Monthly Archives: December 2015

Robert Fabbri: The Alexandrian Embassy (Review)

 

Robert Fabbri was born in Geneva in 1961. He was educated at Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham and London University. He worked for twenty-five years as an assistant director in the film and television industries.

Having had his fair share of long, cold nights standing in the rain in muddy fields and unbearably hot days in deserts or stuffy sound stages he decided to start writing.

Being a life-long ancient war-gamer with a collection of over 3,500 hand-painted 25mm lead soldiers and a lover of Roman Historical Fiction the subject matter was obvious.

Author Website

The Alexandrian Embassy

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book cover of 

The Alexandrian Embassy

AD 39: Rome. Marcus Salvius Magnus, leader of the Crossroads Brotherhood, is buying a dangerous cargo of illegal weaponry. When a deal which will ensure Magnus’s dominance over Rome’s criminal underworld goes sour, Magnus must regain the shipment by any means necessary…

As the rival West Viminal Brotherhood threatens his whole operation, Magnus fights to outwit his opponents whilst juggling the threat of the law and the demands of his patron. With enemies, plots and intrigue on all sides, can Magnus manage to evade death long enough to emerge victorious?

Review

This novella astounded me when i checked the page count, 61 pages. It flew past, but at the same time it always felt like a full complete storyline.

The Crossroads brotherhood is excellent, funny, imaginative and action packed, a real page turner. I like to save these for special occasions (in this case Christmas) to have the time to sit and enjoy the full thrill ride from start to finish in one sitting.

I really hope that one day Magnus can have his own novel, or feature fully in the Vespasian series, he is my fav character in Fabbris world of Rome. This story continues the look at the working of the brotherhood and Magnus relationship with various members of the Roman elite. it also offers some great little looks at the political landscape and the progress of Vespasian and his family.

if you have not tried the Vespasian series then any of the Crossroads Brotherhood is an excellent way to dip your toe into his writing style, and also enjoy a great tale.

one of my favorite authors

(Parm)

Series

 

Vespasian
1. Tribune of Rome (2011)
2. Rome’s Executioner (2012)
3. False God of Rome (2013)
4. Rome’s Fallen Eagle (2013)
5. Masters of Rome (2014)
6. Rome’s Lost Son (2015)
7. Furies of Rome (2016)
Vespasian Vol 1-3 (omnibus) (2014)
The Alexandrian Embassy (2015)

 

 

Crossroads Brotherhood Trilogy
1.5. The Crossroads Brotherhood (2011)
2.5. The Racing Factions (2013)
3.5. The Dreams of Morpheus (2014)
The Crossroads Brotherhood Trilogy (omnibus) (2015)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Robert Fabbri

Matthew Harffy: Cross and the Curse (Review)

Matthew Harffy at Gefrin

Matthew Harffy lived in Northumberland as a child and the area had a great impact on him. The rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline made it easy to imagine the past. Decades later, a documentary about Northumbria’s Golden Age sowed the kernel of an idea for a series of historical fiction novels. The first of them is the action-packed tale of vengeance and coming of age, THE SERPENT SWORD. The sequel is THE CROSS AND THE CURSE.

Matthew has worked in the IT industry, where he spent all day writing and editing, just not the words that most interested him. Prior to that he worked in Spain as an English teacher and translator. He has co-authored seven published academic articles, ranging in topic from the ecological impact of mining to the construction of a marble pipe organ.

Matthew lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.

When not writing, or spending time with his family, Matthew sings in a band called Rock Dog

Author Web site

Bernicia Chronicles

The Bernicia Chronicles is a series of action-packed historical fiction books set against the backdrop of the clash between peoples and religions in Dark Ages Britain.

THE CROSS AND THE CURSE

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BRITAIN 634 A.D.

Before The Battle of Hastings.

Before Alfred fought the Danes.

Even before England.

Warlords battled across Britain to become the first King of the English.

When Beobrand’s valour brings about a stunning victory against the native Waelisc, the King of Northumbria rewards him with riches and land. Beobrand wishes for nothing more than to settle on his new estate with his bride. But he soon finds himself beset with enemies old and new. He even fears that the power of a curse has him in its grip, as he begins to lose all he holds dear.

With treachery and death surrounding him, Beobrand confronts his foes with cold iron and bitter fury. On his quest for revenge and redemption, he grudgingly accepts the mantle of lord, leading his men into the darkest of nights and the bloodiest of battles.

