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 – )

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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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John Owen Theobald: What the Raven Brings (Blog Tour and Review)

 

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John Owen Theobald
John Owen Theobald's picture

Born and raised in Eastern Canada, John moved to the UK to study the poetry of Keats, and in 2009 received a PhD from the University of St. Andrews. He lives in London, England.

John is the author of the Ravenmaster trilogy. At the height of the Blitz, 12-year-old Anna Cooper is sent to live with her uncle, the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London, and discovers that the fate of the kingdom is in her hands. Book 1, These Dark Wings, was released on 11 February 2016, and What the Raven Brings was released 1st Dec 2016 from Head of Zeus, UK.

book cover of What The Raven Brings

London, 1942: the Blitz is over but the war rages on. With the country still fighting for its existence, a young girl takes to the skies…

After her mother was killed in an air raid, Anna Cooper was sent to live with her uncle, the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. Now, he too is dead. His dying wish was for Anna to be the next Ravenmaster, keeper of the birds who, according to legend, guard the fate of the kingdom. But the Tower authorities won’t stand for a female Ravenmaster, let alone one who is not yet sixteen years old.

Denied her destiny, Anna is desperate to escape the Tower and join the war effort. She bluffs her way into the glamorous – and dangerous – world of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

But no matter how high she flies, Anna can’t escape her past… nor the secret that it conceals. A secret that could change the course of the war.

Guest Post

I set out to write the origin story of a supernatural legend, and went on to write about something very real but no less amazing: the courage and strength of women in wartime.

When I first heard the legend, ‘if the ravens leave the Tower of London, Britain will fall,’ I wanted to know where it came from. It turns out no one knows. Although the legend has been credited to everyone from Charles II to the Victorians, the first record of it isn’t until the 1950s.

So I wanted to write the origin story of this unexplained legend.

The Tower is a place of many superstitions, but this one – ‘Britain will fall’ – seemed to have its roots in war. The Blitz was Britain’s darkest hour, so I imagined this was the best time for a legend like this to take hold. It is easy to envision the people living in the Tower clinging to this belief, especially as the Blitz intensified and the ravens died, one by one, from starvation or bombing.

In These Dark Wings, the legend originates as a protective charm, as a sick old man, the first Ravenmaster, tells his terrified niece not to fear the Blitz: all she has to do is look after the ravens. They will keep Britain safe. So my character, Anna Cooper, a 12 year-old orphaned by the Blitz and sent to live at the Tower, ensures the survival of the legend.

In Book 2, What the Raven Brings, the war rages on and Anna (now 15) yearns to escape the Tower and join the war effort. She bluffs her way into the glamorous – and hazardous – world of the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce.

The ‘Attagirls,’ as they were called, piloted all kinds of aircraft, collecting Lancaster bombers from factories and delivering them to aerodromes, bringing Spitfires to airfields to be tested and armed, and taxiing pilots to Fighter Command in transport planes.

On top of the rigorous training involved, Anna has an additional problem. Fighting to earn her wings and prove herself, obstacles emerge from an unexpected source: men of the RAF who believe women have no place in the skies.

Because women were deemed unsuitable to be trained on the instrument panel (life-saving in bad weather), or the radio transmitter (life-saving when needing to check in with an RAF station), and since they were banned from flying planes fitted with weapons (life-saving during a run-in with a Luftwaffe raid), female pilots had the dangerously absurd job of flying the aircraft blind, deaf, and without weapons. And in Anna’s case, direct sabotage seems a chilling possibility.

The legend of the Tower ravens protects Anna in These Dark Wings, but in What the Raven Brings she has to learn to protect herself and those around her.

Anna was originally inspired by my grandmother, who lived in London throughout the war. I grew up listening to her stories about it all – the fear and sadness, but also the excitement and the mischief. For Book 2, I took inspiration from my other grandmother, who was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and one of the toughest people I ever knew. The stories of my grandmothers convinced me to try and pass on their fighting spirits with these novels, which have become a celebration of all kinds of strong women in wartime.

Review

A wonderfully written series, capturing the times with the feelings and mind of a child. The author has a fantastic ability to take you what ever your age and put you in place of Anna Cooper. When HOZ first passed on to me a copy of These Dark Wings i was skeptical, YA can be a hard genre to get right, to talk to that age group where they are starting to feel and be a bit more grown up, but also to appeal to the adults who dip so often into this genre. This author pulls it off with the trick of communicating to all at the same level, my father in Law does it with children, no matter the age he talks to them like they are grown ups, it works.

