Christian Cameron Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade (review)

Christian Cameron

chris 1
USA (1962 – )

aka Miles Cameron, Gordon Kent

Christian Cameron was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1962. He grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, Iowa City, Iowa, and Rochester, New York, where he attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in history.

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice.

Part Three

(The third book in the Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade series)

Part Three (2013)

Part nine of a fast-paced serialised novel set in the turbulent Europe of the fifteenth century.


If you’re an author and you want to write a series of short stories, then this is the bench mark, this is how it is done, and done excellently. Anyone who follows this blog will be aware i’m a huge fan of this author. But that never colours my review of his work, if he ever produces a book that falls below the extremely high standards he sets himself then i will be first to call it out.

Tom Swan is the pinnacle of historical fiction writing for me, each episode/ novella a journey into fifteen century europe, a look behind the curtain of so many aspects of that time, a Donat of St John, a spy, a historian/ archaeologist, a lover and a fighter, Our hero Tom Swan is all these things and so much more. He is literally brought to life in book one and from that point onwards i have looked forward to the next tale, the next adventure. Adventures so real, so well researched and coupled with the authors own experience with swords and armour that you really feel like you are adventuring alongside Tom Swan.

This latest book allows yet more growth in Toms character, and all the supporting cast, and thats one of the true talents of Christian Cameron, that he brings all characters to life, there are no 2D characters. As usual there is an intricately woven plot, with plenty of devious machinations and superb visualisation of 15th Century Venice to add to the wonderful ongoing tale.

If ever some one is looking for the next “Perfect TV series” then this is the story to look at, The serial nature of the book gives this series a real HBO feel, but with the added depth and quality only a book can provide.

I say again… it gets no better… Highly recommended


1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
TyrantStorm of ArrowsFuneral GamesKing of the Bosporus
Destroyer of CitiesForce of Kings
Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King
Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Part One (2013)
2. Part Two (2013)
3. Part Three (2013)
Part OnePart TwoPart Three
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
The Long Sword (2014)
Salamis (2015)
Washington and CaesarGod of WarThe Ill-Made KnightThe Long Sword


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Brian McClellan: Murder at the Kinnen Hotel (Review)

Brian lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and between 6,000 and 60,000 honey bees (depending on the time of year).

He began writing on Wheel of Time role playing websites at fifteen. Encouraged toward writing by his parents, he started working on short stories and novellas in his late teens. He went on to major in English with an emphasis on creative writing at Brigham Young University. It was here he met Brandon Sanderson, who encouraged Brian’s feeble attempts at plotting and characters more than he should have.

Brian continued to study writing not just as an art but as a business and was determined this would be his life-long career. He attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp in 2006. In 2008, he received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.

In November 2011, The Powder Mage Trilogy sold at auction to Orbit Books. The first two books, Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign, are out now with book three, The Autumn Republic, due out in February of 2015.

Murder at the Kinnen Hotel (2014)

(A book in the Powder Mage Trilogy series)
A Novella by Brian McClellan

Buy e-Book from amazon (UK)

Murder at KH

Special Detective Constable Adamat may be the most capable young investigator in all of Adopest. He’s sharp, thoughtful, and his particular sorcery gives him a flawless memory. A transfer to the First Precinct seems like the perfect opportunity to showcase his abilities and advance his career.

But things work differently in the First Precinct. The murder of a businessman’s mistress quickly pulls Adamat into an unexpected world of conspiracy and politics where he’s forced to use all his wits to stay one step ahead of unseen enemies and keep his friends – and himself – from the guillotine.

Occurs twenty-two years before the events in Promise of Blood.


I’m always surprised by Brian’s books, his debut Promise of Blood (2013) was / is such an accomplished book, the characters so real, so tangible, his world so wonderfully imagined. The sights the sounds the smells, the reality of the world are all present in the book, but without that clunky new author shove it in your face descriptive, you feel and smell them as you enter the world and live with the characters, it truly is immersive writing.

This latest Novella Murder at the Kinnen Hotel is a unique opportunity to explore that world in a short explosive fashion, to feel that wonderful writing and world. To learn about the structure of the magic, the class system and the inevitable corruptions that fuel the politics of this world, its more than a tease to make you go buy the Promise of Blood, its an accomplished tale on its own, its just proof of the writing skill that its made me want to read Promise of Blood and Crimson Campaign again. Im highly looking forward to The Autumn Republic (12/02/2015) and hope to review it here soon.

If you’re looking for something new, something different in the fantasy genre, then look no further… This is the writer and this is the series.


