Monthly Archives: November 2016

Robert Fabbri: The Furies of Rome (Review)

Robert Fabbri 
Switzerland (1961 – )
Robert Fabbri's picture

Robert Fabbri read Drama and Theatre at London University and has worked in film and TV for 25 years. He is an assistant director and has worked on productions such as Hornblower, Hellraiser, Patriot Games and Billy Elliot. His life-long passion for ancient history, especially for that of the Roman Empire, has drawn him to write his first novel. He lives in London

The Furies of Rome



AD 58: Rome is in turmoil once more. Emperor Nero has surrounded himself with sycophants and together they rampage by night through the city, visiting death and destruction as they go. Meanwhile, Nero’s extravagance has reached new heights. The Emperor’s spending is becoming profligate at the same time as the demands of keeping the provinces subdued have become increasingly unaffordable. Could Nero withdraw from Britannia, and at what price for the Empire?

As the bankers of the Empire scramble to call in their loans, Vespasian is sent to Londinium on a secret mission, only to become embroiled in a deadly rebellion led by Boudicca, a female warrior of extraordinary bravery. As the uprising gathers pace, Vespasian must fight to stay ahead of Rome’s enemies and complete his task- before all of Britannia burns.



Somehow i managed to let this title get away from me, let my “to be read” pile defeat me for a bit. But with the pending release of Arminius (and a kick up the butt from the author) i made space and read this title…. and WOW i’m glad i did.

Its easy to say this book is better than the last as a reviewer, but not always why. This time… WOW this is the best book yet in this series.


Vespasian returns to Britain, and you know its all about to kick off with Boudicca and the rebellion. But more than anything its how we get there, how Vespasian has to return to Britain, its the political machinations of Rome, the depravity of Nero, the corruption of Seneca. There is growth of the family in the guise of Titus and Domitian, both good and bad and many things have changed for everyone’s fav character Magnus.

This book does much to drive forward Vespasian in his ambitions for Emperor, the thought that it might be more than fancy starts to really show its self in the elevation of his family and the slide to depravity of the empire. It feels a much more personal tale, the raw fear of everyone as Nero twists the empire to his whim and fancy. Vespasian and and his brother come across old enemies and pay old debts. Along the way the true horror of the Roman world and rebellion is laid bare, but also the building blocks for its future and also maybe its future destruction… such is the scope of this tale.

This book for me was very evocative of others that have touched upon the same period, Douglas Jackson being most brought to mind as it covers the destruction of Camulodunum in such a dramatic fashion his telling is still my fav scene in historical fiction, Robert Fabbri does much to bring that to life in his destruction of London. This whole book is a massively powerful look at the destructive nature that can be unleashed by greed and corruption, how ignoring the masses can lead to a revolution that will sweep all ahead of it.

This is a tremendously well written and researched book, but most of all it is an explosion of action , fear, drama and violence told by a master storyteller. Seven books in and this series just gets better and better….. what can come next?

i look forward to finding out




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)
Arminius: The Limits of Empire (2017)

1 Comment

Filed under Historical Fiction, Robert Fabbri, Uncategorized

Anthony Riches: Centurions (ALL NEW SERIES) News!


Author Bio: (in the authors own words….and “borrowed” from his web site)

Following a childhood which featured a deep interest in the military rooted in my father and grandfather’s service in the two world wars, I took a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. Working for a succession of blue chip companies over the next twenty five years,
I gravitated into business systems and change project management, and I’ve worked as a freelance project manager in the UK and Europe, the USA, the Middle and Far East over the last decade.

Over the same period I’ve gradually refined my ability to write fiction, initially for my own entertainment but more recently with the serious aim of achieving my debut publication. The manuscript of Wounds of Honour eked out a precarious ten year existence on a succession of computer hard drives and memory sticks until a life changing encounter in Belfast energised me to rewrite the manuscript and seek publication. Thanks Gerry!

I’ve been married to Helen, our family’s only true adult for 25 years now, and we live in Hertfordshire with our three children. I’m a confirmed petrol head, and I spend my spare time listening to music, reading (mainly on planes going to and coming back from work) and surfing internet car reviews with a purposeful glint in my eye.

book cover of Betrayal

Rome, AD 68. Nero has committed suicide. One hundred years of imperial rule by the descendants of Julius Caesar has ended, and chaos rules.

