Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ben Kane : Spartacus: Rebellion (Spartacus 2)


I have read Ben Kanes books since the very first one

Forgotten Legion Chronicles
The Forgotten LegionThe Silver EagleThe Road to Rome
The Gladiator
And like all great authors his writing gets better with every book. So it should be no surprise that i say this is his best book so far.
But its more that just a gradual improvement for this book. The book doesn’t rely on swords and sandals blood and gore or epic battles to help push the Plot / story on, it doesn’t appeal only to the blood and guts brigade.
It in fact goes the other way, if i had one disappointment it was every time i expected a battle i didn’t get one, the plot jumped forward a few days. But it didn’t diminish the book in any way in fact the book was far more emotional because of that. The reduction of battles made the fall out from battles won and lost more real, more human and utterly grim at times (not in a way that’s depressing, just showing that war isn’t fun and isn’t to be gloried)
There is no way to spoil the end of this book, we all know the fate of Spartacus and his men. So i feel safe in saying that escape from the encirclement in the toe of Italy was horrific and so well written. But it was the ultimate fate of the majority of the survivors of the last battle that was the crowning glory of the book. It was depressing, horrific, full of sorrow and pain and so well written you cannot help but feel anger at the brutality of Crassus and deep emotional pain for Carbo (the true star of this book) , Ariadne and her Son.
An excellent book that will go on my must be read again pile, and that’s a select group of books.
Simply an awesome read.
Very Highly recommended.

Book Description

Continuing the epic story of Spartacus, the gladiator slave general who held Rome to ransom through two years, SPARTACUS; REBELLION is a novel about one of the most extraordinary turning points in history, in which one remarkable man found immortality and became a legend.

From the Inside Flap


The mighty slave army, led by Spartacus, has carried all before it, shredding the legions of Rome. Who can stop him now, in his triumphant march towards the Alps and freedom?


Can Crassus, the richest man in Rome, raise an army big enough to stop him? Will the defection of Crixus the Gaul, and all his men, fatally weaken Spartacus? Or will murmurings of discontent within his vast army of slaves turn to outright rebellion?


While storm clouds mass on the horizon and spies and traitors stalk the land, Spartacus must face the most important choice of his life – forward , over the Alps to an an uncertain freedom, or back, to face the might of Rome and attempt to break its power over them forever.


July 26, 2012 · 8:36 pm

Angus Donald: Warlord Its here…read the review.

Book Description

May 1194. Finally released from captivity, Richard the Lionheart is in Normandy engaged in a bloody war to drive the French out of his continental patrimony. Using the brutal tactics of medieval warfare – siege, savagery and scorched earth – the Lionheart is gradually pushing back the forces of King Philip of France. By his side in this epic struggle are Robert, Earl of Locksley, better known as the erstwhile outlaw Robin Hood, and Sir Alan Dale, his loyal friend, and a musician and warrior of great skill and renown. But while the battles rage and the bodies pile up, Robin seems only to be interested in making a profit from the devastation of war, while Alan is preoccupied with discovering the identity the man who ordered his father’s death ten years earlier – and the mystery is leading him towards to Paris, deep in the heart of the enemy’s territory …


When i first started this series it was with a touch of eagerness, and a fair bit of trepidation. Robin Hood has always been a personal favourite of mine (i do share the name after all). I have read quite a few failed attempts at writing this great character, and seen some blooming awful films.

By the end of that 1st book i was amazed by the astounding piece of work that Angus had produced, so new and so fresh and so real. The wait for books 2 (Holy Warrior) and 3 Kings Man was eternal for some one who loves Historical fiction, and I’m sure he didn’t mind the hundreds of reminders to get the heck on with it.

So how did book 4 Warlord match up to its predecessors?

Its better, every book has got better than the last, yet this one takes a large leap froward in excellence. The writing and the plot as ever is realistic, dark, violent, dirty, visceral so many words. Its like opening a portal on the past and a more realistic past that the fanciful and simple rob the rich to feed the poor.

As usual Sir Alan Dale is the true star of the show, for any book you need to be able to relate to some degree with a character and Robin is just too much of a git to truly do that. A charismatic git a dramatic git a medieval Don Corleone of a loveable git. But Alan is the true multi-dimensional character the one you can see yourself in.