Powder Mage Trilogy
1. Promise of Blood (2013)
1.5. Return to Honor (2015)
2. The Crimson Campaign (2014)
3. The Autumn Republic (2015)
Hope’s End (2013)
Forsworn (2014)
The Girl of Hrusch Avenue (2014)
The Face in the Window (2014)
Servant of the Crown (2014)
Murder at the Kinnen Hotel (2014)
Promise of BloodReturn to HonorThe Crimson CampaignThe Autumn Republic
Hope's EndForswornThe Girl of Hrusch AvenueThe Face in the Window
Servant of the CrownMurder at the Kinnen Hotel



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Ian Ross: War at the Edge of the World (Twilight of Empire) Review

About the author

Ian Ross has been researching and writing about the later Roman world and its army for over a decade. He spent a year in Italy teaching English, but now lives in Bath.




Ian ross

The epic first instalment in a sequence of novels set at the end of the Roman Empire, during the reign of the Emperor Constantine.

Centurion Aurelius Castus – once a soldier in the elite legions of the Danube – believes his glory days are over, as he finds himself in the cold, grey wastes of northern Britain, battling to protect an empire in decline.

When the king of the Picts dies in mysterious circumstances, Castus is selected to guard the Roman envoy sent to negotiate with the barbarians beyond Hadrian’s Wall. Here he will face the supreme challenge of command, in a mission riven with bloodshed and treachery, that tests his honour to the limit. As he struggles to avert disaster and keep his promise to a woman he has sworn to protect, Castus discovers that nothing about this doomed enterprise was ever what it seemed.


Ian Ross and Twilight of Empire: War at the edge of the World has all the hallmarks of the next great Roman series. The author has chosen a period that few have written in, a time when Rome and its empire is very different to the one we see portrayed in films and the HBO TV series, gone is the segmented armour, the Scutum etc, in its place, Mail or scale armour oval shields and these guys wore tunics and breeches, a clear sign of the blending of other nations into the empire . It was a time when the Empire was so large its power and leadership was shared, its politics even murkier. The book follows the exploits of Centurion Aurelius Castus, his journey north into the lands of the Picts, the inevitable betrayals, escape and eventual revenge.

The book is delivered in an interesting style, i would suspect that the author is very well read in the genre, or by some quirk of writing styles he has endeavored to produce the depth of detail and narrative of Ben Kane, the action and pace of SJA Turney and a main character that has the depth and personality of Simon Scarrows Macro (that’s not an Insult, i think Macro is very multi faceted). Castus is a non nonsense hard fighting centurion, a man who looks out for his men, he is also a man with a tactical brain, very much like Macro. Add in Nigrinus the notary (who takes the place of Narcissus) and you can see the comparison… but don’t be swayed by it, this is only a facet of the characters and plot, Ian Ross brings plenty of originality.

The Journey of  Centurion Aurelius Castus is a refreshing change for the Roman fiction genre, across a very much changed Romano Britain landscape, the power of the empire has dimmed at its edges, but thinking its failed is a mistake the Picts will rue.  In the same way that the conquest of Britain was for politician ends rather than expansion, this political backwater of the empire is once again at the forefront of a changing an empire, Instead of Claudius solidifying his hold on power, we are to witness the rise of Constantine, a name to shape an empire. In many ways this book feels like a taste of what’s to come from a clearly talented author.

I hope to follow more of the journeys and battles of Centurion Aurelius Castus, and also the rise of Constantine.

Highly recommend this one




Filed under Historical Fiction

The greatest gift is the passion for reading. (inc Competition)


On Monday 1 December Quercus launched their Christmas campaign, The greatest gift is the passion for reading.

They are inviting as many readers, bloggers, Book Tubers and bookshops to share their passion for books during December using the hashtag #GreatestGift. We want to hear why you think books are the greatest books to give.

Everyday in the lead up to Christmas they have invited some brilliant bloggers and Book Tubers (and me) sharing blog posts and videos on why they think books are the greatest gift to give. Do keep an eye on their twitter feeds and websites as they will also be giving away a fantastic bundle of books on the day of their message.  See below for the full #GreatestGift line up.

Quercus Books

Monday 1 DecemberReader Dad

Tuesday 2 DecemberBook Addict Shaun

Wednesday 3 DecemberLiz Loves Books

Thursday 4 DecemberChick Lit Pad

Friday 5 DecemberBumbling Bibliophile

Monday 8 DecemberRaven Crime Reads

Tuesday 9 DecemberFantasy Faction

Wednesday 10 DecemberWondorous Reads

Thursday 11 DecemberThe Mile Long Bookshelf

Friday 12 DecemberDestiny Lover

Monday 15 DecemberParmenion Books

Tuesday 16 DecemberNovelicious

Wednesday 17 DecemberCivilian Reader

hursday 18 DecemberLove of a Good Book

Friday 19 DecemberFranny and Perks

So join all of us in sharing  and tweet why you think books are the #GreatestGift to give to @QuercusBooks

So for me: why do I read? what is it that makes me think books are the #GreatestGift?

