Monthly Archives: April 2012

Stewart Binns: Conquest & Crusade

Stewart Binns began his professional life as an academic. He then pursued several adventures, including a stint at the BBC, before settling into a career as a schoolteacher, specializing in history. Later in life, a lucky break took him back to the BBC, which was the beginning of a successful career in television. He has won a BAFTA, a Grierson, an RTS and a Peabody for his documentaries. Stewart’s passion is English history, especially its origins and folklore. Conquest is his first novel.
Conquest 2011
Description 1066 – Senlac Ridge, England. William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, defeats Harold Godwinson, King Harold II of England, in what will become known as the Battle of Hastings.
The battle is hard fought and bloody, the lives of thousands have been spent, including that of King Harold. But England will not be conquered easily, the Anglo-Saxons will not submit meekly to Norman rule.
Although his heroic deeds will nearly be lost to legend, one man unites the resistance. His name is Hereward of Bourne, the champion of the English. His honour, bravery and skill at arms will change the future of England. His is the legacy of the noble outlaw.
This is his story.
Review “Conquest is a wonderful book. A compelling story, it is both a chronicle of a dramatic adventure and a tale of an enduring romance between two remarkable people: the heroic Hereward of Bourne and his beguiling wife, Torfida of the Wildwood.
I could not put it down and read it in just three sessions. It is a gripping page-turner, beautifully written, replete with wonderful historical detail. The author paints amazingly vivid pictures and uses the language with great skill and warmth.
My grandfather, Winston Churchill, would have loved this book. It enlivens one of the most important periods in our history and is very faithful to real historical events. I suspect that if he had read Conquest before he completed his History of the English Speaking Peoples, he would have included an appropriate acknowledgement of the worthy deeds of Hereward and his loyal band of followers.”
Celia Sandys, granddaughter of Winston Churchill
Reading Conquest was a mix of emotions, the plot pace and characterisations are very much like Bernard Cornwell, in fact it put me in mind of his Arthurian series. The book leads you on a journey of action and adventure as well as education of the time period, but on a note of caution the facts are well blended with many flights of fanciful fiction to make the plot as strong and pacey as it is. Reading the book makes any Englishman feel proud of his heritage, but also gives you an insight into how out character was formed over many years and through many cultures, without these trials and cultures there would have been no empire, no Victorian era, no resistance on WW1 and no stubborn refusal to hold out against the Nazis, the many adventurers explorers and the indomitable spirit may never have existed. that’s the biggest thing I took from the book.
This book comes well recommended.
Description from back of book
1072 – England is firmly under the heel of its new Norman rulers.
The few survivors of the English resistance look to Edgar the Atheling, the rightful heir to the English throne, to overthrow William the Conqueror. Years of intrigue and vicious civil war follow: brother against brother, family against family, friend against friend.
In the face of chaos and death, Edgar and his allies form a secret brotherhood, pledging to fight for justice and freedom wherever they are denied. But soon they are called to fight for an even greater cause: the plight of the Holy Land. Embarking on the epic First Crusade to recapture Jerusalem, together they will participate in some of the cruellest battles the world has ever known, the savage Siege of Antioch and the brutal Fall of Jerusalem, and together they will fight to the death.

Book one by Stewart Binns seems to have been a bit like marmite, you either loved it or hated it. I thought it was great and made an effort to get in touch and tell him so, and he was kind and polite enough to respond. Since that book one i have been looking forward to what he would produce next, and there has not be a massive amount of advance notice, but when it came i was concerned it might be a bit of the band wagon, the crusades are popular right now. Its not, what he has produced here is a very good well told credible tale of what might have been following on from Conquest: a book that for the first time ever made me stop and wonder why are the British reserved, why are they also adventurous, where does our mix of national make up come from, what forged this great nation.
Crusade goes one better and shows you the first founding layers of the type of people being created by the amalgamation of all these races and ideals and personalities.
Also for the first time since i started reading David Gemmell back in 1986 i think i now know who Druss the legend is modeled on, and i don’t know why it didn’t come to me reading book 1. Gemmell had a penchant for making some of his characters a mirror for characters from history EG: Ulric = Genghis. I think Hereward = Druss. I’m not sure if that made me love it more, but i suddenly saw in Hereward the same ideals, the same blunt honesty, the same brotherhood, the same implacable killer if he had to be, but ultimately a man who just wanted the world to be better. Stewart’s writing is not a new Gemmell, but to have his writing make me think of him, that’s impressive enough for me. The story..well read the blurb I’m giving none of the plot away. But the characters slowly come alive on the page, and it brought to life a period of history again i knew little to nothing about. That make it a winner for me
Im going to be very interested to see what book 3 brings.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Fiction

