Monthly Archives: January 2015

Christian Cameron: Long Sword (Review)

Chris 1Chris 2

*Photos courtesy of Ian LaSpina* (with much appreciation)

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 (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice, currently age seven. He attends the University of Toronto when the gods move him and may eventually have a Masters in Classics, but right now he’s a full time historical novelist, and it is the best job in the world.

Christian is a dedicated reenactor and you can follow some of his recreated projects on the Agora. He’s always recruiting, so if you’d like to try the ancient world, the medieval world, or the late 18th century, follow the link to contact us.

Book Description

long sword

Pisa, May 1364. Sir William Gold – newly knighted on the battlefield outside the gates of Florence – can look forward to a lucrative career as a sword for hire in the endless warring between Italy’s wealthy city states. But when a message comes from Father Pierre de Thomas, Grand Master of the Order of St John – better known as the Hospitallers – Sir William knows he has no choice but to leave his dreams of fame and fortune behind him.

Father Pierre is gathering men across Europe for a crusade, and as a donat of the order, Sir William is pledged to serve him. But before setting out for the Holy Land, Sir William and his companions face deadly adversaries closer to home. In the labyrinthine politics of Italy, not only would some cities rather side with the Saracen than their fellow Christians, but there are powerful princes of the church whose ambitions would be better served if the crusade failed – not to mention two of Sir William’s bitterest enemies – the maniacal Bourc le Camus, now in the pay of the ruthless Cardinal Robert of Geneva, and the Count D’Herblay, husband of the woman who still holds Sir William’s heart.

With assassins and conspirators on all sides, Sir William and his band of knights must overcome overwhelming odds – but if they survive, can the crusade be anything more than a suicide mission?

Long Sword: Review

I’m sure many of my regulars are expecting my usual litany of effusive comments about the remarkable writing that Christian produces. I do feel a bit like his English fan boy some days when I write the review, but I love the writing.

That said I struggled with the start of this one, be it my state of mind coming into my 10th book in January, or back to back to back historical fiction? I don’t know, but it felt a bit mired in detail, detail that Christian releases normally so effortlessly, it seemed to come out a little like a manual… I even think that I may have had a Tom Swan hangover, Tom Swan is one of the great unsung heroes of the Historical Fiction genre, an e-Book only serial, but so brilliant I miss it every day.

But William Gold didn’t/ couldn’t let me down, and neither did Christian, almost without noticing I went from the mire to brightness and solid ground.

As ever with Christians books this isn’t a light tome, its 448 pages long, but if you are like me, it will only be a 48 -72 hour read, after my initial struggle, which TBH was really only about a chapter when I checked back, I was fully caught up, I could not put it down. Christians research is amazing, he packs in such detail, but effortlessly, you feel the weight of armour, and you feel the maneuverability, and the exhaustion of wearing it, and I know this comes from the fact that he does wear it, and he does fight in it .

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Christian was also a warrior in his own right, and an intelligencer, so he knows how battles are fought, he knows the nuances, the thought process used by commanders, subordinates etc and dare I say by those who have to go and gather the intelligence in the most dangerous of circumstances.

What isn’t written down in history book (and even things that are) he checks. If how to swing a sword doesn’t sound right he will practice, if the clothing doesn’t sound authentic he will check with someone who knows, or even try to make it. I don’t think I have ever met someone so full of and yet still desperate for knowledge, and we the reader benefit from all of this.

Long sword isn’t Christians best book, but it is still an excellent book and I desperately want the next book in the series… as I seem to for every next book in every one of his series.

I highly recommend this, this isn’t just a book about fighting and the crusades, this is a book about chivalry, about love, and abstinence and its difficulty and temptations and about the glory of true friendship and a man striving to be better than he was yesterday.

