Monthly Archives: September 2013

Max Adams The King in the North

About the author

Max adams

Max Adams is the author of ADMIRAL COLLINGWOOD (2005) and THE PROMETHEANS (2009), which was a Guardian Book of the Week. A university teacher, Max has lived and worked in the North-East of England since 1993.

– See more at: Head of Zeus

Book Description

Buy the book from Amazon UK

Kinf north

Oswald Whiteblade lived one of the most influential and colourful lives in early English history. Before his death in battle against the pagans of Mercia cut short his reign as king of Northumbria (634-42), he remodelled his northeastern English homeland as a Christian kingdom, founded the monastery of Lindisfarne, introduced a culture of learning which influenced all Europe, and became the most powerful ruler in Britain.

Max Adams’s thrilling account rescues Oswald from Dark Age obscurity to reveal an unjustly forgotten English hero – a king whose return from exile to reclaim his birthright was the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien’s Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. But THE KING IN THE NORTH is more than just a biography of the first great English monarch; it is a stunningly researched, wide-ranging, beautifully written and revelatory portrait of early medieval England in all its aspects.

Review

Some non fiction reviewing for a change: A great book on the subject of Oswald Whiteblade, amazingly someone I knew little about, and that is a bit of an embarrassment for me and more so for the Historical education provided to me at school. The World of Historical fiction opens us up to so many tales about so many rich and wonderful periods and people, i’m amazed that not one writer has taken on the rich tapestry that is Oswald. A man so influential in his time that he inspired Tolkien to create the character Aragorn one of the most notable names in Fantasy fiction, converted a kingdom to christianity, became the powerful figure in Britain. Truly a man to span the genres.

Now I like many can steer away from non fiction at times as a bit dry and detailed, with no prose worth the description. But this book is beautifully written, in such a style its very easy to forget its non fiction, to get swept up in the history, the people and the period, to call it an epic tale would not be going too far, an epic tale written for the average reader, never talking down to you, sifting the fact from the fiction and painting a vivid clear image of a man, a king and a forgotten legend.

What i need now is someone to write the fictional account of his life…. there is a whole series here guys!

recommended

(Parm)

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Conn Iggulden: Stormbird Competition

Stormbird Review

Stormbird

Historical fiction master Conn Iggulden retells the gripping story of the English civil war in his new Wars of the Roses series.

King Henry V – the great Lion of England – is long dead.

In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king – Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom.

Yet there are those, such as the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York, who believe England must be led by a strong king if she is to survive. With England’s territories in France under threat, and rumours of revolt at home, fears grow that Henry and his advisers will see the country slide into ruin. With a secret deal struck for Henry to marry a young French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, those fears become all too real.

As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home. Who, or what, can save the kingdom before it is too late?

The Wars of the Roses series will be a benchmark for historical fiction, showcasing Conn Iggulden at his finest.

Question

In Stormbird one of the key characters is William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk 

What was his nickname?

All answers to be commented on this blog.

Competition will close on the release day of the book Oct 10th. (winner picked at random)

Prize:    1 Copy of Stormbird signed Limited stamped HB.  This is limited to 20 copies worldwide and have all sold out. (sold for £50 a copy, so a nice collectors book)

any questions leave a comment: and good luck

(Sorry UK only… Shipping costs are insane)

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Filed under Historical Fiction

Conn Iggulden: War of the Roses: Stormbird (review)

Author

conn

Conn Iggulden taught English for seven years before becoming a full-time writer. He is married with four children and lives in Hertfordshire, England.

Book Description

Stormbird

Buy a signed copy

Buy an exclusive Limited edition

Historical fiction master Conn Iggulden retells the gripping story of the English civil war in his new Wars of the Roses series.

King Henry V – the great Lion of England – is long dead.

In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king – Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom.

Yet there are those, such as the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York, who believe England must be led by a strong king if she is to survive. With England’s territories in France under threat, and rumours of revolt at home, fears grow that Henry and his advisers will see the country slide into ruin. With a secret deal struck for Henry to marry a young French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, those fears become all too real.

As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home. Who, or what, can save the kingdom before it is too late?

The Wars of the Roses series will be a benchmark for historical fiction, showcasing Conn Iggulden at his finest.

Review

I have come to have some very high expectations for any book that Conn Iggulden produces, he is as I have described in the past a “natural story teller”. I’m lucky to have met the man many times, he is one of those people who commands a room with his presence. Not with arrogance or volume, just with his natural ability with a story, to make you feel like the only one in the room being spoken to. His books have that same effect, they talk to you and you alone, written for you and you alone.

