Monthly Archives: December 2014

Paul Fraser Collard: Devil’s Assassin (Review)

Paul Fraser Collard's picture

Paul’s love of military history started at an early age. A childhood spent watching films like Waterloo and Zulu whilst reading Sharpe, Flashman and the occasional Commando comic, gave him a desire to know more of the men who fought in the great wars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. At school, Paul was determined to become an officer in the British army and he succeeded in wining an Army Scholarship. However, Paul chose to give up his boyhood ambition and instead went into the finance industry. Paul stills works in the City, and lives with his wife and three children in Kent.

Devil’s Assassin

The bold hero of THE SCARLET THIEF and THE MAHARAJAH’S GENERAL returns in an exhilarating and dangerous new adventure.

Bombay, 1857. Jack Lark is living precariously as an officer when his heroic but fraudulent past is discovered by the Devil – Major Ballard, the army’s intelligence officer. Ballard is gathering a web of information to defend the British Empire, and he needs a man like Jack on his side. Not far away, in Persia, the Shah is moving against British territory and, with the Russians whispering in his ear, seeks to conquer the crucial city of Herat. The Empire’s strength is under threat and the army must fight back.

As the British march to war, Jack learns that secrets crucial to the campaign’s success are leaking into their enemies’ hands. Ballard has brought him to the battlefield to end a spy’s deceit. But who is the traitor?

THE DEVIL’S ASSASSIN sweeps Jack Lark through a thrilling tale of explosive action as the British face the Persian army in the inky darkness of the desert night

Review

 DA PfC

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The book starts out with a splendid and evocative title, I have been speculating for some time as to the plot of this next Jack Lark book. Fortunately due to the vagaries of ordering some copies from the publisher im luck and they arrived so nice and early, my wait was finally over. Paul Collard has rapidly become mush read material, since the first book burst onto the market in 2013 (it seems so long ago) Scarlet Thief Review

Since that first book I have seen Paul Collards work get better and better ( Maharajah’s General Review ), more detailed, the plot tighter and tighter, the character growth sharp, to the point that you wonder if Jack will survive the book. There are the inevitable comparisons to Bernard Conwell’s Sharpe, Jack is a man from the ranks, brought up in the gutter. But that’s where in the main the similarities end. Sharpe never tried or pretended to the gentry, where Jack is living the lie, always looking over his shoulder, not to be stabbed in the back by some posh boy, but to be caught out, denounced. Will he get something wrong, will he bump into someone who knew the man he has assumed the identity of? That anticipation and fear oozes from the pages but only as the underlying heartbeat to each storyline, to each character that Jack dons and each dramatic situation he becomes embroiled in.

In devils assassin we are introduced to our usual cast of side characters, those who form the plot for Jack, the players in his elaborate scheme, those who really are the gentry of the regiment, the men who might find him out, the men he wants to prove he can be as good as , better than, to prove it’s the man not the lineage that defines.

Right from the start this book felt different, someone knows Jacks secret, and uses it to recruit Jack as a Spy Catcher, for once the fear of being discovered is reduced, and it has meant that the author is required to dial this back in the writing, it also means that that fear can be channelled into something else, and that’s the battles, the wild indiscriminate danger of war. No matter his orders Jack cannot restrain himself from being in the thick of the fight, a born leader, always at the front, going where many would fear to go, Jack has lost that fear, or at least lost the need to be controlled by it, because dead he has no more to worry about, and alive he must keep proving he is the better man and he can only do that from the front. Paul Collard has captured all of this perfectly.

I feel that many reader like me with be sat smugly from early in the book, saying “I know who the spy is”… I caution you now… beware that smugness, there is a twist in this tale, I had that smugness wiped off my face. Despite my protestations earlier in the review about the Lark/ Sharpe comparison, I have to admit to thinking that Devils Assassin could well have been a Sharpe tale, and that said fully as a compliment, I loved Sharpe. I think its because there was less fear at being caught as a pretender in his own life and more that he was an honest down to earth soldier thrust among the dandies and crazy gentry, trying to add some professional soldiers quality to the story, with a proper mission rather than just hiding in plain sight.

Personally I think Paul Collard has become one of the most readable figures in Historical Fiction, it helps that he is in a time period that is covered a lot more lightly than, eg, Rome, but I think he could pick out any period and his writing style would shine through. This truly is edge of the seat writing.