Book Launch at Goldsboro Books for the Excellent Leopard Sword by Anthony Riches and The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian

Book Launch at Goldsboro Books for the Excellent Leopard Sword by Anthony Riches and The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian.

The final day of my 2011/2012 annual leave was saved and rolled over to 2012/13 just so I had the ability to attend this launch, My projects were tidied away, my team set to report to a different manager and the wife organised to look after and pick up the granddaughter. I had freedom.

Laden down with gifts for what would not only be a highly anticipated double book launch but also a meeting of many of the review twitterati and many of the authors and publications people they admire and respect. to say that this was a highly looked forward to day would be to put it very very mildly.

I arrived at Charing Cross nice and early wanting to find where the Goldsboro Books shop was, out came the iphone, and up came Google maps. Anyone who has used this function will know that it puts a pin in your location and one in the destination and you just walk until they meet. Its a great idea…except when Google thinks Goldsboro is right outside Charing Cross station, literally about 10 steps to the right of the main entrance. So after binning that plan and also discovering that the tourist maps on the bus stops are about as useful as…well as a Google map app. I rang Nick B. and before long we were ensconced in the Spice of Life in Soho having a drink and some lunch waiting for the rest to arrive.

In True Twitter style the progress of all, Kate, Simon etc was monitored and updated online each person arriving to the strange half not sure look around the pub, The I sort of know who I’m looking for but not 100% because we have never met approach. But once met it was the same as online everyone gelled immediately, that shared love of reading and books making conversation so easy. Also joining us in the pub was a true gentleman Angus Donald, the second time I have met the man, and the second time I have been left thinking what a really nice man., and how much of the plot for the next book can we ply out of him with drink.

Time marched along at a rapid pace and before we knew it the pub was pointing out that the table we were at was reserved and we had to leave at 6.15pm, which was a timely reminder because none of us wanted to miss a minuet of the book launch.

I always find book launches strange, because I go as a fan, but also as a reviewer. But the with reviewer side of me I find myself so often feeling blessed by the fact that all the wonderful talented authors give me access to speak to them and ask questions, and look at their work, at these events I let the fan take the back seat, there are so many others who don’t have that access, who don’t get to chat to them, and so I hang back and watch. ( no I’m not a stalker, just being courteous). When standing back though you do get to observe just how nice and genuine these people, these authors are, and also how much they do get on as a community. In the same way as a corporate office on a night out, these authors share all these drivers, writing problems & passions and skills and they get to share those issues and successes. It makes the whole business so much more human and normal, rather than the celeb status it is so easy to ascribe to them.

The launch itself was a fun affair, with period costume for both Roman and civil war, With wine and nibbles (mmm cheese and pineapple on a stick). Goldsboro books its self is a fantastic venue crammed with wonderful books from the new to the old. Making me think I need to increase my house insurance because of the value of some of the books.

As the night went on the great and the lovely arrived at the launch, and I know I will forget some people, so to name a FEW! Conn Iggulden, Henry Venmore-Rowland, Ben Kane, Michael Arnold, The lovely Manda Scott and Robyn Young all on great form, and great fun to talk too.

Tony Riches as usual his normal outgoing boisterous self, one of the funniest authors I have met, and one of the most genuine people I have met. And well he might have been having fun last night as Leopard Sword is an absolute triumph. As I have put in my review, ‘his best book so far’ and I meant it.