(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. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part One (2014)
2. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Two (2014)
3. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Three (2014)
Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part OneTom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part TwoTom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part 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

Matthew Reilly : The Great Zoo Of China (Review)

Matthew Reilly's picture

Matthew Reilly

Australia (1974 – )

Matthew Reilly was born in Sydney in 1974 and studied Law at the University of New South Wales. He has written both screenplays and magazine articles, and recently optioned the film rights to Contest. His second and third novels, Ice Station and Temple, became No. 1 bestsellers in his native Australia, and went on to enjoy huge success internationally. The author still lives in Sydney, and keeps on writing.

zoo

Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (12 Feb. 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1409134253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409134251
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 4.7 x 24 cm

In the blockbuster and bestselling tradition of Jurassic Park comes the breakneck new adventure from the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Matthew Reilly whose imaginative, cinematic thrillers “make you feel like a kid again; [they’re] a blast” (Booklist).

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have proven the existence of dragons – a landmark discovery no one could ever believe is real, and a scientific revelation that will amaze the world. Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing findings within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see these fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles. The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that the dragons are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t..

Review (With Spoilers… not usual for me… but there you go)

I don’t normally write reviews for books that I score below a 4 star rating, but I felt compelled to write something about this one. I have always enjoyed the release of Matthew Reilly’s books, they are my escape from genre and reality. After spending so much time in the past sometimes I need something fantastical, something out there on the edge that tests your ability to suspend belief, where you are not wondering if a person could really have survived an encounter (we know that really they would have died in scene one).

What I think that readers of this genre do demand though is originality, and for the first time ever I think the author fails, there is no way anyone can do anything but compare this book to Jurassic park, only instead of Raptors and T-Rex chomping people to bits we have dragons. The author does add in a few nuances around intelligence (but we saw that with the raptors in Jurassic park) the Dragons desire to escape, again we saw that in Jurassic park. The hero (Geoff Goldblum) became a heroine (CJ Cameron), nice move, but she was just too much, she would have and should have died so many times, too many to swallow. Normally The authors weapon research is excellent, but this time they only worked to suit the author, eg: grenades that go off at the touch of a flame (nope) tanks and Apache helicopters destroyed in a blink, yet they (dragons) could not destroy a fire truck, and CJ… well charmed life with the odd scratch.

I know already that fans of the author will flame any review I add like this, if I put it on good reads or amazon I can ticker tape count the negative votes it will get. But I’m sorry that will be an emotive response… quick protect the poor fragile author. I’m pretty certain that he is expecting reviews like this, and maybe hoping to get away with out them. Reviews are a personal thing, so for me, personally this did not work, I’m sure it will for many other.

That said I still passed some fun hours, even if I scoffed at much of the action… but it really is a 3/5. The characters are fun as ever, the writing is splendidly paced as usual, but the plot was the let down… and that’s the first time I have ever said that for a Matthew Reilly book.

as with any book that isn’t to my taste… read it yourself, make up your own mind (just maybe save it for the pool on holiday when you have left the brain back at home.)

(Parm)

Scarecrow

1. Ice Station (1998)
2. Area 7 (2001)
3. Scarecrow (2003)
4. Hell Island (2006)
5. Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves (2011)
aka Scarecrow Returns
Ice Station / Hell Island (omnibus) (2007)
Ice StationArea 7ScarecrowHell IslandScarecrow and the Army of Thieves
Hover Car Racer
1. Crash Course (2005)
2. Full Throttle (2006)
3. Photo Finish (2007)
Hover Car Racer (2004)
Crash CourseFull ThrottlePhoto FinishHover Car Racer
Jack West Junior
1. The Seven Ancient Wonders (2005)
aka Seven Deadly Wonders
2. The Six Sacred Stones (2007)
3. The Five Greatest Warriors (2009)
The Seven Ancient WondersThe Six Sacred StonesThe Five Greatest Warriors
Tournament
Roger Ascham and the King’s Lost Girl (2013)
The Tournament (2013)
Roger Ascham and the King's Lost GirlThe Tournament
Troll Mountain Serial Novel
1. Troll Mountain: Episode I (2014)
2. Troll Mountain: Episode II (2014)
3. Troll Mountain: Episode III (2014)
Troll Mountain: The Complete Novel (2014)
Troll Mountain: Episode ITroll Mountain: Episode IITroll Mountain: Episode IIITroll Mountain: The Complete Novel
Novels
Temple (1999)
Contest (2000)
The Great Zoo of China (2014)
TempleContestThe Great Zoo of China
Series contributed to
Quick Reads 2006
Hell Island (2006)
Hell Island

 

 

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Matthew Reilly, Thrillers

Fire Sermon (Francesca Haig) + Harper Voyager Blogger event.

