Monthly Archives: November 2014

David Gibbins: Pyramid (review)

‘What do you get if you cross Indiana Jones with Dan Brown? Answer: David Gibbins’

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BIOGRAPHY (in authors own words)

Much of the inspiration for my novels comes from my own experiences as an archaeologist and diver. I was born in Canada to English parents, and have divided my time between the two countries when I’ve not been on expeditions and travelling. After taking a first-class honours degree from the University of Bristol I completed a PhD in archaeology at the University of Cambridge, and then spent almost ten years as an academic in England before becoming a writer full-time. I’ve been a passionate diver since boyhood, and have led many expeditions to investigate ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean and elsewhere in the world.

The photo in the banner was taken when I was a graduate student, and shows me examining pottery from a Roman shipwreck excavated under my direction off Sicily. To find out more about my background and interests, click on the boxes below and follow my blog

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For thousands of years, Egypt was a rich, ingenious civilization. Then it became a fertile hunting ground for archaeologists and explorers. Now the streets of Cairo teem with violence as a political awakening shakes the region.

Archaeologist Jack Howard has connected a mystery hidden inside a great pyramid to a fossilized discovery in the Red Sea and a 150-year-old handwritten report of a man who claims to have escaped a labyrinth beneath Cairo. For that his team is stalked by a brutal extremist organization that will destroy any treasure they find.

As people fight and die for their rights above ground, Jack fights for a discovery that will shed an astounding new light on the greatest story ever told: Moses’s exodus from Egypt and the true beginnings of a new chapter in human history.

Review:

I have taken my time on this one, i wanted to read an review a little after the book had come out, i also wanted to go back and re-read Pharaoh, to give me that continuity of story arc in a back to back read.

I’m glad i did, for me i love that extended storyline, the two books blending so well (yet i can see how they work as stand alone entities) . There has it seems been a story arc in David Gibbins books that has developed and matured over the 8 books written in the Jack Howard series. When i first started reading this author back in 2005, it was with a view to having found a nice fluffy new brain wipe thriller writer, one with a historical twist and not too much conspiracy. What i have got instead has been an ongoing growth in story and characters, a plot that developed in depth and complexity as the series progressed, as the author brought to the fore more and more fantastic yet highly plausible scenarios for famous historical figures or locations. That then evolved again in book 6 when the author delved deeper into the location and reasoning for Atlantis, and its ties to Europe and its development, the development of language and nations all of this wrapped up in a highly thrilling adventure story.

Then comes Pyramid, this book brings everything full circle, the characters, the plot, the hypothetical journey of mankind and which nation influenced which (Greece or Egypt), all of this told against the backdrop of an Egypt going up in flames, literally. The descendants of the Mahdi (out for revenge for a slight 100 years old, committed by Kitchener after the death or Gordon of Khartoum ), the Jihadists, infiltrating all levels of government until Egypt is ready to fall, and with it the western worlds cradle of archaeology. The country that captures the imagination with its immense age and towering monuments, all at risk, and Jack and Costas searching for the last clues to 10 years of searching, a trail of clues spanning 8 books, to find Akhenaten, his links to Moses and what drove these men, one to destroy and army and turn against his gods and another to found a people.

The final chapters of this book are utterly breathless, not just because the many times one or both of our heroes are down to little or no air left, but the power and pace of the story. David Gibbins captures the feel, sights and sounds of a city tearing its self apart, descending back into the dark ages. Sinking to levels of depravity that the mind shies away from. I applaud the authors skill and also bravery in describing the scenes so well, nothing is glorified, it is reported giving it the feel of a CNN news crew at the heart of the destruction and horror, yet keeping the thriller and mystery of the plot going.

I truly enjoyed this book, the horror and the fear, the potential for disaster should be mandatory reading to everyone, to understand what we could lose if groups like ISIS ever made it into control of wonders like Egypt, and the wonders we are losing in places like Syria, and the suffering of the people already under the control of these people. At the same time as this serious plot line is an utterly compelling historical adventure thriller, delivered by a man who lives and breathes the archaeology.

