Monthly Archives: May 2014

Mark Alder: Son of the Morning: (Review)

Author:

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Mark Alder AKA Mark Barrowcliffe AKA MD Lachlan. (Bio from Goodreads)

Mark Alder & MD Lachlan are pen names – created after Mark Barrowcliffe, author of works such as Girlfriend 44 and Lucky Dog, felt himself irresistibly drawn back to fantasy after writing his Dungeons and Dragons memoir The Elfish Gene.

Wolfsangel might surprise readers of Mark’s other work. He’s always been noted for his comic writing (‘Wickedly funny’ – New York Post, ‘Painfully funny’ – The Bookseller) but Wolfsangel marks a sharp departure of content and style.

The book is a historical fantasy/horror hybrid that reflects Mark’s childhood reading on the occult and witchcraft. ‘If it makes you laugh, I’ve done something wrong’ says Mark.

The MD in MD Lachlan stands for Mark Daniel – Mark’s real name. He went with initials instead of a name because, as so often in his life, he didn’t really think things through. Now he attends publishing events where people don’t know what to call him. He wishes he’d gone with Mark Lachlan but it’s too late now.

The comic Steve Martin was once told by Johnny Carson ‘You will use everything you know’. Wolfsangel, for Mark, bears that out.

Book Description

SoM

Meet Hal Romsey Priest, sorcerer, assassin A good man Who fights for the Devil It’s 1337. Genoese mercenaries under the French are harrying the channel ports and Edward III is powerless to stop them. He’s bankrupt, up to his ears in debt to Florentine bankers. He can’t hope to defend his lands in France, which are subject to a vicious scorched earth policy pursued by the French king. Hal Romsey is a sixteen year old boy, frightened and intimidated by exalted company. But he is a Luciferist – a visionary and a disciple of the devil. He has one of the keys to Hell, and knows how to use it. Hell is willing to ally with England – and thus begins a story that will shake the thrones of medieval Europe and see angels and demons fighting for the future of England and France. Son of the Morning will provide readers with politics, intrigue and massed ranks of soldiers battering against each other, while angels and demons stalk the battlefield and hell comes to earth.

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Mark Alder: Son of the Morning: (Review)

Imagine taking the 100 years’ war and setting it in a different world, a parallel world. Some might say…its been done: Game of Thrones? Ok that’s a concept I concede. But game of thrones is a fantasy setting. Son of the Morning takes and uses the real history, it encompasses the main players of the Day, the likes of Edwards (Black Prince), Joan of Arc, John the blind, Henry V and so many many more. Throw in the odd revolting peasant, a spot of black death and you have a fairly miserable period in history. What Mark does to this is a touch of writing genius, he throws into the mix religion…But that’s a central part of Medieval Europe I hear you cry! But so much more so if the Angels and Devils that were so much a part of the lives of these superstitious people were real .

Churches and relics were imbued with angels, the more powerful the angle for example the more gilded and beautiful the church. The problems in a mortal world though come to the fore when both sides have “God on their side” who in fact does, the Hosts of Angels start to become unresponsive and the great and powerful men of Europe start wonder if God has abandoned them and if they need to look to darker powers for aid.

Now comes the real genius behind the story: All is not what it seems, God may not be the good all-knowing being we are led to believe, Lucifer is not the devil incarnate. The whole hierarchy as we understand it between Heaven and Hell is based on lies. ‘God’ created nothing but the barren wastes of Hell. When God in his jealousy saw the Paradise that Lucifer had created in his rage he imprisoned Lucifer in Hell and bound mankind up in a system of arbitrary rules and sins that demanded worship of him alone. These sins are so wide reaching that only a tiny minority can ever hope to avoid the fires of Hell.

Woven into this extremely rich tapestry of imagination and history, are battles worthy of any great swords and sandals novel and the dark imagination worthy of Dante. But Mark doesn’t just stick at the high level, the writing goes down to the detail of the clothing, the sounds, the sights and the smells of the time, this is no tale of polished knights, this is medieval and grimy. It is also riddled with wry sardonic humour, and outright laugh out loud moments.

This book should appeal to those who love great writing, fans of Historical fiction, fantasy, supernatural tales… it should appeal to anyone who loves books, because this is writing at its best.