 Giles on the other hand was not what I expected, a SUIT!! I have only ever seen him in his great coat and looking like he is off to survive nuclear winter. The man still scrubs up like the ex boy band member he is, Cutting a very handsome figure in the crowd, schmoozing away like a man born to the task, but always with a genuine smile of enjoyment from another true gent. I suppose the change in dress could mirror the total change in book for Giles, away from the blood and guts and violence of the Vikings to the British gentry and Pre civil war society…ok and then some blood and thunder etc.. but in a more gentlemanly fashion. Again my review is on my web site and on Amazon for what is an exceptional book and one I think that will surprise his army of Viking fans (but in a good way).

 And for me the star of the night Elizabeth Swain, the lovely lady who invites us to all of these events, who sends us reviewers the books to read, but most of all who is always there to welcome you with a genuine smile and to make sure you are ok and comfortable and have what you need. Truly the nicest person I have met in the business so far, and who seems to manage all this amazing hard work and make it look effortless. Thank you.

For all you readers out there the future is bright, the future has many many books in it, as long as we keep buying from these fantastic authors, men and women with great talent and vision, backed by hard work and dedication to get it all down on paper so that we have the next in the series. Given some of the conversations on the night there is so much more and even better to come.

Anthony Riches Page

Giles Kristian Page

See my other blogs for a chance to wins some books


Filed under Historical Fiction

Anthony Riches : Leopard Sword


Britannia has been subdued – and an epic new chapter in Marcus Valerius Aquila’s life begins.
The murderous Roman agents who nearly captured Marcus have been defeated by his friends. But in order to protect those very friends from the wrath of the emperor, he must leave the province which has been giving him shelter. As Marcus Tribulus Corvus, centurion of the second Tungrian auxiliary cohort, he leads his men from Hadrian’s Wall to the Tungrians’ original home in Germania Inferior.
There he finds a very different world from the turbulent British frontier – but one with its own dangers. Tungrorum, the centre of a once-prosperous farming province, a city already brought low by the ravages of the eastern plague that has swept through the empire, is now threatened by an outbreak of brutally violent robbery. A bandit chieftain called Obduro, his identity always hidden behind an iron cavalry helmet, is robbing and killing with impunity.
His sword – sharper, stronger and more deadly than any known to the Roman army – is the lethal symbol of his unstoppable power. And now he has moved beyond mere theft and threatens to destabilize the whole northern frontier of the empire . . .
Anthony Riches has over the last few years become one of my favorite authors, his uncompromising action packed fast paced and fun style of writing has led to a series of books that holds its head up among the elite of the genre and say “Bring it on bitches”.
This latest book in the series for me is the best so far, it has all the power, pace, action, sudden violence and drama of the earlier books, but also many other layers of passion, feeling, love story, comradeship, loss, devious chicanery and many more it really is a book with everything.
Our hero grows more  and more with every book and this one is no exception, but unlike many authors this book and series may have a hero but Anthony doesn’t centre everything around him, the rest of his friends and comrades grow with him, as people and characters, everyone from the little boy being trained to fight to his wife to his commander, we enjoy a story that envelopes everyone, with everyone having a major part to play.
All of the action in this book takes place in Germania Inferior instead of Britannia (as in previous books) and with Anthony’s subtle style we are shown a whole new world, a place vastly different and yet similar to Britannia with new  tribes &|religions and how they drive the populous. (this is another of the layers of this truly exceptional book).
if i could give this book 11 /10 i would: it really is a highlight for 2012 right up there with my current Favorite God of War by Christian Cameron (and that’s the highest accolade i can give it)
I’m exceptionally glad that book 6 The Wolf’s Gold will be out later this year.
Highly recommended


Filed under Historical Fiction

Robert Fabbri Rome’s Executioner (The second book in the Vespasian series)

Robert Fabbri Rome’s Executioner (The second book in the Vespasian series)

The Author

Robert Fabbri was born in Geneva in 1961. He was educated at Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham and London University. He worked for twenty-five years as an assistant director in the film and television industries. Having had his fair share of long, cold nights standing in the rain in muddy fields and unbearably hot days in deserts or stuffy sound stages he decided to start writing. Being a life-long ancient war-gamer with a collection of over 3,500 hand-painted 25mm lead soldiers and a lover of Roman Historical Fiction the subject matter was obvious. His first novel, Vespasian: Tribune of Rome, was published in May 2011 by Corvus, the genre imprint of Atlantic. The second book, Rome’s Executioner, will be published in May 2012. With the third book, The False God of Rome, already complete he has just embarked on book four which has a working title of Rome’s Fallen Eagle. There will be seven books in the series as well as spin-off short stories revolving around Vespasian’s friend Magnus and his crossroads brethren; the first of these, The Crossroads Brotherhood, will be published on Kindle on 25th December 2011.