Release data: 22nd January 2016

Review:

Matthew Harffy and The Cross and the Curse, what can i say? Simply its great, Matthew has the potential to match SJA Turney in the realms of Independent Publishing. The first book in the series “The Serpent Sword” was a resounding success and deservedly so.

The hard part as always for any author is the second book, having to repeat that effort and pull together the magic that makes a great novel. Matthew managed this with his dark gritty characters and explosive plot lines. For me Harffy breaks ground that Cornwell attempted with Uthred of Bebbanburg but dragged out too long and set in the middle ground of mass appeal.

Set slightly earlier than Cornwell’s series Harffy’s series contains all the grit that Uthred lacks, Matthew Harffy doesn’t try to walk the middle ground with Beobrand, instead he delivers a no holds barred book that is an immersive historic epic.

although this book is not out until the end of Jan 2016 im already highly looking forward to book 3.

(Parm)

Book 1 Art:

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Michael Arnold: Highwayman Winter Swarm

Michael Arnold

Michael lives in Hampshire with his wife and young son. His childhood holidays were spent visiting castles and battlefields, but his fascination with the civil wars was piqued partly by the fact that his hometown and region of Hampshire are steeped in Civil War history.

Author Website

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“I fight for vengeance. Only vengeance. At night I dream of what was lost, and by day I look to hurt those who took it from me.”

England: December, 1655.

The nation is reeling from the turmoil of bloody civil war, the forces of King Charles have been utterly defeated and England is now in the iron grip of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate.

Major Samson Lyle, once a member of Cromwell’s Roundhead army, and now the infamous outlaw, Ironside Highwayman, has been forced into exile.

Scarred by the massacre of innocents in Ireland he turned his back on the all-conquering English army, but in retaliation his beloved wife Alice was tracked down and killed.

Spurred on by revenge Lyle is now the predator, not the prey. The most feared highwayman in all England, he hunts quarry on the nation’s roads. Any who performed the duties of a cog in Cromwell’s grand machine is under threat.

Along with his trusted young ward Bella, and Eustace Grumm, an irascible former smuggler, Lyle has dodged the ever-present threat of capture, but now it is time to bring the fight to his enemies…

With a brilliant scheme to bring the army to its knees, Lyle must find a way to destroy his pursuers before they destroy him …

Review

Im a huge fan of Micheal Arnold’s writing, his main characters are always do deep and dark, filled with a rich past and a well of anger that knows no bottom. he is better known for his Stryker books, but one of my favorite pieces of his writing was Highwayman: Ironside, a novella i felt would make a fantastic start to a series. So when i saw that another had been written in this wonderful series i did a little air punch ( a big thank you to Endeavour Press ) .

Once again this is a novella a tidy little 63 pages, but packed full of deep dark characters, with Samson Lyle once again plotting hislatest form of revenge on the forces of Parliament, Arnold a master at keeping you guessing manages to pack a full story arc into these 63 pages and at the same time build some new characters, instill action, adventure and humor while keeping you on the edge of your seat form first page to the last.

Loved this, and still think the author should look for a full length novel for this character.

(Parm)

Series

 

Civil War Chronicles
1. Traitor’s Blood (2010)
2. Devil’s Charge (2011)
3. Hunter’s Rage (2012)
4. Assassin’s Reign (2013)
5. Warlord’s Gold (2014)
6. Marston Moor (2015)
Stryker and the Angels of Death (2013)
The Prince’s Gambit (2015)

 

Highwayman
1. Ironside (2013)
2. Winter Swarm (2015)

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SJA Turney : Praetorian: The Price of Treason

About the Author: From his own web site

Praetorian: The Price of Treason: Volume 2

Praetorian2FrontCover

Two years have passed since the emperor’s loyal Praetorian guardsman Gnaeus Marcius Rustius Rufinus foiled Lucilla’s great assassination plot. Plagued by the ghosts of his past, Rufinus has enacted his own form of justice upon the praetorian cavalrymen who murdered the imperial agent Dis two years earlier.

But the Fates will not let Rufinus rest. Rome is beginning to seethe with rumour and conspiracy as Perennis, the prefect of the Praetorian Guard, and Cleander, the imperial chamberlain, continue to play their ‘great game.’ With the tide of opinion turning against their commander, Rufinus and his friends embark upon a mission to save the Prefect’s family, only to uncover a plot that runs deep… to the very heart of the empire.