(Parm)

Other Books

Girlfriend 44 (2000)
Infidelity for First-time Fathers (2001)
Lucky Dog (2004)
Girlfriend 44Infidelity for First-time FathersLucky Dog
The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange(2007)
Mr Wrong (2008)
The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up StrangeMr Wrong
Craw Trilogy
1. Wolfsangel (2010)
2. Fenrir (2011)
3. Lord of Slaughter (2012)
WolfsangelFenrirLord of Slaughter
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I.D Roberts : Kingdom Lock (Review)

Author

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I.D. Roberts was born in Australia in 1970 and moved to England when he was three. From a young age he developed an obsession with war comics, movies, Tintin and James Bond. For the past decade he has been the film writer for a national listings magazine. After living all over the country and buying a farmhouse by mistake in Ireland, he finally settled in the South West and currently lives in rural Somerset with his wife Di and their chocolate Labrador, Steed.

Follow him on Twitter: @KingdomLock

Author’s Website: www.idroberts.com

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9780749016302-kingdom-lock-wb-1768

It is 1914 and while battles rage across Europe, three empires – the Ottoman, the German and the British – fight for dominance in the Middle East. The merciless landscape of Persia and Mesopotamia are prizes to be claimed by the most ruthless opponent.

In the midst of the chaos is Kingdom Lock. Working for the British Intelligence Service known as the White Tabs, Lock is sent to Persia on a commission from the Australian Infantry Force. His mission: to prevent a German spy from inciting jihad and rebellion among the Muslim tribes and from seizing control of the precious oilfields. But before then, having recently rescued Amy Townshend, the daughter of a top ranking British officer, from Turkey, he now finds that he must save her from the clutches of death once more. It’s a task that seems destined to fail with bloodthirsty, relentless Turks at every turn . . .

To complete his mission, Lock must stay one step ahead of the war raging around him. And to make matters worse, Amy’s fiancé, an aristocratic young officer, is none too pleased about Lock’s developing relationship with his future wife. In this super-charged  adventure, can Kingdom Lock survive the dangers that threaten him?

Review:

I love a debut, well… I love a debut when it turns out to be one that’s something new and exciting, a bit different, and then ultimately turns out to be wonderfully written. Despite my passion for Historical Fiction, i have never really had a love of the first world war. Its always felt too dark, too emotional, to personal to the near past of everyone in the UK and Europe. This is the second book in a number of weeks that has managed to prove that great books do exist in this period (well apart from Charlies war obviously…that’s just part of my childhood reading).  The first of those read was The Shadow of War which was an eye opener, Kingdom Lock by I.D Roberts was something else.

If i was to make any comparison i suppose it would be to John Wilcox and his Simon Fonthill series, only this book is slightly more stark and gritty. Instead of the witty 352 Jenkins we have the angry, dangerous Underhill, and instead of the slightly dippy reserved Fonthill we have Kingdom Lock, a highly competent soldier / spy. A man who has his flaws yet lives with them, through them, a human among elitist snobs of the officer class. For me he was exactly the soldier i would want to have been.

The other difference in this story is the setting, its WW1 but not France, its the oilfields of Persia, chasing the very real German spy Wilhelm Wassmuss, (known as “Wassmuss of Persia”. He attempts to foment trouble for the British in the Persian Gulf. This man is someone i had heard of before, but since reading the book i have done a little research. This guy was the German Lawrence of Arabia and I.D Roberts doesn’t just bring Kingdom Lock to life he also brings Wassmuss to life in a great chase across a war torn landscape, through a rich tapestry of ancient lands and culture.

(oh and there’s a love story in there….. well told too, its not in there just for the ladies, or because these stories should have one)

Its a wonderful debut and i look forward to book 2

Highly recommended

(Parm)

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James Benmore: Dodger of the Dials (Review)

Author

James-Benmore-colour-smaller-216x300

James Benmore

James Benmore was born in Kent and currently lives in South-East London. He studied literature at the Open University and has since completed an Mst in Creative Writing from Oxford University.

A prolific short story writer, his short fiction has been published in various anthologies, including All These Little Worlds published by The Fiction Desk and The Failed Novelist’s Anthology 2011. These have received positive reviews from magazines such as Cherwell’s.

Dodger of the Dials  is his second novel.