Unlike the boisterous, violent affairs that are the emperor series or the Genghis series, Stormbird is a more of a story of families, of alliances made and broken, of subtle politics and deadly schemes of rebellion and action. There are some brilliant scenes of war that would be expected in any Iggulden novel, and some archer friends of mine I think will be very happy with his portrayal of the deadly English archer.

The War of the Roses is something that many of my generation touched upon at school, but like many it was butchered by poor syllabus and a teacher who didn’t love his subject. Give a classroom of kids a teacher like Conn (who was a teacher) and an education brought to life in the same way as this book brings the early stages of the War of the Roses to life, and you will have a country immersed in a passion for its own past. I had to deliberately slow my reading to savour every page, every paragraph, to experience the intrigue of the spymaster, the fear and exhilaration of a new young queen, the confusion of a sick king, the plotting of an ambitious Duke, the rebellion and fury of a public owed so much more by its king and nobility. This book is packed with so much passion, so much information and so many great characters that it inundates the mind and wraps you in another time.

very highly recommended, one of my favourite books this year.

(Parm)

More great Iggulden magic

Emperor
1. The Gates of Rome (2003)
2. The Death of Kings (2004)
3. The Field of Swords (2004)
4. The Gods of War (2006)
5. The Blood of Gods (2013)
Gates of Rome / Death of Kings (omnibus) (2009)
Emperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of War (omnibus) (2012)
The Emperor Series Books 1-5 (omnibus) (2013)
The Gates of RomeThe Death of KingsThe Field of SwordsThe Gods of WarThe Blood of GodsGates of Rome / Death of KingsEmperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of War
Conqueror 
1. Wolf of the Plains (2007)
aka Genghis: Birth of an Empire
2. Lords of the Bow (2008)
aka Genghis: Lords of the Bow
3. Bones of the Hills (2008)
4. Empire of Silver (2010)
aka Khan: Empire of Silver
5. Conqueror (2011)
Conqueror and Lords of the Bow (omnibus) (2009)
The Khan Series (omnibus) (2012)
Conqueror Series 5-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Wolf of the PlainsLords of the BowBones of the HillsEmpire of SilverConquerorThe Khan SeriesConqueror Series 5-Book Bundle
Tollins
1. Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children (2009)
2. Dynamite Tales (2011) (with Lizzy Duncan)
Tollins: Explosive Tales for ChildrenDynamite Tales
Quick Reads 2012
Quantum of Tweed: The Man with the Nissan Micra (2012)
Quantum of Tweed: The Man with the Nissan Micra
Wars of the Roses
1. Stormbird (2013)
Stormbird
Novellas
Blackwater (2006)
Blackwater
Non fiction
The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Yearbook (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get There (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature Fun (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day Calendar(2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and Fun(2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Know (2008)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the World(2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar (2009)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book of Heroes (2009) (with David Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for BoysThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to DoThe Dangerous Book for Boys YearbookThe Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get ThereThe Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature FunThe Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day CalendarThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and FunThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to KnowThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the WorldThe Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day CalendarThe Dangerous Book of Heroes

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Hugh Howey: Dust (Review)

Hugh C. Howey

(In his own words) Born in 1975, I spent the first eighteen years of my life getting through the gauntlet of primary education. While there, I dabbled in soccer, chess, and tried to write my first novel (several times).

Out of school, I became fascinated with computers, repaired them for a brief stint, then moved to Charleston, SC and attended college. To save money, I purchased a small sailboat to live on, and nearly got myself killed bringing it down from Baltimore with a friend.

Hugh

After my junior year of college, possibly out of fear of the real world, I left my safe little harbor and sailed South. I hopped around the islands for a while, went through two hurricanes, and spent the last of my cruising funds re-stepping my mast. It was time to head back to the States, where I began a career as a yacht captain.

This began an exciting phase of my life, traveling all over the East coast and Caribbean, from Barbados to Chicago. I worked on boats in New York, the Bahamas, even Canada. One of these adventures brought me together with my wife, who was able to lure me away from my vagabond ways, dropping anchor and buying a house.

Physically settled, my mind continued to roam, concocting adventures and whisking me off to fantastic places. Some of these tales seemed worth sharing, so I tapped into my love of books and decided to write them down. My first stories detail the life of a character that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time. Her name is Molly Fyde, and she draws inspiration from the awesome women in my life.

My Wool series became a sudden success in the Fall of 2011. Originally just a novelette, the demand from Amazon reviewers sent me scurrying to write more tales in this subterranean world. The resulting Omnibus has spent considerable time in the Amazon top 100, has been a #1 Bestseller in Science Fiction on Amazon, and was optioned by Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian for a potential feature film. The story of its success has been mentioned in Entertainment Weekly, Variety, and Deadline Hollywood among many others. Random House is publishing the hardback version in the UK in January of 2013.