His successor Galba dismisses the incorruptible Germans of the Imperial Bodyguard for the crime of loyalty to the dead emperor. Ordering them back to their homeland he releases a Batavi officer from a Roman prison to be their prefect. But Julius Civilis is not the loyal servant of empire that he seems.

Four centurions, two Batavi and two Roman, will be caught up in the intrigues and the battles that follow – as friends, as victims, as leaders and as enemies.

Hramn is First Spear of the Bodyguard. Fiercely proud of his men’s honour, and furious at their disgrace, he leads them back to the Batavi homeland to face an uncertain future.

Alcaeus is a centurion with the tribe’s cohorts serving Rome on the northern frontier – men whose fighting skills prove crucial as Roman vies with Roman for the throne. A wolf-priest of Hercules, he wields the authority of his god and his own fighting prowess.

Marius is a Roman, first spear of the Fifth Legion: a self-made man who hates politics, but cannot avoid them in a year of murderous intrigue.

Aquillius, former first spear of the Eighth Augustan, like Hramn, is in disgrace for refusing to dishonour his oath of loyalty. But their paths will lead them to opposite sides of an unforgiving war.

And Civilis, Kivilaz to his countrymen, heroic leader, Roman citizen and patriotic Batavi, will change both the course of the Empire’s destiny and that of the centurions.


But that’s not all

photo-25-11-2016-13-50-30 photo-25-11-2016-13-51-15 photo-25-11-2016-13-52-06

Each book in the new series Betrayal, Onslaught and Retribution will have a Prologue, each Prologue will be portrayed in a glorious 8 page short Graphic Novel. Having read the first with some stunning art from Dave Leahey, i cant help but draw some comparison to the art for 2000Ad’s Slaine…. which is some of my all time fav Graphic Novel goodness.

This is just a splendid idea, and something i have been looking for for some time, something new and utterly engaging. This is the Graphic Novel equivalent of the Filmed book trailer and does it to great effect.

Expect to see more of this, and cross your fingers for full novel versions.

Pre Order from Amazon

Also expect some great competitions

one lucky ready will win a silver denarius from AD74

there’ll also be a gold aureus from AD78 for one super lucky person at the end of the trilogy

Register with Anthony Riches website to keep up to speed with this and more.

Home Page




1. Wounds of Honour (2009)
2. Arrows of Fury (2010)
3. Fortress of Spears (2011)
4. The Leopard Sword (2012)
5. The Wolf’s Gold (2012)
6. The Eagle’s Vengeance (2013)
7. The Emperor’s Knives (2014)
8. Thunder of the Gods (2015)
9. Altar of Blood (2016)
The Empire Collection Books I-3 (omnibus) (2017)


1. Betrayal (2017)
2. Onslaught (2017)

1 Comment

Filed under Anthony Riches, Historical Fiction

Joanne M Harris: Runemarks “New Edition” (Blog Tour Day 1)


Joanne Harris (MBE) was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels, including Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.

Joanne Harris

Since then, she has written 15 more novels, two collections of short stories, a Dr Who novella, guest episodes for the game Zombies, Run and three cookbooks. Her books are now published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, has honorary doctorates in literature from the universities of Sheffield and Huddersfield, and has been a judge for the Whitbread Prize, the Orange Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science.
Her hobbies are listed in Who’s Who as: “mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion of the system”, although she also enjoys obfuscation, sleaze, rebellion, witchcraft, armed robbery, tea and biscuits. She is not above bribery and would not necessarily refuse an offer involving exotic travel or pink champagne. She works from a shed in her garden, plays bass in the band she first joined when she was 16, is currently writing a screenplay and lives with her husband and daughter in a little wood in Yorkshire.

Author Web Site

Artwork by Andreas Preis: publisher: Gollancz.



I think the first think that should jump out about this book is that this is not its first foray into the world, if you check the bibliography below you can see it was first released in 2007, yet in 9 short years its getting a major re-release. That should really jump out and demand your attention, not all books get a reprint, let alone a total facelift and re-release.

I have to admit i missed this book first time around, but having read the wonderful Gospel of Loki i had to be involved in the blog tour and read it…… and so to help you do the same join the Blog tour and read more of the extract each day….





