Monthly Archives: October 2013

James Aitcheson Knights of the Hawk (Review)

The Author

james A

James Aitcheson was born in Wiltshire and studied History at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where began his fascination with the medieval period and the Norman Conquest in particular. Sworn Sword is his first novel.

Author web site

Book Description


Buy a signed copy

AUTUMN, 1071. The struggle for England has been long and brutal. Now, however, five years after the fateful Battle of Hastings, only a desperate band of rebels in the Fens stand between King William and absolute mastery of his kingdom.
Tancred, a proud and ambitious knight, is among the Normans marching to crush them. Once lauded for his exploits, he is now all but destitute. Embittered by his dwindling fame and by the oath shackling him to his lord, he yearns for the chance to win back his reputation through spilling enemy blood.

But as the Normans’ attempts to assault the rebels’ island stronghold meet with failure, the king grows increasingly desperate. With morale in camp failing, and the prospect of victory seeming ever more distant, Tancred’s loyalty is put to the test as never before.

For his true path, he knows, lies in a different direction. He seeks his love, Oswynn, once presumed dead but now believed to be held captive by a powerful Danish warlord. His journey will take him from the marshes of East Anglia into the wild, storm-tossed seas of the north, as he ventures in pursuit not just of her, but also of vengeance.



Once again James Aitcheson well and truly knocks the ball out of the park, his latest book Knights of the Hawk is an action packed thriller. There are very few let up in the story for you to take a breath and pause, you literally find yourself flipping to the next page then the next, just one more page, just one more chapter, and then suddenly …its 3am… how did that happen. totally lost in the world of Tancred.

I cant say he is the most likeable character, and in this book possibly even less so, but he is well written , and allows the reader a rare first person view of what it must have been like for the Normans having conquered this wild and proud land of Britain.

As usual the mix of fact and fiction is so well done, so blurred i really don’t know where one start and the other ends. I always feel i have learned something important by the end of these books, even if its just how the British as they are today were formed into who they are. This period of our history is so wild, so varied, so violent, so action packed, so full of change. Never again would this land be conquered, so its so important to understand how it happened, and how we all formed together, how people like Tancred became British, something James Aitcheson does so well, with an obvious love of the towns and villages of old Britain, and what they must have seemed like so long ago.

Every time i read his books i feel transported back to that time, the sights sounds and smells sounds so clichéd in a review, but it really is a relevant comment for his writing, because he brings them all to life.

Another fantastic novel, i look forward to the next. Very highly recommended


Sworn Sword (2011)
The Splintered Kingdom (2012)
Knights of the Hawk (2013)
Sworn SwordThe Splintered KingdomKnights of the Hawk

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Simon Beckett: Stone Bruises (Review)


Simon Becket

After an MA in English, Simon Beckett spent several years as a property repairer before teaching in Spain. Back in the UK, he played percussion in several bands. He has been a freelance journalist since 1992, writing for national British newspapers and magazines. Some of his more memorable assignments have included going on police drugs raids, touring brothels with a vice unit and trying to learn how to win a gun fight in Nevada. It was a visit to the Body Farm in Tennessee that was the inspiration behind the internationally bestselling David Hunter crime thrillers, which have now been translated into 29 languages.

Simon’s novels have now sold 7 million copies worldwide, and he was the UK’s top selling author in Europe for 2009. The Chemistry of Death was shortlisted for the 2006 CWA’s Duncan Lawrie (Gold) Dagger and the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year in 2008. He has also been shortlisted twice for the Dagger in the Library award, in 2009 and 2010, when he was highly commended. In 2011 The Calling of the Gravespent nine weeks at the top of the German hardback charts, and also reached No. 1 in Austria, Switzerland and Poland.

As well as the David Hunter series, he is the author of four psychological thrillers; Fine Lines, Animals (winner of the ‘Marlowe’ award for Best International Crime Novel), Where There’s Smoke and Owning Jacob. These were recently published in Germany (as Voyeur, Tiere, Flammenbrut and Obsession) where they all were #1 bestsellers. Owning Jacob has also now been published in Italy and the Netherlands.

