Monthly Archives: October 2017

Christian Cameron: The Green Count (Review)

Christian Cameron

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USA flag (1962 – )aka Miles Cameron, Gordon Kent

Christian Cameron was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1962. He grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, Iowa City, Iowa, and Rochester, New York, where he attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in history.

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice.

book cover of The Green Count

After the bloody trials of Alexandria, Sir William Gold is readying for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He hopes, too, that the Holy City might allow his relationship with Emile, cousin of the Green Count of Savoy, to develop.

But the Roman Emperor of Constantinople has been taken hostage by an unknown enemy, and the Green Count is vital to the rescue effort. It is up to Sir William to secure his support, but he soon finds that his past, and his relationship with Emile, might have repercussions he had not foreseen….

Suddenly thrust onto the stage of international politics, Sir William finds himself tangled in a web of plots, intrigue and murder.

Review

I’d saved this book, i knew i would enjoy it, it was more about how much?

This isn’t a small book and yet i found myself having to slow my reading so i could really enjoy and savor every line of writing. The tale starts with William Gold settling down to recount his past, which as a plot device i think is excellent, it puts the reader immediately into the warm space of being told a story and that for me feels even more real and realistic, the recounting of a history by someone who was there, it brings the whole panorama of the adventure to life.

As with all of Christian Cameron’s books there is much going on, many surprises around the corner and so many political machinations that can turn the story, much like life at the time. His characters are very alive and real, imbued with a depth of personality rarely seen in any series. That mix of real personalities fleshed out from the pages of history with a complex personality blended with those imagined and brought to life from the authors deep and intimate knowledge of the time and the culture. While i always love the ain characters like William Gold and Fiore, my favorite in this book has to be John the Turk aka John the Kipchak, a character free from much of the church morailty that mires the rest of the band, he has a simple view of the world that contrasts wonderfully….Ok, there being a Captain Parmenio is also pretty awesome and always a humbling thing, i wonder if there is a record for how many series a character has appeared in? (Captain Parmenio has been in Miles Cameron’s red Traitor Son Cycle, Simon Turney’s Ottoman Cycle, Christian Cameron’s Chivalry series and Tom Swan….honestly, wonderful moments), i’ve come to love that old rogue.

I personally don’t find the Byzantine area/period the most exciting, that could just be the books I’ve read (there are odd exceptions), and to be honest in this one Christian Cameron only touches on that world briefly, but still he brings it to life in a powerful and exciting way. The massively convoluted politics of the region, the deep schism’s that surround the seat of power in Constantinople and the constant striving for that seat of ultimate power. It is a twisted web this writer weaves, but as with all the best tales, no more twisted than the truth.

As always with Christian’s stories, every blade, every piece of armour, every rivet is exactingly real, every pain in wearing the armour, every fighting move , every twisted ankle and turn of the wrist has been experienced in some way on the field by the man himself (well ok he hasn’t actually stabbed someone… but everything non bloody). Beyond the battle, to the gloves, the clothes, the shoes, the horses, the logistics, every detail is based on experience from his world of living history/ re-enactment. This experience is priceless because of the life and reality it gives the story, these tales are more than blood and battle, they are life in another time, and Chivalry as a series is a love story as much as a tale of honour. I think my favourite description is the gravel underfoot, and how uncomfortable it was, and how much pain it led to, not because of the pain (obviously im not mean) , but because i can imagine at some time the author has experienced it, it was just too personal to have been conjured from nothing, and this is what i mean by the entire book having a startling reality that others do not. Many authors describe what they think something might be like, where Christian Cameron describes what it does feel like.

A couple of years ago it seemed unlikely that we would ever see the Green Count, but now we have a stunningly real book, one of the best Historical fiction titles you will read this year, but as even better news; Chivalry will continue next year with Sword of Justice, William Gold and friends will ride again.

I cannot recommend this book and series highly enough its a must read for Fantasy (if you lived The Traitor Son Cycle you will love this) or Historical fiction readers.

(Parm)

Series
Alan Craik (as by Gordon Kent)
1. Night Trap (1998)
aka Rules of Engagement
2. Peace Maker (2000)
3. Top Hook (2002)
4. Hostile Contact (2003)
5. Force Protection (2004)
6. Damage Control (2005)
7. The Spoils of War (2006)
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Tyrant
1. Tyrant (2007)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
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Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
5. Salamis (2015)
6. Rage of Ares (2016)
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Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
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Chivalry
1. The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
2. The Long Sword (2014)
3. The Green Count (2017)
4. Sword of Justice (2018)
5. Sword of Justice (2018)
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Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part One (2014)
2. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Two (2014)
3. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Three (2014)
4. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Four (2015)
5. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Five (2015)
6. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Six (2015)
7. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Seven (2015)
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Tom Swan and the Last Spartans
1. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part One (2016)
2. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Two (2016)
3. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Three (2017)
4. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Four (2017)
5. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Five (2017)
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Novels
Cauldron of Violence (2000) (as by Gordon Kent)
Washington and Caesar (2001)
The Falconer’s Tale (2007) (as by Gordon Kent)
God of War (2012)
A Song of War (2016) (with Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, S J A Turneyand Russell Whitfield)
The New Achilles (2019)
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Omnibus
Songs of Blood and Gold (2017) (with Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, Libbie Hawker, Ben Kane, E Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, S J A Turney and Russell Whitfield)
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Series
Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2014)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2014)
4. A Plague of Swords (2016)
5. The Fall of Dragons (2017)
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Masters & Mages
1. The Master (2018)
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Filed under Christian Cameron, Historical Fiction, Miles Cameron

Fall of Dragons Publication Day

With Pen and Sword

The Fall of Dragons Cover

It’s launch day, at least in the UK.