In the days when the Worlds were young, the Middle Worlds were nothing but ice. Nothing lived there: nothing grew. Nothing disturbed the Order of things. But in World Below, Chaos reigned. Great volcanoes erupted below the surface of the frozen ground; great rivers of lava, like giant snakes, punched through the bedrock of the Worlds. And in the meeting of Fire and Ice, emerged a race of beings who, like gods, shaped the Worlds and ruled them, bearing the weapons of Chaos and wielding its forbidden runes. These ancient, all but immortal beings were the Æsir and the Vanir. Born from war and destruction, for centuries they lived and reigned supreme across the Nine Worlds, and, at the peak of their powers, were finally brought low and destroyed in a series of cataclysmic events, which the ancients called Ragnarók, and which we call Tribulation. Nowadays, their names are known only to the eminent few. The power of their runes is lost to all but members of the scholarly elite. Even their stories are banned; for a tale can travel across the Nine Worlds, even unto the Kingdom of Death, and gods are like weeds; you pull one up to find that a dozen have re-grown. Through stories and dreams, their names will go on: through stories and dreams, their power endures. This is why the Order exists – the Order of Learned Historians, sole custodians of the past and guardians of the future. Now, long after Tribulation, Order has returned to the Worlds. But mankind must still remain vigilant. Runes are

like dandelion seeds that grow wherever they find untended ground. Through them, the Fire of Chaos burns on, and can never be quite extinguished. And the Prophecy of the Oracle, the last and most secret of documents collected by the Order of Learned Historians in what is now known as the Good Book, tells of a battle yet to come, a final, titanic battle between the forces of Order and Chaos, in which the gods and their enemies will once more meet each other face-to-face. Some claim this has already happened. Some claim it has happened many times. Some claim it is still happening.

RUNEMARKS by Joanne M Harris is being re-issued in hardback by Gollancz on 24th November

Buy from Amazon UK

Please Join Kate for Day 2 of the blog tour and the next part of this wonderful extract

Click for Day 2

Chocolat Trilogy
1. Chocolat (1999)
2. The Lollipop Shoes (2007)
aka The Girl with No Shadow
3. Peaches for Monsieur le Cure (2012)
aka Peaches for Father Francis
1. Runemarks (2007)
2. Runelight (2011)
The Evil Seed (1992)
Sleep, Pale Sister (1994)
Blackberry Wine (2000)
Five Quarters of the Orange (2001)
The Coastliners (2002)
Holy Fools (2003)
Gentlemen and Players (2005)
Blueeyedboy (2010)
The Gospel of Loki (2014)
Different Class (2016)

Joanne Harris Box Set (2002)
Jigs and Reels (2004)
Because I’m a Girl (2010) (with Tim Butcher, Kathy Lette, Henning Mankell, Deborah Moggach, Marie Phillips, Irvine Welsh and Xiaolu Guo)
Any Girl Can Be a CandyKiss Girl! / Tea with the Birds / The G-SUS Gene (2011)
Auto-da-fe / Free Spirit / Fule’s Gold (2011)
Class of ’81 / Come in, Mr Lowry, Your Number Is Up!(2011)
Eau de Toilette / Fish / Never Give a Sucker… (2011)
Faith and Hope Go Shopping / Hello, Goodbye (2011)
Gastronomicon / The Ugly Sister (2011)
Last Train to Dogtown / The Little Mermaid (2011)
A Place in the Sun / Al and Christine’s World of Leather / The Spectator (2011)
A Cat, a Hat, and a Piece of String (2012)
Four For Fantasy (2013) (with Brian Aldiss, Joe Hill and Richard Christian Matheson)

Breakfast at Tesco’s (2011)
Waiting for Gandalf (2011)
Series contributed to
Doctor Who : Time Trips
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller (2014)
Doctor Who: Time Trips: The Collection (2015) (with Cecelia Ahern, Jake Arnott, Trudi Canavan, Jenny Colgan, Stella Duffy, Nick Harkaway and A L Kennedy)
Non fiction
The French Kitchen (2002) (with Fran Warde)
My French Kitchen (2003) (with Fran Warde)
The French Market (2005) (with Fran Warde)
The Little Book of Chocolat (2014) (with Fran Warde)

Leave a comment

Filed under Joanne M Harris

Simon Scarrow: Invictus (Review)

Simon Scarrow UK (1962 – )
Brother of Alex Scarrow

Simon Scarrow's picture

Simon Scarrow is a Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author. His bestsellers include his novels featuring Roman soldiers Macro and Cato, 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.

