Monthly Archives: August 2012

Christian Cameron: Poseidon’s Spear Review

Christian Cameron

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

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice, currently age seven. He attends the University of Toronto when the gods move him and may eventually have a Masters in Classics, but right now he’s a full time historical novelist, and it is the best job in the world.

Christian is a dedicated reenactor and you can follow some of his recreated projects on the Online Agora. He’s always recruiting, so if you’d like to try the ancient world, the medieval world, or the late 18th century, follow the links to Contact Him

Book Description

Arimnestos of Plataea is a man who has seen and done things that most men only dream about. Sold into slavery as a boy, he fought his way to freedom – and then to everlasting fame at the Battle of Marathon where the Greeks crushed the invading Persians. Sometimes, however, a man’s greatest triumph is followed by his greatest sorrow.Returning to his farm, Arimnestos finds that his wife Euphoria has died in childbirth, and in an instant his laurels turn to dust. But the gods are not finished with Arimnestos yet. With nothing left to live for, he throws himself from a cliff into the sea, only to be pulled by strong arms from death’s embrace. When he awakes he finds himself chained to an oar in a Phoenician trireme. And so begins an epic journey that will take Arimnestos and a motley crew of fellow galley slaves to the limits of their courage and beyond the edge of the known world, in a quest for freedom, revenge – and a cargo so precious it is worth dying for.


As a self-confessed addict of Christian Cameron’s books I start to worry about the veracity of my reviews and opinions when a new book is due out, but as ever I will attempt, poorly, to describe his latest book.

Poseidon’s Spear is not your normal historical fiction title (but none of his books are) this book goes even further. You don’t get the steady build to a final battle, you don’t even get a final battle. You dont get the standard flawed man does good. You dont get hero and sidekick. You get something much more real, what you get is one persons personal journey through life, and in the case of Poseidon’s Spear though hell and back.

Poseidon’s Spear is one mans personal journey through a very dark period in his life. His battle against odds that would kill many a person, a journey through the bowels of the ancient world. A view of the depravity that men could inflict on other men in the ancient world (and lets face it still do).

We see this man, Arimnestos’s journey back, we see what true friends are worth and how rich a man truly is with real friends.

We see a man who has regrets and deals with them the same as each and every one of us does.

We see the Resurrection of Arimnestos of Plataea.

I have said since it came out that God of War was the book of the year 2012. I have now been proved a liar.

Poseidon’s Spear has now taken its place. I’m not a person to live the emotions of a book, I would normally read and enjoy the plot and style, but its impossible not to get sucked into the emotion of this book as well, to not to have to fight back the tears with Arimnestos, not to feel his pain to suffer along side him.

This was by far the most exhausting exhilarating book I have ever read physically and emotionally.

My highest Recommendation


Due out on Sept 13th 2012


Filed under Historical Fiction

Christian Cameron : Short Stories Tom Swan

Short stories for me are something new, im not sure i ever really knew if i liked them or not before, i don’t think i ever really read many because there are so many books to read.

Recently i was asked to have a bash at writing some short stories myself, it’s a strange experience, and the more i do it the more i learn. I have been fortunate enough that some very clever and impressive writers and people in publishing gave me some feedback that has shown me how I could progress my ability.

Then someone like Christian Cameron writes a short story (or a sequence of them) and suddenly I feel the full weight of the distance I have to climb just to be competent, let alone anywhere near as good as Christian Cameron.

Who is Christian Cameron?

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

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

Tom Swan and the Head of St George series


For the sake of up front honesty i have to post that I’m a HUGE fan of Christian Cameron’s books.

The reason for this is that he is the best writer in the historical fiction genre, probably the finest writer i have ever read.

There was a comment recently where it was said he writes for re-enactors, I disagree, i think he writes with the knowledge of a historian and the experience of a re-enactor. This brings the story to life in a much more real fashion… don’t take my word for it, ask all the historical fiction authors who also read his books and cast jealous glances at them.