Simon is married and lives in Sheffield, England.

Author Web site

Product Description

stone bruises

‘Somebody!’ I half-sob and then, more quietly, ‘Please.’ The words seem absorbed by the afternoon heat, lost amongst the trees. In their aftermath, the silence descends again. I know then that I’m not going anywhere…Sean is on the run. We don’t know why and we don’t know from whom, but we do know he’s abandoned his battered, blood-stained car in the middle of an isolated, lonely part of rural France at the height of a sweltering summer. Desperate to avoid the police, he takes to the hedgerows and country lanes only to be caught in the vicious jaws of a trap. Near unconscious from pain and loss of blood, he is freed and taken in by two women – daughters of the owner of a rundown local farm with its ramshackle barn, blighted vineyard and the brooding lake. And it’s then that Sean’s problems really start…Superbly written, Stone Bruises is a classic nail-shredder of a thriller that holds you from the beginning. The narrative slowly, inexorably tightens its grip as the story unfurls and will keep you guessing until the unnerving and shocking final twist…


When I first heard about this book I looked up the author, there were some fantastic review, Chemistry of death stood out. I had to have a copy of the book and review it, i want to change my review pile to include more crime fiction.

Then i got the premise for the book, and i thought…Noooooooo September (at Transworld) has conned me, this is something else, this talk of a great book is all fluff to get me to read it, what is she doing to me, this is Sooooooo not my sort of book. But she was wonderfully kind enough to send me a copy and approve my net galley request, i could not let her down.

So with a heavy heart i started reading, and was instantly lost in the book. In one short evening i had read nearly half the book. I still am not sure what it was that drew me in and enveloped me in the book. The characters were so real, it was like being sat with a childhood friend as he spills out his tale of a summer gone wrong. The descriptions of France were not your classic scenes, There was no holiday romance, there was pain, fear, uncertainty, threats, hard work and  reflection, and i think it was that reflection that caught me. That sudden stop of the merry go round of life, an escape from all your troubles and letting time stand still, at least until finally the clock is wound again and time starts a fresh.

The book isn’t full of surprises, i could usually spot what came next, but i don’t think its meant to hide or surprise, but to convey an odd twisted normality, that whilst the main characters issues are on hold the French  families troubles still continue, in fact are exacerbated by his presence, culminating in time restarting and Seans return to the real world

absolutely everything about this book screams that i will not like it, and yet i loved it. a wonderful book that i finished before i wanted to.

I shall be reading more by this author


Dr David Hunter
1. The Chemistry of Death (2006)
2. Written in Bone (2007)
3. Whispers of the Dead (2009)
4. The Calling of the Grave (2010)
The Chemistry of DeathWritten in BoneWhispers of the DeadThe Calling of the Grave
Fine Lines (1994)
Animals (1995)
Where There’s Smoke (1997)
Owning Jacob (1998)
Stone Bruises (2014)
Fine LinesAnimalsWhere There's SmokeOwning Jacob
Stone Bruises

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The Reading Agency is joining forces with the Historical Writers Association

15 October 2013

UK-wide programme of historical fiction events launches new partnership

 National charity The Reading Agency is joining forces with the Historical Writers Association in an exciting new partnership that has already brokered over 100 events, involving over 70 authors.

The initiative coincides with Historical Writing Month in November, with events held in public libraries and other venues around the UK during the Month and beyond, featuring historical authors such as Michael Ridpath, Karen Maitland, Ben Kane, Ruth Downie, Robyn Young, Rory Clements, William Ryan and Manda Scott.

The new partnership will take a coordinated approach to programming events covering a diverse range of historical time periods and themes, offering innovative approaches to bring readers, writers and libraries closer together.

The extensive programme for readers yielded by this new partnership is still growing, but begins with an historical crime panel evening at Bedford Library on 17 October featuring Rory Clements and Ruth Downie, and continues with Essie Fox, D E Meredith and Lynn Shepherd discussing their Victorian novels at Crowthorne Library, while Roman-era authors Anthony Riches, Henry Venmore-Rowland and Harry Sidebottom will travel to Norwich library to complement a new exhibition at the city’s museum.