Armed with rare and dangerous evidence, Rufinus faces insurmountable odds in an attempt to bring the truth to light. To save his prefect. To save Rome. To save everyone he cares about.

Review

Once again Simon Turney has managed to pull off a brilliant book. I was lucky enough to read book one of this series as it was created, and really enjoyed its difference from Marius Mules.

What i find the biggest surprise with book two is the difference again from Book 1 the Great Game , it is a much much darker and deeper  plot line as Rufinus deals with the fall out from his escapades in the Great Game. Turney covers many subjects, from PTSD to addiction. The friendship with his fellow Praetorians is explored with Simons usual wit and humor, the camaraderie and love between the men that can never be expressed in any way but abuse. We see the next tentative steps in his love life and how he uses his contacts in the upper echelons of Rome and the games of the powerful, all played out against the slow quiet war between Perennis and Cleander.

Simon Turney truly gets better with every book, the style and depth he puts into the book to draw the reader in and play out the intrigue is up there with the best in the genre. Anyone who looks at his books as “Just another self publish” is missing some of the best historical fiction out there.

this book and all his books (especially my favourite series by him “The Ottoman Cycle” ) are highly recommended.

(Parm)

Series
Marius’ Mules
1. The Conquest of Gaul (2009)
aka The Invasion of Gaul
2. The Belgae (2010)
3. Gallia Invicta (2011)
4. Conspiracy of Eagles (2012)
5. Hades’ Gate (2013)
6. Caesar’s Vow (2014)
7. The Great Revolt (2014)
8. Sons of Taranis (2015)
Prelude to War (2014)


Tales of the Empire
1. Interregnum (2009)
2. Ironroot (2010)
3. Dark Empress (2011)
Ottoman Cycle
1. The Thief’s Tale (2013)
2. The Priest’s Tale (2013)
3. The Assassin’s Tale (2014)
4. The Pasha’s Tale (2015)
Praetorian
1. The Great Game (2015)
2. The Price of Treason (2015)
Novels
A Year of Ravens (2015) (with Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E E Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, SJA Turney and Russell Whitfield)
Collections
Tales of Ancient Rome (2011)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, S J A Turney

Simon Scarrow: Britannia (review + night out)

Simon Scarrow: 

simon

 

Simon Scarrow is a Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author. His bestsellers include his novels featuring Roman soldiers Macro and Cato, most recently BROTHERS IN BLOOD, PRAETORIAN and THE LEGION, as well as SWORD AND SCIMITAR, about the 1565 Siege of Malta, and four novels about the lives of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte. He is the author with T. J. Andrews of the bestselling ARENA, introducing the gladiator hero Pavo, and the new ebook novella series INVADER.

Simon’s novels have been published in the USA and in translation all around the world.

– See more at: Author web site

Britannia

Buy Signed Limited Edition (charity) edition

britannia

Simon Scarrow’s veteran Roman soldier heroes face a cunning and relentless enemy in BRITANNIA. Roman Britain, AD 52. The western tribes, inspired by the Druids’ hatred of the Romans, prepare to make a stand. But can they match the discipline and courage of the legionaries? Wounded during a skirmish, Centurion Macro remains behind in charge of the fort as Prefect Cato leads an invasion deep into the hills. Cato’s mission: to cement Rome’s triumph over the natives by crushing the Druid stronghold. But with winter drawing in, the terrain is barely passable through icy rain and snowstorms. When Macro’s patrols report that the natives in the vicinity of the garrison are thinning out, a terrible suspicion takes shape in the battle-scarred soldier’s mind. Has the acting Governor, Legate Quintatus, underestimated the enemy, his military judgement undermined by ambition? If there is a sophisticated and deadly plan afoot, it’s Cato and his men who will pay the price. Includes maps and charts.

Review

This for me is a return to form for Macro and Cato. I have been a fan of Simon’s work and this series since book one Under the Eagle, amazingly 15 years ago now. I remember that when this book came out i had to write to Simon (and use a stamp, not hit send)… amazing how far we have come in such a short time, its been great fun following Simon’s career. The last few books in the series i have made no secret (especially to Simon) have not lived up to the great books that came before, but now comes Britannia.

This book has the same dark gritty edge that the early books possess, but with the polished edge that defines Simon’s Writing. I’ve always thought that Macro and Cato are Simon’s older and younger self, and their banter and education is his older-self (Macro) educating and protecting his younger self from harm, but it ultimately being a fruitless exercise, as we never listen to our elders. (but that’s just me and i have odd book thoughts).