Thracia, AD30: Even after four years military service at the edge of the Roman world, Vespasian can’t escape the tumultuous politics of an Empire on the brink of disintegration. His patrons in Rome have charged him with the clandestine extraction of an old enemy from a fortress on the banks of the Danube before it falls to the Roman legion besieging it.
Vespasian’s mission is the key move in a deadly struggle for the right to rule the Roman Empire. The man he has been ordered to seize could be the witness that will destroy Sejanus, commander of the Praetorian Guard and ruler of the Empire in all but name. Before he completes his mission, Vespasian will face ambush in snowbound mountains, pirates on the high seas, and Sejanus’s spies all around him. But by far the greatest danger lies at the rotten heart of the Empire, at the nightmarish court of Tiberius, Emperor of Rome and debauched, paranoid madman.


When i saw book one of this series last year i was very interested, Vespasian , a name to get any Roman History lovers pulse racing, this is a man involved in some very interesting points in Romes long and chequered history.

When you add to that the glimpse we have had of this man in Simon Scarrows Eagles series, im sure his future appearance in Henry Venmore-Rowlands new series (starting with the Last Caesar in June). This is not just an interesting figure, this is a man of the moment, it seems the time of the 4 emperors is something that we are heading towards in multiple books, and what an amazing ride it is.

Vespasian: Tribune of Rome in 2011 was an amazing book, and with every book two you worry that it cannot be repeated by a new guy on the block, was it a flash in the pan? Well certainly not in the case of Robert Fabbri and Rome’s Executioner.

For me the highlight of this series is similar to Conn Igguldens Emperor series, it’s taking a major figure from history but not from the record books, but taking him from birth, from the unknown years, breathing life into him filling in the details, the actions the thoughts the intimacies, the loves, the losses, the victories and the friends that might have shaped this person into the man he became, a Great Emperor who shaped an empire, and a dynasty.

The Emperor series launched Conn Iggulden into one of the shining lights of the Historical Fiction genre, and in my opinion the Vespasian series is its equal in writing and its superior with some of its characters. Fabbri’s battle scenes are simply brilliant, starting with a sudden ruthless explosive violence when needed, but also a slow steady burn, building in intensity for the major battles which leaves the reader the option of tearing through the chapters at light speed to get to the dramatic conclusion, or savoring each and every slash and cut and political maneuver (which in this book there are many).

to quote my good friend Kate “The False God of Rome is the next in the series and it can’t come soon enough.”

So in Summary: An action packed tour of the Roman world and its politics at its worst. And one of its greatest Success Stories. Vespasian.

Highly recommended.



Filed under Historical Fiction

Gemmell & Iggulden The Old & the New

I wanted to cover 2 of the best series ever written (in my personal opinion)

David Gemmell: Drenai

Image Hosted by

Legend (1984)  Druss, Captain of the Axe, the stories of his life were told everywhere. Instead of the wealth and fame he could have claimed he had chosen a mountain lair, high in the lonely country bordering the clouds. There the grizzled old warrior kept company with snow leopards and awaited his old enemy death. The Fortress Mighty Dros Delnoch, protected by six outer walls, the only route by which an army could pass through the mountains. It was the stronghold of the Drenai Empire. And now it was the last battleground for all else had fallen before the Nadir hordes. And hope rested on the skills of that one old man…..