Other event themes include Medieval, Espionage, Historical London, The Blitz, Warriors Through History, and Victorian Crime . There will be a ‘Sex and Scandal’ discussion at Pimlico Library in  central London featuring Gabrielle Kimm, Linda Stratmann and Hallie Rubenhold on 22 November, while Tudor period authors Vanora Bennett and Elizabeth Fremantle will travel to Peterborough in the new year to mark the anniversary of the death of Katherine of Aragon, who is buried in Peterborough Cathedral. Further events have been organised as far forward as September 2014 when Michael Ridpath, Stav Sherez and William Ryan will be at London’s Chiswick Library, discussing the challenges of setting novels in totalitarian regimes. 2014 will also feature a range of events marking the centenary of the start of World War One.


“We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response from libraries and readers,” says William Ryan of the Historical Writers Association. “We’ve organised many more events than we thought we might and we’re arranging new ones every week. It’s a fantastic opportunity for libraries and authors to reach out to readers and, thanks to our partnership with The Reading Agency and the support of libraries in almost every part of the country, we’re hoping this is just the beginning.”

The new partnership is part of The Reading Agency’s work to bring together its partners from the publishing world and the whole of the UK public library network to create successful and exciting events and activities for readers of all ages. The publishers who – via The Reading Agency’s Reading Partners consortium of libraries and publishers – have contributed to making author events happen in libraries for Historical Writers Month and beyond include Transworld; Hodder/Headline; Penguin; Constable & Robinson; Little, Brown; Bloomsbury; HarperCollins; Faber and Macmillan.

“We’re passionate about connecting readers to writers, and libraries are brilliant at reaching and engaging audiences who share the Historical Writers Association’s fascination with all things historical,” says Sandeep Mahal of The Reading Agency. “Amid all the news about library cuts and closures, an important beacon of light is the huge growth in popularity of library author events, so we’re really pleased to be partnering with the Historical Writers Association to broker events in library venues across the UK.”

For more media information please contact Deborah Hyde on or 07956 320 486

Notes to editors:

  •  The Reading Agency is an independent charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life, by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. We are funded by Arts Council England (
  •  The Historical Writers Association’s (HWA) comprises authors, publishers and agents of historical writing – both fiction and non-fiction – who are passionate about history. The HWA and its website, forum and various literary events and dinners provide professional and social support to its members, creating opportunities online and in person for them to meet with readers, re-enactors and historians of all ages and eras who share their fascination with, and absorption in, all things historical. (



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Stewart Binns: Lionheart (Review)



Stewart has spent most of his professional life in television. Initially trained as an academic, he was variously a teacher, soldier and copy-writer before joining the BBC, where he worked in documentary features and current affairs, including stints on Panorama and QED.He was Director of Special Projects at TWI and later Head of Production at Octagon CSI. He produced a wide range of innovative programmes from sports magazines like Trans World Sport, Futbol Mundial and Golazo to historical documentaries like Britain at War, Century and Indochine.He has won over thirty international television awards including a BAFTA, Grierson and Peabody, was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is Visiting Professor at the University of Bedfordshire.The author of several non-fiction books connected to his work in television, his first work of historical fiction, Conquest, set around the pivotal events of 1066 and the life of legendary hero Hereward of Bourne, was published by Penguin in February 2011. Stewart now lives in Somerset with his wife, Lucy and their twin boys, Charlie and Jack. Their home is also the base for Big Ape Media International, the independent media company run by Stewart and Lucy.

Book Description


1176 – England

King Henry II reigns over a vast empire that stretches the length of Britain and reaches the foothills of the Pyrenees. But he is aging, and his powerful and ambitious sons are restless.

Henry’s third son, Richard of Aquitaine, is developing a fearsome reputation for being a ruthless warrior. Arrogant and conceited he earns the name Richard Lionheart for his bravery and brutality on the battlefield.

After the death of his brothers, Richard’s impatience to take the throne, and gain the immense power that being King over a vast empire would bring him, leads him to form an alliance with France.