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Description

DotD

Two years on from the events of Dodger, Jack Dawkins is back as top-sawyer with his own gang of petty thieves from Seven Dials. But crime in London has become a serious business – and when Jack needs protection he soon finds himself out of his depth and facing the gallows for murder.

Review

2013 saw in my (humble) opinion a very daring debut novel, in the form of James Benmore and Dodger ( Review ) . To take on writing the continuing saga of characters originally penned by Charles Dickens had a confidence that bordered either a deep love of the subject or  insanity. Thankfully it was the former and for me the book was a real triumph.

2014 see’s the next step and probably the hardest one, i have heard from a fair few writers that the second book is the hardest, you need to make sure book one isn’t a flash in the pan, you need to grow as a writer, add everything you have learned and come up with a new interesting, credible second idea/ plot. Did he succeed?

Well given i don’t review books i don’t like, damn right he did! But more than that, he did it in style. Dodger of the Dials blows its predecessor away, it retains the audacity of characters and brings even more of the original cast of Dickens Oliver Twist back to life. More importantly it brings growth to the cast, a development of Jack Dawkins (The artful Dodger) it brings Oliver twist himself back, an older grown up more mature Oliver Twist, the meeting of these two old acquaintances is something to behold, emotive, cathartic and inspired.

There are many parts to this book, the crimes, the underworld, the gangs and their Sawyers (leaders), but the real triumph for me was the time spent in Newgate Prison. You could feel the age of the stone, the despair of the men due to hang, the desperation of the inmates. That tempered with the ever present devil may care always optimistic outlook of Jack gave s conflicting yet perfect synchronicity to the time spent there. I was taken from truly humorous moments to cuffing away a tear for the loss of a brave man (that’s me not giving away the plot) .

How James Benmore has managed to mix Dickensian England  and characters with a modern humour and outlook on the world and retain that feeling of the original is a marvel. I wish him all speed to his pen for book three because i’m already desperate to get my hands on it.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Dodger books

1. Dodger (2013)  Dodger Review
2. Dodger of the Dials (2014)

DodgerDodger of the Dials

 

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Harry Sidebottom: Iron and Rust (Throne of the Caesars, Book 1) Review + Interview

Author

HarrySidebottom-jameshawkinsphotography.com

Harry Sidebottom was brought up in racing stables in Newmarket where his father was a trainer. He had a basket saddle on a donkey before he could walk.

He was educated at various schools and universities, including Oxford, where he took his Doctorate in Ancient History at Corpus Christi College. In similar fashion he has taught at various universities including Oxford, where he is now Fellow and Director of Studies in Ancient History at St Benets Hall, and Lecturer in Ancient History at Lincoln College.

His main scholarly research interests are Greek culture under the Roman empire (thinking about the compromises and contradictions involved when an old and sophisticated culture is conquered and ruled by what it considers a younger and less civilised power) and warfare in classical antiquity (looking at how war was both done and thought about by Greeks and Romans). He has published numerous chapters in books, and articles and reviews in scholarly journals becoming an internationally recognised scholar in these fields.

His first book Ancient Warfare: A Very Short Introduction was published by OUP in 2004. It got excellent reviews. The Times Literary Supplement described it as “jam-packed with ideas and insight … a radical and fresh reading of Greek and Roman warfare that is both surprising and stimulating.” For The Guardian it was “a boot camp for the brain – a short, sharp shock to the presumptions.” The Contemporary Review dubbed it “a tour de force.” Robin Lane Fox described it in print as “outstandingly good.” It has been translated into Japanese (2006) and Chinese (2007). Translations into German and Greek are in progress.

Away from classical scholarship his other interests include fiction, travel, sport, booze, and women.
Since 2003 he has been a regular reviewer of fiction, especially historical novels, in the Times Literary Supplement. Here he has enthused about Robert Harris and Alan Massie, and probably made enemies for life of Erica Jong and Colleen McCullough.

Since 2006 he has been working on the Warrior of Rome series of novels featuring the Anglo-Saxon nobleman turned Roman army officer Ballista and his Familia which are set in the Roman Empire during the so-called `Great Crisis of the Third Century AD`.

He has travelled widely, especially around the Mediterranean. These trips have varied from the luxury of travelling as a guest speaker on a Cunard liner to a memorable solo journey into Albania not long after the fall of the dictator Enver Hoxha.

