Monthly Archives: January 2017

Steven A McKay: The Prisoner: A Forest Lord Novelette

Robin Hood author

About (in his own words)

My name is Steven A. McKay and I’m a writer from Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow in Scotland, heavily influenced by the likes of Bernard Cornwell, Douglas Jackson, Ben Kane et al.

My first book in the Forest Lord series, Wolf’s Head, was set in medieval England and it’s a fast-paced, violent retelling of the Robin Hood legends. It hit the number 1 spot in the UK “War” chart, reached the overall Kindle top 20 bestsellers list and is available on Kindle, audiobook and paperback from Amazon here:  http://smarturl.it/2636

As I write, in October 2016, I’m just about to publish the fourth and final book in the series, Blood of the Wolf. I think my take on the Robin Hood legend is quite different to anything that’s been done before – check out the reviews to see for yourself.

In total, including my two novellas, Knight of the Cross and Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil, I’ve sold over 75,000 books in the past three years with hundreds of five star reviews for them.  As a working class man from a little village in Scotland, I’m honestly amazed at how many people enjoy my books.

Thank you all so much for reading!

Website

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When two lawmen – fabled former outlaws themselves – are sent to a snowy English village to arrest a rapist it seems a straightforward task, but is all as it first appears?

ENGLAND, 1325 AD

As Robin Hood and Little John take the criminal into custody they find the people of Stapleford accommodating enough, and the terrified victim’s bruises are plainly, painfully, visible. Inevitably, as they set off on the journey back to Nottingham the lawmen’s disgust at the captive’s crime colours their opinion of him and Little John has to be restrained from brutally assaulting the man.
The harsh conditions slow their progress though, and eventually the prisoner’s words and desperate, violent actions have the lawmen questioning what’s really been happening in Stapleford…

Can Robin and John complete the mission they’ve been given, or will their own innate sense of justice lead them down an unexpected path?

Fans of the bestselling Forest Lord series will love this exciting new stand-alone tale, set just before Blood of the Wolf, that explores the themes of morality and injustice in medieval England.

Author bio
Steven A. McKay was born in Scotland in 1977. His first book, “Wolf’s Head”, came out in 2013 and was an Amazon UK top 20 bestseller.
“Blood of the Wolf” is the fourth and final book in the Forest Lord series which has over 70,000 sales so far.
Steven is currently researching a brand new tale set in post-Roman Britain.

Review

This is a lovely little tale from Steven A McKay, set in the heart of the Robin Hood series, and while only 27 pages it still packs a well rounded punch. A tale of justice and truth, set against the backdrop of Robin and Little Johns own rough brand of honest justice.

well worth the 99p cover price

(Parm)

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Robert Fabbri : Arminius: The Limits of Empire (2017) 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

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book cover of Arminius: The Limits of Empire

A.D. 9: In the depths of the Teutoburg Wald, in a landscape riven by ravines, darkened by ancient oak and bisected by fast-flowing streams, Arminius of the Cherusci led a confederation of six Germanic tribes in the annihilation of three Roman legions. Deep in the forest almost 20,000 men were massacred without mercy; fewer than 200 of them ever made it back across the Rhine. To Rome’s shame, three sacred Eagles were lost that day. But Arminius wasn’t brought up in Germania Magna – he had been raised as a Roman. This is the story of how Arminius came to turn his back on the people who raised him and went on to commit a betrayal so great and so deep, it echoed through the ages.

Review

When i picked this book up i struggled to see where it fitted in the whole Vespasian world, Arminius and the Teutoburg Wald happened about 25 years before book 1, But slowly the author draws you into a brilliantly simple and yet complex story, told from Multi perspectives. The long dead voice of Arminius echoing from beyond the grave, ironically, only because he has adopted the roman way of chronicling his life. The voice of his Son, the voices of Romans past and present, all impacting on the stage that was one of Romes greatest defeats.

How the author ties this book into the rest of the series is amusing and clever, and made me want to reread Romes Fallen Eagle. As ever with the use of impeccable research and  superb writing skills he weaves a take both dark and terrible, fully portraying the horror and scale of the deaths on those terrible 4 days. With touches of dark humor and a very fatalistic tone the differing tones or a Sons lost life and adoration, tempered by experience to a slaves bitter resignation and humbling shame, every emotion is covered, as is every facet of the Roman mindset and how it was exploited by a barbarian from the woods.

Coupled in with this are some fantastic glimpses at the hierarchy of power with Augustus, Livi, Tiberius, Germanicus and most of all Varus and Lucius.  Robert Fabbri is a master story teller, capturing the author within his pages. I have to say that occasionally i found the narrative jarring as it dropped from past to present to past, but this was always handled with the snap shots of humour and some great characters and lines, Pickled testicles will stay with me for a while!

What really made this book for me was how Arminius slowly made his plans, how they were in part inspired by Romans at the highest level, how (whilst we know much of what Fabbri writes in Fiction) we know that Arminius must have had to be some orator and one of those people that others naturally gravitate too. There is no way he could have hoodwinked so many Romans, and also been able to talk to his fellow Germans on the same level and convince them of this ambitions. To also do this amidst the fear or betrayal, as a person in history he is not only fascinating but stands as an iconic personality… all of this comes across in the book.

So while not my fav book in the series, probably one of the most impressive.Highly original in style, hugely impressive in breadth and scope, stunningly entertaining and complex.