I never thought anyone would match let alone beat the simple elegance of David Gemmell’s writing, but …well Christian Cameron’s books have me totally immersed in another world after just a few paragraphs, by the end of the book I’m utterly lost in another time.

Tom Swan is no exception. A character so real and so complex you are riding along his journey, not at his shoulder, but in his skin. Christian Cameron’s tireless search for knowledge and perfection of his understanding of every period he writes in, just makes the world as vivid fr me the reader as i suspect it is when the characters talk to him during the writing of the story.

I love the fact that these adventures will be coming out monthly

Book 1 (Out now 99p)

Book 2 (Out 20th Sept 2012 only 99p)

Book 3 (Out 18th Oct 2012 only 99p)

but i lament the fact that there will not be a full-blown series. As once again the writing astounds me.

Very Very Highly recommended


Product Description

1450s France. A young Englishman, Tom Swan, is kneeling in the dirt, waiting to be killed by the French who’ve taken him captive. He’s not a professional soldier. He’s really a merchant and a scholar looking for remnants of Ancient Greece and Rome – temples, graves, pottery, fabulous animals, unicorn horns. But he also has a real talent for ending up in the midst of violence when he didn’t mean to. Having used his wits to escape execution, he begins a series of adventures that take him to street duels in Italy, meetings with remarkable men – from Leonardo Da Vinci to Vlad Dracula – and from the intrigues of the War of the Roses to the fall of Constantinople.

And a bit more…

So to make sure we get many many more of these books…buy these 3. If they sell then we will get more of them.

And while you wait, if you have not read his other books, then look at all these amazing titles …some of the greatest books i have ever read.

Long War

1. Killer of Men (2010)

2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)

3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)

Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's Spear
Washington and Caesar (2003)
God of War (2012)
The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
The Long Sword (2014)
Washington and CaesarGod of War
1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
TyrantStorm of ArrowsFuneral GamesKing of the Bosporus


Filed under Historical Fiction

Mark Lawrence : King of Thorns Review

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled.
His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable
problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance
with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say
‘this isn’t rocket science … oh wait, it actually is’.
Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends
his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment,
brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.
The Prince of Thorns is his first published novel. It is the
beginning of a projected trilogy following the fortunes of
Honorous Jorg Ancrath.
 Broken Empire
1. Prince of Thorns (2011)
Prince of Thorns
2. King of Thorns (2012)
King of Thorns
3. Emperor of Thorns (2014)


The second book in this unique Fantasy/ Scifi blend. Firstly a must in my
opinion is that you read book one, King of Thorns just doesn’t work without
having experienced Prince of Thorns.

The main Character Jorg, so basic,
so simple and yet so complex and so diverse its an amazing feat to have achieved
on paper, for me something this complex comes with a fair bit of yawning and
desire to skip a few pages. But not with this book (or Prince) the clear writing
and story direction just enthrals the reader.

It is not however a book
you can sit there and tear through in a day, it has too much depth too much plot
for that, this is a week long read, a book to put down and stop and think
through whats happened and then go back for more. The writer has the ability to
take you on an emotional roller coaster through the eyes of Jorg (mainly) and
also through the eyes of Katherine which makes a great counter

The utter honesty of this book is what really grabs you,
when trawling the mind of someone like Jorg there must be times when the author
wonders “should i do this, should i go there?” and he never backs down its warts
and all, all the inglorious and hidden thoughts are there, to delight and
disgust the reader. Do i like Jorg? not a chance, does he fascinate me, yes and
that’s why i keep reading and reading.

Where does the story go next? only
Emperor of Thorns will tell us, because Jorg is keeping us in the dark on that

Not for the faint hearted but Highly recomended

Book Description
second book in the Broken Empire series, Lawrence takes his young anti-hero one
step closer to his grand ambition.

