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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review of A History of Venice: Queen of the Seas

Cat loves only fresh water by CelloPics from flickr (CC-BY)

I keep disregarding over 1000 hours of audiobooks and podcasts already in the queue and adding new titles. I'll probably never go to end of the queue, even listening at 180% speed (the rate keeps increasing every few months) and dropping unpromising books easily aggressively.

Of course as soon as I've seen this book about Venice, it jumped right to the front of the queue, and I'm actually a bit surprised that's the first book specifically about Venice I've ever read.

The book covers long history of Venice - its founding myths and facts, its relations with Byzantines and Karlings, trade connections, evolution of its government, its involvement in attempts to remove kebab, asshole popes, ecclesiastic jurisdiction conflicts, claimants, plots, and its ultimate destruction by the Big Blue Blob.

Surprisingly interesting part was one about all the relic theft, trading, and fabrication going on - subjects strangely under-explored in all games. There's so much DLC potential here.

I feel the book devotes far too much space to time after fall of Venice, which feels about as pointless as including a Berlin tourist guide chapters in a book about World War 2. I guess technically it's a book about city of Venice, not just republic of Venice, but the city without the republic is just a dead historical relic, not worth writing about.

The most obvious missing thing is any kind of serious analysis of randomness amplification design of final system doge elections - instead of straightforward system of just choosing 41 members of Great Council to be electors, they had three stages of taking lots to choose electors, electors choosing next group from which electors were chosen by a lot and so on. The book treats it as paranoid historical curiosity, but this is clearly some next level cryptographic protocol, and I'd love to read serious analysis of it.

tl;dr 4/5 If you like Crusader Kings 2, you're likely to like this book. Not sure who else would this book be for.

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