Monthly Archives: September 2017

Steven A McKay: The Abbey of Death (Review)

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Steven A. McKay was born in Scotland in 1977. His first novel, Wolf’s Head, was published in 2013 and went on to be an Amazon UK top-twenty bestseller. The Abbey of Death is the final story in the Forest Lord series. Steven is currently researching and writing a brand-new tale set in post-Roman Britain. He plays lead guitar and sings in a heavy-metal band when they can find the time to meet.

The Abbey of Death (Kindle Single) by [McKay, Steven A.]

He wanted to find peace in prayer, but some men serve God best with a sword in their hand.

Will Scaflock wants only to live in peace. He had more than his share of adventure when he went by the name Will Scarlet and fought corrupt authority alongside Robin Hood. Now widowed and alone, and estranged from his adult daughter, he has taken holy orders and sought refuge in a remote Benedictine abbey.

But even there, trouble and violence follow him. The abbot, John de Wystow, is a good man but a weak leader, and easily undermined by a faction of dissident monks. When the rebels, led by Brother Robert de Flexburgh, run riot in the local community—stealing, drinking, fornicating—Scaflock’s old instincts return. Reluctantly taking charge of the abbey’s moral defence, he finds himself embroiled in a series of fierce clashes with de Flexburgh’s rowdy gang.

As the abbey’s tranquillity is shattered, its cloisters stained with blood, Scaflock is forced to reconsider the direction of his life. Has he really left Will Scarlet behind him—or has he simply been running from reality?

Review

With each and every book in the forest lord series i have watched Steven A Mckay grow as a writer, both in style and confidence, until he has reached his latest point with The Abbey of Death. This tales shows a much more rounded tale steeped in confident writing and plot twists and misdirection. His characters continue to grow and coalesce into full realized and realistic personas making the book come alive. Will Scaflock being probably my favourite in the series , because he isn’t nice, he is rough and real and he has suffered. This book truly shows just how much he has suffered and how real he can be…. much to the horror of his attackers….

So with Abbey of Death, McKay brings down the curtain on the Forest Lord series, with his best work to date.

if that isnt worth £1.98…. well, im not sure what is.

(Parm)

 

 

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Anthony Riches: Onslaught (The second book in the Centurions series) Review.

Anthony Riches

Anthony Riches

began his lifelong interest in war and soldiers when he first heard his father’s stories about World War II. This led to a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. He began writing the story that would become Wounds of Honour after a visit to Housesteads in 1996. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three children

 

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Onslaught (2017)
(The second book in the Centurions series)

 

book cover of Onslaught

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The Rhine frontier has exploded into all-out war. The Batavi cohorts, so recently proud soldiers of Rome, have returned to their homeland, summoned by their new leader Kivilaz: they will be the spearhead of an audacious assault on Roman power.

Humbled by the rebels in a battle they should have won, the Romans retreat to their northern stronghold, the Old Camp, to lick their wounds. The 5th and 15th Legions grimly prepare to defend an undermanned fortress against both the Batavi and thousands of barbarian warriors intoxicated by a charismatic priestess’s vision of their victory.

Four centurions who once fought in the same army find themselves on opposite sides of a vicious civil war. For the Batavi, the prize could be freedom from Roman rule. For the Romans, the choices are victory or the most humiliating defeat their empire has ever known. And for one Batavi soldier, the greatest prize is simply survival in a battle with a cornered, desperate enemy.

Review:

Onslaught is Anthony Riches second book in his new Centurion series, for fans of his work, this series is a diversion from the insanely entertaining exploits of Marcus Aquila and the Tungrians in the Empire series.

Onslaught, like its predecessor Betrayal follow the hugely unsettled period of the Roman Empire when Emperors were two an penny and changed hands at the drop of a few legions being slaughtered. The latest book taking us to the point where Vitellius is now upon the throne, albeit perched on the edge and in no way feeling comfortable, because Titus Flavius Vespasianus has been acclaimed Emperor in the east, his legions are on the march, and his men are in true Roman fashion, double dealing and scheming across the empire. No one wants to be seen to support the wrong man. leaving the many men of the legions to bear the brunt and pay the bloody price of all the political maneuvering.

Taking advantage of all of this is Prince Kivilaz of the Batavi, under the aegis of insults to the tribe and ensuring the tribes future he has taken the fight to rebellion and attacked Rome via her encampments.

This rich backdrop of politics and battle is prime fodder for a writer of the skill and wit of Anthony Riches and one he exploits to the fullest. As you can expect (if you are a regular reader of his work) his characters explode to life as the story unfolds, keeping the reader fully engaged as the plot switches from Roman to Batavi perspective leaving you unsure who is the good guy and who is the bad, where should your reader loyalties sit?

This book and series explores deeper than just the camaraderie of the soldier and their deep ties to each other and their officers, it looks to the limits that a legion can be pushed or will accept and the limits a man can endure before his will finally breaks and he can fight no more. Interspersed as always with laugh out loud moments and the inevitable gallows humour of the men destined to die a bloody death very soon, and the more reflective moments of family, and friends and their loss, this is a book that spans not only events and people but also emotions. Antony Riches is now the undisputed master at this style of book, giving the reader a tale where no character is safe, no pages should be read unprepared because he can change pace or fully unfold some Machiavellian plot device at any moment. The ending of this book leaves me feeling that he has many such plots up his sleeve… and that the final book, Retribution will be a corker.

Onslaught is another fantastic new book in a series that is as Brutal and uncompromising as an enraged first spear, and should not be missed.