I’d love to say I have been a reader since I was little, but that’s not the case, I was always busy running, playing football and avoiding the fact that books didn’t feel right. I don’t suppose I understood at the time why books bored me, until one day I realised that sometimes I look at a sentence and see words incorrectly, and then I read them again and they makes sense, this becomes then, when becomes while.. simple things that throw the meaning of a line, only as a kid I didn’t reread, it just didn’t make sense so I got bored with it. Then one day I was stuck at home, I became a single parent, I could not go out and TV was generally 4 channels of bilge. So I tried the library, a world of other worlds and times, thousands of mini time machines.

I remembered the few books and stories I did enjoy as a kid. The escapism of places like Narnia and the Hobbit, stuck in with only a baby for company I needed that escapism again. I started many books and finished few until I found the things that struck that chord, that made me immerse myself in reading. Next came the man who gave me a true passion for reading, David Gemmell, not just a great writer, but as nice and decent a person as I have ever met, from his books I learned something that has stayed with me ever since. I learned the true value of books, I learned that I, myself, I don’t just read a book, because that would not be enough, any book that only allows me to read it doesn’t rate with me, it’s why I’m careful about the books I read and review.

For me a book is a portal to another time, another place, it’s where I fly with dragons, march with legions, fight the good fight, travel though-out time and space and across dimensions into alternate worlds and time periods, wielding magic, swords and living anything from an ordinary to an extraordinary life. Every book needs to be total immersion. No film can give you this gift, because no film is powered by the human imagination, backed by the words and research of great writers.

So you may find my site full of books that say you must read them, but that’s because I have lived those books, and the books I cannot be consumed by don’t get reviewed by me. (a writer pours months of blood sweat and tears into a novel, so just because it doesn’t work for me doesn’t mean it’s not a good book, it’s just taste). This is also one of the major reasons why I love to support as many debut writers as I can, to find the new Gemmell’s, to help as much as I can get those great books read by as many people as possible.

I hope you enjoy the reviews on my blog, and I hope you find some of the passion for the books that I have.

 So competition time:

I’m making this easy: Just tweet / comment with why “The greatest gift is the passion for reading” #GreatestGift

share your reason or what led to your love of books, I will draw names at random to win the below titles

Prize 1: Traitor’s Blade, Sebastien De Castell
Prize 2: Tom Pollock Series  1) Glass Republic 2) Citys Son 3)Lady of the Street
Prize 3: Churchill’s Secret Warriors by Damien Lewis
I look forward to hearing your comments.

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Paul Fraser Collard: Rogue (Review)

Paul Fraser Collard's picture

Paul Fraser Collard

UK (1973 – )
Paul’s love of military history started at an early age. A childhood spent watching films like Waterloo and Zulu whilst reading Sharpe, Flashman and the occasional Commando comic, gave him a desire to know more of the men who fought in the great wars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. At school, Paul was determined to become an officer in the British army and he succeeded in wining an Army Scholarship. However, Paul chose to give up his boyhood ambition and instead went into the finance industry. Paul stills works in the City, and lives with his wife and three children in Kent.


Buy the e-Book

Book Description

As pot boy at his mother’s infamous London gin palace, Jack Lark is no stranger to trouble.

Between dog fights and street scuffles, if he’s not being set upon, he’s starting a brawl himself. But when an unlikely ally draws him from the dark alleys of the East End into the bright lights of a masked ball, he gets a glimpse of another life. That life, once seen, is impossible to forget.

Jack will do anything to outwit, outsmart and escape the cruelty in his own home. He is determined to get out, but what price will he be forced to pay for his freedom?


Short stories are always a tricky beast, how long should it be? is it a prequel? a side story and can you make a complete tale?

Rogue is 80 pages and that’s plenty for this tale, its a prequel, which for any fan or newbie to the Jack Lark story is great news, a chance to learn some of the background, the drivers for Jack, his personality and how he comes to blend so well with the officer class.

As ever the story is told with Paul Collards fast engaging pace, showing a rich vivid tapestry of the rookeries, Whitechapel London, the blend of poor society against the opulence of the privileged class.

