Monthly Archives: August 2015

Steven A McKay : Rise of the Wolf

Author Bio (in his own words)

Steven A. McKay

My second book, The Wolf and the Raven was released on April 7th 2014, at the London Book Fair where I was part of the Amazon KDP/Createspace/ACX stand. My debut novel, Wolf’s Head, was also released the same day as an audiobook.
My new book, Rise of the Wolf, will be published in June/July 2015.

I was born in 1977, near Glasgow in Scotland. I live in Old Kilpatrick with my wife and two young children. After obtaining my Bachelor of Arts degree with the Open University I decided to follow my life-long ambition and write a historical novel.

Bernard Cornwell’s King Arthur series was my biggest influence in writing “Wolf’s Head”, and “The Wolf and the Raven”, but I’ve also really enjoyed recent books by guys like Ben Kane, Glyn Iliffe, Douglas Jackson and Anthony Riches.

I play guitar and sing in a heavy metal band when we can find the time to meet up.

Buy the book



Sir Guy of Gisbourne is back! Bent on vengeance against Robin Hood and with a turncoat new lieutenant in tow, an unlikely new hero must stand up for herself… YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND – 1323 AD The greenwood has been quiet and the outlaws have become complacent, but the harsh reality of life is about to hit the companions with brutal, deadly force thanks to their old foe, Prior John de Monte Martini. From a meeting with King Edward II himself to the sheriff’s tournament with its glittering prize, the final, fatal, showdown fast approaches for the legendary Wolf’s Head. New friends, shattered loyalties, and a hate-fuelled hunter that threatens to wipe out not only Robin’s companions but his entire family will all play their part in the RISE OF THE WOLF.


So… always a tough review to write; when the author has been crazy …sorry kind enough to ask you to be part of the shaping of a book and beta read and feedback your thoughts on the book i find it quite difficult to write a review because i have more than one version swimming around in my head. I think Steven possibly deep down regretted asking me this time, i took the gloves off because it was book 3 in the series and book 4 over all and i think by the time i was done he felt like he had gone a few rounds with Gisbourne himself (sorry Steven).

For anyone who is ever lucky enough to be asked to get involved in something like this i highly recommend doing this because its very interesting and highly rewarding, especially when the author listens. I never think you can take credit for anything in the final draft, but you can feel some joy in little snippets you can see your quill dipped in.

So how does the book stand up to the rest of the series and my expectations? McKays Gisbourne is deliciously dark, a man pushed to the edge and then over it, and its this and his new sergeant that really make the book, there are some surprises in who lives and who dies but mainly the book suffers a tad from its wider angle lens. The previous books focused so much Robin and his immediate men and this gave them a pace and immediacy that this book doesn’t have. But this book has instead other very bright sparks, the return of a traitor, one so bad you can hate him while possibly feeling sympathy for Gisbourne (i know…crazy), there is more of a focus on Robins wife and sister, both written with a very female sympathetic edge. we visit the royal court and have more than one humorous encounter with the king the later one i really enjoyed.

So in summary, this is another excellent book in the series, not my favourite, but still well worth a read, and gives a lead in to what should be a high charged and dramatic conclusion……. Bring on book 4




The Wolf and the Raven (The Forest Lord Book 2)Wolf's Head (The Forest Lord Book 1)Rise of the Wolf (The Forest Lord Book 3)

Knight of the Cross

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The Deed of the Red Knight and ‘Messenger’ part II

With Pen and Sword

Martial Arts

This week I help run my Mediieval tournament, with about 80 friends.  We’ll have archery and fighting in and out of armour, music, dance, a lot of cooking and a camp full of ‘pavilions, tents and booths’ to quote Villani.  I promise a full update when I return.    We’re at the Rose House Museum and all are welcome, Saturday and Sunday, 11 to 4 PM.  My friends from Schola Magdalena will give a concert at 4PM on Saturday, August 15th as part of the tournament… In the mean time, as promised…

The Messenger’s Tale
Part Two
Miles Cameron

Daar as Salaam – Pavalo Payam
The Abode of Peace was the fairest city in the world, or so Pavalo still thought many years later. It had problems – like heresy, vice, theft, riots and murder. A city with half a million souls did not escape the touch of evil. But Daar…

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Joe Abercrombie: Sharp Ends (GREAT NEWS)

Joe Abercrombie

‘Joe Abercrombie is doing some terrific work’

George R. R. Martin, author of GAME OF THRONES.