All his life he has gone racing, and played and watched rugby and cricket. He was a founder member of Woodstock Rugby Football Club. Recently he has discovered the pleasures of real tennis.

 Author Web site

Interview

When  and  why  did  you  begin  writing?

Like  all  children, I  wrote  stories. Somehow  I  never  grew  out  of  it. Eventually  I  faced  up  to  the  fact  that  if  I  did  not  try  to  get  some  fiction  published  I  would  end  up  an  embittered  old  man  always  beating  myself  up  with  `if  only  I  had  tried`.

What  inspired  you  to  write  your  first  Ballista  book?

I  had  tried  all  sorts  of  types  of  fiction, sub-Martin  Amis/Jay  Mcinerney/Bret  Easton  Ellis  literary  comedies, fantasy  novels, thrillers, but  one  of  my  enduring  loves  has  always  been  historical  fiction. Researching  a  big  history  book, Fields  of  Mars: A  Cultural  History  of  Ancient  Battle, I  reached  the  chapter  on  siege  warfare, and  realised  a  besieged  town  provided  an  ideal  setting  for  a  novel; a  unity  of  action  and  place, and  individuals  and  society  stretched  far  beyond  their  norms.

Fields  of  Mars  remains  about  one  third  written. One  day  it  will  get  finished. Meanwhile  a  version  of  the  siege  chapter  is  coming  out  in  a  book  I  am  editing  with  Michael  Whitby, The  Encyclopaedia  of  Ancient  Battles (Blackwell), and I  published  the  chapter  on  naval  battle  in  a  collection  of  scholarly  articles (in  Portuguese!).

Is  there  a  message  in  your  novels  that  you  want  readers  to  grasp?

One  thing  that  depresses  me  about  bad  historical  fiction, and  bad  history  books, is  the  ahistorical  insistence  that  `people  have  always  been  the  same/they  were  just  like  us`. Instead  Mary  Renault  was  right  when  she  said  something  on  the  lines  of  the  pleasure  of  reading  and  writing  historical  fiction  comes  from  the  tension  between  what  is  universal  to  humanity  and  what  is  specific  to  a  time  and  place. In  some  ways  the  Romans  were  much  like  us, but  in  others  completely  alien.

What  books  have  influenced  your  life  most?

When  I  was  at  school  my  godfather  gave  me  Alexander  the  Great  by  Robin  Lane  Fox. It  converted  me  to  Classical  history, made  me  want  to  spend  my  life  reading  and  hopefully  writing  similar  books.

If  you  had  to  choose, which  writer  would  you  consider  a  mentor?

For  historical  fiction  it  would  have  to  be  Patrick  O`Brian. Few  writers  have  taken  the  genre  to  such  heights, and  seldom  over  such  a  sustained  series. Over  the  last  few  years  I  have  read  and  reread  Hemingway  and  Cormac  McCarthy. Both  their, very  different, styles  show  what  can  be  done  with  the  English  language  in  a  novel.

Do  you  have  to  travel  much  concerning  your  books?

Yes, but  not  as  much  as  I  would  like. At  first  I  was  limited  by  lack  of  money, now  by  lack  of  time. Having  said  which, I  try  to  get  to  all  the  major  locations  in  the  novels. I  like  to  walk  the  routes  taken  by  characters. It  gives  you  a  secure  grasp  of  how  the  buildings  and  landscape  fit  together; history  through  the  soles  of  your  boots, as  a  review  in  the  TLS  was  kind  enough  to  say. This  year  for  Throne  of  the  Caesars  I  am  going  back  to  Rome, and  hopefully  to  Carthage. No  idea  why  my  wife  refers  to  them  as  holidays.

 Did  you  learn  anything  from  writing  your  books, and  what  was  it?

Just  how  little  I  knew  about  the  Classical  world. Despite  having  taught  the  subject  at  five  universities, and  published  lots  of  articles  and  one  book, there  were  huge  areas  where  my  ignorance  was  almost  total.

What  was  the  inspiration  for  the  new  series?

Since  I  did  my  Masters  thesis  on  the  Greek  historian  Herodian, I  have  been  fascinated  by  the  years  AD235-8. So  many  wars  and  revolts, plots  and  emperors, all  compressed  into  just  four  years, the  start  of  the  crisis  of  the  third  century; it  was  crying  out  for  a  series  like  Throne  of  the  Caesars.

