James Douglas: The Excalibur Codex (review)

Biography of Douglas Jackson

Douglas Jackson Author

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

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

Obviously, he couldn’t do that for the rest of his life. He was good at English and had a voracious reading habit, and his dad pointed him towards an advert for a junior reporter with the local paper – and changed his life. The next 30-odd years were spent working in local and national newspapers before he sat down in 2005 to work on a ‘project’. After a year of writing on the train and whistling the theme to the Great Escape he finally reached The End, and the project became a book. That book was The Emperor’s Elephant, which, with a bit of help from Youwriteon.com, eventually became Caligula and Claudius. which were bought by Transworld for a ‘six figure sum’. When the publishers offered him a second deal to write three more books, he decided with the support of his family to try writing full time. He has now published five historical novels and two thrillers (as James Douglas), with a further five books in the pipeline

Doug now lives in Bridge of Allan, a lovely village on the doorstep of the Trossachs and is married to wife Alison. They have three children who never fail to make him terribly proud.

He enjoys watching rugby, and finds life at its most relaxing by the river with a fly fishing rod in my hand, although he seldom disturbs many fish.

Click to visit Author Web site

Book Description

excalibur

For countless generations the sword had been kept hidden, ready for a time of need. But not hidden well enough, because on one warm July night in 1937 it vanished — its disappearance swallowed up in the storm clouds of war that would soon engulf the world.

1941 — twelve SS generals gather at a castle in East Prussia to re-enact an ancient rite and call on the spirits of Europe’s mightiest warriors to aid them in the coming battle in the East. At the heart of the ritual is a pentagram formed by five swords. One of them is Excalibur, the mythical weapon pulled from a stone by King Arthur.

2010 — Art recovery expert Jamie Saintclair laughs when he reads the codex to a German war veteran’s will, the strange ritual it describes and the mention of a sword named Excalibur. But collector Adam Steele is convinced — and if Jamie can find the legendary sword, he will pay a small fortune for it. The hunt for Excalibur takes Jamie from Germany to eastern Poland and a deadly encounter in Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair. The castle has been destroyed down to the last stone and the only clue to the sword’s fate is the strange tale of a wartime partisan unit murdered by its own commander.

With a team of international assassins on his trail and the distinction between friend and enemy a blur, Jamie finally makes it back to a Britain under siege, where the last piece of the puzzle falls into place and he discovers that the line between obsession and madness is gossamer thin.

Review

At first glance you could be forgiven for lumping this book in with many of the other conspiracy thrillers that are out there on the market. The cover is a bit stock standard (sorry Doug). But James Douglas (AKA Douglas Jackson), has far to good a pedigree for something as mundane as a fanciful treasure hunt, there will always be greater levels, there will always be fantastic multi faceted characters. Characters that you find yourself bonding with on an emotional level, when chips are down and lives are imperilled or lost.

Jaime Saintclair is a wonderfully real character, he doesn’t do anything over the top, he isn’t a one man walking A Team, he isn’t a hidden Einstein. He is a man who knows his art, and has the benefit of a good eduction, and a habit of landing himself in the brown stuff.

But it isn’t just the characters who make this story. If it was just those characters and a splendid mix of action, adventure, ancient relics with the fabled sword of Arthur then it would still only be pulling slightly ahead of the huge pack of books of this ilk. But what makes this book is what the sword is wanted for, what it was used for, and what is intended for this country.  Its this part of the plot that takes this book to a different level. It is at times disturbing, scary and in the current world climate, so potentially real its scary. (although my money would be on the USA rather than the UK… we don’t have that level of polarisation within the nation). Its the potential for a new holocaust that left me feeling uncomfortable, disturbed and at the same time hooked, to see how it could be avoided. The ending of the book had a poetic quality to it, combing quite a few ideas of what the legend of Arthur may truly have been, and unlike many thriller left me as a reader feeling that the author and hit the perfect note after such a complex, disturbing plot (well done Doug).

Not only is Douglas Jackson the current master of the Roman Historical fiction, he is now (in the guise of James Douglas) taking the Historical Thriller market by storm and clearly heading for the top of that Genre too.

I’m ridiculously intrigued to see where Jamie Saintclair goes next, and what mystery he will unravel.

Highly Recommended

(Parm)

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2 Comments

Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Thrillers

2 responses to “James Douglas: The Excalibur Codex (review)

  1. Pingback: Parmenion Books 2013 in review | parmenionbooks

  2. Pingback: Douglas Jackson: Saviour of Rome (Review) | parmenionbooks

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