And so, Richard begins his bloody quest to return the Holy Land to Christian rule.

Stewart Binns’ Making of England series features Conquest, CrusadeAnarchy and his latest historical page-turner, Lionheart.


I have had to do some thinking about this review, i feel a need to explain my feelings without them being misinterpreted, So:

Im not a member of the BNP, im not a fan of UKIP (who are BNP but without the courage to sign up fr them…IMHO) what i am proud of is being English,  im not a raving flag waving, bulldog tattoo’d bloke. I have come to love my country despite the national need to feel embarrassed about it, to feel if you celebrate St Georges day you are a racist. My love of history has not hindered that love of nation, in fact it has deepened it, to read and understand what this tiny nation has achieved is quite simply astounding.

So its always been great to read each and every book in this series by Stewart Binns, a series that from the start pulls together the different races/ nations that have attacked, conquered/ invaded and interbred with this mongrel nation that calls itself Great Britain. Anyone who reads this series should take heart, seeing how our national identity has been formed, forged in battle, mixed nations providing different temperaments and skills and behaviours. (The Saxons the, normals, the celts, the pics, the romans, the Danes etc..) . We are now adding the dogged hard working poles / eastern block nations, the history, passion and mystery of asia, the African nations etc.. This will all for me make Britain a greater nation in the long run.

I apologise for going all nationalistic in a review, but that the joy of this series, this is how it makes me feel, proud. The story of Richard is im sure told with some poetic licence, regarding his alleged family history, and the talisman. But he plot, the characters, the emotion of the story, that is classy writing. That is something that makes it a must read. The story of the Priest Alun and the Princesses is one that will leave many a damp eye. The pride of a friend like Ranulph is something everyone should enjoy, reading about his pride in his king and his friendship is a joy. Its just great to read a story with such a deep feeling of pride clear in the plot voice, and clearly shown by the author.

The only negative I have with this book is that its the end of the series. I shall miss it, but also i look forward to what comes next from this author. This book should appeal to so many readers, and don’t be put off by my ravings about England, that’s just how I feel reading this series, how Stewart Binns brings to the fore each element that makes up the core psyche of the Brit, where that spirit of adventure and action may have been developed in the cauldron of history.



Previous title review (Anarchy)

Conquest (2011)
Crusade (2012)
Anarchy (2013)
Lionheart (2013)

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Terry Hayes: I Am Pilgrim (Review)

Terry Hayes


Terry Hayes is a former journalist and screen-writer. Born in Sussex, England, he migrated to Australia as a child and trained as a journalist at the country’s leading broadsheet. At twenty-one he was appointed North American correspondent, based in New York, and after two years returned to Sydney to become an investigative reporter, political correspondent and columnist. He resigned to produce a prominent current affairs radio program and a short time later, with George Miller, wrote the screenplay for Road Warrior/Mad Max 2. He also co-produced and wrote Dead Calm, the film which launched Nicole Kidman’s international movie career,Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and a large number of TV movies and mini-series – including Bodyline and Bangkok Hilton – two of which received international Emmy nominations. In all, he has won over twenty film or television awards. After moving to Los Angeles he worked as a screen-writer on major studio productions. His credits include Payback with Mel Gibson, From Hell, starring Johnny Depp, and Vertical Limit with Chris O’Donnell. He has also done un-credited writing on a host of other movies includingReign of FireCliffhanger and Flightplan, starring Jodie Foster. I Am Pilgrim is his first novel. He and his American wife – Kristen – have four children and live in Switzerland.

Book Description


Can you commit the perfect crime?

Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation.

But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book.

What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.


This is a book that I had put off several times, every-time it reached the top of my TBR I just felt a little cold, it was just too lauded, too popular. I have had too many experiences where this book or that was the next best thing going.

