Sebastien De Castell : Tyrant’s Throne (Review)

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Author Web site

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.

Sebastien is the author of the acclaimed swashbuckling fantasy series, The Greatcoats. His debut novel, Traitor’s Blade, was shortlisted for both the 2014 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fantasy and the Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Debut. He lives in Vancouver, Canada with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats.

Tyrant’s Throne  (2017)
(The fourth book in the Greatcoats series)

book cover of Tyrant's Throne

After years of struggle and sacrifice, Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead king’s dream: Aline, the king’s daughter, is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all.

But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. In the neighboring country of Avares, an enigmatic new warlord is uniting the barbarian armies that have long plagued Tristia’s borders–and even worse, he is rumored to have a new ally: Trin, who’s twice tried to kill Aline to claim the throne of Tristia for herself. With the armies of Avares at her back, led by a bloodthirsty warrior, she’ll be unstoppable.

Falcio, Kest, and Brasti race north to stop her, but in those cold and treacherous climes they discover something altogether different, and far more dangerous: a new player is planning to take the throne of Tristia, and with a sense of dread the three friends realize that the Greatcoats, for all their skill, may not be able to stop him.

As the nobles of Tristia and even the Greatcoats themselves fight over who should rule, the Warlord of Avares threatens to invade. With so many powerful contenders vying for power, it will fall to Falcio to render the one verdict he cannot bring himself to utter, much less enforce. Should he help crown the young woman he vowed to put on the throne, or uphold the laws he swore to serve?

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Review

There are many books you can ruin with a review, this is truly one of them, as such i will stick only to how much i enjoyed it, not what its about. To give away any of the story would be to ruin the magic, the tragedy, the action and fun that awaits in every sentence on every page of this wonderful book and series.

Since i got my hands on book one of this series in 2014 i have been a huge fan and supporter of the series. It for me has always held the magic and mystery that is invoked by the tales of Dumas and the musketeers (a set of characters that captivated me as a child). The great coats having the je ne sais quoi of those 4 daring heroes of France, fighting not only those outside the law but also those rich conniving self serving traitors within the kings court.

Over there years there has been so many differing styles of Athos, Aramis, Porthos, Milady de Winter and D’Artagnan, Falcio and his cohorts bring to mind a mix of the 1993 Kiefer Sutherland era and the current BBC series. A more rough and tumble mixed with humor and sarcasm band of brothers. But this series is not just a play on an old favourite, it is so much more, the author plays with modern politics and the cynicism of this age, and mixes it with the differing ends of the spectrum of heroic fantasy. Our heroes are the epitome of what they stand for, ‘the law, honour and friendship’, and yet they must within that restriction navigate a cruel corrupt regime, dispensing justice to those who hate them or deride them.

This entire series has been written with a flair for the dramatic, the noble gesture, the  dangling of hope for the reader only to have it cruelly ripped away with a cold bath of reality. Yet not once does it ever phase our group of heroes, Falcio driven by his past to never fail, to always risk all on a daring plan, Brasti with his droll ever present wit and eagle eye both for a target and often the root of the problem and Kest who calculates every action every motive every scenario so that Falcio can then save them all with a large dollop of improbably action written in a way to make it all just so real, and improbability hidden in the spinning silvery blades and destructive power of Brasti’s bad jokes and deadly arrows.

This final book for me felt more alive and more emotional than the previous three, im not sure if it was the knowledge that it was the last (of the current crop….) I like to think its because the story was just that much more hard hitting, with a hugely explosive and emotive plot hidden among all the daring exploits, the shocking revelations and the inevitable failings as the group once more tried to save their world. I know for me it packed a huge punch and i shall miss them all. This is a series that has been read and re-read, and that’s not something i have time or patience for these days, except for the truly brilliant books/ series.

All i can say is that this sits up there as one of my all time fav fantasy series… (and I’ve read a heck of a lot of them)… so go buy them, go read them… don’t miss this.

(Parm)

 

Series
Greatcoats
1. Traitor’s Blade (2014)
2. Knight’s Shadow (2015)
3. Saint’s Blood (2016)
4. Tyrant’s Throne (2017)
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Spellslinger
1. Spellslinger (2017)
2. Shadowblack (2017)
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C.F Iggulden : Darien: Empire of Salt (Review)

From acclaimed historical novelist Conn Iggulden, DARIEN is an epic new fantasy series of spellbinding imagination.