Highly Recommended

(Parm)

Series

 

Jack Howard
1. Atlantis (2005)
2. Crusader Gold (2006)
3. The Last Gospel (2008)
aka The Lost Tomb
4. The Tiger Warrior (2009)
5. The Mask of Troy (2010)
6. The Gods of Atlantis (2011)
aka Atlantis God
7. Pharaoh (2013)
8. Pyramid (2014)
The Atlantis Collection: Atlantis / Crusader Gold / The Last Gospel (omnibus) (2014)
AtlantisCrusader GoldThe Last GospelThe Tiger WarriorThe Mask of TroyThe Gods of AtlantisPharaohPyramid
The Atlantis Collection: Atlantis / Crusader Gold / The Last Gospel
 Total War Rome
1. Destroy Carthage (2013)
2. Sword of Attila (2015)
Destroy Carthage

 

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, David Gibbins, Historical Fiction, Thrillers

Ben Aaronovitch Foxglove Summer (Review)

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Ben Denis Aaronovitch is a London-born British writer who has worked on television series including Doctor Who, Casualty, Jupiter Moon and Dark Knight. He is the younger brother of actor Owen Aaronovitch and British journalist David Aaronovitch.

Description

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BUY A SIGNED COPY

In the fifth of his bestselling series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London – to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can’t take the London out of the copper.

Travelling west with Beverley Brook, Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods. And what’s more all the shops are closed by 4pm

Review

I’m a big fan of this series, ever since the very first book its been utterly original, witty, clever and a riveting read. Foxglove Summer was the same and yet a different experience for me to a certain degree, the usual wit was there, and moving the story out of London added a new element, a different edge to the plot, and for much of the book i was utterly riveted, i had read the whole book in 2 nights (and given that’s just bed time reading that’s fast).

What threw me in the book was that it didn’t feel like it had the same complexity and depth that the previous books have had. despite Peter being allowed off the leash by Nightingale, and that Beverly is there leading him astray again, and Lesley is poking her nose in at the wings, I still felt that there was a layer a dimension to the complexity that was missing, an element of that clever wordsmith(erey) that the author portrays in this series that just didn’t feel like it was there.  And the bit that really let me down was the ending, lt felt like the end of an episode left unfinished in a TV series, the final chapter rushed to a conclusion as if there was a need to finish by a specific date or word count rather than complete the story. But despite that im still left in awe of the writers skill, with so many questions i would like to ask, and hope will be answered in the next book, and there are so many teasers for the world of the fae and the world of magic, we have still only just taken the top layer off, each book giving a little bit more of a glimpse and that’s the beauty of reading the story through Peter Grants eyes, we learn as he learns.

If this was any other author and any other series this would get a 3/5, but a ruined ending does not ruin the story, the incredible characters, the totally original plot line and depth of imagination the author displays. so 4/5 and i hope book 6 is solid all the way to a full conclusion.

a series i will always recommend

(Parm)

 

Series

 

Peter Grant
1. Rivers of London (2011)
aka Midnight Riot
2. Moon Over Soho (2011)
3. Whispers Under Ground (2012)
4. Broken Homes (2013)
5. Foxglove Summer (2014)
6. The Hanging Tree (2015)
P C Grant Novels: Rivers of London / Moon Over Soho / Whispers Under Ground (omnibus) (2013)
Rivers of LondonMoon Over SohoWhispers Under GroundBroken HomesFoxglove Summer
P C Grant Novels: Rivers of London / Moon Over Soho / Whispers Under Ground

 

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Filed under Ben Aaronovitch, Crime, Fantasy, Supernatural

Christian Cameron Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade (Book 2)

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Christian Cameron was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1962. He grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, Iowa City, Iowa, and Rochester, New York, where he attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in history.

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice.

(The second book in the Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade series)

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Fifteenth Century Europe. Tom Swan is not a professional soldier. He’s really a merchant and a scholar looking for remnants of Ancient Greece and Rome – temples, graves, pottery, fabulous animals, unicorn horns. But he also has a real talent for ending up in the midst of violence when he didn’t mean to. Having used his wits to escape execution, he begins a series of adventures that take him to street duels in Italy, meetings with remarkable men – from Leonardo Da Vinci to Vlad Dracula – and from the intrigues of the War of the Roses to the fall of Constantinople.