If I had known Manda Scott had reviewed it as highly as she had, or that it was even half as good as it truly is……

Well, I have kicked myself a fair few times since I started the book, and more so since I finished it. I am Pilgrim is one of the most accomplished thrillers I have had the pleasure of reading. When most stories take me on a journey, I can see the possibilities of the future story, I can see the plot lines, and see flaws and in some failures, in many thrillers unfortunately I can see the predictability. Often there are leaps of super human endeavour to get out of a plot blind alley. Not the case with this book, this is a blending of so many threads, threads that escalated in fear factor, escalate in complexity, but remain human and real, believable and utterly grounded in the real world. The book scared the hell out of me, how easily this could be reality. Terry Hayes not only explores the Human condition, he explores the terrorist, the investigator, the cop, the wife, the girlfriend, the sister, the brother, the son, the family dynamic. So many facets, and yet carried out in such a subtle fashion you don’t realise the depth until you have been contemplating it for a few hours unconsciously.

I have been known to throw around terms like “Great book”, “Fantastic Read” etc. But I don’t think I have ever used the term and also fully meant it. “Mind Blown”, because that’s what this book does, it well and truly blows your mind and unlike many thrillers leaves you with that satisfied complete feeling at the end.

certainly the finest thriller I have read in years, and a contender for book of the year 2013.


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Brandon Sanderson: Steelheart (Review)

The Author


Brandon Sanderson is an American fantasy author. A Nebraska native, he currently resides in American Fork, Utah. He earned his Master’s degree in Creative Writing in 2005 from Brigham Young University, where he was on the staff of Leading Edge, a semi-professional speculative fiction magazine published by the university. He was a college roommate of Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings. He has been nominated twice for the John W. Campbell Award.

“It’s Brandon Sanderson Jim, but not as we know it …”

Publisher’s synopsis:
“Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners.  A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge”

Review: (Guest review by Jane Carter)
Steelheart is the latest from the pen of Brandon Sanderson, an incredibly prolific author and one who’s books I am eager to read.  Previous works such as the Mistborn series and Elantris showed an imagination and creativity that has put him at the top of the fantasy tree, and those particular books are in my personal top 10.
Steelheart is a superhero novel and the start of a new series, and I believe it is fair to class it as Young Adult (YA).  I’ve scoured the publicity around this release and whilst I can find no suggestion that the publishers themselves make any suggestion of this being YA, the majority of reviewers seem to lean this way – and I agree.  Not that I see this as a problem at all as I have read many most excellent YA books, often finding the label superfluous – The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey for example is one where I would have been happily oblivious to the YA positioning.  In this case however, finding the comments about it being YA was something of a relief, in a “ah, it makes sense now!” type way.  Not because there is anything wrong with this book – I enjoyed it – but it certainly wasn’t quite what I was expecting from Sanderson.  The intricacies and depth I expected weren’t quite there for me.  The danger for YA books is that often it can result in a watered down approach, with basic characters and fortunately that is not the case here.  To make a movie analogy, this would definitely fall into the “action” genre – it’s fast-paced and action-packed which makes it an easy read, and you could actually see it being easily transferred to the big screen.  The characters having special and unusual skills is in keeping with Sanderson’s creative ideas that made Mistborn and Elantris so exceptional and that is still apparent in Steelheart, with the bad guys having skills such as abilities to turn anything inorganic to steel (hence the title of this first book), or create elaborate illusions.   There’s no great depth to a lot of the characters – not yet anyway, there are certainly hints of more to come – but that doesn’t mean anything is missing as they are still well written and for this type of story it’s not always necessary to have great swathes of detail and back-story.  The plot is well paced and there’s no unnecessary waffle, overall a fun easy read – although I have to agree with another reviewer on the city name: “Newcago” instead of Chicago?!  Would have expected more from Brandon Sanderson – and that possibly summarises why this one didn’t totally hit the spot for me, a victim of Sanderson’s previous success in that I had such high expectations.
Other titles by this author
Elantris (2005)
The Emperor’s Soul (2012)
ElantrisThe Emperor's Soul
1. The Final Empire (2006)
2. The Well of Ascension (2007)
3. The Hero of Ages (2008)
4. The Alloy of Law (2011)
Mistborn Trilogy Boxed Set (omnibus) (2009)
The Final EmpireThe Well of AscensionThe Hero of AgesThe Alloy of Law
Mistborn Trilogy Boxed Set
1. Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians (2007)
2. Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones (2008)
3. Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (2009)
4. Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (2010)
Alcatraz (omnibus) (2012)
Alcatraz Versus The Evil LibrariansAlcatraz Versus the Scrivener's BonesAlcatraz Versus the Knights of CrystalliaAlcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
Wheel of Time (with Robert Jordan)
12. The Gathering Storm (2009)
13. Towers of Midnight (2010)
14. A Memory of Light (2013)
What the Storm Means: Prologue to the Gathering Storm (2009)
Wheel of Time Boxed Set IV: Crossroads of Twilight / Knife of Dreams / Gathering Storm (omnibus) (2011)
By Grace and Banners Fallen: Prologue to A Memory of Light(2012)
The Gathering StormTowers of MidnightA Memory of LightWhat the Storm Means: Prologue to the Gathering Storm
Wheel of Time Boxed Set IV: Crossroads of Twilight / Knife of Dreams / Gathering StormBy Grace and Banners Fallen: Prologue to A Memory of Light
Stormlight Archive
1. The Way of Kings (2010)
2. Words of Radiance (2014)
The Way of KingsWords of Radiance
Infinity Blade
1. Awakening (2011)
2. Redemption (2013)
1. Steelheart (2013)
1. The Rithmatist (2013)
The Rithmatist
Warbreaker (2009)
Firstborn (2010)
Legion / Emperor’s Soul (2013)
Legion / Emperor's Soul
Legion (2012)
Legion and The Emperor’s Soul (2013)
LegionLegion and The Emperor's Soul
Short Stories
The Hope of Elantris (2007)
The Hope of Elantris