Author Bio

 

TWELVE FAMILIES. ONE THRONE. WELCOME TO THE EMPIRE OF SALT.

The city of Darien stands at the weary end of a golden age. Twelve families keep order with soldiers and artefacts, with spies and memories, maintaining a peace that shifts and crumbles constantly. The people of the city endure what they cannot change.

Here, amongst old feuds, a plot is hatched to kill a king. It will summon strangers to the city – Elias Post, a hunter; Tellius, an old swordsman banished from his home; Arthur, a boy who cannot speak; Daw Threefold, a chancer and gambler; Vic Deeds, who feels no guilt; and Nancy, a girl whose talent might be the undoing of them all.

Their presence inside the walls as the sun sets will set off a series of explosive events. Before the sun returns, six destinies will have been made – and lost – in Darien.

Review

I feel very fortunate to have been given the chance to read a very advance copy of this book. Conn Iggulden is one of the biggest names in Historical Fiction, i think still the only writer to top the Fiction and Non fiction charts at the same time. So when i found out that Conn Iggulden was going to do a fantasy book i was thrilled, the man is a born storyteller, given free reign to write without the bounds of history was going to be fun to read. Add to this the fact that he has a great passion for my favorite writer David Gemmell, which would without doubt and i think does influence his work, in the way he builds his characters and backgrounds, and the sparse style that says much with minimal words.

Given the above i’m sure you will not be expecting an impartial review? And yet it is,  i went into this book expecting a lot…. a heck of a lot, so failure to deliver would have meant a review to match.

What Conn Iggulden has produced is a book that will be in the running for the Fantasy book of the year, and if its not a shoe in for the Gemmell fantasy Debut next year im not sure what should be! (does it count as a debut if its first in Genre?)

With Darien, Conn has created a world with a hint of Dystopia, is this earth in some far flung future? or is it entirely a construct? that was always the puzzle and challenge with Gemmell. The City of Darien seems to have a very Roman flavour. The corruption, the absolute ruler, the advisory council, the legion. but its only a framework, everything as ever with Conn has so much more wrapped around that, and it all feels very fresh and original.

The Magic of the world is certainly fresh, light touch, some abilities, some items imbued with magic, many from a time past, in a society that has lost the knowledge of its glorious past. The Characters… well its an Iggulden book, the are multi faceted, easy to read and easy to love. The skills they bring, and talents to survive are subtle like so many of the plot twists and turns. You will be hooked before you know it.

This is a truly excellent book, I thought Mark Lawrence had a run away winner for Fantasy book of the year this year, but now we have Darien, and its going to make that choice very difficult.

Darien is one of the best fantasy titles you will read this year, and is another genre Conn Iggulden looks set to dominate.

(Parm)

 

Buy from Goldsboro 13th July 2017

Buy from Amazon 13th July 2017

Series
Emperor
1. The Gates of Rome (2002)
2. The Death of Kings (2004)
3. The Field of Swords (2004)
4. The Gods of War (2006)
5. The Blood of Gods (2013)
Gates of Rome / Death of Kings (omnibus) (2009)
Emperor (omnibus) (2011)
The Emperor Series Books 1-5 (omnibus) (2013)
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Conqueror
1. Wolf of the Plains (2007)
aka Genghis: Birth of an Empire
2. Lords of the Bow (2008)
aka Genghis: Lords of the Bow
3. Bones of the Hills (2008)
4. Empire of Silver (2010)
aka Khan: Empire of Silver
5. Conqueror (2011)
Conqueror and Lords of the Bow (omnibus) (2009)
The Khan Series (omnibus) (2012)
Conqueror Series 5-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
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Tollins
1. Tollins (2009)
2. Dynamite Tales (2011) (with Lizzy Duncan)
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Wars of the Roses
1. Stormbird (2013)
2. Trinity (2014)
aka Margaret of Anjou
3. Bloodline (2015)
4. Ravenspur (2016)
Wars of the Roses (omnibus) (2017)
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Novels
Dunstan (2017)
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Novellas
Blackwater (2006)
Fig Tree (2014)
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Series contributed to
Quick Reads 2012
Quantum of Tweed (2012)
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Non fiction
The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Yearbook (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do (2007)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get There(2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature Fun (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day Calendar (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and Fun (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Know(2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the World (2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar (2009) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book of Heroes (2009) (with David Iggulden)
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Peter Newman: The Seven (Vagrant book 3) Review/Blog Tour

Peter Newman

Peter Newman's picture

Peter Newman co-writes the Hugo nominated Tea and Jeopardy podcast and is also the voice of the butler, Latimer.