This book see’s Cato come into his own more than ever, for once Macro must take a back seat, Cato is the superior officer, and it is he who is at the forefront of the battle and danger presented to them on the march to destroy the Druids of Mona. Even here at the cold wet end of the world the politics of Rome reaches out to taunt and prod our pair of heroic soldiers in the form of potential future alliances, lending the story and extra edge.

But that is the least of their troubles, this is by far the darkest tale of the series, full of hunger, cold, death, battle, victories and defeats. The honesty of the battles in this book is brutal and unforgiving, whilst also being utterly engaging.

I was engrossed in the whole book, and hunkered down under the duvet at night as the men of the legion trudged through the rain and snow, Simon’s description being so vivid and to leave me chilled to the marrow, and my belly rumbling.

Finally my last couple of reviews had called out a lacking in the support cast, a bunch of faceless red shirts that the audience didn’t have an emotional connection with….. that’s not the case in Britannia, the Blood Crows become living breathing group, with quirks and personalities, and when they bleed and die you the reader feel it keenly.

I have to applaud Simon for this book, 14 books in and he manages to make the series fresh again, a new depth to Macro and Cato, a new edge to the Roman world and conflicts in Britannia, all achieved with style and a simply splendid plot line.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

I was lucky enough to be invited to an event in London just prior to the Launch of this book

Fans event in London

So off i headed down to London….. following my google map…. this road helped

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and got to the (very busy pub) where it seems someone asked Simon a tough questions

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helpful advice from hecklers didn’t help

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but this really stumped him

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for quite a while

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But being Simon he got there with a well thought out answer

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The event was perfectly run by this splendid lady, who was running a smiling competition

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She made it to the final against Simon

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Simon wasn’t happy at losing that competition

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Joe hadn’t noticed he had been disqualified

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My evening ended with some splendid views on the way back to get my train

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Series
Eagles of the Empire
1. Under the Eagle (2000)
2. The Eagle’s Conquest (2001)
3. When the Eagle Hunts (2002)
4. The Eagle and the Wolves (2003)
5. The Eagle’s Prey (2004)
6. The Eagle’s Prophecy (2005)
7. The Eagle in the Sand (2006)
aka The Zealot
8. Centurion (2007)
9. The Gladiator (2009)
10. The Legion (2010)
11. Praetorian (2011)
12. The Blood Crows (2013)
13. Brothers in Blood (2014)
14. Britannia (2015)



Wellington and Napoleon
1. Young Bloods (2006)
2. The Generals (2007)
3. Fire and Sword (2007)
4. The Fields of Death (2010)
The Wellington and Napoleon Quartet (omnibus) (2015)

Gladiator
1. Fight for Freedom (2011)
2. Street Fighter (2012)
3. Son of Spartacus (2013)
4. Vengeance (2014)
Roman Arena (with T J Andrews)
1. Barbarian (2012)
2. Challenger (2012)
3. First Sword (2013)
4. Revenge (2013)
5. Champion (2013)
Arena (omnibus) (2013)

Invader (with T J Andrews)
1. Death Beach (2014)
2. Blood Enemy (2014)
3. Dark Blade (2014)
4. Imperial Agent (2015)
5. Sacrifice (2015)

Novels
The Sword and the Scimitar (2012)
Hearts of Stone (2015)
Invader (2016) (with T J Andrews)
Novellas
Red Christmas (2014)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Simon Scarrow, Uncategorized

Paula Brackston: Silver Witch (Blog Tour)

Silver witch banner (1)

Parmenion books brings you an extract………

TILDA

Tilda feeds another log into the Rayburn in the kitchen and

is yet again thankful for a solid fuel stove. Having spent a

candlelit night at the cottage, she was surprised to find she did

not miss the tele vision, the radio, or even her music, but was

content to read until the daylight and candle were insufficient

for the print of her chosen novel.The memory of Mat attempting

to convert her to an e-reader prompted a wry smile.Why

not go to bed when the sun did? She was an early riser anyway,

preferring to run with the dawn.

Early to bed, early to rise. Who needs watches to tell us when to

do something, or lights to stop us going to sleep?

In addition, the quiet and gloom seemed to help her sleep,

so that, for once, she has slumbered long past daybreak and done

without her morning run. Since knowing the insomnia that

so often keeps grief company, she cannot remember waking

feeling so rested and refreshed. She knows, though, that an

electricity-free house would quickly lose its charm were she not

able to make a morning cup of tea. The kettle begins to sing

softly. Tilda finds the low light of the kitchen strangely soothing,

and realizes she has forgotten to put in her contact lenses.