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Steven A. McKay: Wolfs Head (Review)

About the Author


My name is Steven A. McKay and I’m a writer from Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow in Scotland, heavily influenced by the likes of Bernard Cornwell, Doug Jackson, Anthony Riches, Robert Low et al.

My first book, Wolf’s Head, is set in medieval England and is a fast-paced, violent retelling of the Robin Hood legends. I think my take on the theme is quite different to anything that’s been done before. It is available worldwide NOW on Kindle, and paperback from Amazon.

The second book in the trilogy is coming along nicely and should – all being well – be available not too long after Wolf’s Head…

Product Description

wolfs head

“Well researched and enjoyably written, Wolf’s Head is a fast-paced and original re-casting of a familiar legend. McKay’s gift as a storyteller pulls the reader into a world of violence, passion, injustice and revenge and leaves us wanting more!”Glyn Iliffe, author, The Adventures of Odysseus series

When a frightened young outlaw joins a gang of violent criminals their names – against a backdrop of death, dishonour, brotherhood, and love – will become legend.


After viciously assaulting a corrupt but powerful clergyman Robin Hood flees the only home he has ever known in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Becoming a member of a notorious band of outlaws, Hood and his new companions – including John Little and Will Scaflock – hide out in the great forests of Barnsdale, fighting for their very existence as the law hunts them down like animals.

When they are betrayed, and their harsh lives become even more unbearable, the band of friends seeks bloody vengeance.

Meanwhile, the country is in turmoil, as many of the powerful lords strive to undermine King Edward II’s rule until, inevitably, rebellion becomes a reality and the increasingly deadly yeoman outlaw from Wakefield finds his fate bound up with that of a Hospitaller Knight…

“Wolf’s Head” brings the brutality, injustice and intensity of life in medieval England vividly to life, and marks the beginning of a thrilling new historical fiction series in the style of Bernard Cornwell and Simon Scarrow.


Steven is a new member of the fraternity of self published Historical Fiction writers who can actually write. Its a surprising and welcome find when one of these authors pop up. Not only do they have to come up with an idea, write the idea well, but they also need to edit the book, proof it but they also need to do the PR for it. It often the PR they concentrate on and not the quality of the writing and the substance of the plot.