To reach greatness you must step on
bodies, and many brothers lie trodden in my wake. I’ve walked from pawn to
player and I’ll win this game of ours, though the cost of it may drown the world
in blood…

The land burns with the fires of a hundred battles as lords
and petty kings fight for the Broken Empire. The long road to avenge the
slaughter of his mother and brother has shown Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath the
hidden hands behind this endless war. He saw the game and vowed to sweep the
board. First though he must gather his own pieces, learn the rules of play, and
discover how to break them.

A six nation army, twenty thousand strong,
marches toward Jorg’s gates, led by a champion beloved of the people. Every
decent man prays this shining hero will unite the empire and heal its wounds.
Every omen says he will. Every good king knows to bend the knee in the face of
overwhelming odds, if only to save their people and their lands. But King Jorg
is not a good king.

Faced by an enemy many times his strength Jorg knows
that he cannot win a fair fight. But playing fair was never part of Jorg’s game

1 Comment

Filed under Fantasy

Robyn Young : Renegade


Robyn Young lives in Hove, and is the author of BRETHREN, the first novel in a trilogy set in the world of the Crusades. The author of numerous poems and short stories published in magazines and anthologies, Robyn has a Masters in Creative Writing with distinction from the University of Sussex. She teaches creative writing part-time in Brighton.


Book Description

King Edward of England marches on Scotland, his campaign to unite the British Isles under one crown inspired by an Arthurian prophecy. He has already crushed Wales; now he need only find the Staff of St Malachy, symbol of Irish nationhood, to achieve his implacable desire.
One man alone can thwart Edward’s plan. Leaving his war-torn home, Robert Bruce has sailed to Ireland, determined to find the Staff and keep it out of Edward’s hands. His veins run with the blood of kings and his destiny to fulfil his family’s claim to the throne of Scotland burns his mind.
But on the run through the wild country, hunted by a relentless assassin, Robert seems a long way from achieving his ambition. And there are other eyes on Scotland’s crown, old enemies gathering against him.
This is a game of conquest, power and treachery, and Robert finds that to survive he must first abandon everything he holds dear. He was always prepared to die on the battlefield – but what else must he sacrifice to keep his hopes alive?
RENEGADE is a dazzling story of conspiracy and divided loyalties, battle and betrayal, and a superb portrait of the medieval world


Robyn Young continues her latest series (Insurrection) with Renegade. Its an interesting choice for a series, write The Bruce wrong and alienate a chunk of Scotland, and she doesn’t, She has written his in a sympathetic but honest style. Battling against the overly ambitious grasping hands of the English Knights (who lets face it were just a bunch of Norman descendants)  Im not sure who (including the king) would feel safe around these guys. Survival and improved stature was a case of who can outdo the competition, who knew who, who knew what about who. The church wasn’t exempt from this they were all at it.

As with every book I have read by this author this book is laced with great characterisation,  great insight into the potential psyche of the time and a real passion for her chosen time period. That investment in her research comes across in every page, every paragraph and weaves a wonderful tale.

One of the real draws of this series is the familiarity of the names,  Edward I and William Wallace being two of the most notable,  but this series does not dwell on the main characters, Robyn Young instead weaves in a rich tapestry of characters and figures of the period giving a much more rounded and real story than the average wordsmith.

Even thought we know the ultimate fate of Robert the Bruce Robyn’s writing leaves you wondering if fate could be changed. Will see his ambitions fulfilled, will he remain the man he wants to be or cave to the scheming of those her despises? what compromises must he make as a man to be who he needs to be?

I’m rambling now, but there is so much depth to this book and series it makes you want to do that when you stop and think about it. Its going to be a long year waiting for book 3.