‘The brightest star among the new generation of British fantasy writers’ THE TIMES

Gollancz and Orbit to publish Sharp Ends, a collection of gritty short stories by Joe Abercrombie

Gollancz  and Orbit US are thrilled to announce that they will be publishing a stunning hardback collection of superb short stores featuring best-loved characters from the world of The First Law, by Sunday Times bestselling fantasy author Joe Abercrombie. Gollancz will publish the collection in the United Kingdom and Orbit in the United States.

The short stories will be a mix of original and reissued short stories collected together for the first time, including the Locus Award-winning “Tough Times All Over.” The brand-new shorts will feature some of the most popular characters from the First Law world, including Glokta, Jezal, Logen Ninefingers, Bethod and Monza Murcatto.

Joe Abercrombie said: “I’m very pleased that some widely scattered shorts are going to be brought together in one volume along with some new stories about old friends and enemies, filling in some blanks in the map of the First Law world and offering some different perspectives on key events.  I hope readers will have as much fun revisiting some of these much-loved – and much-hated – characters as I have . . .”

Joe Abercrombie’s novels in the First Law world have sold over half a million copies to date. He is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author.  Joe’s short stories are in demand for collections put together by some of the biggest names in the industry, including George R. R. Martin.

 Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy (The Blade ItselfBefore They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings). His stand-alone novels (Best Served ColdThe Heroes and Red Country) are also set in the First Law world.

His novels have been shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award, British Fantasy Award, John W. Campbell Award and the David Gemmell Legend Award. His covers are also award winning, and have won both the David Gemmell Legend Award and the World Fantasy Award for best artwork.

Joe formerly worked as a freelance film editor and is now a full time writer who lives in Bath with his family. Follow @LordGrimdark on twitter for more information, or visit


Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of The First Law, Joe Abercrombie

UK: 21 April 2016, hardback. Pre order from Amazon

US: 21 April 2016, hardback


First Law
1. The Blade Itself (2006)
2. Before They Are Hanged (2007)
3. Last Argument Of Kings (2008)
The First Law Trilogy (omnibus) (2012)
Sharp Ends (2016)
First Law World
1. Best Served Cold (2009)
2. The Heroes (2010)
3. Red Country (2012)
The Great Leveller (omnibus) (2015)
Shattered Sea
1. Half a King (2014)
2. Half the World (2015)
3. Half a War (2015)
The Collected Joe Abercrombie (2013)

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Rebecca Cantrell: Chemistry of Death (Review)

Rebecca Cantrell's picture

Rebecca Cantrell
Rebecca Cantrell has a two book deal from Tor/Forge for a mystery series set in Berlin in the 1930s. She has also published short stories and essays.

The Chemistry of Death  (2015)
(The third book in the Joe Tesla series)


In the third thrilling instalment of this award winning series from New York Times bestseller Rebecca Cantrell, tortured genius Joe Tesla is on the trail of a sadistic serial killer who lures his victims into the bowels of the Manhattan subway system–and who holds the keys to Joe’s crippling condition. Can Joe stop the murderous rampage, or will he become the killer’s next victim?
Rebecca Cantrell arrived on my radar as part of an excellent series with James Rollins ( Blood Gospel,Innocent Blood andBlood Infernal ). This opened up the question about her stand alone projects. So she dangled her Joe Tesla book one under my nose.
 This began with The World beneath and i have to say it was an excellent book, something a bit different and unexpected, rather than lose that individuality or flog the idea to death in The Tesla Legacy and now Chemistry of death she has produced a fantastic story arc following the exploits be they mental, emotional or physical for Joe Tesla in his search to return to the outside world and discover how he became trapped. He character building has been excellent and to such a degree i can really see now how and why she worked with a man of Rollins calibre, not just worked with enhanced.
I shan’t spoil Chemistry of Death for any regular readers but suffice to say there are a lot of startling discoveries / revelations for all in this book, the drama is as ever teased out and keeps you gripping the book and turning page after page no matter the time of day. I tore through the book in no time what so ever in my desperation to get to the end and find out what would happen…. and would there be more…..
I highly recommend this series to thriller fans, it really is great action packed, tense writing.
Hannah Vogel
1. A Trace of Smoke (2009)
2. A Night of Long Knives (2010)
3. A Game of Lies (2011)
4. A City of Broken Glass (2012)
5. A Time of Night and Fog (2015)

Order of the Sanguines (with James Rollins)
0.5. City of Screams (2012)
1. The Blood Gospel (2013)
1.5. Blood Brothers (2013)
2. Innocent Blood (2013)
3. Blood Infernal (2015)

Joe Tesla
1. The World Beneath (2013)
2. The Tesla Legacy (2015)
3. The Chemistry of Death (2015)
On the Train (2013)
The Man in the Attic (2014)

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Christian Cameron: Salamis (Review)


Christian Cameron

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.