I stayed up until midnight to start this short story (amazon wifi’d to my kindle at 00:01) and before my eyes gave out i have finished half the story, i woke up in the early hours with the kindle still in the covers. exhaustion was the only thing to stop this being a single sitting read. and for £1.99 its a bargain. In fact my only single gripe is why why why do we have to wait until June 2015 for part 2 *sob*

For those that have never read a Jack Lark book, please use this as an excuse to start, Paul Collard is a major new talent, who writes with a clear fast paced tight prose. His imagination and attention to historical detail clearly put him among the top in his field, Many have said his is the new sharpe, but that is a tired comparison now, used for too many authors. Suffices to say he has the skill and talent that Cornwell displayed, and that rocketed him to stardom.

I cannot wait for January 29th and Devils Assassin




Jack Lark
1. The Scarlet Thief (2013)
2. The Maharajah’s General (2013)
3. The Devil’s Assassin (2015)
Rogue (2014)
Recruit (2015)
The Scarlet ThiefThe Maharajah's GeneralThe Devil's AssassinRogue

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Pierce Brown Golden Son (Review)

Pierce Brown's picture

Pierce Brown

Pierce Brown spent his childhood building forts and setting traps for his cousins in the woods of six states and the deserts of two. Graduating college in 2010, he fancied the idea of continuing his studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a magical bone in his body. So while trying to make it as a writer, he worked as a manager of social media at a startup tech company, toiled as a peon on the Disney lot at ABC Studios, did his time as an NBC page, and gave sleep deprivation a new meaning during his stint as an aide on a U.S. Senate Campaign.
Now he lives in Los Angeles, where he scribbles tales of spaceships, wizards, ghouls, and most things old or bizarre.

Book Description

Buy the Books from Amazon UK

Buy a signed copy from the USA


Ender’s Game meets The Hunger Games in this, the second in an extraordinary trilogy from an incredible new voice.

‘I’m still playing games. This is just the deadliest yet.’

Darrow is a rebel forged by tragedy. For years he and his fellow Reds worked the mines, toiling to make the surface of Mars inhabitable. They were, they believed, mankind’s last hope. Until Darrow discovered that it was all a lie, and that the Red were nothing more than unwitting slaves to an elitist ruling class, the Golds, who had been living on Mars in luxury for generations.

In RED RISING, Darrow infiltrated Gold society, to fight in secret for a better future for his people. Now fully embedded amongst the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his dangerous work to bring them down from within. It’s a journey that will take him further than he’s ever been before – but is Darrow truly willing to pay the price that rebellion demands?

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.


When i started reading the first book in this series it was because i had been told by some very reliable people “Its amazing”, the reason i needed convincing was due to the fact that i simply never ever read space books, i love to watch SCIFI but i cannot read it.

It takes something very rare to capture me and make me break that rule and i expected to ditch Red Rising after a couple of chapters, only to find myself utterly absorbed in this heroic tale of flawed human beings in a deeply flawed society. Red Rising was a total triumph, and yet still a Young Adult novel and held back slightly.

Golden Son doesn’t, it pushes every boundary, friendships are made and lost, alliances or created and broken, worlds and the whole of human society is in flux, all because Darrow has been raised, carved into Gold to cause waves, to put the whole of the current status quo into question, to challenge the rule of gold, to save the other colours of humanity, to save mankind/ society from its own entropy, from the evil arrogance and entitlement that has become the golds lot in life, bred for war, bred to be the cream of society, both physically and mentally.

I really don’t want to delve into the plot too much because i don’t want to spoil anything for anyone else, but know that there is so much covered, Darrow must face the sovereign the leader of the Golds, he must confront his former friend Cassius and his family, he will meet Are’s and find out who his real friends are and who will betray him. This book astounded me, when i finished it last night i was utterly elated, deflated, battered exhausted and full of longing for book 3… its simply a brilliant book, written by such a talented writer.

As its Dec 2014 i have no issue saying that not only will this make my Top 10 for 2014 this will be joining one other title as joint book of the year for Parmenion Books in 2014, my top 10 to be announced in the next couple of weeks.

I cannot recommend this book/ series highly enough




Red Rising
1. Red Rising (2014)
2. Golden Son (2015)
Red RisingGolden Son

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Dystopian, Fantasy, Thrillers, Young Adult

David Gibbins: Pyramid (review)

‘What do you get if you cross Indiana Jones with Dan Brown? Answer: David Gibbins’


BIOGRAPHY (in authors own words)

Much of the inspiration for my novels comes from my own experiences as an archaeologist and diver. I was born in Canada to English parents, and have divided my time between the two countries when I’ve not been on expeditions and travelling. After taking a first-class honours degree from the University of Bristol I completed a PhD in archaeology at the University of Cambridge, and then spent almost ten years as an academic in England before becoming a writer full-time. I’ve been a passionate diver since boyhood, and have led many expeditions to investigate ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean and elsewhere in the world.