Image Hosted by

The King beyond the Gate (1985)   Once the mighty fortress had stood strong, defended by the mightiest of all Drenai heroes, Druss, the Legend. But now a tyrannical, mad emperor had seized control of the fortress, and his twisted will was carried throughout the land by the Joinings — abominations that were half-man, half-beast. Tenaka Khan was a half-breed himself, hated by the Drenai for his Nadir blood and despised by the Nadir for his Drenai ancestry. But he alone had a plan to destroy the emperor. The last heroes of the Drenai joined with him in a desperate gamble to bring down the emperor — even at the cost of their own destruction

Image Hosted by

Waylander (1986)   The Drenai king is dead – murdered by a ruthless assassin. Enemy troops swarm in to Drenai lands. Their orders are simple – kill every man, woman and child. But there is hope. Stalked by men who act like beasts and beasts that walk like men, the warrior Waylander must journey into the shadow-haunted lands of the Nadir to find the legendary Armour of Bronze. With this he can turn the tide, but can he be trusted? For he is Waylander the slayer. The traitor who killed the king…

Image Hosted by

Quest for Lost Heroes (1990)   The Drenai people are enslaved, and the Nadir reign has begun. But in the tiny realm of Gothir a group of slavers seize a peasant girl and set in motion a chain of events that will shake the world of the living and stir the worlds of the dead. A quest spanning two spheres, a soul waiting for vengeance Kiall, a romantic farm boy, seeks the aid of Chareos the Blademaster to rescue the girl, Ravenna. In company with Beltzer of the Axe, the archers Finn and Maggrig, and the mysterious Tattooed Man, they set off into Nadir lands – where dark forces oppose them. As their quest lures them through the Gateway of Time and the Valley of the Damned, the demons of the dark await. But the quaestors are no ordinary men, they are the Heroes of Bel-Azar and one among them holds a secret that could free the world of Nadir domination. For he is Nadir Bane, the hope of the Drenai, the heir to a legendary title. He is the Earl of Bronze.

Waylander II (1992) In the mountains of Skeln, high among the pine forests and the peaks, the woodsman, Dakeyras, and his beautiful daughter, Miriel, live a life of tranquil solitude. Not for them the fears of coming wars, the gathering of armies, and the dreams of the mighty. Yet now grim-eyed warriors stalk the mountains, trained assassins, killers for hire. Men like Morak, the deadly swordsman with a taste for torture, Belash, the Nadir Bladesman, nursing dreams for revenge, and Senta the Gladiator, who has never known defeat. Their orders are simple. Ten thousand in gold for the man who kills the woodsman. Easy wealth for battle-hardened warriors. Or so they believe. But Miriel is a woman of fire and iron, skilled with bow and blade, taught her skills by one of the deadliest killers of all time….. Her father, Dakeyras. Better known to history as Waylander the Slayer.

Image Hosted by

The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend (1993)   Druss the Legend, Saviour of Skeln Pass. Protector of Dros Delnoch. The most famous – and dreaded – of Drenai’s heroes. But what lay behind the legend of the man known as the Captain of the Axe, so named for the mighty weapon, Snaga? From whence did he come? What drove him to become the scourge of the Nadir, the Vagrians and the Ventrians? In these early tales we find Druss as a young husband hewing trees rather than foes, temper kept in check – most of the time – by his beloved wife, Rowena. But when she is stolen by slavers, a more deadly Druss emerges….. a druss that even the mightiest should fear. And thus we begin to learn the secret of Snaga, and of Druss himself. And the slaying begins.

Image Hosted by

The Legend of Deathwalker (1996)  Under the brutal oppression of the Gothir, the Nadir tribes dream of the Uniter, the Great One, who will bring the tribes together and end their centuries of torment. But for one man it is more than a dream. Talisman, a mysterious and enigmatic Nadir warrior, rides out to the Shrine of Oshikai Demon-bane, seeking the legendary eyes of Alchazzar, twin jewels of enormous power that will light the path to the uniter. With him rides the beautiful Zhusai, a mystic tormented by the ghost of a long-dead Nadir queen. But others desire the secret of the jewels. Garen-Tsen, the sadistic power behind the Gothir throne, believes the magical gems will lead him to glory, and send the elite soldiers of the Gothir army to sack the shrine, and butcher the few defenders. They cannot lose; five thousand men against a handful of savages and a renegade Drenai warrior. But the savages are led by one of the most brilliant strategists of the day. And the renegade is Druss the Legend.