Today (Sat 24th Jan) was one of those great rare days when i get invited to a publisher event (along with many other far more talented people) … The subject of the event? The launch of the upcoming Fire Sermon due out on the 26th Feb 2015.

Fire Sermon Buy from Amazon

Fire Sermon Buy Signed from Goldsboro

So up nice and early and on the train to London, leaving behind the wife and my little Diva

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Powering through the usual East coast mainline farce (they had reserved the same seat for 3 people…inc me) on a packed train, picturing a 90 min stand to lLondoni sighed down to the last carriage, and struck lucky with a reserved seat who hadn’t turned up…and what would any self respecting blogger do next… Out with the book ( Long Sword by Christian Cameron… review to come soon)

Due at 11.30am , in my usual fashion i arrived very early…

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(Anyone recognise the location?)

on a lovely sunny day you see the great buildings and sights in a different way…. none so much as coming out of the London Bridge Tube station…

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This is what you see just rising up in front of you, the stop must have been deliberately positioned to give this awe inspiring view as you rise up the escalator.

This is only the start of the amazing view that is the new Harper offices

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and the view from inside…one so fabulous that you wonder if anyone will get any work done

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this is only a small part of the stunning panoramic view from this wonderful new office building.

All this and i had not even got to the main event….meeting Francesca Haig and her wonderful new book.

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Greeted by Francesca… “Parmenionbooks, are you the one who has been tweeting me?”….. erm….. quickly tries to remember how cheeky i had been “Yes…erm thats me”…. yup i stunned her with my witty repartee!

I need not have worried, she was a truly lovely person to meet, (as was her husband and little one). We were treated to tea and coffee and then a reading or two from the pending excellence that is Fire Sermon

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(please note in the background the splendid book wall… close up below)

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also add in the some quite excellent typewriter table lamps (want one)

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The author reading soon turned into the blogger Q&A…. just for a few seconds there was that stunned silence of …”agghhh i don’t want to be first”.. i didn’t really help here.

But soon those other talented bloggers soon had Francesca pouring out little facts. When you read the book, pay attention to place names, there are some nods to dystopian authors of the past. We learned the origin of character names, where she wrote the book, how she wrote the book, the inspiration for the book and more. It all made for a fascinating morning…. and honestly everyone was listening, not thinking about cake…

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nope…no thinking about cake at all…from anyone….

(i snagged one of these for the Diva)…..

and some lunch for me….(lovely sandwiches Harper Voyager thank you)

Then a surprise book signing and a copy of the book for each blogger and and goody bag of other books (yey… also containing a very interesting flyer for An Ember in the Ashes  – 4 Jun 2015 by Sabaa Tahir, i’m very intrigued by this one)… and a copy of Joe Abercrombie Half a World

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So for a blogger it was a wonderful day out, meeting some wonderful people…. some of the best being the lovely ladies of Harper Voyager themselves, a group who look after us all year long as readers, and went above and beyond today. THANK YOU.

and Thank you to Francesca Haig (and her family)

and those who enjoy this blog, or just seethe with jealousy…please read the book…(Review ) its compelling reading. For me…. its a heck of a long wait for book 2.

(Parm)

 

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Filed under Dystopian, Francesca Haig

Francesca Haig: Fire Sermon (review)

 

Francesca Haig

Francesca Haig's picture

Francesca Haig is an author and academic. Her poetry is widely published, and her novel The Fire Sermon(the first in a post-apocalyptic trilogy) will be published in February 2015 by HarperVoyager (UK) and March 2015 by Simon & Schuster (US and Canada), and is being translated into more than 20 languages. She gained her PhD from the University of Melbourne, and her principal research area is Holocaust literature. She grew up in Tasmania, and currently lives in London. The Fire Sermon (2014) (The first book in the Fire Sermon series) A novel by Francesca Haig

book cover of </p><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Fire Sermon </p><br /><br /><br /> <p>