Steven has concentrated, he has picked a classic and added a twist, sticking to one of the original ballads, moving Robin to Yorkshire (which will get him shot where i live in Nottinghamshire) the King is Edward not Richard, there is no Prince John etc. Its a very well told tale, well thought out with characters he has clearly put a lot of time and thought into. They take on their own life as the book progresses, they grow in age and stature, they are not modern constructs in the past, they are true to their period.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t perfection, there are some issues, a few slips with equipment, equipment usage, character inconsistency, and the odd contrived plot change. But this is a début self published novel, and has not benefited from a professional editor, who would polish and pull this together.

All of that aside, this is a splendid novel and I am genuinely looking forward to book 2 in the series, and I recommend that you give this book a try.



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Robert Fabbri: Rome’s Fallen Eagle (Vespasian 4)

The Author

Robert Fabbri was born in Geneva in 1961. He was educated at Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham and London University. He worked for twenty-five years as an assistant director in the film and television industries.

Having had his fair share of long, cold nights standing in the rain in muddy fields and unbearably hot days in deserts or stuffy sound stages he decided to start writing.

Being a life-long ancient war-gamer with a collection of over 3,500 hand-painted 25mm lead soldiers and a lover of Roman Historical Fiction the subject matter was obvious.

(and what the above doesn’t say: Just a really blooming nice fella)

Book Description

eagle fallen

The fourth instalment of Robert Fabbri’s bestselling Vespasian series. Caligula is dead, Rome is in the hands of a drooling fool – and Vespasian must fight to save his brother’s life and find the Eagle of the Seventeenth.

Caligula has been assassinated and the Praetorian Guard have proclaimed Claudius Emperor – but his position is precarious. His three freedmen, Narcissus, Pallas and Callistus, must find a way to manufacture a quick victory for Claudius – but how? Pallas has the answer: retrieve the Eagle of the Seventeenth, lost in Germania nearly 40 years before.

Who but Vespasian could lead a dangerous mission into the gloomy forests of Germania? Accompanied by a small band of cavalry, Vespasian and his brother try to pick up the trail of the Eagle. But they are tailed by hunters who pick off men each night and leave the corpses in their path. Someone is determined to sabotage Vespasian’s mission.

In search of the Eagle and the truth, pursued by barbarians, Vespasian will battle his way to the shores of Britannia. Yet can he escape his own Emperor’s wrath?

Buy a signed HB copy

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For those that have not heard of them, there is a group called the HWA “Historical Writers Association” . It is made up of many of the finest writers in the Historical Fiction genre. Robert Fabbri is one of these splendid authors.

For the last 12 months I have been convinced that this group of authors is having an impact on its self, a positive impact. I don’t think its an overt impact, I just think that personalities, the discussions, the exchange of thoughts and ideas is impacting the styles, the depth, the quality and the final product. To the point that 2013 has led to some of the finest books ever released in the genre.

Robert Fabbri’s Vespasian 4 Rome’s Fallen Eagle is for me an example of that, easily the finest book in the series, a book that has taken another step up in quality of action, imagery, pace, prose and plotting. I was left mesmerised for hours at a time reading this book, I grimaced in pain, laughed out loud and cheered on Vespasian and his brother Sabinus with every page.

From the forests of Teutoberg and a story that should have screamed implausible, but had me on the edge of my seat, to the seat of imperial power and Narcissus, to the battle fields of Britain. This book packs in so much story line, and yet covers everything in such great depth and power i’m amazed the book isn’t over 1000 pages long, it seemed to go on for ever and yet finished far too quickly.

This is truly one of the best novels you will read this year, and for fans of Simon Scarrow: the ending left me feeling I had been dropped at the start of Under the Eagle, I wonder how many people will be pulling out their copies for a re-read after finishing this book.

Very highly recommended, and i’m so looking forward to book 5


1. Tribune of Rome (2011)
2. Rome’s Executioner (2012)
3. False God of Rome (2013)
4. Rome’s Fallen Eagle (2013)
The Crossroads Brotherhood (2011)
The Racing Factions (2013)
Tribune of RomeRome's ExecutionerFalse God of RomeRome's Fallen Eagle
The Crossroads BrotherhoodThe Racing Factions

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