Buy a Signed Limited Edition

Invictus (2016)
(Book 15 in the Eagles of the Empire series)

book cover of Invictus

It is AD 54. The soldiers of the Roman army patrol a growing Empire, from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, from the Atlantic to the banks of the Nile. Rome brutally enforces its rule, and its legions are the most efficient and aggressive fighting force in the world. Two battle-scarred veterans of this army, Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro, have survived years of campaigning in Britannia and have been recalled to Rome.

Their time in the teeming, dangerously political city is short, and soon they are travelling with the Praetorian Guard to Spain, a restless colony where simmering tension in the face of Roman rule is aggravated by bitter rivalry amongst the natives. The challenges that face two old friends and their comrades in arms are unlike any they have seen before – in a land that declares itself unconquerable….


This is a tough story with a tough time for Cato and its this i feel that really gives this book its hard, realistic edge. For me this is a return to Macro and Cato of old and yet so much more. This could very possibly be the best book in the series so far, although that’s a very personal view, because as far as i can see Cato is slowly becoming Macro (whom i always thought carried the show). Cato is now a veteran of so many battles and missions, the holder of so many scars both visible and emotional, that a jaded cynical edge is coming through in his speech, decision and tactics.

As part of that return to the old days we see a return of protagonists of the past in the guide of Vitellius and Pulcher, both men who in their own way have tried to bring an end to Macro and Cato at some point in the past. The rome that our due return to is one with the succession of the empire in flux, Claudius now an old man, his freedman Narcissus is promoting Britannicus his son. Pellas, another freedman who has gained power and currently seems to have edged in front in the political game with his man Nero (Claudius stepson). The ebb and flow of the power struggle between these two factions spills out to many areas or Rome but also the empire in brutal and also subtle fashion, enemies are dealt with and yet all the while the empire must keep running, so when there is an uprising in Spain, both Macro and Cato are packed off with their old enemy Vitellius in charge to quell it, and save the finances of the army and the empire…. all the while Macro and Cato must not only fight the man in front but as usual worry about who might be trying to stick a knife in the back.

I really enjoyed that this book brought back some of the multi layer plot lines of old, the battle in front and the back stabbing politics or Vitellius, who is my fav bad guy of the series, he is such a smooth, sly silky bad guy, a born nasty politician. If i had one gripe for the book, it was the solution to the fight at the mine, it did jump out from its first mention…. but that could well be too many books read, (i leap ahead in my head for what each item could be used for). It doesn’t remove the power and destruction of the ending, the horror and sense of being used for the reasons of politics rather than good, you can see how and why this wears on Cato. For Macro its another day in the office, uncomplicated and simple, bad guy dead, good guy alive, job done, and i love his simplistic view over the top of Cato’s complex morals.

I’m very intrigued to see where our duo go next, there are many battles and perils to go before we hit the year of the four emperors, I’m intrigued as to where and how Simon Scarrow will keep this fresh voice going, and fresh is not anything to take lightly, after 15 books this is a huge achievement in my view.

I for one want to see Macro’s cynical philosophy and explosive action in many more books, its the perfect foil to Cato’s moral musing and strategic clarity.




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)
15. Invictus (2016)

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)

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)

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Fiction, Simon Scarrow, Uncategorized

Dominic Selwood: Apocalypse Fire (Blog Tour) Guest Blog


Buy The (e) Book

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1287 KB
  • Print Length: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Canelo (31 Oct. 2016)

Dr Ava Curzon returns in the breathtaking sequel to bestselling thriller, The Sword of Moses

When the Turin Shroud is stolen in a violent assault, archaeologist and former spy Ava Curzon is plunged into a desperate struggle against an apocalyptic Russian cult. Recruited by the UK’s clandestine MI13 intelligence agency – and aided by the Vatican’s security division and her former colleague Ferguson – Ava is sucked into a world of dark extremism and Biblical secrets.

As the chase catapults her around Europe, she must unravel the mysteries of an ancient icon belonging to the shadowy Order of Malta.

With time running out, and war in the Middle East the price of failure, the world stands on the brink…

Guest post….writing and the research… (Dominic Selwood).

You occasionally get a story told by a narrator who never moves. A great example is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (1997), in which the author is imprisoned in a hospital bed, only able to move his eyelids. With superhuman patience, he narrates the entire book about his experience of being “locked-in”. A companion reads the alphabet to him thousands of times, and he blinks every time she gets to the next letter he wants.