(Parm)

Series
Empire 
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)
The Empire Collection Books 4-6 (omnibus) (2017)
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Centurions 
1. Betrayal (2017)
2. Onslaught (2017)
3. Retribution (2018)
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Angus Donald: Blood’s Game (Review)

Angus Donald

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Angus Donald was born in China in 1965 and educated at Marlborough College and Edinburgh University.

He has worked as a fruit-picker in Greece, a waiter in New York and as an anthropologist studying magic and witchcraft in Indonesia.

For the past 20 years, he has been a journalist in Hong Kong, India, Afghanistan and London.

Author Website

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book cover of Blood's Game

THE THRILLING NEW SERIES FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE ‘OUTLAW CHRONICLES’. PERFECT FOR FANS OF BERNARD CORNWELL AND CONN IGGULDEN. AFTER THE TUDORS CAME THE STUARTS . . . London, Winter 1670. Holcroft Blood has entered the employ of the Duke of Buckingham, one of the most powerful men in the kingdom after the king. It is here that his education really begins. With a gift for numbers and decoding ciphers, Holcroft soon proves invaluable to the Duke, but when he’s pushed into a betrayal he risks everything for revenge. His father, Colonel Thomas Blood, has fallen on hard times. A man used to fighting, he lives by his wits and survives by whatever means necessary. When he’s asked to commit treason by stealing the crown jewels, he puts himself and his family in a dangerous situation – one that may end at the gallows. As the machinations of powerful men plot to secure the country’s future, both father and son must learn what it is to survive in a more dangerous battlefield than war – the court of King Charles II.

Review

Angus Donald has managed over the last 8 years to provide us with one of the best modern retelling’s of Robin Hood that you could ever possibly want to read. When it finished what would come next?

Colonel Blood is not an unknown character to me, but he is very much a little known enigma for many readers…..

So how would Angus bring this man alive?

The answer is through his own trials and those of his family and the daring theft of the Crown Jewels. The key character for me in this book is his son Holcroft Blood. Angus Donald brings to life the time period and the people, the nasty conniving Buckingham with his privilege and power, a spoiled king and various sections of society from the theater to the slums of London. While Angus tells the history lightly, he also manages to weave the reader right into the immediate so you feel part of the story not a voyeur in a tale.

By the end of the story Holcroft Blood has become a new fav character, a young man different from his peers, but gifted and talented in many ways, with an honour that leads him into some strange situations. His friend Jack Churchill and he bring the story to a very satisfying and tense conclusion, in a book with action and humour aplenty, setting the scene for what i feel will be a truly excellent series in the future…. book two cannot come soon enough for me.

Bravo Angus…. loved this book

(Parm)

Series
Outlaw Chronicles
1. Outlaw (2009)
2. Holy Warrior (2010)
3. King’s Man (2011)
4. Warlord (2012)
5. Grail Knight (2013)
6. The Iron Castle (2014)
7. The King’s Assassin (2015)
8. The Death of Robin Hood (2016)
The Rise of Robin Hood (2013)
The Betrayal of Father Tuck (2013)
The Hostility of Hanno (2013)
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Blood 
1. Blood’s Game (2017)
2. Blood’s Revolution (2018)
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Paul Hoffman: Scorn (Review) Blog Tour

Paul Hoffman studied English at New College, Oxford before becoming a senior film censor at the British Board of Film Classification. He lives in the United Kingdom.

 

 

After an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider goes horribly wrong, depressed scientist Aaron Gall wakes up to discover his mind and body have undergone an astonishing transformation. Now bursting with the joys of life, he is inspired to undertake a radical new therapy: to talk to the priests who brutalised him and his school friends, point out the intellectual dishonesty and inhumanity of their religious beliefs – and then eat them. Aaron enjoys the process so much (as well as taunting the police and MI5) he decides to extend his murderous conversations to include the Archbishop of Westminster, recently converted Catholic Tony Blair, the Queen of England – and, finally, the Pope himself. But a Catholic Church that has given the world the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Papal Infallibility hasn’t survived for two thousand years without a reason. Aaron is in for the greatest shock in the history of mankind.

Review

When in 2010 Paul Hoffman burst onto the writing scene with The Left Hand of God i was beyond pleasantly surprised by the rich colourful and original world that had been created. The story was such an eclectic mix of real world names and fantastical armies and lands. With a protagonist that grew with the book, both in power and stature but also in age and experience. Sadly for me the series declined from that epic beginning (though they were still solid 3/5 books)

I wondered what had happened to this highly original and extremely engaging author, when out of the blue i was sent a review copy of Scorn. The cover alone just jumps out at you, again something new different and a bit irreverent.

As ever Paul Hoffman mixes the real with the fantastical, EG: the Queen, the Pope and Tony Blair to name some…. the latter who at one point has a long involved chat with a werewolf… yes i think that gives you an idea that this book has a level of insanity to it, but in every insanity is an element of genius, which once again exists in this book as it did in Left Hand, mix in walking the very fine line of irreverence/ blasphemy with the church which is something to be encouraged as too many authors shy away from pushing that boundary. Scorn has so much…. and yet unfortunately it fails to reach the heady heights that Left Hand of God did… close… but not quite. for me it squeaks a 4/5, which seems damning praise…. because i very very much enjoyed it… but i started and so will end comparing to that splendid book, Left hand of God, still the mans best work…. but if he keeps writing like this i think will even surpass it with this splendidly irreverent, crazy mind bending plot.

(Parm)

Series
Left Hand of God Trilogy
1. The Left Hand of God (2010)
2. The Last Four Things (2011)
3. The Beating of his Wings (2013)
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