Review:

Once again Christian Cameron nails it with one of his tales. The latest Tom Swan story (8th over all and 2nd in the latest series) has all the usual depth and characterisation, but more than this it shows a true blending of his skill as a writer, his deep passion as a historian and re-enactor and finally it brings to the fore his skill, talent and depth of perception for events gained as an intelligence officer. Reading this story and how Tom Swan navigates the perilous paths of courtesy, pomp, ceremony, whilst hunting for the stolen ring of Alexander and skirting the dangerous advances of demoiselle Iso, all this would be a nightmare for the average man, but add in the touchy scholar and the homicidal and mercurial Wolf, lord of Rimini. I don’t think any of this blending would be possible without every aspect of the authors skill , past and passionate view of history.

Having been involved in many of his conversations in person, on email and in his Forum i have come to recognise truly how we can apply so many aspects from the past to present day, and vice versa. Wars are just new versions of old squabbles and long-standing feuds. a warriors skills have not changed that much, it’s the unskilled that changed (ie any one can fire a gun) , the intelligencer has changed little, if you enjoy these tales and his other books, please join the forum, you will find many other fascinating conversations, and like minded individuals with a deep love of history.

I personally think that this series works best as a serial of short stories, but wow do 96 pages fly past. and they leave you needing the next book. But its a hell of a return for 99p in entertainment.

Buy the e-Book

As ever i can do nothing less than give this 5 stars, im always left in awe when i finish one of this authors books.

Highly recommend

(Parm)

 

Series
Tyrant
1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
TyrantStorm of ArrowsFuneral GamesKing of the BosporusDestroyer of CitiesForce of Kings
Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King
Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRomeRhodesChios
Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Part One (2013)
2. Part Two (2013)
3. Part Three (2013)
Part OnePart TwoPart Three
Novels
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
The Long Sword (2014)
Salamis (2015)
Washington and CaesarGod of WarThe Ill-Made KnightThe Long Sword

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Filed under Christian Cameron, Historical Fiction

Giles Kristian: The Terror (Review)

About the author:

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Family history (he is half Norwegian) and his storytelling hero, Bernard Cornwell, inspired Giles Kristian to write his first historical novels, the acclaimed and bestselling Raven Viking trilogy – Blood Eye, Sons of Thunder and Odin’s Wolves. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War.The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury follow the fortunes of a divided family against the complex and brutal backcloth of the conflict that tore this country apart and ended with the killing of a king. In his new novel – God of Vengeance – Giles returns to the world of the Vikings to tell of the origins of Sigurd and his celebrated fictional fellowship.

Giles lives in Leicestershire. To find out more, visit http://www.gileskristian.com

“I loved this. It’s for people who like their historical fiction high-octane . . .a superb, brutal story that pulls no punches” (ROBERT FABBRI)

 

The Terror:

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BUY THE BOOK  only 99p

An exclusive straight to digital short story which also includes the first chapter of Giles Kristian’s God of Vengeance

AD768, Avaldsnes, Norway

Jarl Harald’s mead hall thrums with life. His people have gathered to feast on meat and mead and listen to the old tales. But the village skald, with all his talk of heroes and kings, will have to wait his turn. It is Harald himself who will hold them all spellbound this night. For the jarl has his own story to tell: a tale of adventure and courage. Of honour and of how friendship can be forged in fire and quenched in blood.

It is a story of love, too.

And of The Terror.

Praise for Giles Kristian’s most recent novel, GOD OF VENGEANCE:

“Action-packed storytelling which stirs the blood and thrills the soul” (WILBUR SMITH)

“Unrelenting pace, brilliant action and characters. A masterwork.” (CONN IGGULDEN)

“A glorious, bloody, perfect Viking saga, rich with the poetry of the skald, ripe with blood and glory, vengeance and heartbreak. The characters stride from the page, alive, hungry, real . . . this is Viking writing at its very best” (MANDA SCOTT)

“This is the best kind of storytelling – a saga full of blood and thunder that grabs you and doesn’t let go until long after the final page is turned” (STEVEN PRESSFIELD)

Review

The Terror is a short story set in Giles Kristians fantastic retelling of 8th Century Norway, following the early exploits of our later (in the series) hero Sigurds, father Harald. A retelling of a tale from his youth, the rush or youthful desire and exuberance to win the ultimate prize, the woman he loves.