However, the vast majority of books require multiple changes of scene to keep them interesting. In an action thriller, this movement from place to place is critical to the pace and evolving drama. It also casts a wide backdrop, allowing the reader to be catapulted to wildly different landscapes and cultures, which heightens the sense of adventure.

In my Ava Curzon books, the stories are located all over the world. They unfold in Washington, London, Paris, Rome, Dubai, Scotland, Ethiopia, Turin, Germany, Moscow, Donetsk, you name it.

For me, half the fun of writing these stories lies in researching the locations. The plots are driven by codes, clues, puzzles, ciphers, and all sorts of other baffling mysteries, and the locations play a leading role in the stories and solutions. Answers are often closely tied to places – embedded into buildings, buried under landmarks, hidden in artefacts.

My stories also involve a good dollop of history, which often means the locations are important to the plot, and their historical significance is regularly part of a puzzle’s solution. The books carry the strapline, ‘Where fiction and truth collide’, so the research element is a vital part of putting the story together.

For instance, in The Sword of Moses, a key event takes place in a temple of Mithras buried deep under a church in Rome. Another unfolds at the former home of the occultist Aleister Crowley on the shores of Loch Ness. In my latest book, The Apocalypse Fire, significant scenes are set in the Kremlin, the Vatican, a crusader castle in northern Cyprus, and the old town of Jerusalem.

Researching these places is some of the most fun I have when writing. It’s amazing how often you start with wanting to use a particular place because of its feel, but then when researching it, you find so much more. For example, when I first started thinking about the Kremlin, I had in mind rooms and corridors with a sense of power. However, when I started exploring the place, I found it has four cathedrals, and a medieval room in the oldest part of the complex that is painted gold and smothered with frescoes and gilded carvings of saints. Suddenly, the scene did not have to be in a vast grand state room, but could be in this intimate medieval chamber, where I could bring together the two big themes important to the main character in the scene: authority and religion.

Another location in The Apocalypse Fire I really enjoyed researching was the castle of Montségur in south-west France. As I read more and more about the castle’s real story, it almost seemed sacrilegious to set my own story there.

In the 1240s, Montségur was home to some of the last remaining Cathars, who were a group of heretics the Church had waged a crusade against throughout southern France. The Cathars made their last stand at Montségur, which was, in effect, an entire village in the clouds, clinging to the top of a virtually unclimbable mountain. In the end, Basque mercenaries were brought in from the Pyrenees, and they scaled the sheerest cliff face at night, and the Cathars eventually surrendered. Almost all refused to renounce their heresy, so 225 of them prayerfully and willingly entered a pen built specially on the hillside, climbed onto funeral pyres, and were burned alive.

The more I read about it, the more I realized that the story of the heretics of Montségur is so dramatic and shocking – and so historically important – that I did not want it merely to sit in the background of my story. It is better than anything I could have invented, and I have been captivated by the tragedy of the Cathars for over 25 years. So I took the opportunity to weave their story – and especially the horror of Montségur – into the plot of The Apocalypse Fire.

I first got a love of locations from Thomas Hardy, whose landscapes are so important to his stories that they are, in effect, characters in their own right. I don’t write the same kind of soulful, brooding, tragic stories as him. But I do feel the same excitement when I start researching a new setting as I do when I become absorbed in one of his hyper-atmospheric settings.

Many thanks to the author for taking the time to provide this insight.



Ava Curzon Trilogy
1. The Sword of Moses (2013)
2. The Apocalypse Fire (2016)
Suffer the Children (2015)
The Voivod (2015)
Non fiction
Knights of the Cloister (1996)
Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers (2015)


Leave a comment

Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Dominic Selwood

James Rollins: The Seventh Plague (Review)

James Rollins's picture

James Rollins
(James Czajkowski)
USA (1961 – )

aka James Clemens

James Rollins was born in Chicago, Illinois, is 1961. With his three brothers and three sisters, he was raised in the Midwest and rural Canada. He graduated with a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri and went on to establish his own veterinary practice in Sacramento, California. An amateur spelunker and a PADI-certified scuba enthusiast, he’ll often be found either underground or underwater.