So once again I end a Jack Lark review with … HOW LONG …until the next one… a Year…. Sob??

Enjoy everyone, because if I get reading time I will do so again.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Series
Jack Lark
1. The Scarlet Thief (2013)
2. The Maharajah’s General (2013)
3. The Devil’s Assassin (2015)
Rogue (2014) (Short story)
Recruit (2015) (Short story)
The Scarlet ThiefThe Maharajah's GeneralThe Devil's AssassinRogue
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Paul Fraser Collard

Joe Abercrombie: Half the World (Review)

About the Author

Author Web site

Joe Abercrombie was born in Lancaster, England, on the last day of 1974. He was educated at the stiflingly all-boy Lancaster Royal Grammar School, where he spent much of his time playing computer games, rolling dice, and drawing maps of places that don’t exist. He went on to Manchester University to study Psychology. The dice and the maps stopped, but the computer games continued. Having long dreamed of single-handedly redefining the fantasy genre, he started to write an epic trilogy based around the misadventures of thinking man’s barbarian Logen Ninefingers. The result was pompous toss, and swiftly abandoned.

The Author, Joe AbercrombieJoe then moved to London, lived in a stinking slum with two men on the borders of madness, and found work making tea for minimum wage at a TV Post-Production company. Two years later he left to become a freelance film editor, and has worked since on a dazzling selection of documentaries, awards shows, music videos, and concerts for artists ranging from Barry White to Coldplay.

This job gave him a great deal of time off, however, and gradually realising that he needed something more useful to do than playing computer games, in 2002 he sat down once again to write an epic fantasy trilogy based around the misadventures of thinking man’s barbarian Logen Ninefingers. This time, having learned not to take himself too seriously in the six years since the first effort, the results were a great deal more interesting.

With heroic help and support from his family the first volume, The Blade Itself, was completed in 2004. Following a heart-breaking trail of rejection at the hands of several of Britain’s foremost literary agencies, The First Lawtrilogy was snatched up by Gillian Redfearn of Gollancz in 2005 in a seven-figure deal (if you count the pence columns). A year later The Blade Itself was unleashed on an unsuspecting public. It now has publishers in thirteen countries.  The sequels, Before They are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings were published in 2007 and 2008, when Joe was a finalist for the John W. Campbell award for best new writer.  Best Served Cold, a standalone book set in the same world, was published in June 2009, and a second standalone, The Heroes, came in January 2011 and made no. 3 on the Sunday Times Hardcover Bestseller List.  A third standalone, Red Country, was both a Sunday Times and New York Times Hardcover Bestseller in October 2012.

The first part of his Shattered Sea series, Half a King, came out in July 2014, with the other two, Half the World, and Half a War, due to be published January and July 2015.

Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, his daughters Grace and Eve, and his son Teddy.  He spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels…

Half the World (2015) (The second book in the Half a King series)

Buy a signed copy

Half the world UK Half the World US

Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War.
Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named a murderer by the very man who trained her to kill.
Sometimes a woman becomes a warrior.
She finds herself caught up in the schemes of Father Yarvi, Gettland’s deeply cunning minister. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit.
Sometimes a warrior becomes a weapon.
Beside her on the journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill, a failure in his eyes and hers, but with one chance at redemption.
And weapons are made for one purpose.
Will Thorn forever be a pawn in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path?

Review

Book Two in Joe Abercrombie’s Half a World series, set not long after book one, Yarvi is Minister and is trying to work his deep cunning to keep the kingdom of Gettland safe. Yarvi isn’t the main focus of this book. Book two follows the plight of Thorn a female warrior, derided by her peers, daughter of a dead hero and determined to follow in his footsteps, that determination see’s her fall foul of her training master and pulled by oath into the orbit of Minister Yarvi and his cunning plots.

Hard as it seems i think Joe has out done Half a King with this latest book, book two is a similar story type, coming of age, the sudden growth from youth to adulthood, thrust into the forefront of politics and battle. The similarity is even there with the ship voyage providing the ever-changing backdrop for the growth. But it comes into its own with the growth of Thorn as a fighter, with Brand and his struggle with the morality of war. and all of it mixed up in the deep cunning shenanigans of Yarvi. Because of the authors skillful handling of author growth and creativity the similarities are all blended into something unique and mind-blowing. There is always the thought that you know where the plot is leading but not always why, and that there is so much more tantalizing at the edge of the plot, particularly regarding the elves and who they might have been wand what they left behind.