Giles is a master storyteller, in my other reivews, EG: God of Vengeance i have waxed lyrical about his skill with words and his deep knowledge and love of history. He is at heart a viking, longing to pull at the oars and stand in the shield wall, but more than that, i feel he would always have been a skáld.

The Terror while slotting nicely into the world of Sigurd and his farther, is a lot lighter than other work by Giles Kristian, and it should be, its a small book, a short story. In that story you need pack in a complete tale, start, middle and end and from what i have seen with short stories this is often harder to achieve than writing a full novel, brevity is also a skill. The beauty of this book is in how its just an everyday tale of young men doing daft things, but in the harsh world of the Norse 8th century, that can lead to deaths and injuries, also there is a real light hearted fun element to the story, bare arsed naked swimming, bits dangling in the chill laden breeze. Giles has fun with this story and yet delivers some more background to his Viking defining series.

I cannot in comparison give this 5 stars, because id be comparing it to GOD of Vengeance which deserves 10 / 5 its that good. but i can give it a good 4/5 and say go buy it. if you’re a fan then enjoy the return to the Norse saga, if you’re new, well use this to dip your toe, and then dive into the series.

Highly recommend

Parm

Watch a trailer for God of Vengeance

Look behind the scenes for God of Vengeance trailer

Series
Raven
1. Blood Eye (2009)
2. Sons of Thunder (2010)
3. Odin’s Wolves (2011)
Blood EyeSons of ThunderOdin's Wolves
Bleeding Land
1. The Bleeding Land (2012)
2. Brothers Fury (2013)
The Bleeding LandBrothers Fury
Novels
God of Vengeance (2014)
Wings of the Storm (2015)
God of Vengeance
Novellas
The Terror (2014)
The Terror

 

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Filed under Giles Kristian, Historical Fiction

C C Humphreys: The French Executioner (Blog Tour/ Guest Post)

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Chris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto and grew up in the UK. All four grandparents were actors and since his father was an actor as well, it was inevitable he would follow the bloodline. He has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. Favorite roles have included Hamlet, Caleb the Gladiator in NBC’s Biblical-Roman epic mini-series, ‘AD – Anno Domini’, Clive Parnell in ‘Coronation Street’, and Jack Absolute in Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’.

Chris has written eight historical novels. The first, ‘The French Executioner’ told the tale of the man who killed Anne Boleyn, was runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers 2002, and has been optioned for the screen. Its sequel was ‘Blood Ties’. Having played Jack Absolute, he stole the character and has written three books on this ‘007 of the 1770’s’ – ‘Jack Absolute’, ‘The Blooding of Jack Absolute’ and ‘Absolute Honour’- short listed for the 2007 Evergreen Prize by the Ontario Library Association, all currently being re-released in the US by Sourcebooks. His novel about the real Dracula, ‘Vlad, The Last Confession’ was a bestseller in Canada and his novel, ‘A Place Called Armageddon’ was recently published in Turkish. All have been published in the UK, Canada, the US and many have been translated in various languages including Russian, Italian, German, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Serbian, Turkish and Indonesian.

He has also written a trilogy for young adults ‘The Runestone Saga’. A heady brew of Norse myth, runic magic, time travel and horror, the first book in the series ‘The Fetch’ was published in North America in July 2006, with the sequel, ‘Vendetta’ in August 2007 and the conclusion, ‘Possession’, August 2008. They are also published in Russia, Greece, Turkey and Indonesia. His latest Young Adult novel ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’ was released by Knopf in North America in March 2011 and also published in Spain.

Author in the role of Jack Absolute. Malvern 1987

His new adult novel ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’, about William Shakespeare’s fight choreographer at the time of ‘Hamlet’, was released in the UK in March 2013 and in Canada August 2011.

He has recently signed to write two books for Century in the UK and Doubleday in Canada. ‘Plague’ and ‘Fire’ are tales of religious fundamentalist serial killers set against the wild events of 1665 to 1666, London. They will be published in 2014 and 2015.

