Things I watched over Christmas

My Christmas viewing revolved around a few box sets and some stuff on Netflix. First off was an A/B session of ‘Borgia’ and ‘The Borgias’. Coming to the European-made Borgia from the US-made The Borgias was a bit jarring, and initially I wasn’t at all impressed with the former. I like Jeremy Irons as an actor, and think he’s one of those actors who has gravitas to burn. However, after a few episodes, I thought John Doman—despite an American accent I gather a great many viewers were put off by—was far better suited to the role of Rodrigo Borgia/Pope Alexander VI. As my esteem for him grew, so to did my opinion of Borgia as a whole.

The supporting cast were excellent, if they can be called that. Any of the major parts, from Cesare and Lucrezia to Alessandro and Giulia Farnese, could be considered leading players. Across the board, I thought the actors in Borgia were far stronger, and far better suited to the parts they played.

Both shows portrayed the period well, although once again I felt Borgia got it a bit closer to the mark. I like watching shows like this in an attempt to immerse myself into that atmosphere, as it is, broadly speaking, the period that the Middle Sea world is set in at the time of The Tattered Banner and The First Blade of Ostia. My inspiration files for weapons, clothes, and architecture are filled with pictures of things from the 1450-1650 period.

Overall, I think both series are worth watching, but if you only have time for one, I’d go with Borgia. This is the area of history that most interests me, and I can definitely see myself watching Borgia again in the not too distant future.

I also watched the new Netflix show ‘Marco Polo’ which I really enjoyed. We go from an area of history that I know quite a bit about, to one I know very little about. I’ve not made anything more than a cursory reading of Asian and Mongol history, which is something I’m going to have to rectify this year, as it really is fascinating. A very good show, with solid acting across the board—I thought Benedict Wong playing Kublai Khan was particularly excellent—and one which I’m eagerly anticipating the second season of.

I have the first season of the recent BBC version of The Three Musketeers next in the queue, which I’m looking forward to. I’ve mentioned before I think that The Three Musketeers is one of my favourite stories, so I’m interested to see what they do with it. From the bits I’ve seen, it looks pretty encouraging.

As a reminder, there are still signed copies of The First Blade of Ostia up to be won over on Goodreads. You can enter the competition by clicking here.

Well, I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and is having a very happy new year!

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