The less light there is, the less need she has of them, after all.

But they have long been a part of her daily disguise, her defence

against prejudice and fear. Her colourless hair and her pale skin

don’t cause too much interest. Eyes that have only the tiniest

hint of blue pigment, however, so that they appear pink, unnerve

people. They are what make people stare, and look away, then

look again. Tilda is accustomed to a range of reactions to her

albinism. Perhaps alone on the hill she will have to deal with

them less. She leans against the stove and regards the shaggy

shape of Thistle, who remains curled upon the inadequate

cushion, watching her new mistress’s every move.

‘You don’t look ready for a run yet,’ she says to the dog. ‘Still

sore?’ She wonders briefly if she should have taken the animal

to see a vet, but quickly dismisses the idea.The nearest veterinary

practice would be in Brecon, ten miles away. How would

she get her there without a car? She crouches down beside

Thistle and ruffles her fur gently.

‘Not exactly on a bus route here, are we girl? You’ll be okay.

How about some sardines, eh? Would you like that?’ Tilda

gropes in the cupboard for the right shaped can, opens it, and

kneels on the floor to empty the contents into what has

become Thistle’s bowl.The dog gets stiffly to its feet and comes

wagging over.‘There you go. Better than dog food any day,’ she

says, reasoning the animal must be on the mend if it has a good

appetite. At that moment Thistle stops eating, lifts her face from

the bowl, and stares hard into the half-light of the hallway.The

whole dog tenses. The fur on the back of its neck stands up.

Tilda is aware of her own heartbeat racing. Thistle does not

move or bark, but begins to emit a low, menacing growl. It is

such a raw, basic sound that it transforms the dog from domesticated

pet to potential killer in an instant. Tilda listens and

squints into the gloom of the hallway, but she can neither hear

nor see anything.

‘What is it, girl? What’s wrong?’ she asks, her voice a whisper.

The loud knocking on the front door is so unexpected that

Tilda lets out a small scream. Feeling foolish, she walks briskly

down the hall. ‘Just a minute,’ she calls out as she wrestles with

the aged key and the bolts, which have become sticky through

lack of use. When at last she gets the door open, she finds a

wiry-looking man in a cycling helmet standing on the doorstep.

On seeing Tilda, surprise registers minutely on his face.

She is accustomed to watching the reaction of strangers to her

appearance. Used to seeing herself seen for the first time.Time

and time again. Seeing the curiosity. The unasked questions.

Sometimes even a little fear. She remembers that she is not

wearing her lenses, and so is impressed that her caller does so

well to mask his feelings. He even manages a smile.

‘Sorry,’ he says, unbuckling his chin strap,‘I should have gone

round the back. I’m Bob,’ he offers her his business card.‘You

called me about your fuses.’

‘Oh! The electrician. Of course. Somehow I didn’t expect

you to arrive on a bike.’

‘I like to cycle when I can, if I’m going somewhere I can

manage without my ladders.’ He shakes his head, gesturing back

toward the track.‘Mind you, it’s quite a climb you’ve got there.

Think I’ll bring the van next time.’

Tilda lets him in and shows him to the fuse box. Thistle

slinks in from the kitchen to inspect the visitor, decides he is

not a threat, and returns to her cushion by the Rayburn. Tilda

fetches Bob a cup of tea and hands it to him when he has

finished checking the system.

‘Well? Is it hopeless?’ she asks. ‘It’s bound to be ancient, but

we had a survey done when we bought the place, and I don’t

remember reading that it would need replacing.’

Bob shakes his head. ‘It’s not in bad shape, really. Must have

been rewired fairly recently. Someone did a pretty good job of

it.’ To make his point he throws the main power switch and

light is restored.

‘So why does it keep tripping out?’ Tilda finds herself

blinking, her eyes taking a moment to adjust to the new level

of brightness.

Bob shrugs. ‘Must be something you’ve got plugged in.

Something you’ve installed.’

‘There isn’t anything I can think of. Only my kiln, but I

haven’t switched that on yet.’

‘Be careful when you do. Have you got it on the right

circuit? Those things are pretty heavy on power.’

‘Yes, the manufacturer sent someone to set it up.’

They both stand in the hall, waiting. Tilda finds herself

almost wanting the fuses to blow again, just so there is something

for Bob to actually fix.