Image Hosted by

Winter Warriors (1997)   The prophecy was clear. Upon the death of three kings the world will be plunged into chaos, and all the cast-out demons of history will return to bring blood and horror to the world. Two of the kings are dead. The third, about to be born, is hunted by the Demon Riders of the Krayakin, Lords of the Undead. All the terrifying forces of evil range against a pregnant queen at bay in a haunted forest. But she is not alone. Three warriors stand with her : the last remnants of the once proud Drenai army. Three old men, ancient heroes, discarded by the king : Nogusta the Swordsman, Kebra the Bowman, and the hulking fighter, Bison. The fate of empires rests on their fading skills as they journey through a tormented world on a perilous quest to save the unborn king.

Image Hosted by

Waylnder 3 Hero in Shadows (2000)   The ruined city of Kuan-Hador reeks of dark mystery. Shunned by brigands and merchant alike, it is home to fearsome things – slavering white beasts who possess an insatiable appetite for death and destruction. The sorcerers and their foul minions will soon be free to wreak a horrible vengeance upon all that lives. Only a rag-tag group of unlikely heroes are prepared to stand against them : Kysumu, the Rajnee swordsman; Yu Yu Liang, a humble ditch-digger with dreams of glory; Keeva Taliana, a warrior woman as fierce as she is beautiful; and the mysterious Grey Man, a man with a blood-drenched past known throughout the land of the Drenai as Waylander, the Slayer. Now, to defeat a timeless evil, an ancient riddle must be solved, and Waylander, the prince of assassins, must kill a man who cannot die…

Image Hosted by

White Wolf (2003)   kilgannon the Damned had vanished from the pages of history. No-one knew where he had gone, and the assassins sent by the Witch Queen could find no trace of his passing. Three years later, as a mob intent on murder gathers outside a distant monastery, they are faced by a single unarmed priest. In a few terrifying seconds their world is changed for ever, and word spreads across the lands of the East….. Skilgannon is back. Now he must travel across a perilous, demon-haunted realm seeking a mysterious temple and the ageless goddess who rules it. With assassins on his trail and an army of murderous foes ahead, the Damned sets off on a quest to bring the dead to life. But he does not travel alone…. The man beside him is Druss the Legend. In a world torn by war, White Wolf is a page turning tale of love, betrayal and treachery, which examines the nature of heroism and friendship and the narrow line that divide good from evil, redemption from damnation.

Image Hosted by

The Swords of Night and Day (2004)   A thousand years after they fell in battle, two heroes – Druss and Skilgannon – are revered throughout the war-torn lands of the Drenai. Yet men and women live in abject fear of the Joinings, abominable meldings of man and beast, and of their mistress, the dark sorceress known as the Eternal. None can stave off these ruthless foes. But what if the soul of one such hero could be called back from the void, his bones housed again in flesh? An ancient prophecy foretold that Skilgannon would return in his people’s darkest hour. To most, this is a foolish hope. But not so to Landis Kan. For years, as the power of the Eternal grew, Kan searched for the tomb of Skilgannon the Damned. And at last, he found it, gathering up the bones and performing the mystic ritual. But the reborn hero is an enigma : a young man whose warrior skills are blunted and whose memories are gragmented. This Skilgannon is a man out of time, marooned in a world as strange to him as a dream, remote from all he knew and loved. Or nearly all. Before bringing Skilgannon back, Landis Kan had experimented upon other bone fragments found in the hero’s tomb. That ritual resulted in a surly giant who possessed astounding strength, but no memories. To Kan, he is a dangerous failure. To Skilgannon, this giant represents thier last hope. As the ageless evil of the Eternal threatens to drown the Drenai lands in blood, two legendary heroes will once again lead the way to freedom.

Conn Iggulden: Ghengis

Image Hosted by

Wolf of the Plains Synopsis This is the brand new novel from the No.1 best-selling author of “Emperor”, his series on Julius Caesar. His new novel, “Wolf of the Plains”, is the much anticipated beginning of the “Conqueror” series on Genghis Khan and his descendants. It is a wonderful, epic story which Conn Iggulden brings brilliantly to life. “I am the land and the bones of the hills. I am the winter.” Temujin, the second son of the khan of the Wolves tribe, was only eleven when his father died in an ambush. His family were thrown out of the tribe and he was left alone, without food or shelter, to starve to death on the harsh Mongolian plains. It was a rough introduction to his life, to a sudden adult world, but Temujin survived, learning to combat natural and human threats. A man, a small family, without a tribe was always at risk but he gathered other outsiders to him, creating a new tribal identity. It was during some of his worst times that the image of uniting the warring tribes and bringing the silver people together came to him. He will become the khan of the sea of grass, Genghis.