Signed Limited exclusive edition (Click to buy)

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Book Description


Arimnestos of Plataea has already lived through several lifetimes’ worth of adventure, from being a rich man’s slave in Ephesus to winning glory at the battle of Marathon against the might of the Persian Empire. But the gods – and the Persians – aren’t finished with him yet. As an experienced sea captain – his enemies might say pirate – he has a part to play in the final epic confrontation of the Long War between the Greeks and Persians, the Battle of Salamis. It is a battle where many debts of blood will be repaid, ancient grudges settled, fame won and treachery exposed, where the Greeks must finally bury their differences and fight as one – for against them Xerxes, the Great King, has assembled the greatest fleet the world has ever known, his sworn purpose to brutally extinguish the flame of freedom and make every Greek his slave.


The Long War is the second series from Christian Cameron, this prolific writer manages to keep writing tales of such epic beauty and quality its hard to imagine that this is already book 5 of the Long War. His lead character Arimenstos of Plataea is to coin a phrase from the title of the original book a “Killer of Men” a man forged by the sum of his life and the heat of battle.

Arimnestos has been a blacksmith, a slave, a warrior, a captain, a friend, a pauper, a rich man, a legend and so much more. A life filled with every extreme and normality that can be lived, and Christian Cameron has a way of making you experience every step and every emotional moment of his life’s journey.

Salamis is the latest of many battles, the latest leg of the aptly named long war. The great king has come, despite the epic sea battle of Artemisium, the loss at the Hot gates has opened Attica to his huge army and Plataea and Athens are at his mercy. Will the league fight? can they win? of course this is history and we know the answer, but with every page of this book it feels new and the outcome feels in flux. So many people from Arimnestos past make a return in this book, a convergence of his past and his present, but while you would find in many books this replays old issues, Arimnestos has grown, matured and this colours every interaction, making the book so much more realistic and so new.

Salamis has everything a reader like me could want, epic battles, battles brought down from the broad spectrum of hundreds of ships to the immediacy of a single boarding and hand to hand combat. Yet that wasn’t the  best part of this book. I had just made it through the adrenaline emotionally charged battle of Salamis, and then Christian threw in a race for love, a time of reflection and self realisation, families coming together and a nation being a nation instead of city states.

Salamis is a book that challenges the spirit as well as thrills the mind, leaving the reader wanting to be a better person, to excel at the things you do, and even now 24 hours later i’m still basking in that glow.

Its not my favourite book in the series, but i think its the most emotive and powerful, and very highly recommended.



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)
 Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
5. Salamis (2015)
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)
 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)
4. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Four (2015)
5. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Five (2015)
6. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Six (2015)
7. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Seven(2015)
William Gold
1. The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
2. The Long Sword (2014)
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
Also by Christian Cameron (AKA Miles Cameron)
Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2014)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2015)
Also by Christian Cameron (And Kenneth Cameron), under the pseudonym Gordon Kent
Alan Craik
1. Night Trap (1998)
aka Rules of Engagement
2. Peace Maker (2000)
3. Top Hook (2002)
4. Hostile Contact (2003)
5. Force Protection (2004)
6. Damage Control (2005)
7. The Spoils of War (2006)

Cauldron of Violence (2000)
The Falconer’s Tale (2007)


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James Wilde: Hereward the Immortals (review)

James Wilde

James Wilde is a Man of Mercia. Raised in a world of books, James studied economic history at university before travelling the world in search of adventure. He was unable to forget a childhood encounter in the pages of a comic with the great English warrior, Hereward. Wilde returned to the haunted fenlands of Eastern England, Hereward’s ancestral home, where he became convinced that this legendary hero should be the subject of his first novel. Wilde now indulges his love of history and the high life in the home his family have owned for several generations, in the heart of a Mercian forest.