‘Now I feel stupid,’ she says. ‘Seems like I dragged you up

here for nothing.’

‘No problem.’ Bob finishes his tea in a few gulps. ‘The ride

down that hill will be worth it.’

‘What do I owe you?’

‘Nothing too terrible. I’ll pop an invoice in the post. Call

me if you have any more trouble.’

She watches him descend the lane with increasing speed. It

is still early, and there is a fluffy mist sitting over the lake today.

The mountains beyond rise up through the froth of white, their

peaks dark and sharp against the lightening sky.Thistle pads out

to join her in the front garden. She wonders if the dog will be

well enough for at least a walk in a couple of days.

‘Well, if either of us is going to be up to exercise, we are

going to need some proper food. Come on, let’s see if I can’t

magic up groceries on the Internet.’

Back in the kitchen Tilda switches on her laptop and starts

to feel quite excited at the prospect of fresh fruit, meat, interesting

salad, perhaps some sinful puddings, and a bottle of her

favourite wine.The computer chirrups encouragingly, displaying

the home page so brightly she is forced to dim the screen a

little. She is just on the point of selecting a supermarket

offering deliveries in the area when the screen goes blue, then

grey, then, with a pathetic whirring sound, darkens completely

and falls silent.

‘Damn.’ Tilda slumps back in her chair with a sigh. Before

she has time to do more than shake her head there is a sharp

bang and all the lights fail again. Seconds later she feels her leg

being nudged and looks down to see Thistle, who has tiptoed

over to stand beside her. The dog nuzzles her and wags its tail

anxiously. That the animal should be so sensitive to her emotional

state touches Tilda.

‘What a pair we are,’ she says, gently stroking the dog’s

velvety ears.‘You all lame and creaky, me unable to get on with

the simplest things.And both of us living in a house that doesn’t

seem to want to have electricity in it anymore.’ She takes a deep

breath and snaps shut the lifeless laptop. ‘Okay, we can’t go on

like this,’ she tells Thistle. ‘You stay here and . . . well, get

better. I’m going for a late run that’ll take in the village shop.

I promise I’ll return with food.We can have a proper meal, and

then I’m going into the studio to do some work. That sound

like a plan to you?’

Thistle answers by padding back to her bed and curling up,

nose on paws, tail on nose, clearly settling for a nap.

Outside the air is fresh in the sunshine but drops several

crucial degrees to become chilling once Tilda descends into

the mist. Even though the hour is later than her usual run

time, there are no other walkers out braving the damp and

gloomy conditions along the lake-side footpath. Tilda falls into

the rhythm of running, finding solace in the repetition of easy,

fluid steps. Footfalls crunching on fallen beechnuts. Step, step

breathe. Step, step breathe. Heart strong and steady, lungs

working calmly.

No need to think. No need to feel. No need to remember. Just here

and now. Just this. Only this. You are strong. You are strong.Tilda loves

to run. Tilda needs to run.

She takes an unfamiliar route, but follows a clear path.To her

left, set back among the marshy side of the lake, she can just

make out a small, dilapidated building, so overgrown it is almost

entirely hidden by ivy and brambles. The closer the path gets

to the water, the denser the fog becomes, so that soon she is

running as if within a narrow tunnel through the miasma.

Sounds become muffled and distorted. A cawing crow, its voice

flattened and stretched, flaps from a low branch, the movement

of its wings disturbing the swirling milkiness around it. Some

way off, a tractor rumbles across a field, one second sounding

close, the next very distant.Tilda can make out the honking of

geese upon the water, but visibility is limited to a few yards, so

that she can only see the reedy shore and the shallows of the

lake’s edge. As she runs on she notices that her eyes are struggling

to make sense of the floating landscape around her. Low

branches across the path seem to stretch out like so many arms

reaching for something unseen. The gritty track beneath her

feet appears to rise up and fall away as she strides over it.

Among the sounds of birds and the tractor she can discern

something new. A noise from the surface of the water, rhythmic

and fluid. Splash, swoosh, splash, swoosh.

Oars. Someone is rowing. In this? Why would they do that? Can’t

be for the view. Fishing? Are they fishing?

The sounds grow a little louder. Stronger. Closer.Tilda stops

and peers through the murk toward the body of the lake.

Slowly a shape begins to form, as much of the mist as out of

it. She squints and tries to refocus her unreliable eyes. At last,

she can make out a small boat containing three shadowy

figures. The vessel is wooden, low in the water, and of a

curiously rustic construction.Two of the people in it are rowing,

sitting with their backs to Tilda, pulling toward the shore.