When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. The complete set. They would have been disbelieving – nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega. Nobody. Born as twins. Raised as enemies. One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death. The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts. The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts. Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose. The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

Review Debut novels are something i love to get my hands on, and the hype around this book made my desire to read it double… then i saw the cover art, im a sucker for a good cover and this one is crack(l)ing. As i started the book i have to admit to a small struggle, but world building take a little time, if done well it can draw in the reader, suck them into the mind and wonder of the writer. This book is no different, before i had hit chapter three i was hooked, drawn into the compelling concept of linked twins, with an unjust un-equal relationship. A relationship that breeds division and different classes. I was very much reminded during the reading of this book and its treatment of the omegas, of the way humanity treats those they feel inferior, the nazis and the jews, black and white, make and female. The human inability to just live as one. The book had the potential to be very dark, but i felt that the author brought a lightness, a ray of hope, that in amongst the darkness and the struggle there is the potential for redemption, for some one to shout out and topple the crazy leadership that we seem to so easily fall in behind and serve. There are for me subtle parallels in that the council have a dark agenda, one that they pursue without mandate from those who may have put them in power, some may say in a similar way to our own modern politicians who seem to promise anything to get power and then deliver nothing but pursue their own ends.

Fire Sermon as well gives us a heart warming tale of two people thrust into an impossible race for survival, pursued by odds too great to survive, chasing a dream, and ideal, and really just wanting to find peace and time to live quietly. Its a truly original tale, with a compelling and addictive plot and deep rich characters.

Highly recommended (Parm)

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Filed under Dystopian, Francesca Haig

2015: Titles i hope to review….

Every year around this time i post a list of books that i would like to review… its only ever a starter for 10, it only includes the ones i know, there are many i don’t, many that will be a surprise: Its a line in the sand (and maybe a hint for the lovely publishers 😉

I hope it also helps my fellow readers and bloggers know what is coming…..