The writing has that wonderful sparse quality that still conveys so much meaning and sentiment, its exciting and consumes the reader, making them part of the story not just a voyeur. Its a series i highly recommend and one i look forward to reading more of

(Parm)

Series
Ravenmaster Trilogy
1. These Dark Wings (2016)
2. What The Raven Brings (2016)
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E. S. Thomson: Dark Asylum (Blog Tour Guest Post)

E S Thomson

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E. S. Thomson was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire. She has a PhD in the history of medicine and works as a university lecturer in Edinburgh. She was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award and the Scottish Arts Council First Book Award. Elaine lives in Edinburgh with her two sons.

 

The lips had been darned closed with six long, black, stitches. Clumsily executed, they gave the face a crude deaths-head appearance, like a child’s drawing scrawled upon a wall . . .

1851, Angel Meadow Asylum. Dr Rutherford, principal physician to the insane, is found dead, his head bashed in, his ears cut off, his lips and eyes stitched closed. The police direct their attention towards Angel Meadow’s inmates, but to Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain the crime is an act of calculated retribution, rather than of madness.

To discover the truth Jem and Will must pursue the story through the darkest corners of the city – from the depths of a notorious rookery, to the sordid rooms of London’s brothels, the gallows, the graveyard, the convict fleet and then back to the asylum. In a world where guilt and innocence, crime and atonement, madness and reason, are bounded by hypocrisy, ambition and betrayal, Jem and Will soon find themselves caught up in a web of dark secrets and hidden identities.

Guest Post

Writing Dark Asylum, E.S. Thomson

Although I set my books in London of the 1840s and 1850s, it is this history of medicine in Edinburgh that forms the background to much of what I write.   I can’t leave my house without being reminded of it.  Down the road from where I live, for instance, Scottish surgeon James Syme used to own a villa.  I pass his house every day.  James Syme lectured at Edinburgh University medical school throughout the mid 1800s.  He could excise a hip joint faster than anyone – without anaesthetic, of course.  Meanwhile, across town, James Young Simpson was experimenting on himself, trying out a new drug, chloroform, which was to revolutionise surgical procedures and make all areas of the body – including the brain – accessible to the surgeon’s knife. Not far from Syme, on the other side of Morningside Road, Thomas Clouston was building the Royal Edinburgh Asylum.  Ways of treating the mad varied greatly in the mid Victorian period, from incarceration and neglect, to more unusual but humane ‘hygienic’ practices.  Pioneered by Clouston, these included lengthy walks – or runs – around the asylum grounds, dancing, gardening, and the consumption of rich and sedating foods, such as custard.  

Thomas Clouston became one of the key supporters of the first generation of women doctors in the city.  Some years earlier, a young man named James Miranda Barry had graduated from Edinburgh University Medical School.  Barry worked as a surgeon in the British Army all his life. On his death he was found to be a woman, who had lived her entire life disguised as a man, entering the medical profession some sixty yearsbefore women were formerly permitted to receive a medical education.

Around the same time that Barry was at the University, and Syme was amputating legs before crowds of cheering students, a less orthodox medical man was lecturing on the new ‘science’ of phrenology.  Phrenologists believed that a person’s head might be measured and calibrated with a view to explaining their character traits and disposition.  Andrew Combe, and his brother George, both Edinburgh man, started a craze for head measuring that was to remain influential in some quarters of the medical profession for over forty years.

Over the road from the university medical school, a druggist named Flockhart plied his trade, providing James Young Simpson with chloroform, while across town, more medical men were establishing a physic garden that grew to be second only to Kew in terms of the size and magnificence of its collections.  Syme, Clouson, Simpson, Barry, all had their likenesses taken using the new and developing technology of photography.  In 1840s Edinburgh, two pioneers, Hill and Adamson, captured numerous images of the city and its inhabitants, demonstrating to the world the potential of the new medium.

All these ideas have found their way into my work.   I set my books in London, as I wanted a dark anonymous place which the intimate setting of my home city could not provide.  In terms of the medical profession that dominates my novels, however, Dark Asylum and Beloved Poison are pure Edinburgh.

Series
Jem Flockhart
The Blood (2017)
1. Beloved Poison (2016)
2. Dark Asylum (2017)
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