The book leads us half way across the world and back again, it leads to the High kings and his minister trying to destroy Gettland, and it leads to old enemies meeting on the battle field.

Once again its a surprise this is a young adult novel, but when you think back you can see that it is toned done , not overt in the death and violence, but the implication more than enough to make this a tense and dramatic tale, the characterisation and world building realistic enough to suck you in from page one and have you rowing at the oars with every page.

I highly recommend this series, and cannot wait for book three

(Parm)

Series

 

First Law
1. The Blade Itself (2006)
2. Before They Are Hanged (2007)
3. Last Argument Of Kings (2008)
The First Law Trilogy Boxed Set: The Blade Itself / Before They Are Hanged / Last Argument of Kings(omnibus) (2012)
The First Law Trilogy (omnibus) (2015)
The Blade ItselfBefore They Are HangedLast Argument Of KingsThe First Law Trilogy Boxed Set: The Blade Itself / Before They Are Hanged / Last Argument of Kings

 

First Law World
1. Best Served Cold (2009)
2. The Heroes (2011)
3. Red Country (2012)
The Great Leveller: Best Served Cold, The Heroes and Red Country, together in one omnibus volume (omnibus)(2015)
Best Served ColdThe HeroesRed Country

 

Half a King
1. Half a King (2014)
2. Half a World (2015)
3. Half a War (2015)
Half a KingHalf a World

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Filed under Fantasy, Joe Abercrombie

Parmenion Books 2014 : The best books i have read this year.

As i do every year i have struggled and struggled with this list. How do you compile it, who goes in it etc… There are so so many great books in 2014 and many many authors not mentioned who deserve a mention, EG: Paul Collard, Anthony Riches, Douglas Jackson, SJA Turney, Robert Fabbri, Michael Arnold, Ben Kane, Nick Brown, Conn Iggulden, Simon Scarrow, Alex Scarrow, Harry Sidebottom, Angus Donald, Andy McDermott, Sam Sykes, SJ Deas/Nathan Hawke, James Wilde … see what i mean!!

There was a new Robin Hobb this year, CC Humphreys produced another splendid book, The very underrated Noble Smith had his second book out, there were some debuts that blew me away, inc I.D Roberts and Kingdom Lock and Toby Clements Kingmaker… If someone could figure out how i could just sit and read and still earn a living please let me know… because keeping up with all these amazing writers is becoming a full time gig, i think at last count i have read 127 books this year (and i still have time to get over the 130 mark).

Best of the year.

Best Short Story

Part Three (2013)

Tom Swan: Christian Cameron Blog Review

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (20 Nov 2014)

Best Short Story/ Novella Honourable Mention

Murder at KH

Murder at the Kinnen Hotel Brian McClellen Blog Review

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 74 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.

Best Compilation:

DOF

Day of Fire: Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter Blog Review

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Knight Media, LLC (4 Nov 2014)

 Best Fantasy (Joint Winner)

The Incorruptables

The Incorruptibles: John Horner Blog Review

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (14 Aug 2014)

One of the splendid debuts this year, incredible world building.

Fools

Prince of Fools : Mark Lawrence Blog Review

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (5 Jun 2014)

First in a wonderful new series, by a man who is a master of the genre (and a bloomin nice chap too)

 Best Historical Fiction

GoV

God of Vengeance : Giles Kristian Blog Review

Trailer Shoot (Behind the Scenes)

Book Trailer

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (24 April 2014)

(many will note that I have not picked a Christian Cameron book for best Historical Fiction, it was a deliberate omission to allow others to shine forth. Both Long War and Great King are books that could have sat along side this title, But i felt that God of Vengeance deserved to shave it on pure merit, it’s a stupendous piece of writing. Giles writing has a poetic almost musical quality even when the blood is flying and the swords are singing, hence my winner)

 Best Crime

abduction

The Abduction: Jonathan Holt Blog Review

A very evocative crime thriller, transports the reader.

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Head of Zeus (8 May 2014)

Best SCi Fi

red rising

Red Rising: Pierce Brown Blog Review

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (28 Jan 2014)

One of the best debuts i have ever read.