Title Author Publisher Date
Rain on the Dead Jack Higgins Putnam 30/12/2014
The Providence of Fire: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne: Book Two Brian Staveley Tor 15/01/2015
The Last Roman: Honour Jack Ludlow Allison & Busby 22/01/2015
The Mime Order (The Bone Season) Samantha Shannon Bloomsbury 27/01/2015
Blood Infernal: The Order of the Sanguines Series James Rollins, Rebecca Cantrell William Morrow 10/02/2015
Guns of the Dawn Adrian Tchaikovsky Tor 12/02/2015
The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage trilogy) Brian McClellan Orbit 12/02/2015
Master of War: Defiant Unto Death David Gilman Head of Zeus 12/02/2015
Kings and Emperors: An Alan Lewrie Naval Adventure (Alan Lewrie Naval Adventures) Dewey Lambdin Thomas Dunne 24/02/2015
Fields of Wrath: A Renshai Novel Mickey Zucker Reichert DAW 24/02/2015
Wings of the Storm Giles Kristian Bantam 25/02/2015
Those Above (The Empty Throne) Daniel Polansky Hodder 26/02/2015
Gallow: The Anvil Nathan Hawke Gollancz 26/02/2015
The Boy Who Wept Blood (Erebus Sequence 2) Den Patrick Gollancz 28/02/2015
Maximus Richard L. Black Shadow Mountain 03/03/2015
Rome’s Lost Son: Vespasian VI Robert Fabbri Atlantic Books 05/03/2015
Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Four Christian Cameron Orion 12/03/2015
The Assassin (Isaac Bell Series) Clive Cussler Michael Joseph 12/03/2015
Sword Of The North (The Grim Company) Luke Scull Head of Zeus 12/03/2015
Empire of the Moghul: Traitors in the Shadows Alex Rutherford Headline 09/04/2015
Eagles at War: (Eagles of Rome 1) Ben Kane Preface 09/04/2015
Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Five Christian Cameron Orion 09/04/2015
Gallow: Solace Nathan Hawke Gollancz 09/04/2015
The Skull Throne (The Demon Cycle, Book 4) Peter V. Brett Harper Voyager 09/04/2015
The Patriot Threat (Cotton Malone) Steve Berry Hodder 09/04/2015
Thunder of the Gods (Empire) Anthony Riches Hodder 16/04/2015
The Curse of Anne Boleyn C C Humphreys May-15
Keane’s Charge Iain Gale Heron Books 07/05/2015
At the Ruin of the World John Henry Clay Hodder 07/05/2015
At the Ruin of the World John Henry Clay Hodder 07/05/2015
Absolution (The Carnivia Trilogy) Jonathan Holt Head of Zeus 07/05/2015
The Girl Who Walked Into The Fire Manda Scott Bantam 07/05/2015
The Watchman of Eternity Paul Witcover Bantam 07/05/2015
The Seeker (Damian Seeker 1) S. G. MacLean Quercus 07/05/2015
Solomon Creed Simon Toyne Harper Collins 07/05/2015
Black River Tom Harper Hodder 07/05/2015
Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Six Christian Cameron Orion 14/05/2015
Blood and Steel (Throne of the Caesars, Book 2) Harry Sidebottom Harper Collins 21/05/2015
Piranha (Oregon Files) Clive Cussler Putnam 26/05/2015
Greatcoat’s Lament Sebastien De Castell Jo Fletcher 02/06/2015
Tintagel Book 1 M. K. Hume Headline 04/06/2015
Whose Business is to Die Adrian Goldsworthy W&N 11/06/2015
The King’s Assassin Angus Donald Sphere 15/06/2015
The Liar’s Key (Red Queen’s War, Book 2) Mark Lawrence Harper Voyager 18/06/2015
Queen of Fire: Book 3 of Raven’s Shadow Anthony Ryan Orbit 02/07/2015
The Bone Labyrinth: A Sigma Force Novel (Sigma Force Novels) James Rollins William Morrow 02/07/2015
Uprooted Naomi Novak Tor 02/07/2015
The Immortal Throne Stella Gemmell Bantam 02/07/2015
Kingmaker 2: Betrayal Toby Clements Century 02/07/2015
The Insider Threat: A Pike Logan Thriller Brad Taylor Dutton 07/07/2015
Wars of the Roses: Margaret of Anjou Conn Iggulden Putnam 16/07/2015
The Madagaskar Plan Guy Saville Hodder 16/07/2015
Ruin John Gwynne Tor 16/07/2015
Ruin John Gwynne Tor 16/07/2015
Marston Moor (The Civil War Chronicles) Michael Arnold Hodder 16/07/2015
Half a War (Shattered Sea) Joe Abercrombie Harper Voyager 28/07/2015
Hereward: The Immortals: (Hereward 5) James Wilde Bantam 30/07/2015
Vanishing Games Roger Hobbs DoubleDay 30/07/2015
The Protector S.J. Deas Headline 30/07/2015
Saxon: The Pope’s Assassin Tim Severin Macmillan 30/07/2015
The Eternal World Christopher Farnsworth William Morrow 04/08/2015
Salamis Christian Cameron Orion 13/08/2015
Fool’s Quest (Fitz and the Fool, Book 2) Robin Hobb Harper Voyager 13/08/2015
Sword of Apollo Noble Smith Thomas Dunne 18/08/2015
Scourge of Rome: Gaius Valerius Verrens 6 Douglas Jackson Bantam 27/08/2015
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms George R. R. Martin Harper Voyager 06/10/2015
The Prisoner’s Gold (The Hunters 3) Chris Kuzneski Headline 08/10/2015
The City of Mirrors Justin Cronin Orion 08/10/2015
The Hanging Tree Ben Aaronovitch Gollancz 19/11/2015
War Hawk James Rollins, Grant Blackwood Orion 07/01/2016
Fire C C Humphreys Century 05/05/2016
King of Ashes (The War of Five Crowns, Book 1) Raymond E. Feist Harper Voyager 05/05/2016
The Ember in the Ashes: The Book and the Sword: 2 Antoine Rouaud Gollancz 16/06/2016
Robin Hobb Untitled 3 (Fitz and the Fool, Book 3) Robin Hobb Harper Voyager 14/07/2016

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