The photo in the banner was taken when I was a graduate student, and shows me examining pottery from a Roman shipwreck excavated under my direction off Sicily. To find out more about my background and interests, click on the boxes below and follow my blog



For thousands of years, Egypt was a rich, ingenious civilization. Then it became a fertile hunting ground for archaeologists and explorers. Now the streets of Cairo teem with violence as a political awakening shakes the region.

Archaeologist Jack Howard has connected a mystery hidden inside a great pyramid to a fossilized discovery in the Red Sea and a 150-year-old handwritten report of a man who claims to have escaped a labyrinth beneath Cairo. For that his team is stalked by a brutal extremist organization that will destroy any treasure they find.

As people fight and die for their rights above ground, Jack fights for a discovery that will shed an astounding new light on the greatest story ever told: Moses’s exodus from Egypt and the true beginnings of a new chapter in human history.


I have taken my time on this one, i wanted to read an review a little after the book had come out, i also wanted to go back and re-read Pharaoh, to give me that continuity of story arc in a back to back read.

I’m glad i did, for me i love that extended storyline, the two books blending so well (yet i can see how they work as stand alone entities) . There has it seems been a story arc in David Gibbins books that has developed and matured over the 8 books written in the Jack Howard series. When i first started reading this author back in 2005, it was with a view to having found a nice fluffy new brain wipe thriller writer, one with a historical twist and not too much conspiracy. What i have got instead has been an ongoing growth in story and characters, a plot that developed in depth and complexity as the series progressed, as the author brought to the fore more and more fantastic yet highly plausible scenarios for famous historical figures or locations. That then evolved again in book 6 when the author delved deeper into the location and reasoning for Atlantis, and its ties to Europe and its development, the development of language and nations all of this wrapped up in a highly thrilling adventure story.

Then comes Pyramid, this book brings everything full circle, the characters, the plot, the hypothetical journey of mankind and which nation influenced which (Greece or Egypt), all of this told against the backdrop of an Egypt going up in flames, literally. The descendants of the Mahdi (out for revenge for a slight 100 years old, committed by Kitchener after the death or Gordon of Khartoum ), the Jihadists, infiltrating all levels of government until Egypt is ready to fall, and with it the western worlds cradle of archaeology. The country that captures the imagination with its immense age and towering monuments, all at risk, and Jack and Costas searching for the last clues to 10 years of searching, a trail of clues spanning 8 books, to find Akhenaten, his links to Moses and what drove these men, one to destroy and army and turn against his gods and another to found a people.

The final chapters of this book are utterly breathless, not just because the many times one or both of our heroes are down to little or no air left, but the power and pace of the story. David Gibbins captures the feel, sights and sounds of a city tearing its self apart, descending back into the dark ages. Sinking to levels of depravity that the mind shies away from. I applaud the authors skill and also bravery in describing the scenes so well, nothing is glorified, it is reported giving it the feel of a CNN news crew at the heart of the destruction and horror, yet keeping the thriller and mystery of the plot going.

I truly enjoyed this book, the horror and the fear, the potential for disaster should be mandatory reading to everyone, to understand what we could lose if groups like ISIS ever made it into control of wonders like Egypt, and the wonders we are losing in places like Syria, and the suffering of the people already under the control of these people. At the same time as this serious plot line is an utterly compelling historical adventure thriller, delivered by a man who lives and breathes the archaeology.

Highly Recommended




Jack Howard
1. Atlantis (2005)
2. Crusader Gold (2006)
3. The Last Gospel (2008)
aka The Lost Tomb
4. The Tiger Warrior (2009)
5. The Mask of Troy (2010)
6. The Gods of Atlantis (2011)
aka Atlantis God
7. Pharaoh (2013)
8. Pyramid (2014)
The Atlantis Collection: Atlantis / Crusader Gold / The Last Gospel (omnibus) (2014)
AtlantisCrusader GoldThe Last GospelThe Tiger WarriorThe Mask of TroyThe Gods of AtlantisPharaohPyramid
The Atlantis Collection: Atlantis / Crusader Gold / The Last Gospel
 Total War Rome
1. Destroy Carthage (2013)
2. Sword of Attila (2015)
Destroy Carthage


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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Thrillers