***DO NOT READ THE BELOW IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE MALICE***

***DO NOT READ THE BELOW IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE MALICE***

Years have passed since the Vagrant journeyed to the Shining City, Vesper in arm and Gamma’s sword in hand.

Since then the world has changed. Vesper, following the footsteps of her father, journeyed to the breach and closed the tear between worlds, protecting the last of humanity, but also trapping the infernal horde and all those that fell to its corruptions: willing or otherwise.

In this new age it is Vesper who leads the charge towards unity and peace, with seemingly nothing standing between the world and a bright new future.

That is until eyes open.

And The Seven awaken

Review

I find that Peter Newman breaks the mould a bit with this series, as he makes me break my reading rules. He somehow convinced me to read Malice before Vagrant…. i know shocking! Yet i found the book could indeed be read as a stand alone. I’m not sure i feel that The Seven could be, there is too much you need to know from before to invest you in the book/ series to just take a dive into this book. I’m also not sure where i would truly pigeon hole this book genre wise… is it really Fantasy? or Dystopian? or Scifi? (i hate Scifi) or just a blend of all?

As with the previous two books, the story is quite dark, gritty and immersive. Its not a book i can read in my normal style of pick up and put down, it needs to be read in large swathes of reading time to truly enter the world and the spirit of the story. I find for me at times it (like Malice) can be a little too dark and a smidgen too depressing…but that said i think its a testament to the writing that it elicits a range of emotions across the spectrum and makes me want to keep reading. It has that ability to give you edge of the seat tension as well as doldrum like darkness and all the time keeping you in step with the wonderful characters of the book.

In my last review i wrote : “The major characters don’t require major depth, in fact they seem to start out shells ready to be filled, and grow as the book progresses, as do the variations of creatures that now inhabit the world.”

Over the course of Malice, Vagrant and the City and now the Seven, Peter Newman has more than filled the shells of these characters, his world has blossomed from its dark beginnings giving the reader such a rich kaleidoscope for the imagination and a truly original tale that i dare any reader to not enjoy and not be utterly drawn in by his world and the people who inhabit it.

(Parm)

Series
Vagrant
1. The Vagrant (2015)
2. The Malice (2016)
3. The Seven (2017)
The Hammer and the Goat (2016)
The Vagrant and the City (2017)
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Tales Of Albion
1. Landfall (2016)
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James Jackson: Treason (Review)

James H Jackson's picture

James H Jackson UK flag (1962 – )

Born in London in 1962. Educated at Cheam School, Wellington College, Bristol University, King’s College London, the London College of Law, and the Inns of Court School of Law. Called to the Bar and is a Member of the Inner Temple.

book cover of 

Treason

Behind the famous rhyme lies a murderous conspiracy that goes far beyond Guy Fawkes and his ill-fated Gunpowder Plot . . .

In a desperate race against time, spy Christian Hardy must uncover a web of deceit that runs from the cock-fighting pits of Shoe Lane, to the tunnels beneath a bear-baiting arena in Southwark, and from the bad lands of Clerkenwell to a brutal firefight in The Globe theatre.

But of the forces ranged against Hardy, all pale beside the renegade Spanish agent codenamed Realm.

Review

This is an excellent, hard and uncompromising novel, Taking the reader through the dark murky world of espionage in England in the early 1600’s. The brutality of the clash of protestant and catholic worlds, all narrowed down to a single plot, an attempted act of terrorism that still resounds through the country today such was its audacity.

James Jackson takes very little mercy on the reader, providing a view of London and wider England in all its filth, muck and mire, with betrayals, backstabbing, murder and mayhem. This is not a gentle time in this lands history and it is right it should be shown warts and all. When the author couples that with a twisting winding plot and disparate hunters many of which controlled by the spider at the center of the web of intrigue Robert Cecil you get a book that grabs you and doesn’t let go until the final page.