Earlier this year i said Christian Cameron’s God of War would be my book of the year for 2012. This book damn near proved me wrong. I do now have 2 books of the year, because i really cannot separate them. The Outlaw Chronicles is fast becoming one of my all time favourite series.

VERY Highly recommended.


Buy the book

Buy a signed copy:

Outlaw Chronicles
1. Outlaw (2009)
2. Holy Warrior (2010)
3. King’s Man (2011)
4. Warlord (2012)
OutlawHoly WarriorKing's ManWarlord

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Filed under Historical Fiction

Patrick Mercer : Doctor Watsons War

The Author: Patrick Mercer

Born in 1956, Patrick Mercer read History at Oxford University before joining the Army. He commanded his battalion in Bosnia and Canada. Previously receiving a gallantry commendation, he was awarded the OBE in 1997. In 1999, Patrick Mercer accepted a post as the Defence Reporter for the Today Programme. In the 2001 election, he won the Tory seat in Newark. A respected historian, he has already published a non-fiction account of the Inkerman battle during the Crimean War.

Doctor Watsons War

Product Description

Afghanistan. 1880. A bloodied but unbowed young medic must fight in a war that will test both his courage and conscience to its very limits. Despite his own wound, despite the howling tribesman hounding his every step back to the walls of Kandahar, he will not forsake the injured soldiers and victims of battle who he has sworn to treat and protect. The most difficult to save of all though is Alisha Kahn, the beautiful and enigmatic fighting queen -shot down as she led the Afghans against the British and brought to the dressing station by Private ‘Posh’ Williams, the gentleman ranker. Her warrior brothers want to save her, whilst the retreating troops can see no reason why she should live. The terror and nobility of the events fought across blood-soaked desert sands – culminating in the Battle of Maiwand – will scar and inspire Doctor John H. Watson forever. In this brilliant novella, Patrick Mercer tells the story of Sherlock Holmes’s great friend Watson’s formative years in the Army. It is a must-read for fans of Holmes, and for anyone who enjoys historical military fiction.


My only gripe about this story is that its too short, This so easily could have been a fantastic full length novel. For so long i have thought that the Holmes story centres too much on Holmes. While Watson clearly has a colourful and full history.
I thought that maybe Patrick Mercer may have compounded the short length of the story by also showing Watson as having a short experience in the forces. There could have been a rich and action packed series, at the least a series of short stories. I hope that Patrick Mercer has something up his sleeve for more of these that I’m missing.
This story shows the early days of Holmes and Watson and how Watson came to be the man he is and why he is living with Holmes. As is usual for Mercers books the history is impeccable, but its the experience as a soldier that he brings to the writing that always astounds me, so honest and so real that as a reader you get to experience all the action and drama on a personal level. With this story its also not just Watson who shines, its his fantastic sidekick Private Bowler, funny, real and for me the perfect sidekick, if Patrick Mercer cannot do more stories on Watson then do them on Bowler. If you have not read any of Patrick Mercers other books then i highly recommended them all.
Something else i found out is that Patrick Mercer is the same Patrick Mercer MP from my home town (quite glad i voted for him now).
So please  sir more of these short stories or a full book.

Other Fiction Books

Anthony Morgan Trilogy

1. To Do and Die (2009)

2. Dust and Steel (2010)

3. Red Runs the Helmand (2011)

To Do and DieDust and SteelRed Runs the Helmand

Non Fiction

Inkerman 1854: The Soldier’s Battle (1998)

Give Them a Volley and Charge! (1998)

Inkerman 1854: The Soldier's BattleGive Them a Volley and Charge!


Filed under Crime, Historical Fiction, Thrillers


The Author


M D Lachlan

A pseudonym used by Mark Barrowcliffe

Mark Barrowcliffe grew up in Coventry. He worked as a journalist and also as a stand-up comedian before giving it all up to write his first novel, Girlfriend 44.