 Best Action Adventure

Ptramid+Headline+jacket

Pyramid: David Gibbins Blog Review

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (6 Nov 2014)

A man who lives his craft, he is Jack Howard, and it shows on every page.

 Best Debut

traitors blade

Traitors Blade: Sebastian De Castell Blog Review

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (6 Mar 2014)

The Dumas for the fantasy genre, and a stupendous debut.

Best Young Adult

half a king US Half a King UK

Half a King: Joe abercrombie Blog Review

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; 1st edition (3 July 2014)

People said Joe Abercrombie couldn’t write Young Adult…. oh so wrong.

 Non Book Highlights

53a 2014-06-16 18.02.10

Thorkil Jewellery Blog Review

A master craftsman, bringing the past to life using very old tools and skills.

2014: Book that affected me the most:

goldenred rising

To be Honest it is Golden Son by Pierce Brown, but technically that a 2015 release, so I will instead choose Red Rising. I really do NOT like SCiFi, fantasy, history,crime etc… love it, most genres I really enjoy, I watch SciFi, but I cannot read it. Yet Red Rising  (and Golden Son) had me in their grip from first page to last. I enjoyed them immensley. Pierce Brown is a very very talented man.

Blog Review (Golden Son)

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (8 Jan 2015)

I look forward to sharing 2015 with you all, publishers, readers, reviewers, everyone. this is a hobby that gives and gives, i hope im giving back in some small way.

(Parm)

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Crime, Dystopian, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Supernatural, Thrillers, Uncategorized, Young Adult

Ian Ross: Twilight of Empire – War at the Edge of the World (Q&A)

Ian ross

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Ian: Many thanks for taking the time to answer some questions….

1)      When I write a review I always like to give some background on the author, but all I could find was the stock blurb.. you are the veritable ghost man (writer) of the roman world… can you add some meat to the bones of who is Ian Ross?

I could do… although I quite like the idea of being ‘the ghost man/writer of the Roman world’! But to be a bit less nebulous: I originally studied painting at art college, but quickly decided that writing fiction allowed me greater freedom to express what I wanted to do. Since then I’ve supported myself with a variety of jobs, while continuing to develop my writing abilities. I spent a year in Italy teaching English, and that reawakened my interest in Roman history. Later, after I returned to the UK, I decided to combine what had become a growing fascination for the ancient world with my love of adventure stories. Other than that, I live in the west country but travel as much and as often as I can, I keep unsociable hours, and I’ve never owned a TV or a car…

  2)      What made you choose Roman Historical Fiction and why so late in the history of the Empire?

I’ve always been drawn to history, and the Romans in particular hold a special appeal. It’s that combination of the familiar and the completely alien I suppose – they resembled us in so many ways, but their society and beliefs were often brutally different. Periods of revolutionary upheaval and change interest me – change creates conflict, and conflict creates stories. The later Roman period was a time when the empire was changing, Christianity was becoming a force in the world and the old certainties were breaking down. There was a real sense that civilisation was in jeopardy, and perhaps the drama seems all the more intense set against that dark background. There was plenty of action too: near-constant wars on all frontiers, tangled alliances and intrigues, enormous battles and towering personalities. For perhaps the first time, ordinary men could rise to positions of great, and perilous, power. To throw a protagonist into that world, and to use his experiences as a sort of prism to show the wider picture, seemed to hold enormous potential.

 3)      I have to admit to ascribing some influences/ comparisons (in my view) for your book. “the depth of detail and narrative of Ben Kane, the action and pace of SJA Turney and a main character that has the depth and personality of Simon Scarrows Macro “  What if any influences do you think you have in writing this series (I really believe each person will see their own version of influences in any writing).

Being compared to some of the biggest writers in the field is very flattering – thanks! Of course, I’ve read most of the Roman fiction that’s come out in the last five or six years, and enjoyed it greatly. But I think with War at the Edge of the World I was consciously trying to reach back to things I’d read a few years before; probably there’s more direct influence from books like Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire, or Wallace Breem’s Eagle in the Snow – I love their very gutsy muscular prose style, and the convincing detailing of the era. Rosemary Sutcliff too – Eagle of the Ninth, naturally, but more especially Frontier Wolf, and The Flowers of Adonis, which was one of her books for adult readers. She had a superb way of summoning a sense of place, a feel for the setting and the landscape. I suppose that might relate to my background in painting – I tend to think very visually, and I enjoy being able to see places through description.