The shape and clothing of the third person are indistinct still,

yet suggest a woman. Tilda blinks away the droplets of mist

clinging to her eyelashes and wipes her face with her hand.

Into her watery vision, as she stares harder, come the striking

features of the passenger in the boat. Now Tilda can see that

this is a young, beautiful woman, her hair concealed beneath

twists of leather and some sort of animal skin headdress. Her

skin is pale, but the light is too poor, the air too disturbed with

mist, for Tilda to make out her eyes or her expression. What

becomes clear is that all three in the boat seem to be dressed

in some manner of costume, as if decked out for a historical

reenactment, or a scene from a movie.

But why on earth would they do that now? Here? On their own?

They are so close now Tilda could call out to them easily.

She raises her hand to wave, but something stops her.

Something causes her scalp to tingle and the breath to catch in

her throat. She can hear drums now, coming from farther

around the lake. Suddenly the mist parts, clearing in seconds,

so that she can see the expanse of water before her and even

the far shore. But things are not as they should be. Instead of

the low roof of the visitor’s café on the north side of the lake,

she can see huts, clustered together, and smoke rising from small

fires. And horses. And cattle. And strange figures moving about.

There are no cars. No motorboats. No trailers loaded with

canoes. Nothing is as she knows it to be.

Tilda’s heart starts to pound, although she is already beginning

to feel cold from standing. Her mind is spinning.

Am I dreaming? How low must my blood sugar be? I must be

dizzy from running and it’s making me see things?

The sound of oars being raised from the water and shipped

snatches her attention back to the oarsmen. The boat has

reached the shallows and the reeds, and the men are allowing

it to coast as far in toward the shore as it will go. Every instinct

in Tilda is telling her to turn and run, but she finds she cannot

move. She is transfixed by what she is witnessing. By the

impossibility of what her eyes would have her believe. And,

most of all, by the strange figure now standing in the prow of

the boat.The woman is tall and her movements graceful.There

is such a quiet strength about her. As she waits for the boat to

come to a halt she turns her head, slowly, scanning the shore

as the mist melts away before her steady gaze. Tilda holds her

breath, sensing the inevitability of what will happen next. She

wants to move, to flee, but she can no more run than fly as the

phantom woman continues to turn, until at last, unmistakably,

her gaze falls on Tilda.

There is an instant of connection. A moment where all else

seems not to exist, nothing but that moment of seeing and of

being seen. It is both wonderful and terrifying. Something

inside Tilda snaps and fear galvanizes her. As she spins on her

heel and sprints away she hears shouts. Clear, loud, urgent

shouts, as those in the boat alert each other to the presence of

a stranger. There is a short silence, quickly followed by several

splashes.

They’re getting out of the boat! They are coming after me!

Now Tilda runs. She finds a speed and power she did not

know she possessed and pounds along the path. She can hear

heavy footsteps behind her. She can feel the shuddering of the

earth as the runners begin to close the gap. Frightened beyond

reason, she increases her speed still more, even as the trail twists

away from the lake, even as the mist returns to swallow up the

fields to her right, to shorten her view to a few yards once

more. Still she runs, blindly, wildly, though she can no longer

hear her pursuers. And as she rounds a narrow corner she all

but barrels into a tall, solitary figure standing firmly in the

centre of the path.

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Parmenion Books my 2015 in Review

2015: What a year for books!

every year it gets harder and harder to split books out into what was the best (I never go near what was the worst), favorite series, favorite genre, best debut etc.. its all becoming too hard, the caliber every year seems to go up…. so i’ve changed it all a bit this year.

I’m amazed at how every book these authors raise their game and create such stunning plot lines and characters, be they long running series or new debutantes.

So anyone i have missed from my year of reviewing i apologize, if i could add every book i would, as many of you know i wont review a book i don’t like, so if your book is on the site, its because its truly excellent.

Historical Fiction : below are my 10 favorite books from Historical fiction this year (i couldn’t get it down from 10)

Paul Fraser Collard: The Lone Warrior

Conn Iggulden: Bloodlines

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Christian Cameron: Salamis

scourge

Douglas Jackson Scourge of Rome

Toby Clements Broken Faith

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Michael Arnold: Marston Moor

Nick Brown : Emperors Silver

Ben Kane Eagles at War

SJA Turney Pashas Tale

Anthony Riches Thunder of the Gods

Robert Fabbri Romes lost Son

SJA

My Favorite in genre goes to : SJA Turney Pashas Tale this wasn’t an easy pick because there are truly some fantastic moments in every book listed here. But Simon’s book a series-finisher had such a moving ending it just edged it.