A very interesting and very powerful book, highly recommended

(Parm)

Novels

Dead Headers (1997)
Cold Cut (1999)
The Reaper (2001)
Blood Rock (2007)
Pilgrim (2008)
Realm (2010)
Hllenfeuer (2011)
Perdition (2012)
Endkampf (2013)
The Race (2013)
Treason (2016)
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Non fiction
The Counter-Terrorist Handbook (2005)
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Lucille Turner: The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer (Review)

Lucille Turner, Author of historical fiction, including Gioconda, and The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer

In her own words:

I was born in Bournemouth in 1964. My first book,Gioconda, which I began in 2007 and finished in 2010, is a novel about the life of Leonardo da Vinci. Although some of Leonardo’s work was familiar to me then, the idea only came to me when I fell upon a print of the Mona Lisa in the aisles of a supermarket one day. One avenue of research led to another, and since then Gioconda has been translated into several languages, winning Spain’s Hislibris prize for historical fiction in 2012.
For the past few years I have been busy writing my second book,
The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer. I sometimes review other people’s work for Bookmunch, and enjoy being surprised by things I didn’t think I’d like, be it books or new experiences. And of course I love history

 

1442: When Vlad Dracula arrives at the court of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II, his life is turned upside down. His father Dracul cannot protect him; he must battle his demons alone. And when the Sultan calls for the services of a soothsayer, even the shrewd teller of fortunes is unprepared for what he learns.
Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turks are advancing through the Balkans with Vienna in their sights and Constantinople, the Orthodox Greek capital, within their grasp. As Eastern Europe struggles against the tide of a Muslim advance it cannot counter, Western Christendom needs only one prize to overthrow its enemies.

Review:

This book was a pleasant surprise, the title gives a suggestion of the supernatural with the inclusion of the Vampyr, and the book all the while hints at it, but only in so far as what was perceived to be supernatural in the 1400’s, that’s the beauty of this book. The author takes you on a journey back to the Balkans of 1442, to a time of huge change and turmoil, clashing empires and religions, the end of the old Roman world and the rise of the Ottoman. Lucille Turner covers brilliantly the variances between the court of Vlad Dracul’s father and the court of Sultan Murad giving all the main players a very human face, a persona molded by circumstance and situation as much as personality. She weaves in the political players from all sides of Christianity, the orthodox and the Holy Roman empire, the old pagan Wallachian’s and the many variances between.

Can Dracul and others save the history that lies within Constantinople before its inevitable fall to the Ottomans? Lucille Turners portrayal of Vlad’s time in Murads court goes a long way to show his later personality and enmity with Mehmed II. The book as a whole brings to life a highly evocative view of the turning point of the world and the clashing empires.

Well worth reading.

(Parm)

 

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Fantasy and History: Writing Battle

With Pen and Sword

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I have been asked many times what the difference is between writing about historical battles and fantasy battles.  I suspect I’m going to disappoint you all; especially anyone who sees either genre as special and unique, and say that to me, they are often very similar.  There are differences; for example, considering the effect of a dragon on a medieval battlefield is virtually the definition of ‘speculative fiction’ and trying to imagine the impact of reliable aviation (as in, a hippogrif, or allied wyverns) on logistics or reconnaissance in a  medieval environment is almost as challenging.

But for me, the writer, both kinds of battle scenes are based on experience.  The experience comes to me in different ways; lived experience, like conducting electronic warfare in an aging S-3 Viking;

Military Career

reenactment experience, like commanding a thousand men (and women) in a recreation of a battle…

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Or second hand experience, like reading…

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Conn Iggulden: Dunstan (Review)

Conn Iggulden 
UK flag (1971 – )

2014-07-19-ConnIggulden.jpg
Conn Iggulden taught English for seven years before becoming a full-time writer. He is married with four children and lives in Hertfordshire, England.