The Immortals  (2015)
(The fifth book in the Hereward series)

book cover of 

The Immortals

1073 – under the merciless sun of the east, a dark force has risen – a Norman adventurer who could rival the feared King William for bloody ambition. He has conquered his land, he has built his fortress and he has amassed his army. And now he has taken Constantinople’s ruler as his prisoner…

It falls to Hereward to rescue this precious captive. For this great English warrior-in-exile and his spear-brothers, it will mean mounting a raid that could prove the most dangerous and deadliest of their lives. Assisting them in their task will be an elite and legendary band of fighters, the Immortals – so-called because they believe they cannot die in battle. But it will not be enough – for enemies hide within the jewelled heart of Byzantium: vipers who spread their poison, who want to see the English dead at any cost and who are to transform a mission that was at best dangerous into an adventure that is now suicidal. . .

With this rousing adventure full of brutal sword play, treachery, camaraderie and honour, James Wilde continues his bestselling account of the action-packed life and times of England’s great and now, thanks to his his fiction, perhaps not-so-forgotten hero – Hereward the Wake.


Book 5 in this excellent series, one  i have enjoyed immensely. Up to now i have been unsure what it was that made this series different, but i think i have it now.

Hereward the Immortals is much more of a departure from the history, that’s not to say that James has not done his research, and doesn’t keep impeccable detail in the Byzantine world, because he does. But book 5 isn’t tied by the History of Hereward, the author gets to make suppositions, to place our hero and his men in the line of some of the greatest history of the time period, embroiled in the bloody decline of the Eastern Roman Empire. This freedom from the history books i believe allows the author to give flight to his fantasy writing skills (and they are many), making the battles dramatic, bloody and fast paced and the characters an extra depth.

This book also see’s the author explore a more emotional Hereward, his men depend on him and he feels every loss, every mistake personally no matter his out of his control. This book pits him against the snakes of Roman Constantinople, a new Norman foe and an old one, we meet the Turk for the first time and through out all the trials the team have one aim, to become members of the Varangian guard.

With excellent prose and characterisation James wiles races us through this highly emotional and action packed journey. I enjoyed every moment and am really looking forward to what comes next.

Highly recommended



1. Hereward (2011)
aka The Time of the Wolf
2. The Devil’s Army (2012)
aka The Winter Warrior
3. End of Days (2013)
4. Wolves of New Rome (2014)
5. The Immortals (2015)

AKA Mark Chadbourn was raised in the mining communities of South Derbyshire. He studied Economic History at Leeds before becoming a national newspaper journalist. He is the author of several novels, including The Age of Misrule trilogy
Age of Misrule
1. World’s End (1999)
2. Darkest Hour (2000)
3. Always Forever (2001)
The Age of Misrule Omnibus (omnibus) (2006)
Dark Age
1. The Devil in Green (2002)
2. The Queen of Sinister (2004)
3. The Hounds of Avalon (2005)
Kingdom of the Serpent
1. Jack of Ravens (2006)
2. The Burning Man (2008)
3. Destroyer of Worlds (2009)
Swords of Albion
1. The Silver Skull (2009)
aka The Sword of Albion
2. The Scar-Crow Men (2011)
3. The Devil’s Looking-Glass (2012)
Underground (1993)
Nocturne (1994)
The Eternal (1996)
Testimony (1996)
Scissorman (1997)
The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke (2002)
Lord of Silence (2009)

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John Ayliff : (Guest Blog) #VirtualVoyager


John Ayliff Author Image

John Ayliff lives in Vancouver, Canada. He honed his writing skills while working in the computer games industry, and still sometimes calls his protagonist the ‘player character’ by mistake. Outside of writing, his hobbies include tabletop roleplaying games and going to the opera. He can be found on Twitter @johnayliff and online at his website:


Belt Three

Worldbreakers do not think, do not feel and cannot be stopped.

Captain Gabriel Reinhardt’s latest mining mission has been brought to a halt by the arrival of a Worldbreaker, one of the vast alien machines that destroyed Earth and its solar system long ago. As he and his crew flee they are kidnapped by a pirate to be mind-wiped and sold into slavery, a fate worse than death in this shattered universe.

But Captain Reinhardt is hiding a secret. The real Gabriel Reinhardt died six years ago, and in his place is Jonas, one of the millions of clones produced for menial labour by the last descendants of Earth.