When I’m not writing, I like to go for hikes with my family, take a stroll on the beach, and keep up with my reading. I currently live in Jupiter, Florida with my wife Amber and our dog Bella.

Book Description

Dust

Buy for your Kindle

WOOL introduced the silo and its inhabitants.

SHIFT told the story of their making.

DUST will chronicle their undoing.

Welcome to the underground.

Review

This series has been a revelation, I don’t think i have read a dystopian series that’s made me stop and think as much as this one, that so subtly examines the human condition, the things that drive us as people, as families, as communities. A series that looks at the what ifs of our own destruction, our own arrogance. Normally this is the sort of deeper plot scope reserved for “literary fiction” and i would avoid it like the plague.

Dust concludes this trilogy, taking us back to Silo’s 17 and 18 and with the aid of Donald in Silo 1 provides enlightenment surrounding the plan hundreds of years in the making, set in motion by the man now called Shepard.

I was left feeling on the edge of my seat through out this book, a true emotional roller coaster, and  an exhaustingly disturbing view of humanities folly, and ability to survive almost any adversity.

I’m not sure i will ever read a better written/ conceived dystopian tale.

very highly recommended

(Parm)

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Nathan Hawke: Gallow: Cold Redemption (Review)

So who is Nathan Hawke?

Nathan Hawke is a British writer of fantasy fiction. He has worked variously in the City, as a consultant to the police and to the services. He has travelled in the far east, worked for a time in Las Vegas, was briefly involved in video game design, and once skied off a mountain under a parachute for a bet. His current ambitions include rafting the Colerado River and walking the Milford Track. The Gallow series are his first novels.

Below is the original announcement:

And there is also good news for British fantasy writer Nathan Hawke, who has signed a new three-book deal. The new series will features a hero that will appeal to fans of David Gemmell. The lead characters, Gallow, finds himself on the wrong side of wars, through his belief in honour.  As the series progresses, he must deal with the consequences of his actions and the truth of his relationships with others whose sense of honour is more tarnished than his own.

“Fantasy has been built on the exploits of those troubled, all too human men and women who have tried to make a difference, tried to do the right thing. Nathan’s conception of Gallow made it clear that here was a man who could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of them. It’s going to be great fun helping Nathan bring a new hero to a new generation of readers,” commented Simon Spanton, Deputy Publishing Director of Gollancz, who acquired world rights to the series from John Jarrold.

Product Description

Buy the book

cold redemption

I fought against your people, and I have fought for them. I have killed, and I have murdered. I betrayed my kin and crippled my king. I led countless warriors to their deaths and fought to save one worthless life. I have stood against monsters and men and I cannot always tell the difference.

Fate carried me away from your lands, from the woman and the family I love. Three hellish years but now, finally, I may return. I hope I will find them waiting for me. I hope they will remember me while all others forget. Let my own people believe me dead, lest they hunt me down. Let me return in the dark and in the shadows so no one will know.

But hope is rare and fate is cruel. And if I have to, I will fight.

Review:

I held off reading book two of this series, just for a few extra weeks, sometime anticipation can make a book even more fun, but also i wanted a bit more of a gap from book one, to ensure i wasn’t being swept along by my own enthusiasm.

I’m very very happy to say i wasn’t. Where book one is like a piece of historical fiction given a slight fantasy bent, Vikings with a difference. Book 2 takes the reader deeper into the fantasy world, the different people, different lands. Some of the mystical / magical elements are dangled, but deliberately vague.

Most of all its a character driven story, Implacable, honourable, deadly Gallow. His friend from across the mountains, his past in the shape of the fateguard, and his friend Tovis Ludmouth, the Marroc, the loshir.

Every person, every race, all written with a very clear skill so reminiscent of Gemmell it makes me nostalgic for the Drenai with every chapter.

Many have been compared to David Gemmell in style, but this for me is truly the first to get the characters right, to get the flow right and to make me want to start the book again as soon as i finished it.

I dearly hope that this series not only gets nominated for a Legend award but wins, for the cover art which is exceptional, but more for the story that is a combined series in my top 5 stories this year, and if it keeps up this standard could make my all time top 10.

I look forward to book 3 Gallow: The Last Bastion, due out on the 12th Sept.

last bastion

So go buy the whole series, you will not regret it, this is a series for fans of Historical fiction, fantasy, or those that love great books with great characters.

Very highly recommended

(Parm)

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Filed under Fantasy, Historical Fiction