Chris lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with his wife and young son.

 

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About the book

The last thing Jean Rombaud expects upon being summoned to behead Anne Boleyn is to dedicate his life to her. But the ill-fated queen has a mysterious request for her executioner: that after taking her life he also take her infamous six-fingered hand and bury it at a sacred crossroads in France. His oath will set Jean on the most dangerous journey of his life.

In The French Executioner, C.C. Humphreys once again brings the past to life in all its glory and peril. This thrilling novel captures the breathtaking story of how courage, love, and loyalty bound Anne Boleyn to the man who ended her life—and saved her legacy.

Guest Post

What was the most surprising thing you discovered in your research for the novel?

This is a good question.

The French Executioner was my very first novel. Thus I had no real idea how to write one and assumed that one needed to know absolutely everything about a book before you began to write it. (I have since discovered that such obsessive research can be a form of procrastination and now only read for about three months, trusting that the novel and especially the characters will teach me what I need to study as I go along!) Also, I didn’t believe that I would ever truly summon the will (and courage) to actually start. So I spent a lot of time in second hand bookstores scanning shelves, thinking: If I ever do write that book about Anne Boleyn’s Executioner – which I probably never will – but if I do I will put everything into it I want to write about! Ooh, look at this book about slave galleys. I’d want a battle with them. Ooh, here’s one on the Black Mass. That’s definitely in!

So, in the six years between having the idea for the novel (Anne Boleyn begs her executioner to take her six fingered hand when he takes her head and get rid of it. What happened next) and beginning to write it, I acquired a large library of books I read on various subjects.

The most surprising thing? It was a book about St. Antony’s Fire. This was the mass hallucination that would take villages when the villagers ate bread made from rye, that had been infected by the grain disease ergot – later to be synthesized into LSD. The poor people would eat the bread, and anyone who did would start having terrible contractions and massive hallucinations a few hours later. They would not know what it really was so assumed the Devil had come to take them to his fires. There are reports from all over Europe but the disease began to disappear with better crop techniques in the 18th century. However there was one outbreak in 1952 in a village in France. I bought that book, read it, shuddered – a lot of people died – then used it in my novel, as some of my characters get caught up in the Fire.

Horrible – but very colorful. My main villain is the Archbishop of Siena – a corrupt, decadent, highly educated killer. His hallucinations – full of Biblical and Satanic figures – were especially interesting to write!

My Review

For me this was an interesting experience: Chris Humphreys is one of my favourite authors, but this is a skill he has honed, and The French Executioner is an early novel for him, so how good was he back in 2002? Well the starting premise of this historical novel is the execution of Ann Boleyn. From three known facts: that she was beheaded by a French swordsman, that his name was Jean Rombaud and she had an extra finger on one hand from this point CC Humphreys has spun a tale that takes the reader across France, Germany and Italy and surprisingly thrills along the way in much the same way he does now in 2014.
Those who read my reviews know i hate to give away too much plot, the synopsis gives enough for you to want to buy the story. What im here to do is say…DID IT WORK?

I can honestly now say that Chris Humphreys has not written a bad book (this was the only one i had not read up to now). As usual great characters, wonderful story arc, great pace and over all plot, if I’m über critical maybe not quite as tight as say “Shakespeare’s Rebel” but considering the growth you see in many authors, Mr Humphreys just started out brilliant and kept going….

Highly recommend

(Parm)

Series

French Executioner
1. The French Executioner (2002)
2. Blood Ties (2002)
The French ExecutionerBlood Ties
Jack Absolute
1. Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770s (2003)
2. The Blooding of Jack Absolute (2004)
3. Absolute Honour (2006)
Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770sThe Blooding of Jack AbsoluteAbsolute Honour
Novels
Vlad: The Last Confession (2008)
The Hunt of the Unicorn (2011)
A Place Called Armageddon (2011)
Shakespeare’s Rebel (2013)
Plague (2014)
The Curse of Anne Boleyn (2015)
Fire (2015)
Vlad: The Last ConfessionThe Hunt of the UnicornA Place Called ArmageddonShakespeare's RebelPlague

 

 

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Filed under C C Humphreys, Historical Fiction