Forced to aid the pirate Keldra’s obsessive campaign against the Worldbreakers in exchange for his life, Jonas discovers that humanity’s last hope might just be found in the very machines that have destroyed it.


#VirtualVoyager: The Road to Belt Three

In the summer of 2009, someone from my local writing group shared a link to an anthology that was seeking short stories about female pirates. The stories could be set in any setting or era, and I found myself struck by an idea about a ruthless space pirate living in the ruins of a destroyed solar system, who uses her piracy to fund a personal crusade against the robots that destroyed the Earth. I called the story Belt Three.

The anthology rejected the story, saying it didn’t focus narrowly enough on the pirate. (Which was fair: I’d decided to show the pirate through the eyes of another character, but that other character had ended up being co-star rather than supporting character.) My writing group said they liked the story, but that it read less like a self-contained story and more like the start of a novel. So I decided to keep going.

At the time I’d been writing short stories with a serious goal of getting published for several years. I was also working in the computer games industry, writing content (including stories) for a major online game. I’d never completed a novel, though; I’d always started strong but run out of steam at around 15,000 words. Luckily, there was an event coming up designed to help with that: NaNoWriMo.

I’m usually a slow, careful writer, but NaNoWriMo forced me to change that. Fifty thousand words in a month – nearly 1,700 per day, every day. I took time off work and went to the library every day. I made myself stop thinking too hard and just write. What I produced was an unpublishable mess – including characters named after candies I was snacking on while I wrote – but I got to 50,000 words in the month.

None of the text of the NaNoWriMo version would survive into the published version of Belt Three, but NaNoWriMo had given me a rough outline I could use as the basis of a better novel – and, more importantly, it had shown me that I was capable of writing a coherent novel-length piece of fiction. Over the next couple of years I rewrote the novel from scratch, using the NaNoWriMo version as an outline.

My original short story had been a portrait of one character: a space pirate engaged in a futile crusade against the robots that had destroyed the Earth. For the novel, I gave her a more specific quest, and fleshed out both the setting through which she was moving, as well as the other characters.

The world of Belt Three, as I eventually developed it, is a dystopian setting in which humanity barely clings to existence in the ruins of the destroyed planets, while the alien machines (called Worldbreakers) devour their living space one rock at a time. Society is highly unequal, divided into a ruling class of “true-borns”, natural descendants of people from Earth, and a working class of “tank-born” clones. Many people have brain implants that let them do things like record and play back memories, or control space ships, and those who fall foul of pirates may find themselves turned into servitors, mind-wiped slaves under the total control of an implant.

My main character, Jonas, is a tank-born living under an assumed true-born identity, a master manipulator with a knack for reading other people. The book starts when he is kidnapped by Keldra, the space pirate, who forces him to use his manipulation skills to acquire an old Earth artefact she needs for her crusade against the Worldbreakers. But Jonas is also attempting to manipulate Keldra and escape from her, while avoiding the consequences of impersonating a true-born in the first place.

Eventually, in 2012, I had a version of Belt Three that I was happy with. I sent it to a few literary agents, who turned it down, and then saw that HarperVoyager was having an open submissions period. I sent it to them, and a year and a half later heard that it was one of fifteen books they were picking up out of the thousands that had been sent to them. It’s now available as an ebook, with a paperback coming out this December. Not something I’d dreamed of back in 2009 when I had my idea for a quick short story about a space pirate.

You can find BELT THREE here. Follow John on Twitter and Facebook, and visit his Website.


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The Dread Wyrm — American Cover, and a story you ought to read

A Must read for Fans of Miles / Christian Cameron

With Pen and Sword


This is the US cover for ‘Dread Wyrm’ which is out October 15th, just released.  It will tie up a great many of the plots in the traitorson series, although, really, it’s only the halfway point.  There are five books, and as I keep saying, I’m just about done with book 4 (Plague of Swords, on page 445 today).

The thing is, though, that there’s a whole sub-plot which ended up on the cutting room floor in books one and two.  The stories from that sub plot have been on my various websites the last couple of years, but now that my traitorson website is gone (it cost way too much.  Apologies) I thought I’d put the stories here.  One this week, one next week.


Because Pavalo Payam — Ser Palomides, if you are an Arthurian fan — is a vital character (pivotal, even) and he was supposed…

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