Girlfriend 44 (2000)
 Infidelity for First-time Fathers (2001)
 Lucky Dog (2004)
Craw Series
1. Wolfsangel (2010)
2. Fenrir (2011)
3. Lord of Slaughter (2012)

WolfsangelFenrirLord of Slaughter



Description ( From Back of Book)

On a battlefield strewn with corpses, a ragged figure, dressed in wolfskin and intent on death, slips past the guards into the tent of the Emperor and draws his sword. The terrified citizens of Constantinople are plagued by mysterious sorcery. The wolves outside the city are howling. A young boy had traded the lives of his family for power. And a Christian scholar, fleeing with his pregnant wife from her enraged father, must track down the magic threatening his world. All paths lead to the squalid and filthy prison deep below the city, where a man who believes he is a wolf lies chained, and the spirits of the dead are waking. The Norsemen camped outside the city have their own legends, of the wolf who will kill the gods, but no true Christian could believe such a thing. And yet it is clear to Loys that Ragnarok is coming. Will he be prepared to sacrifice his life, his position, his wife and his unborn child for a god he doesn’t believe in

What a book, Myth, mystery, Saga, History, Magic and all woven together by one of the few capable of making all these elements blend without self combusting.
This is the third book in the Craw series
Craw  1. Wolfsangel (2010) 2. Fenrir (2011) 3. Lord of Slaughter (2012)
And quite frankly for me the best of the series. I cant quite put my finger on what makes this one work more than the previous two, maybe its just the right blend of all the above?
What has always struck me with MD Lachlan / Mark Barrocliffe’s writing is how like a norse saga it is. The writing drawing you to another time, another place. You can almost smell the fire as the Skald begins his tale. But its more than that with Lords of Slaughter, the writing has an atmosphere that is dark, moody, brooding almost in its intensity Like the hardly restrained power of the wolf. The writer cages elements of the plot to keep you under suspense until just the right moment when its released to carry you along to a fitting culmination to this stunning and epic book.
Brilliant book, brilliant imagination, and brilliant story telling skill
Highly recommended

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Filed under Fantasy

James Wilde : Hereward : The Devils Army


James Wilde is a Man of Mercia. Raised in a world of books, James studied economic history at university before travelling the world in search of adventure. He was unable to forget a childhood encounter in the pages of a comic with the great English warrior, Hereward. Wilde returned to the haunted fenlands of Eastern England, Hereward’s ancestral home, where he became convinced that this legendary hero should be the subject of his first novel. Wilde now indulges his love of history and the high life in the home his family have owned for several generations, in the heart of a Mercian forest.

Product Description

1067. The battle ofHastingshas been lost; Harold Godwinsson is dead. The iron fist of William the Bastard has begun to squeeze the life out ofEngland. Villages are torched and men, women and children put to the sword as the Norman king attempts to impose his cruel will upon this unruly nation.

But there is one who stands in the way of the invader’s savagery. He is called Hereward. He is a warrior and master tactician and as adept at slaughter as the imposter who sits upon the throne. And he isEngland’s last hope.

In a Fenlands fortress of water and wild wood, Hereward’s resistance is simmering.

His army of outcasts grows by the day – a devil’s army that emerges out of the mists and the night, leaving death in its wake.

But William is not easily cowed. Under the command of his ruthless deputy, Ivo Taillebois – the man they call ‘the Butcher’ – the Norman forces will do whatever it takes to crush the rebels, even if it means razing England to the ground.



When i first started Hereward: Devils Army it was looking forward to what should be a great read. Book one Hereward was a fantastic book (see review )

So it was very worrying to start the book and struggle to get into it.

So I took a step back remembering that I know you have to be in the right frame of mind for every author and every book you read. Its why my TBR pile is so fluid. On reflection I think I pushed myself into this one and wasn’t ready, I was more conscious of the publication date than being ready for it. (I had just finished 4 Historical Fiction books back to back and I usually take a breather in-between)….

After a particularly light hearted cheesy thriller I picked Hereward The Devils army up again, and it clicked immediately, how? why had i struggled?

All I know is that instantly I was submerged in what is a splendidly visual piece of writing. So many sights sounds and smells written so well you can experience them all intimately.  The characters grow again from book 1 to book 2, taking you further and further into life under the cosh of William Duke of Normandy. The side plots are all so enticing and aided the plot by giving the reader a much wider view of the realm at the time, rather than just the immediacy of Ely’s and Hereward’s experience.

When the threads finally pull together towards the final chapters its with such a sudden immediate increase in pace you really just cannot put the book down, even if you wanted too and the story is breath taking in its action, pace and horror.

So the worry for a debut author is always can you do it twice, can you repeat the eloquence of book one?

In this case Hell Yes!

Highly recommended


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Filed under Historical Fiction