 4)      Centurion Aurelius Castus, what was the influence behind him as a main character, the bluff, soldier rather than the man at the centre of power (eg a book following Constantine)? Is he based on anyone you know? 

One of the first aspects of the story I came up with was the character of the protagonist, Castus – or Knucklehead, as I called him at first (the nickname stuck, even if it is anachronistic!). I found I could picture him very clearly right from the beginning. Essentially he’s the opposite of me in many ways – very physical, instinctive, inclined towards action rather than reflection. He’s also very big and brutal-looking, and can’t read or write, which leads people to underestimate him, often to their cost. I’ve never been drawn to superheroes or very larger-than-life characters, but Castus has a shrewd intelligence, a genuine sense of honour and a deep vein of compassion, and I hope it’s these qualities that make him heroic, besides leading him steadily into conflict with the far more twisted morals of the world around him.

 5)      Where will we go next? As a reader im tempted ito wish for two separate directions, I want to be with Centurion Aurelius Castus, I want to find out what happened to Cunomagla. I also want to follow the rise of Constantine, there is so much story there, so much intrigue for Centurion Aurelius Castus to become embroiled in.

 Castus will always remain at the heart of the story; the successive books in the series follow his rise through the hierarchy of the late Roman army, which parallels the rise of Constantine to supreme power. So the two of them are interlinked; the further he rises, the closer Castus gets to the emperor himself and the inner circles of imperial rule, and the more he gets to see of the realities of power, and the often inglorious ways that empires are maintained. Castus is a traditionalist, loyal to the old gods of Rome, so Constantine’s adoption of Christianity is going to be one of many challenges he has to face, with both his beliefs and his loyalties tested to breaking point. But there’s plenty of adventure along the way too: it’s possible that at some point Castus might find himself in north Britain again, and we’ll see more of Cunomagla, but he’s got a long road to take before he gets there!

6)      If you had the choice of any other Genre to write in, what would it be and why?

I’d think I’d be hard pressed to leave historical fiction behind: the past is just too fascinating, and there’s so much of it… But if I were somehow compelled to stop writing about Romans I’d doubtless start thinking up stories about archaic Greeks, or the Victorian Royal Navy, or 16th century swordsmen – it’s the way my imagination works. I have a couple of other projects in mind, but they’ll still very much in the planning stages…

 7)      What / who do you read for fun?

Besides the extensive research for the Castus books, which I genuinely enjoy – perhaps I enjoy it a bit too much at times – most of my reading lately has been other historical fiction. I’ve just finished Christian Cameron’s brilliant The Ill-Made Knight; his Tyrant novels are superb, and this one was just as impressive. The way he conjures the sense of an entirely convincing past world is both daunting and inspiring. Robert Low does the same, especially in his ‘Kingdom’ series, which was very powerful. There seems to be a lot of good medieval stuff around at the moment actually – next on my list is Toby Clements’ Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims… Probably my favourite contemporary writer, although not one I’d like to try and emulate, is Hilary Mantel: her Thomas Cromwell novels have revolutionised the way people think about historical fiction. There’s a visceral intensity about some of her writing that takes my breath away.

8)      Who are the writers that have influenced you most, from making you want to be a writer, through to style?

I’d say my earliest influences were the classic adventure writers of the 19th century, particularly Joseph Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson. Graham Greene too, from a later era; his stories have a real sense of moral complexity and peril about them. It took me quite a long time, I think, to realise that what I enjoyed most in fiction was powerful and compelling storytelling, combined with strong graphic description and depth of character. Writing War at the Edge of the World, I also found myself recalling some of the fantasy/sf novels I’d enjoyed in my teens; I recently reread Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun and Soldier in the Mist, and I was amazed at how much of it had remained lodged in some corner of my mind. Undoubtedly the things you read at an early age often make the greatest impression.

9)      If you could invite any four people from throughout history or fictional writing to dinner, whom would it be and why?

Inviting interesting historical figures to dinner might be risky; many of them probably wouldn’t get on, and you may not make it through to dessert! In purely practical terms, I’d love to quiz the Roman soldier and writer Ammianus Marcellinus: the first thirteen books of his history of the later empire, including the bits covering the reign of Constantine, are lost, and he could fill me in on the no-doubt scurrilous details. I’d rather invite the emperor Maxentius to dinner than his great rival Constantine: it would be interesting to get the loser’s side of the story for a change, and I could find out exactly what he thought he was doing at the battle of Milvian Bridge… Zenobia of Palmyra would no doubt enliven any party, and Gore Vidal would, I’m sure, have a host of pithy anecdotes to cover any awkward lapses in the conversation.