(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)
8. Arminius: The Limits of Empire (2017)
Vespasian Vol 1-3 (omnibus) (2014)


 

Crossroads Brotherhood Trilogy
1. The Crossroads Brotherhood (2011)
2. The Racing Factions (2013)
3. The Dreams of Morpheus (2014)
4. The Alexandrian Embassy (2015)
5. The Imperial Triumph (2017)
The Crossroads Brotherhood Trilogy (omnibus) (2015)

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Tad Williams: The Heart of What Was Lost: A Novel of Osten Ard (Memory, Sorrow & Thorn) Review.

Author Website

Tad Williams is a California-based fantasy superstar. His genre-creating (and genre-busting) books have sold tens of millions worldwide. His considerable output of epic fantasy and epic science-fiction series, fantastical stories of all kinds, urban fantasy novels, comics, scripts, etc., have strongly influenced a generation of writers. Tad always has several secret projects on the go. 2016 will see the debut of a number of them; March 2017 brings ‘The Witchwood Crown’, the first volume in the long-awaited return to the world of the ‘Memory, Sorrow & Thorn’ novels. Tad and his family live in the Santa Cruz mountains in a suitably strange and beautiful house.

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The world was nearly destroyed, but now knows hope again. At the end of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Ineluki the Storm King, an undead spirit of horrifying, demonic power, came within moments of stopping Time itself and obliterating humankind.

He was defeated by a coalition of mortal men and women joined by his own deathless descendants, the Sithi. In the wake of the Storm King’s fall, Ineluki’s loyal minions, the Norns, retreat north to Nakkiga, an ancient citadel which holds a priceless artefact known as The Heart of What Was Lost.

They are pursued by the army of Duke Isgrimnur who is determined to wipe out the Norns for all time.
The two armies will soon clash in a battle so strange and deadly, so wracked with dark enchant­ment, that it threatens to destroy not just one side but quite possibly all.

Review

Memory Sorrow and Thorn forms a seminal part of my reading life and direction. I stumbled across The Dragonbone chair in 1990 when i had just become a single parent. I was trapped indoors with nappies, and all the other new baby things, it was still in the era of 4 channels of nothing on TV and only so many videos to watch. I was a huge fan of David Gemmell, and was branching out into other authors, but i was far from a huge reader. This Tad Williams series broke open mew worlds, new ideas and new opportunities. It led to reading the Many Colored Land a SCI/ FI Fantasy cross over, this led to many other series (this was one of the few sci fi series i ever read, i don’t like it much, The Otherland series is one of the few others i really love). in short that series kept me sane and opened a myriad of wonderful worlds. 

So when i was offered the chance to read “The Heart of what was Lost”… well it was who do i need to sleep with moment? I simply had to get my hands on this book. That trip down memory lane, could the author keep the same voice from the series?

The story has a very intense dark fantasy norse flavour, with the cold and ice, the long march after the Norns. The Men mainly true Norsemen, men hardened to nature and fighting, now worn by the level of death and strangeness of the Norns, fighting now from a feeling of fear and revenge and a desperate desire to just go home.

The story follows that long slog north to the Norns ancient citadel, skirmishing all the way, with an inevitable clash at the end….. what holds the reader is the politics and schisms in both sides. The level of imagination for all parts of the world is there, i didn’t go back and read Memory Sorrow and Thorn,  but 26 years later all the magic is still there and i could feel the memory cells firing as Tad Williams carried me back to Osten Ard.

The True return will happen in April with The Witchwood Crown and i really am looking forward to that return

very Highly recommend this book… and if you have never read Memory Sorrow and Thorn, then do so…. it truly is up there with the greatest Fantasy Series.

(Parm)

Series
Last King of Osten Ard
1. The Witchwood Crown (2017)
2. Empire of Grass (2017)
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn
1. The Dragonbone Chair (1988)
2. The Stone of Farewell (1990)
3. To Green Angel Tower (1993)
4. To Green Angel Tower Part 2 (2016)
To Green Angel Tower
1. Siege (1994)
2. Storm (1994)
Otherland
1. City of Golden Shadow (1996)
2. River of Blue Fire (1998)
3. Mountain of Black Glass (1999)
4. Sea of Silver Light (2001)
Otherland (1997)

Shadowmarch
1. Shadowmarch (2004)
2. Shadowplay (2007)
3. Shadowrise (2010)
4. Shadowheart (2010)
Ordinary Farm Adventures (with Deborah Beale)
1. The Dragons of Ordinary Farm (2009)
2. The Secrets of Ordinary Farm (2011)
Angel Doloriel / Bobby Dollar
1. The Dirty Streets of Heaven (2012)
2. Happy Hour in Hell (2013)
3. Sleeping Late on Judgement Day (2014)
4. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlepig (2014)
Tales of Osten Ard
1. The Heart of What Was Lost (2017)
Novels
Caliban’s Hour (1993)
Tad Williams’ Mirror World (1998)
The War of the Flowers (2003)
Diary of a Dragon (2012)
Collections
The Wood Boy / The Burning Man (2006) (with Raymond E Feist)
Rite (2006)
A Stark And Wormy Knight (2011)
The Very Best of Tad Williams (2014)
Series contributed to
Dragonflight (with Nina Kiriki Hoffman)
Child of an Ancient City (1992)
Oz Reimagined
The Boy Detective of Oz (2013)
Anthologies edited
Weird Tales 292 (1988) (with Darrell Schweitzer)
Treasury of Fantasy (1995)
Anthologies containing stories by Tad Williams
Book of Dreams (1991)
Vampires: The Greatest Stories (1991)
Peter S Beagle’s Immortal Unicorn 2 (1995)
Peter S Beagle’s Immortal Unicorn (1995)
The Best of Weird Tales (1995)
David Copperfield’s Beyond Imagination (1996)
Legends (1998)
Legends 3 (2000)

 

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