And  I  wanted  to  write  a  slightly  different  type  of  novel  from  the  Warrior  of  Rome, which  was  focused  on  the  one  central  character  of  Ballista. The  new  series  is  constructed  as  a  multiple  point  of  view  story. The  first  result  is  Iron  and  Rust.

So: free  platform, you`ve  been  given  a  pitch  at  Oxford  Market…  sell  your  book  to  the  crowd.

There  are  few  things  I  would  less  like  to  do. Although  I  have  done  loads  of  lecturing  and  public  speaking, I  still  get  stage  fright. But, if  I  went  through  with  it, I  might  say  something  like:- “Iron  and  Rust: creates  a  world  both  sophisticated  and  brutal, yet  firmly  rooted  in  history; a  world  of  intrigue, murder, passion  and  war; a  world  where  men  will  kill  to  sit  in  the  Throne  of  the  Caesars”

(Yes, I  know  the  line  is  from  the  publicity, but  I  wrote  it, and  can’t  think  of  anything  better).

Finally  after  all  the  hard  work  and  skill  you  have  put  in  do  you  have  any  advice  for  other  writers?

Read  lots  of  authors, but  don’t  copy  them  slavishly. Write  lots  of  different  things  in  different  styles  until  you  find  what  suits  you. Persevere – it  is  hard  work – treat  it  as  a  job. Get  a  good  agent. Hope  for  a  lucky  break.

 Iron and Rust: 

Date Available: 22 May 2014

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Iron and Rust

From the bestselling author of WARRIOR OF ROME comes the first book in a new series set in third century Rome; a dramatic era of murder, coup, counter-rebellions and civil war.

In a single year six Emperors will lay claim to the Throne of the Caesars…

SPRING AD235

Dawn on the Rhine. A surprise attack and the brutal murder of the Emperor Alexander and his mother ends the Severan dynasty and shatters four decades of Roman certainty.

Military hero Maximinus Thrax is the first Caesar risen from the barracks. A simple man of steel and violence, he will fight for Rome.

The Senators praise the new Emperor with elaborate oratory, but will any of them accept a Caesar who was once a shepherd boy? And in the streets of the eternal city, others merely pray to escape imperial notice.

In the north, as the merciless war against the barbarians consumes men and treasure, rebellion and personal tragedy drive Maximinus to desperate extremes, bloody revenge and the borders of sanity.

Iron & Rust, the first book in a major new series, creates a world both sophisticated and brutal, yet firmly rooted in history; a world of intrigue, murder, passion and war, a world where men will kill to sit on the Throne of the Caesars.

Review

As a fan of historical fiction I’d be a bit remiss if I had not heard of or read Harry Sidebottom, I have to admit to being a bit of a fan of his writing (Warrior of Rome series). When I read the first book Fire in the East I did so with no preconceptions, I read a review copy before most readers of the genre so could do so without any opinions colouring my view. My immediate view at the time was that here was someone a bit different, the writing style skewed more to the educational than the entertainment side of a read, but it has plenty of both. Since that date I have read many opinions of other readers about the writing being “a lecture”, “a bit too Dry” etc.. and each person should be able to form their own view. Mine was always that Ballista was a highly complex and entertaining character, and the books taxed my knowledge of the Roman world, they taught me something. It meant I had to make sure I read them at the right time, to ensure my mood suited that read. Doing it this way led me to give each and every book between 4 and 5 stars, and to read knowing that Harry had done the research, that what I was reading was educational as well as blooming good fun.

Iron and Rust is a departure from the time of Ballista, and a bit to my surprise a departure in style. If this had been my first experience of Harry I  might have been a bit more concerned, I might be leaning a bit more towards those people who use the term “Lecture”. The book is highly informative, packed with detail of the Roman world of AD235, it brings to life (piece by piece) many of the major players in the Roman hierarchy of the time. It’s when you persevere with the detail that Iron and Rust starts to pay dividends, the complexity and the detail resolves itself into a detailed plot with many players and many shifting alliances, like a complex multi-layered game of chess. Nasty back stabbing politics, rumour and denouncements and the old evil of greed and gold.