 10)   Finally, the bit most authors would shy away from. You have a soap box and the publisher has asked you to stand outside Kings cross and sell your books to the passers buy… what would your pitch be to make the public buy this book/ series?

I would probably need the help of the late Don laFontaine, of the gravelly movie-trailer voice, to do justice to my soap box. I’ve never been fond of pitches myself, but if pushed I might end up with something like Conflict, adventure and dangerous intrigue on the far northern frontier of a declining Roman empire….

 

So you have heard from man himself… and here is my review again… Click to read

this is one not to miss, and for those of you who collect signed books… get this now, they will go very fast, Ian Ross is a name to watch.

(Parm)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Ian Ross

Christian Cameron Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade (review)

Christian Cameron

chris 1
USA (1962 – )

aka Miles Cameron, Gordon Kent

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.

Part Three

(2013)
(The third book in the Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade series)

Part Three (2013)

Part nine of a fast-paced serialised novel set in the turbulent Europe of the fifteenth century.

Review

If you’re an author and you want to write a series of short stories, then this is the bench mark, this is how it is done, and done excellently. Anyone who follows this blog will be aware i’m a huge fan of this author. But that never colours my review of his work, if he ever produces a book that falls below the extremely high standards he sets himself then i will be first to call it out.

Tom Swan is the pinnacle of historical fiction writing for me, each episode/ novella a journey into fifteen century europe, a look behind the curtain of so many aspects of that time, a Donat of St John, a spy, a historian/ archaeologist, a lover and a fighter, Our hero Tom Swan is all these things and so much more. He is literally brought to life in book one and from that point onwards i have looked forward to the next tale, the next adventure. Adventures so real, so well researched and coupled with the authors own experience with swords and armour that you really feel like you are adventuring alongside Tom Swan.

This latest book allows yet more growth in Toms character, and all the supporting cast, and thats one of the true talents of Christian Cameron, that he brings all characters to life, there are no 2D characters. As usual there is an intricately woven plot, with plenty of devious machinations and superb visualisation of 15th Century Venice to add to the wonderful ongoing tale.

If ever some one is looking for the next “Perfect TV series” then this is the story to look at, The serial nature of the book gives this series a real HBO feel, but with the added depth and quality only a book can provide.

I say again… it gets no better… Highly recommended

(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 Bosporus
Destroyer 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)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRome
RhodesChios
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

Brian McClellan: Murder at the Kinnen Hotel (Review)

Brian lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and between 6,000 and 60,000 honey bees (depending on the time of year).

He began writing on Wheel of Time role playing websites at fifteen. Encouraged toward writing by his parents, he started working on short stories and novellas in his late teens. He went on to major in English with an emphasis on creative writing at Brigham Young University. It was here he met Brandon Sanderson, who encouraged Brian’s feeble attempts at plotting and characters more than he should have.

Brian continued to study writing not just as an art but as a business and was determined this would be his life-long career. He attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp in 2006. In 2008, he received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.

In November 2011, The Powder Mage Trilogy sold at auction to Orbit Books. The first two books, Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign, are out now with book three, The Autumn Republic, due out in February of 2015.

Murder at the Kinnen Hotel (2014)

(A book in the Powder Mage Trilogy series)
A Novella by Brian McClellan

Buy e-Book from amazon (UK)

Murder at KH

Special Detective Constable Adamat may be the most capable young investigator in all of Adopest. He’s sharp, thoughtful, and his particular sorcery gives him a flawless memory. A transfer to the First Precinct seems like the perfect opportunity to showcase his abilities and advance his career.

But things work differently in the First Precinct. The murder of a businessman’s mistress quickly pulls Adamat into an unexpected world of conspiracy and politics where he’s forced to use all his wits to stay one step ahead of unseen enemies and keep his friends – and himself – from the guillotine.

Occurs twenty-two years before the events in Promise of Blood.

Review

I’m always surprised by Brian’s books, his debut Promise of Blood (2013) was / is such an accomplished book, the characters so real, so tangible, his world so wonderfully imagined. The sights the sounds the smells, the reality of the world are all present in the book, but without that clunky new author shove it in your face descriptive, you feel and smell them as you enter the world and live with the characters, it truly is immersive writing.