Dunstan  (2017)
A novel by Conn Iggulden

From acclaimed historical writer Conn Iggulden comes a novel set in the red-blooded days of Anglo-Saxon England. Welcome to the original game for the English throne. The year is 937. England is a nation divided, ruled by minor kings and Viking lords. Each vies for land and power. The Wessex king AEthelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, readies himself to throw a spear into the north. As would-be kings line up to claim the throne, one man stands in their way. Dunstan, a fatherless child raised by monks on the moors of Glastonbury Tor, has learned that real power comes not from God, but from discovering one’s true place on Earth. Fearless in pursuit of his own interests, his ambition will take him from the courts of princes to the fields of battle, from exile to exaltation. For if you cannot be born a king, or made a king, you can still anoint a king. Under Dunstan’s hand, England may come together as one country – or fall apart in anarchy . . . From Conn Iggulden, one of our finest historical writers, Dunstan is an intimate portrait of a priest and murderer, liar and visionary, traitor and kingmaker – the man who changed the fate of England.

Review

So far from Conn Iggulden we have had Caesar, Genghis, Margaret of Anjou and the other major players in the War of the Roses…. So whom would he pick next, which shining light of history would he dazzle us with?

Dunstan? who the heck is Dunstan?

That is often the beauty of Conn Igguldens writing, the bringing to life of periods of history we know little or nothing about, or thought we knew something about and then Conn expands it into a colourful 3D world full of sights sounds and smells.

One of the earliest things i learned about Conn is that he was a teacher, oh how i wish for a teacher who could bring history to life so well. In the case of this book he takes the life of a Monk and he educates…. yes thrilling sounding isnt it! But Dunstan is no ordinary monk. In the same vein as Igguldens other highly successful series he starts with a Young Dunstan and takes us though those formative years showing how the personality and metal of the man is formed.

I really don’t want to give away much of the actual plot, but we follow the rise and fall and rise again of Dunstan’s star, a man who in Mr Iggulden’s own words was a Da’Vinci of his own time and place. The book is written in the first person and for me i think its the only way it could really be great, and it is, its wonderful. The book for me could have been set anywhere any when because its success is its characters, Conn writes them so beautifully, so filled with life and emotion that you cannot help but be swept along with them.  But fortunately for me and you reader its set in a world of flux, Vikings still stalk the coast, England as we know it is still being pulled together, the client kingdoms are straining at the leash and it will take a strong king, or kings, to keep it all together, and those kings need an adviser…. even one who isn’t always thinking of others.

This is a huge contender for Historical Fiction book of the year…. its going to take something stunning to knock it off the top. I’ve read two stand out books this year, one about a Nun, one about Monk. and they both head up Best Fantasy and Best Hist Fiction so far this year. Pre-Order what will be one of the outstanding reads of 2017.

(Parm)

Series

Emperor
1. The Gates of Rome (2002)
2. The Death of Kings (2004)
3. The Field of Swords (2004)
4. The Gods of War (2006)
5. The Blood of Gods (2013)
Gates of Rome / Death of Kings (omnibus) (2009)
Emperor (omnibus) (2011)
The Emperor Series Books 1-5 (omnibus) (2013)
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Conqueror
1. Wolf of the Plains (2007)
aka Genghis: Birth of an Empire
2. Lords of the Bow (2008)
aka Genghis: Lords of the Bow
3. Bones of the Hills (2008)
4. Empire of Silver (2010)
aka Khan: Empire of Silver
5. Conqueror (2011)
Conqueror and Lords of the Bow (omnibus) (2009)
The Khan Series (omnibus) (2012)
Conqueror Series 5-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
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Tollins
1. Tollins (2009)
2. Dynamite Tales (2011) (with Lizzy Duncan)
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Wars of the Roses
1. Stormbird (2013)
2. Trinity (2014)
aka Margaret of Anjou
3. Bloodline (2015)
4. Ravenspur (2016)
Wars of the Roses (omnibus) (2017)
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Novels
Dunstan (2017)
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Novellas
Blackwater (2006)
Fig Tree (2014)
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Series contributed to
Quick Reads 2012
Quantum of Tweed (2012)
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Non fiction
The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Yearbook (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do (2007)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get There(2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature Fun (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day Calendar (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and Fun (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Know(2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the World (2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar (2009) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book of Heroes (2009) (with David Iggulden)
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Filed under Conn Iggulden, Historical Fiction