As the book progressed and I adapted to this style I found myself enjoying the story more, and the characters depths and idiosyncrasies became more and more apparent, I found myself finally sinking into the roman world rather than being swept along by the events of history. Ultimately this book and many more this year will suffer in comparison to Giles Kristian and God of Vengeance, which is my 2014 bench mark, and has reset my use of 5 star read. That said this is still an entertaining read, and highly educational, what I think made me struggle is the lack of a central character, a hero… and as soon as that thought popped into my head…so did bonnie tyler…(sorry Harry)

I need a hero
I’m holding on for a hero ‘til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding on for a hero ‘til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life (larger than life)

 

Deep down I’m a simple man, I need my battles, I need the fighting, the blood and a little gore, I need the anticipation of battle more than I need politics, I need that larger than life character who will carry me through the world of the book and the events swirling around him/her. But that said this is a book you should read, If I apply the Amazon review model:

1 Star: I hate it

2 Stars: I don’t like it

3 Stars: Its okay

4 Stars: I like it

5 Stars: I love it.

By the end of the book I was firmly in the 4 stars, Harry as ever had won me around, mainly with Maximinus, the Roman Emperor, with his blunt heroic hard charging ways, I just wish he had been a bigger player in the book, or we could have seen the story through the eyes of a consistent character. Harry remains on my must read list and I am looking forward to his next book, I feel the next one will start stronger and faster, first books in a series have to set the scene and the character base, that’s now been done… bring on the battles Harry, but also keep your amazing eye for detail, intrigue and authenticity.

 (Parm)

 Other books

Warrior of Rome
1. Fire in the East (2008)
2. King of Kings (2009)
3. Lion of the Sun (2010)
4. The Caspian Gates (2011)
5. The Wolves of the North (2012)
6. The Amber Road (2013)

Fire in the EastKing of KingsLion of the SunThe Caspian GatesThe Wolves of the NorthThe Amber Road

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Filed under Harry Sidebottom, Historical Fiction

Stewart Binns: The Shadow of War (Review)

binns

Author:

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.

Product Description

 shadon shadow 1

Buy the book (amazon)

The Shadow of War is the first novel in Stewart Binns’s new series which will see a book release for each year of the First World War.

This title will be released on July 17, 2014.

June 1914: the beginning of another long, prosperous summer for Britain. But beneath the clear skies, all is not as it seems – the chill wind of social discontent swirls around this sceptred isle.

Shots ring out in a distant European land – the assassination of a foreign aristocrat. From that moment the entire world is propelled into a conflict unlike any seen before.

This is the story of five British communities, their circumstances very different, but who will all share in the tragedy that is to come. All that they have known will be changed forever by the catastrophic events of the Great War.

This is a story of love and comradeship, of hatred and tragedy – this is the story of the Great War.

Review

When I first started this book my initial reaction was “what the hell”, the books style seemed very bizarre, it was very much an outside view looking in on people and events. Then slowly as I read the chapters I was drawn into the lives of multiple different families and communities, before i knew it i was hooked. This book is still odd…different, it’s not like Stewarts previous series. It feels very much like a documentary mixed into a fictional drama, yet it works, it works so well. Anyone who reads my reviews and follows my blog knows I love Historical Fiction. But what they don’t know is that I’m really not a fan of WW1. I find the horror and darkness of that war too hard to read, too emotional to take in without feeling my own version of Churchill’s “black dog”. (read the book to understand that)

Stewart Binns has managed to portray the different strata of society without judging or demeaning any of them, and to cover in book one the lead up to and the early days of WW1 with passion and compassion, with energy and purpose, and to leave me feeling the emotion but not suffering from the horror. It’s all there contained in the pages, but delivered in such a way you can see and feel the passions of the different players, the struggles that sent individuals to war, the misconceptions of blame for the death toll and the passion to do all for family and country.

Stewarts books always leave me with a sense of pride for my country, and this book is no exception, but this is tempered by the individual courage and the individual loss. The personal tales that inspire and horrify in equal measure. By the time I finished the book I felt entertained and educated, which for me form the key pillars of a great Historical Fiction novel.

Once again Stewart Binns has managed to create something unique, entertaining and eye-opening, I’m very much looking forward to book 2.

Recommended

(Parm)

Other books

Making of England
1. Conquest (2011)
2. Crusade (2012)
3. Anarchy (2013)
4. Lionheart (2013)

ConquestCrusadeAnarchyLionheart
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Stewart Binns