I started writing these novels in 2012.  I think there’s at least 2400 pages of material, and I could write more.  It’s odd to say goodbye.

However, I want to take this space to discuss origins and books I loved, not endings.  Who knows, maybe Gollanz will eventually want more.  I certainly hope so… a great deal of effort went into world development, both thirty years ago and right up until a few days ago… but that’s another story.

Today’s story is the origins story, with a few tiny spoilers. Really, it’s a social history, or an historiography, with lots of thanks.

Alba started as an RPG.  There were between nine and twenty players, and we always had a heavy element of war gaming involved, so there was an RPG level, a political level, and a military level, and the three were…

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James Rollins : Demon Crown (Review)

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Author Web site

James Rollins is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers, translated into more than forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the “top crowd pleasers” (New York Times) and one of the “hottest summer reads” (People Magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets–and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.

As a boy immersed in the scientific adventures of Doc Savage, the wonders of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, and pulps such as The Shadow, The Spider, and The Avenger, James Rollins decided he wanted to be a writer. He honed his storytelling skills early, spinning elaborate tales that were often at the heart of pranks played on his brothers and sisters.

Before he would set heroes and villains on harrowing adventures, Rollins embarked on a career in veterinary medicine, graduating from the University of Missouri and establishing a successful veterinary practice. He continues to volunteer his time and veterinary skills in support of the local SPCA. His hands-on knowledge of medicine and science helps shape the research and scientific speculation that set James Rollins books apart.

 

The Demon Crown (2017)
(Book 13 in the Sigma Force series)

book cover of The Demon Crown

THE DEMON CROWN

Off the coast of Brazil, a team of scientists discovers a horror like no other, an island where all life has been eradicated, consumed and possessed by a species beyond imagination. Before they can report their discovery, a mysterious agency attacks the group, killing them all, save one, an entomologist, an expert on venomous creatures, Professor Ken Matsui from Cornell University.

Strangest of all, this inexplicable threat traces back to a terrifying secret buried a century ago beneath the National Mall: a cache of bones preserved in amber. The artifact was hidden away by a cabal of scientists – led by Alexander Graham Bell – to protect humankind. But they dared not destroy it, for the object also holds an astonishing promise for the future: the very secret of life after death.

Yet, nothing stays buried forever. An ancient horror – dormant in the marrow of those preserved bones – is free once more, nursed and developed into a weapon of incalculable strength and malignancy, ready to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.

To stop its spread, Commander Grayson Pierce of Sigma Force must survive a direct attack on the island of Maui. To be there first has always been the core mission of Sigma Force, a covert team forged to be America’s front line against emerging threats. But this time, even Sigma may not be able to decipher this deadly mystery, one that traces back to the founding of the Smithsonian Institution.

With each new discovery, the menace they hunt is changing, growing, spreading – adapting and surviving every attempt to stop it from reconquering a world it once ruled. And each transformation makes it stronger . . . and smarter.

Running out of time and options, Commander Grayson Pierce will be forced to make an impossible choice. To eradicate this extinction-level threat and expose those involved, he will have to join forces with Sigma’s greatest enemy–the newly resurrected Guild – even it if means sacrificing one of his own.

Review

Thirteen books into the Sigma series and as a reader i always worry how a writer will keep a series fresh, new and exciting and with this type of book where cutting edge is key can they keep it in the realm of believable.

James Rollins always amazes me with his ability to write a tight, interesting, action packed story, but most of all his ability to keep coming up with world ending scenarios that are totally realistic. Each and everyone a trial for the Sigma team, to both solve the world ending conundrum and also survive those who are trying to cause the apocalypse.

With a Rollins book its not just the roller coaster ride of the thriller that wins me over, its the absolute attention to detail, the huge depth of subject research, both biological and historical, but also arms and armour. These are not cheaply thrown together beach pulp fiction titles, these are the cream of the Action Adventure, thriller world, and year after year book after book he manages to knock it out of the park.

Demon Crown is quite possibly one of the best to come out of the Sigma Force stable. Infusing history across multiple time periods for both the cataclysmic event, but also the conspiracy that surrounds the Guild, the latest potential technology for DARPA and similar agencies, a new and ancient, deadly, potentially global event, so simple and yet so complex in its devising that it kept me guessing all the way through the book, set in locations so well described you want to pack your bags and visit. As always the whole thing pulled together by characters who while on the heroic side, they also live  , breathe and bleed on every page, making the whole book believable.

A full five stars again for this splendid book, just what i hoped for and always more than i expected.

(Parm)

 

Series
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)
13. The Demon Crown (2017)
The Doomsday Key / The Last Oracle (omnibus) (2013)
Sigma Force Novels 1 (omnibus) (2014)
Crash and Burn (2016)
Ghost Ship (2017)
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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)
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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 (2014)
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Tucker Wayne (with Grant Blackwood)
1. The Kill Switch (2014)
2. War Hawk (2015)
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Novels
Subterranean (1999)
Excavation (2000)
Deep Fathom (2001)
Amazonia (2002)
Ice Hunt (2003)
Altar of Eden (2009)
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Novellas
The Devil’s Bones (2014) (with Steve Berry)
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Series contributed to
Indiana Jones (Films)
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull(2008)
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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, James Rollins, Thrillers