Very Highly recommended


Other Books

1. Brethren (2006)
2. Crusade (2007)
3. Requiem (2008)


Insurrection Trilogy
1. Insurrection (2010)
2. Renegade (2012)


1 Comment

Filed under Historical Fiction

James Douglas: The Isis Covenant

Who is James Douglas (AKA Douglas Jackson): (in his own words)

I was born in Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders in the summer of 1956. Educated at Parkside Primary School and Jedburgh Grammar School, I left three weeks before my 16th birthday with six O levels and no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

Luckily, a friend worked in the local employment office and got me a place on a Youth Opportunities Scheme. It turned out to be restoring a Roman marching camp at Pennymuir in the Cheviot Hills and I had a wonderful summer turning turf and dreaming of Romans.

Obviously, I couldn’t do that for the rest of my life. I was good at English and had a voracious reading habit, and my dad pointed me towards an advert for a junior reporter with the local paper – and changed my life. The next 30-odd years have been spent working in local and national newspapers and have brought me to where I am now; assistant editor of The Scotsman in Edinburgh.

Books have always been part of me. My father first took me to the library when I was about five. I probably made my first attempt at writing one a couple of years later and I’ve been trying, on and off, ever since.

I now live in Bridge of Allan, a lovely village on the doorstep of the Trossachs and I’m married to Alison and we have three children who never fail to make me terribly proud of them.

I enjoy watching rugby, and find life at its most relaxing by the river with a fly fishing rod in my hand, although I seldom disturb many fish.


The second in this series of books based around art recovery expert Jamie Sinclair. Book one the Doomsday testament The Doomsday Testament was a massive and wonderful surprise. There are so many thrillers of this type on the market but so many fall short of being a great thriller. Something of the quality of an early Jack Higgins WW2 thriller. Doomsday Testament was an equal to those books and doubly so because it was a debut thriller.

Great debuts are always a double edged sword, is it a flash in the pan? can it be equalled or beaten by book two? Thankfully for me, you and James Douglas yes he can equal it, in fact it beats book one for suspense, action, adventure, intrigue and story.

As in doomsday testament, the Isis Covenant blends the modern world with World War 2, add in a nice dose of Ancient history with the central aim being the recovery of the Crown of Dido. A legendary item hunted by Tyrants through the ages for its alleged ability to hold the answer to life/ Death. Our Hero Jamie has a price on his head, is it from his recent past and his butting heads with the remnants of the Nazi Regime? Who is the evil force killing people in such a gruesome fashion? What are they looking for? will they find it? and if they do what terrifying outcome will come to pass? I’m not giving away the plot, you need to buy the book to find out. But its Sooooo worth doing so.

As with book one the characters are so well written, so real and alive and this is no surprise because James Douglas is the pseudonym of one of my favourite historical writers none other than Douglas Jackson. Writer of so many fantastic books. It also answers why the history of these books is so real and vivid.

Caligula (Rufus 1)

Claudius (Rufus 2)

Hero of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 1)

Defender of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 2)

And once you have managed to work your way through the fantastic feast above there is also the latest in the Verrens series Avenger of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 3)

The only thing wrong with this book is that they didn’t do it in Hardback. This is a must read book, one not to miss.

Very Highly Recommended


Product description: AD 64 – Roman centurion Marcus Domitus leads an expedition to find the mythical treasure hidden deep inside Queen Dido’s temple. AD 1945 – In the confusion and chaos of a burning Berlin, two high-powered Nazis disappear, and so does a precious object. AD 2009 – Two families are brutally tortured and murdered in Boston and London, the crimes linked by a single name and a shared history. Art recovery specialist Jamie Saintclair receives a call from a Boston detective, asking for his help to investigate a brutal murder. She believes Saintclair might hold the key to solving the crime through his detailed knowledge of specialist Nazi units. But as they delve deeper into the sinister world of the occult, they uncover a dark secret that men have lusted over for more than two millennia. Long ago, in the ancient temple of Isis, something was stolen, and the repercussions have resonated through the centuries. Saintclair must discover the truth before the curse claims more victims, and finally catches up with him


Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Crime, Historical Fiction, Thrillers