog for the last four years; the primary reason being because it wasn’t healthy to my psyche. That is to say these last four years have been an absolute disgrace and a sad reality as to how low and divided we’ve fallen as a society.

Due to a project that I’ve been working these last few years, I’ve done quite of bit of research regarding some of histories fallen empires: Rome, Toltec, Tepaneca, Mexica, Purépecha, Inca, Spanish, Byzantine, and even the Ottoman Empire to some extend. Whether eventually history repeats itself and this becomes the beginning of the end. Theirs absolutely no doubt that these last four years have altered the shift of this country for future generations to come. With the immense wealth of examples of lack of basic logic and common sense, future historians are going to view 2016-2020 U.S. and say “Social discord and mass stupidity started it all”.

Book Review – The Magician’s Nephew

Technically Book 1 in chronological order of The Chronicles of Narnia, in The Magician’s Nephew we learn about the creation of Narnia itself and how it was marred by The Witch. Although the plot is different to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to me this prequel fit in perfectly. The creation story, like much of all of The Chronicles of Narnia, it is very simplistic (which is not a bad thing). It obviously can’t compare to Tolkien’s creation story described in Ainulindalë. Regardless, it’s still a beautiful story.

It’s no secret that C.S. Lewis’s works are heavily Christian based, this book is no exception. So being essentially the Genesis of Narnia, it is a very beautifully Christian themed novel.

It must be because C.S. Lewis’s books are primarily middle grade novels, I tend to found his works to be very comforting to read. I literally read this entire book in one sit-in. Where other books (short or long), I usually have to take a break to let my brain absorb what I’ve just read. Which with C.S. Lewis, is not the case for me.

Book Review – Los mitos que nos dieron traumas

The Myths That Traumatized Us, is book that attempts to explain the idiosyncrasy and sociology of Mexicans. Rather than being presented in a direct dry political and historical standpoint, this book uses a comedic approach that I think it’s absolutely genius. The author makes it very clear and states multiple times that he could care less about what part of side of a political spectrum the reader falls on. Overall this was such an enjoyable read, I lost count of the times the times I was literally was laughing out loud multiple times (my family might even think I’m mad given that I read most of the book really late at night).

Mexicans, generally speaking have such a distorted view of their history. This book takes a logical and common sense approach on why that’s the case. The main myths this book covers are:

  • Pre-hispanic history
  • Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire
  • Mexican Independence
  • Mexican Revolution

Perhaps the only thing that really rubbed me the wrong way was the comparison between Spain and England, (Catholicism vs Protestantism; Mexico vs USA) and their respective visual of a society, which I completely disagree with the author.

Sadly this book does’t have an English translation as of the time of this writing, but if you know Spanish then I would highly suggest reading this book. Specially if you need a good laugh for once.

Yet Another HR Friendly Document

About a year late, but completed nonetheless. The only resources I used to pass this certification exam were A Cloud Gurus’s AWS Certified Developer – Associate 2020 and Stephane Maarek’s Ultimate AWS Certified Developer Associate 2020 both of which I highly recommend. Specially Stephane Maarek’s course, all of his AWS training courses are extremely good.

This is the third AWS exam that I’ve taken, and I must say this has been the most difficult one yet. Mainly because it touches a lot of services that I don’t generally use on a daily basis like DynamoDB, API Gateway, and Cognito. Thus said, these are not extremely complex AWS services so learning them for the first time wasn’t too terrible.

My next goal is study and pass the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification exam to complete the trifecta Associate level certifications.

Book Review – Don Quixote

The Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha is a very interesting book. Considered to be the very first modern novel written, I can see why this book is regarded as being one of the greatest stories to be ever written. I read John Ormsby’s 1885 translation that is available on the Project Gutenberg. This particular translation has an archaic style of language, which I’m a big fan of. As for some strange reason I love reading non modern texts; this explains why I love The Silmarillion so much, but I digress.

I really love how this story is presented. I believe this is one of the main reasons why this book considered a masterpiece. The story is narrated by a narrator that used different compilations of many works written of Don Quixote; where the book itself is in the story.

This book has a lot of themes that it covers. There were many times while reading this book that I felt almost like I was reading a philosophy novel rather than a satire of Chivalric Romance from the 16th century. The general synopsis of this novel is the story of an elderly man who reads so many chivalric romance novels that he loses his mind and decides to become a knight-errant to revive chivalry and serve the defenseless, under the name Don Quixote of la Mancha. The novel is essentially his adventures that he had throughout all of Spain, with the companionship of his trusty squire.

What made this book really enjoyable to me were not the underlying themes that it covers, but the setting of the story itself. I know medieval Spanish history fairly well, and this book being the Renaissance era, post medieval world. I knew exactly how the story fitted into the time that it took place. I feel what makes this novel so special is that it truly portrays Spain at the heart of the Renaissance era.

I read an English translation, so I’m planning on eventually reading its original Castilian version. Perhaps my only complain of this book is that is way too massive, they’re certain topics that I felt were overly repeated. While on the other side of things, this book introduced me to other related works that I’m planning on already reading For example Amadís de Gaula, since we’re constantly reminded how Don Quixote modeled himself after him.

Book Review – Chronicles of the First Crusade

Chronicles of the First CrusadeThis is a very fascinating book. As the title suggest, this book is a collection of primary sources involved in the events known to history as The First Crusade. The chronicles are presented in a chronological order. With the bulk of the them coming from the crusaders themselves (or pilgrims as they called each other), with a much smaller portion belonging to Byzantine, Jewish, and Muslim sources.

It was very intriguing reading how the different factions of this conflict viewed each other. Mainly the problems between the Byzantines and the Latins. But perhaps the most striking was the Jewish component surrounding the events, and how it affected them.

I’m somewhat fairly knowledgeable of the history of the crusades, however reading these primary sources definitely gave me a much better understanding of the myths and legends surrounding The First Crusade. I don’t think the translations themselves were literal, since I found this book to be very easy to read and understand. Overall, this is an excellent book that gives you a full narrative of The First Crusade. It is an absolute must read for anyone interested in the history of the crusades.