This latest Novella Murder at the Kinnen Hotel is a unique opportunity to explore that world in a short explosive fashion, to feel that wonderful writing and world. To learn about the structure of the magic, the class system and the inevitable corruptions that fuel the politics of this world, its more than a tease to make you go buy the Promise of Blood, its an accomplished tale on its own, its just proof of the writing skill that its made me want to read Promise of Blood and Crimson Campaign again. Im highly looking forward to The Autumn Republic (12/02/2015) and hope to review it here soon.

If you’re looking for something new, something different in the fantasy genre, then look no further… This is the writer and this is the series.

(Parm)

Series
Powder Mage Trilogy
1. Promise of Blood (2013)
1.5. Return to Honor (2015)
2. The Crimson Campaign (2014)
3. The Autumn Republic (2015)
Hope’s End (2013)
Forsworn (2014)
The Girl of Hrusch Avenue (2014)
The Face in the Window (2014)
Servant of the Crown (2014)
Murder at the Kinnen Hotel (2014)
Promise of BloodReturn to HonorThe Crimson CampaignThe Autumn Republic
Hope's EndForswornThe Girl of Hrusch AvenueThe Face in the Window
Servant of the CrownMurder at the Kinnen Hotel

 

 

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Filed under Brian McClellan, Historical Fiction

Ian Ross: War at the Edge of the World (Twilight of Empire) Review

About the author

Ian Ross has been researching and writing about the later Roman world and its army for over a decade. He spent a year in Italy teaching English, but now lives in Bath.

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Ian ross

The epic first instalment in a sequence of novels set at the end of the Roman Empire, during the reign of the Emperor Constantine.

Centurion Aurelius Castus – once a soldier in the elite legions of the Danube – believes his glory days are over, as he finds himself in the cold, grey wastes of northern Britain, battling to protect an empire in decline.

When the king of the Picts dies in mysterious circumstances, Castus is selected to guard the Roman envoy sent to negotiate with the barbarians beyond Hadrian’s Wall. Here he will face the supreme challenge of command, in a mission riven with bloodshed and treachery, that tests his honour to the limit. As he struggles to avert disaster and keep his promise to a woman he has sworn to protect, Castus discovers that nothing about this doomed enterprise was ever what it seemed.

Review

Ian Ross and Twilight of Empire: War at the edge of the World has all the hallmarks of the next great Roman series. The author has chosen a period that few have written in, a time when Rome and its empire is very different to the one we see portrayed in films and the HBO TV series, gone is the segmented armour, the Scutum etc, in its place, Mail or scale armour oval shields and these guys wore tunics and breeches, a clear sign of the blending of other nations into the empire . It was a time when the Empire was so large its power and leadership was shared, its politics even murkier. The book follows the exploits of Centurion Aurelius Castus, his journey north into the lands of the Picts, the inevitable betrayals, escape and eventual revenge.

The book is delivered in an interesting style, i would suspect that the author is very well read in the genre, or by some quirk of writing styles he has endeavored to produce the depth of detail and narrative of Ben Kane, the action and pace of SJA Turney and a main character that has the depth and personality of Simon Scarrows Macro (that’s not an Insult, i think Macro is very multi faceted). Castus is a non nonsense hard fighting centurion, a man who looks out for his men, he is also a man with a tactical brain, very much like Macro. Add in Nigrinus the notary (who takes the place of Narcissus) and you can see the comparison… but don’t be swayed by it, this is only a facet of the characters and plot, Ian Ross brings plenty of originality.

The Journey of  Centurion Aurelius Castus is a refreshing change for the Roman fiction genre, across a very much changed Romano Britain landscape, the power of the empire has dimmed at its edges, but thinking its failed is a mistake the Picts will rue.  In the same way that the conquest of Britain was for politician ends rather than expansion, this political backwater of the empire is once again at the forefront of a changing an empire, Instead of Claudius solidifying his hold on power, we are to witness the rise of Constantine, a name to shape an empire. In many ways this book feels like a taste of what’s to come from a clearly talented author.

I hope to follow more of the journeys and battles of Centurion Aurelius Castus, and also the rise of Constantine.

Highly recommend this one

(Parm)

 

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Ian Ross