 

Fantasy

Miles Cameron : Dread Wyrm

Bradley Beaulieu: Twelve Kings

 

Joe Abercrombie: Half a War

Mark Lawrence Liars Key

Sebastian De Castell Knights Shadow

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My favorite book in fantasy genre 2015 goes to Miles Cameron: Dread Wyrm , as a fantasy series this one is right up there with the greatest in terms of imagination, complexity and world building. But with none of the need to mire the reader in the drudge of detail (its all there, but it just flows out with the story). Anyone looking for the new epic fantasy, to eclipse Game of Thrones or Lord of The Rings, seriously, this is what you’re looking for.

Thrillers

Chris Kuzneski : Prisoners Gold

Tom Harper: Black River

Rebecca Cantrell Chemistry of Death

Manda Scott Into the Fire

My favorite thriller of the year: Tom Harper: Black River  this was a very very close run genre this year, Chris Kuzneski is amazing, his books are just a power house of thriller writing, , Rebecca Cantrell produces such amazing characters that i find myself lost in Joe Tesla’s world every book. Manda Scott is … well she is just an all round amazing writer and Into the Fire is sublime. But something about Black River just worked for me, i was hooked from start to finish.

Alternate History

Guy Saville: Madagaskar Plan

I didn’t dabble too much in this genre this year, but i wouldnt have to read much more than this one, Guy Saville has an amazing concept, and the books are so brilliantly written.

Supernatural/ Thriller

James Rollins / Rebecca Cantrell Blood Infernal

As a rule i don’t read this genre, but i cannot resist James Rollins books, his Sigma books are a secret reading pleasure, and Rebecca Cantrell adds an extra element to his writing. This book completes probably James Rollins best work and in some style.

Best Compilation/ Series

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Christian Cameron: Tom Swan One of my all time favorite characters and books. A series that will i hope be on going for some time yet. Every (approx 100 page) serial adds new elements to the take of this young man and his exploits, but its the depth of effortless history that oozes from the pages that is astounding. (i say effortless, for the reader, clearly not for the writer, who must put in an immense amount of effort here). All of this is put together in such a way that the book rushes by and before you know it you are clamoring for the next episode…

Special Limited Edition HB of Tom Swan book 2

So the over all awards for this year

My Favorite book of 2015

Sebastian De Castell Knights Shadow

How you might wonder does this book win over all book and not its own genre, in some way i wanted to recognize both books from that genre. But also because The writing and the concept of this book always just blows me away. The nostalgia element of the way this book reminds me of Dumas and his Three Musketeers, coupled with the originality of the Greatcoats and the witty, dry style of the authors writing. The book takes you through all emotions and provides entertainment of the highest quality… the next book is one of my most anticipated of 2016.

Best Author

Christian Cameron: every year his productivity and his commitment to history is just astounding. His books each and every one are worthy of being in if not topping my charts, this probably makes me a harsher critic just to give others a chance (sorry).

Most Entertaining Author

Anthony Riches Thunder of the Gods This might seem an odd category, but it was the best title i could give it. Its for pure humour and fun, interesting, real characters, and also finally for the man himself, the writer. Anthony Riches himself is always great fun to his readers. Highly entertaining at any book tour/ talk,  always hovering that sword above the neck of your favorite character with a wicked glint in his eye, and unlike so many authors perfectly willing to kill anyone in the story especially if it gets a rise out of you, he has a real connection with his audience through his books. Those books have something special in them, something i wish more authors would aspire too, he brings all of his characters to life, spends the time and effort on them all, so that when he does have to kill them you feel it. Its that ability to make you feel his story that makes him so entertaining as a writer.

Special Mention 

I cannot end the review of 2015 without mentioning Ben Kane Eagles at War . Ben is firstly an amazing writer, and with every book deserves to be in anyone’s top 10 if not at the top of it..The reason for Ben’s special mention; he is utterly tireless and selfless in his pursuit of books, writing, and the charities he supports. Whenever i’m online i see Ben promoting another member of the HWA , another book or raising money for charity. I never fail to be impressed with his energy and pursuit of writing.

 

Coming soon….my look ahead at books to come in 2016…. and it looks to be yet another fantastic year

 

 

 

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