SJA Turney Priests Tale Review


Author Bio (in his own words)

I live with my wife, my crazed lunatic son and very vocal baby daughter, and two (close approximations of) dogs in rural North Yorkshire, where my wife and I both grew up, surrounded by friends and family. A born and bred Yorkshireman with a love of country, I cannot envisage spending my life anywhere else, though my anchor is sometimes tested as the wanderlust hits and we travel wherever I can find the breathtaking remains of the classical world. I have a love of travel and history, architecture and writing and those four interact well enough to keep me almost permanently busy.

Since leaving school and University, I have tried a great number of careers, including car sales, insurance, software engineering, computer network management, civil service and even painting and decorating sales. I have lived in four counties and travelled as widely as time and budget allowed and find myself, on the cusp of my fortieth year, back where I began and finally doing something I love.

Having written a number of unpublished short stories in my early days, I decided back in 2003 to try and write a full length novel. That was the start of Marius’ Mules. Being a lover of Roman history, I decided to combine my love of writing and my love of classical history. Marius’ Mules was followed two years later by Interregnum, my attempt to create a new fantasy story still with a heavy flavour of Rome. Since then, the success and popularity of both have inflated my head so that I can no longer comfortably fit through doors, and has spawned sequels to each work, with a third in the fantasy series and the fourth Marius’ Mules now complete.

I maintain another website detailing the Roman sites I visit and photograph here, and write a blog you can find here. Find me on twitter as @sjaturney. I am an almost terminally chatty person. That’s just a due warning if you feel like contacting me (on the left hand menu.) I am always happy to speak to people and have just put together an FAQ gathered together from things I have been asked previously.

Author Web site


Layout 1

Crete, 1492.

After a sojourn of more than a year on the Venetian-controlled island , Skiouros has learned the art of the sword, the languages of his peers and his enemies and everything he believes he needs to know in order to begin his great quest: to seek the death of the one remaining conspirator in the plot responsible for his brother’s death. Circumstances collide, forcing the former thief to set forth on his journey, with the aid of his old friends Parmenio and Nicolo.

Meanwhile, far across the Mediterranean, a small fleet of Turkish galleys is engaged in a last desperate attempt to preserve Islamic influence in the Iberian Peninsula.  While the great naval commander Kemal Reis battles to save a lost people, his subordinate burns to sack, destroy and murder every hint of Christian life in the west.

When the Isabella, complete with the three companions and a young Italian nobleman, cross paths with the violent Ottoman would-be pirate, things turn sour and Skiouros finds himself driven ever further from his goal, bringing him to face some harsh and unsettling personal truths. Skiouros is about to be tested to the limits of his endurance, with his very life at stake.

Priests Tale Review

Reading this book was a very interesting experience.

Firstly because Simon Turney is such an excellent writer. Every book leaves me astounded that he still self publishes. But that self publishing seems to give him a freedom of style and expression as well as release schedule.

What I expected from Priests Tale was a book packed full of vengeance, action and adventure, of Skiouros next trials in seeking the revenge for the death of his brother Lykaion. (in Thiefs Tale)

This to some degree is what I got, the book is indeed packed with action, adventure and a thirst for vengeance. Only the vengeful beast we see isn’t Skiouros, it is Etci Hassan the dark brooding captain of a Turkish ship, a man burning with the flames of Jihad against the Christian nations. This hatred brings him in direct conflict with Skiouros, Captain Parmenio, Nicolo and a wonderful new character Master Cesare Orsini.

The conversational interplay between these characters is so natural so charismatic it draws the reader into the plot, wraps them in the intrigue and comradeship and takes them on a journey through the world of slavery and Tunis.

What I had expected to be a story of all out action, in fact turned out to be a story of comrades, of men finding out who they are deep down, when push came to shove would they run or would they stand, what does a friend truly mean, how much would you give up for them, how much can comradeship and friendship change a persons soul. All these things and more are explored and covered either overtly or covertly within the text.

When you combine this level of skilful writing with the fun and adventure that Simon imbues the story, you end up with a top class book, one that thrills form the first page to the last.

From a personal extra enjoyment I know that Simon has named some of the main characters for some friends (for which I am personally honoured with Captain Parmenio). Its something that will always bring a smile to my face (and at the same time would not influence my view of the book). What did surprise me, in a good way, was how little traits, personality idiosyncrasies had also crept in. (and I don’t just mean Nicolo’s love of the grape). I’m sure some of this is deliberate, but i do wonder if some also crept in subconsciously, Does the author realise how much of himself is in Skiouros? All of this does however give an extra depth to the story.

This is a must buy, because we should support great writing, and because its a fantastic book

Highly recommended


Other titles (Visit Simon’s web site and book store)

Marius’ Mules
1. The Conquest of Gaul (2009)
aka The Invasion of Gaul
2. The Belgae (2010)
3. Gallia Invicta (2011)
4. Conspiracy of Eagles (2012)
5. Hades’ Gate (2013)
The Conquest of GaulThe BelgaeGallia InvictaConspiracy of EaglesHades' Gate
 Tales of the Empire
1. Interregnum (2009)
2. Ironroot (2010)
3. Dark Empress (2011)
InterregnumIronrootDark Empress
 Ottoman Cycle
1. The Thief’s Tale (2013)
The Thief's Tale


Filed under Historical Fiction

4 responses to “SJA Turney Priests Tale Review

  1. Excellent review, Parmenio…I concur on all levels.

  2. Robert Begel

    I have followed the Marius’ Mules saga with great appreciation for the detailed accounts of life in the Legions of Caesars time. I eagerly consumed the three other novels, beginning with Interregnum but was cast ashore after finishing Hades Gate. When can we expect MMVI?

  3. Pingback: Parmenion Books 2013 in review | parmenionbooks

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