The Seventh Plague: A Sigma Force Novel (Sigma Force Novels)

Buy UK


Two years after vanishing into the Sudanese desert, the leader of a British archeological expedition, Professor Harold McCabe, comes stumbling out of the sands, frantic and delirious, but he dies before he can tell his story. The mystery deepens when an autopsy uncovers a bizarre corruption: someone had begun to mummify the professor s body while he was still alive.

His strange remains are returned to London for further study, when alarming news arrives from Egypt. The medical team who had performed the man s autopsy has fallen ill with an unknown disease, one that is quickly spreading throughout Cairo. Fearing the worst, a colleague of the professor reaches out to a longtime friend: Painter Crowe, the director of Sigma Force. The call is urgent, for Professor McCabe had vanished into the desert while searching for proof of the ten plagues of Moses. As the pandemic grows, a disturbing question arises.

Are those plagues starting again?

Before Director Crowe can investigate, a mysterious group of assassins leaves behind a fiery wake of destruction and death, erasing all evidence. With the professor s body incinerated, his home firebombed, Sigma Force must turn to the archaeologist s only daughter, Jane McCabe, for help. While sifting through what s left of her father s work, she discovers a puzzling connection tying the current threat to a shocking historical mystery, one involving the travels of Mark Twain, the genius of Nikola Tesla, and the adventures of famous explorer Henry Morgan Stanley.

To unravel a secret going back millennia, Director Crowe and Commander Grayson Pierce will be thrust to opposite sides of the globe. One will search for the truth, traveling from the plague-ridden streets of Cairo to a vast ancient tomb buried under the burning sands of the Sudan; the other will struggle to stop a mad genius locked within a remote Arctic engineering complex, risking the lives of all those he holds dear.

As the global crisis grows ever larger, Sigma Force will confront a threat born of the ancient past and made real by the latest science a danger that will unleash a cascading series of plagues, culminating in a scourge that could kill all of the world s children . . . decimating humankind forever.


I always think any thriller writer stepping into the biblical sphere is taking a big risk, not just because of those who follow religion and that they might jump all over the book, but just the whole sphere of what is actually plausible.

Fortunately Rollins is one of the few writers that can pull it off, and not “just”… he pulls it off with style. The scope of most Rollins novels is broad, but one that includes: Stanley, Livingstone, Tesla and the biblical plagues of Egypt, well you know the story is going to be something special, the fact that he can make you believe the entire plot, and that he may have found the reason behind those plagues… well, its a testament to his writing style, skill and imagination (and no little research).

You can tell that the research that’s gone into this book is exhaustive, Rollins has got to know his characters, Sigma he has a deep knowledge of, but adding in Tesla, Livingston and Stanley, which he has done effortlessly, and this only comes from making them real, and knowing them (research, research research), the same with the plagues and the location. The depth and breadth of his work is what draws me to his novels, he never dials it in. His books are the benchmark of action thrillers.

Highly recommended


Sigma Force
1. Sandstorm (2004)
2. Map of Bones (2005)
3. Black Order (2006)
4. The Judas Strain (2007)
5. The Last Oracle (2008)
6. The Doomsday Key (2009)
6.5. The Skeleton Key (2011)
7. The Devil Colony (2011)
7.5. Tracker (2012)
8. Bloodline (2012)
9. The Eye of God (2013)
10. The Sixth Extinction (2014)
10.5. The Midnight Watch (2015)
11. The Bone Labyrinth (2015)
12. The Seventh Plague (2016)
The Doomsday Key / The Last Oracle (omnibus) (2013)
Sigma Force Novels 1 (omnibus) (2014)
Crash and Burn (2016)

Jake Ransom
1. Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow (2009)
2. Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx (2010)
Jake Ransom Complete Collection (omnibus) (2014)
Order of the Sanguines (with Rebecca Cantrell)
0.5. City of Screams (2012)
1. The Blood Gospel (2013)
1.5. Blood Brothers (2013)
2. Innocent Blood (2013)
3. Blood Infernal (2015)

Tucker Wayne (with Grant Blackwood)
1. The Kill Switch (2014)
2. War Hawk (2016)
Subterranean (1999)
Excavation (2000)
Deep Fathom (2001)
Amazonia (2002)
Ice Hunt (2003)
Altar of Eden (2009)

The Devil’s Bones (2014) (with Steve Berry)
Series contributed to
Indiana Jones (Films)
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull(2008)



1 Comment

Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, James Rollins, Thrillers

Learning Armizare, or, where can I do all that cool stuff?