Review: Quite simply a great read, one of my top 5 books of this year, alongside Simon scarrows Eagle in the sand & Young Bloods, Alex Scarrows A Thousand suns and David Gemmells Shield of Thunder. I have enjoyed all of Conns books to differing degrees’, his best until now was his debut Gates of Rome, but this new book blows that away. I suppose some of this may be due to the fact that little is known about Genghis in his early years. I do find myself making parallels with David Gemmells Nadir nation, which I think is a compliment to Conn’s work (I’m A big Gemmell Fan). The book its self, follows the young life of Temujin, through the trials of growing up in the harsh inhospitable plains of the Mongol nation through ..well I’m not saying how far this book takes him, (that would just spoil it), but the journey is an amazing one, he either had more luck than any thousand people combined deserved or he was just an amazingly resourceful cunning and driven person. The book is so well written you feel the pain and suffering of the boy and later the man, you can feel the will power he exudes over himself and his people. It Took me 2 days to polish off this book…and thats including going to work. I have now read it twice, the 2nd time i read it slowly over a week, and if anything my enjoyment increased with the 2nd reading. This is a must read…do not miss out on this book!

Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden


The powerful and exhilarating third novel in Conn Iggulden’s No. 1 bestselling Conqueror series, following the life and adventures of the mighty Genghis Khan The fatherless boy, exiled from his tribe, whom readers have been following in ‘Wolf of the Plains’ and ‘Lords of the Bow’, has grown into the great king, Genghis Khan. He has united the warring tribes and even taken his armies against the great cities of their oldest enemies. Now he finds trouble rising west of the Mongolian plains. His emissaries are mutilated or killed; his trading gestures rebuffed. So, dividing his armies, using his sons as generals of the various divisions, he sends them out simultaneously in many directions, ranging as far as modern Iran and Iraq. As well as discovering new territories, exacting tribute from conquered peoples, laying waste the cities which resist, this policy is also a way of diffusing the rivalries between his sons and heirs and working out who should succeed the khan. This, the third book in the Conqueror series, is once more an epic story. Genghis Khan is an exhilarating and heroic figure.The sense of his ambition and his power, the relationships with his wives, sons and trusted aides, the sweep of his conquests, is all brought together by a masterful storytelling. It is a compelling read. With each book, you are left, even more, longing for the next.


Empire of Silver (The fourth book in the Conqueror series) (2010)   Synopsis The eagerly awaited 4th novel in the bestselling Conqueror series, continuing the life and adventures of the mighty Khan dynasty. Genghis Khan is dead, but his legend and his legacy live on. His son Ogedai has built a white city on a great plain and made a capital for the new nation. Now the armies have gathered to see which of Genghis’ sons has the strength to be khan. The Mongol empire has been at peace for two years, but whoever survives will face the formidable might of their great enemy, China’s Song dynasty. The great leader Tsubodai sweeps into the west: through Russia, over the Carpathian mountains and into Hungary. The Templar knights have been broken and there is no king or army to stop him reaching France. But at the moment of Tsubodai’s greatest triumph, as his furthest scouts reach the northern mountains of Italy, Tsubodai must make a decision that will change the course of history forever.

Review Book four takes the story to the next stage, Genghis is dead and the legacy must go on, i was worried that this would mean that the story would get bogged down in detail of intrigue and lose its flow. But i should know better with Conn, his story telling ability seems to grow with each passing book. This book, though does not have the same frantic pace of empire expansion building as the others, the first three books are the birth of an empire and have that raw power and pace you expect from the creation of something new. book four is more like the patient building of something solid. I came away at the end of the book having enjoyed the heady battles across Russia and the chin lands but also feeling educated, like i had learnt more than i had with the previous books, and that didn’t mean the book lacked pace and flow, and it wasn’t just the very well worded epilogue, it just felt like it was maturing. I’m now left wondering if this isn’t the best book in the series….although i did love wolf of the plains with its race pace and energy. again 9/10



Conqueror  Book Description The one and only Conn Iggulden takes on the story of the mighty Kublai Khan. An epic tale of a great and heroic mind; his action-packed rule; and how in conquering one-fifth of the world’s inhabited land, he changed the course of history forever. A scholar who conquered an empire larger than those of Alexander or Caesar. A warrior who would rule a fifth of the world with strength and wisdom. A man who betrayed a brother to protect a nation. From a young scholar to one of history’s most powerful warriors, Conqueror tells the story of Kublai Khan – an extraordinary man who should be remembered alongside Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte as one of the greatest conquerors the world has ever known. It should have been a golden age, with an empire to dwarf the lands won by the mighty Genghis Khan. Instead, the vast Mongol nation is slowly losing ground, swallowed whole by their most ancient enemy. A new generation has arisen, yet the long shadow of the Great Khan still hangs over them all … Kublai dreams of an empire stretching from sea to sea. But to see it built, this scholar must first learn the art of war. He must take his nation’s warriors to the ends of the known world. And when he is weary, when he is wounded, he must face his own brothers in bloody civil war.

Review This for me was a very eagerly anticipated book, but i was never quite sure what to expect. There was always the lead that this book was to be about Kublai Khan, and to a degree it is, but not in the way i expected, and that’s not a bad thing, having read so much it’s not often I’m surprised by an author. What surprised me most was the whole encompassing picture that Conn Iggulden has managed to cover in this one book, Yes its a 500+ page title, but the ground covered would take some authors 1000+ pages, yet Conn misses nothing, retains the action, retains the depth of detail and quality of writing. If anything was missing it was the wild pace of Wolf of the Plains, but that slowing of pace matches the story, Wolf of the plains is the Wild abandon of Genghis, where as Conqueror is the maturing of a nation, the education and building of Kublai. What i think pleased me most was learning about new characters from history, Guyuk, Uriang-Khadai, Arik-Boke and Mongke and their actions that led to the creation of the man Kublai Khan, the man the was needed to carve out a place in history, without the actions of the others he may well have been a scholar or a monk and vanished into obscurity, and who knows what would have happened to that part of the world…or the world as a whole? What thrills me even more is that at the end of the book, there is still at least a whole book if not a whole series still hidden away for Mr Iggulden to come back to, Like the empire series there is no real end, there is just a point in history reached that means the tale is paused. Conn I for one will be nagging you to come back to this, while i liked the empire series, I have loved the Genghis series, Wolf of the Plains being my favourite book you have written. I highly recommend this book and this entire series not just to fans of Historical Fiction, but also to fantasy fans, thriller fans ..anyone..anyone who loves a great read well written and well told by a natural story-teller.

My Meandering thoughts

Dotted among the synopsis of the Gemmell books you will note the mentions of the Nadir, a people who Gemmell has clearly modeled on the Mongol Nation, A great leader Ulric with strikingly different coloured eyes, Genghis Khan the man who unites the Mongol Tribes a man with strikingly different coloured eyes. It’s not genius deduction.

What is Genius is the story telling by these 2 excellent writers, both with an innate ability to tell a story in what for me is an older style, a way that in centuries past would have seen them as troubadours or a minstrels, travelling storytellers who travelled from hearth to hearth earning their living telling oral tales by firelight, although given the quality of these two even in the ancient world i think they would have found fame and fortune.

What i also love about the parallels in these stories is something i have thought for some time. There is not much of a gap between Fantasy and Historical Fiction.

You need to understand and research different nations and the way they lived and fought for both genre, (just to different degrees) you need to understand how fighting works (with swords and bows etc) you need to understand how to ride horses, you need to keep a coherent timeline and detailed character tree, who died when etc.

Ultimatly there is a lot of snobbery in the two genres and people stick to the one sie or the other, but more and more people are seeing the cross over…so why dont you take the leap and read these books by 2 of the best writers and 2 of the nicest people you will ever meet.

I still have a few signed books by both authors left’David Gemmell’’Conn Iggulden’



Filed under Fantasy