With Pen and Sword

Torneo 2

Most frequently asked question:  Where can I learn to do all that stuff?

If you don’t care about my discourse on how various simulations of pre-modern sword combat work or don’t work, skip down to the bold type.

This blog article will endeavor to provide you with a spectrum of answers.  In the process, I plan to say some things which I view as obvious, but I’m going to guess that others will find them controversial.

So, really, the question I am very frequently asked is ‘Where can I learn to fight like the knight/be a knight/do that reenacting thing you do.’  There’s a corollary question, too; ‘I live 200 kilometers from the nearest city; I live in Iowa; I live in Alberta… how do I learn…’

This question needs to be broken down.  And in this blog, I will give an answer; several answers.  But I want to look…

View original post 2,801 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Will Panzo: The Burning Isle (Author Guest Blog)


 Will Panzo's picture

After working in publishing and as an editor for Marvel Comics, Will Panzo found his true calling as a physician assistant for an emergency department. The Burning Isle is his first novel. He lives and works in New York City.

book cover of The Burning Isle


Buy the Book

The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but they still constantly battle for power. If a man knows how to turn their discord to his advantage, he might also turn a profit…

But trained on the Isle of Twelve, Cassius is no ordinary spellcaster, and his goal is not simply money. This is a treacherous island where the native gods are restless and anything can happen…

 Author Guest Post

 Justice in the Absence of Law

by Will Panzo

            Violence is the oldest tradition of justice known to man. Society, through the rule of law, offers other means of redress, but in exchange for this alternative, people must relinquish their right to violence. In a lawful world, society has a monopoly on the use of force. But a lawful world is a man-made concept and, like everything made by man, it’s impermanent. Violence has existed long before man though, and may well exist forever.

In today’s society, we take the rule of law for granted. Disputes which can’t be settled privately are brought before a court for arbitration. When a citizen’s life or property is endangered, the police, an instrument of the law, are a mere phone call away. But we need not look deep into history to find a society where law did not exist, or where it proved too ineffective to supplant the older tradition of violent retribution.

In ancient Greece, retribution was considered a noble act, one sanctioned by the gods. Rome had a rich tradition of blood feuds, which often pit warring families against one another for generations. Similar vendettas can be found in feudal Japan, the Philippines, medieval Scotland and Ireland, Norse cultures.

Even in America, only a few centuries past, settlers of the West found themselves in a frontier not yet touched by the institutions of government. Where, then, did they turn for protection and recompense? Without the framework of a lawful society, the settlers learned a lesson well known to the ancient world. The oldest form of justice is violence.

Blood feuds such as the Pleasant Valley War, the Lincoln County War (featuring Billy the Kid), and the Earp Vendetta Ride (an attempt to settle scores after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral) gave the Old West its reputation for violence. At that time, without an efficient system of law, or a government powerful enough to monopolize the use of force, people returned to a more primal system of justice. It would take decades before the rule of law took hold. The old traditions died hard.

My novel, The Burning Isle, is a dark tale, set in a fantasy world reminiscent of ancient Rome. On the fringe of this republic lies the island of Scipio, a place where the rule of law has lapsed. All manner of society’s castoffs make their way to Scipio: fugitives fleeing justice, exiles unwelcome elsewhere in the Republic, criminals seeking illicit profit. Into this world enters a young spellcaster named Cassius who, at first, appears to be a common mercenary looking to earn some coin. It soon becomes clear that Cassius has other plans though, that he has come to Scipio not to seek his fortune, but to right a great injustice.

Cassius fancies himself a man on a crusade, but on an island with no laws, vengeance is his only means of seeking justice. There are no courts in which he can plea his case, no police to arrest those who have wronged him, no jury to weigh the merits of his claim. Cassius, alone in a wild frontier, and beset on all sides by enemies, decides that violence is his only recourse.

As he sets about his work though, Cassius soon comes to realize that violence is a messy business. Vengeance is not a task undertaken flippantly. It demands dedication and self-sacrifice. When Cassius’ naïve morality meets his desire for retribution, the dissonance between the two threatens his very sanity. Can Cassius navigate the tricky path necessary to see his work completed without losing his mind? Or will his appeal to violence, that most primal form of justice, lead to his ruin? Only one thing is for certain. Before Cassius finds his answer, he’ll find bloodshed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fantasy, Will Panso