Monthly Archives: January 2018

Saul David: The Prince and the Whitechapel Murders (Review)

Saul David's picture

 Saul David UK flag (1966 – )
Saul David was born in 1966 and educated at Ampleforth College and Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities. He is the author of several acclaimed history books, including Mutiny at Salerno: An Injustice Exposed (made into a BBC Timewatch documentary), The Indian Mutiny: 1857 (shortlisted for the Westminster Medal for Military Literature) and Zulu: The Heroism and Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879 (a Waterstone’s Military History Book of the Year). He has presented and appeared in history programmes for all the major channels, including BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five. He lives in Somerset with his wife and three children.

The Prince and the Whitechapel Murders  (2018)
(The third book in the Zulu Hart series)

Buy a Signed HB

London 1888: George ‘Zulu’ Hart is the mixed-race illegitimate son of a Dublin actress and (he suspects) the Duke of Cambridge, commander-in-chief of the army. George has fought his way through wars in Africa and Afghanistan, won the VC and married his sweetheart, but he’s also a gambler, short of money and in no position to turn down the job of ‘minder’ to Prince Albert Victor, second in line to the throne.
George is to befriend the charming young cavalry officer and keep him out of trouble – no easy task, given that the Prince is a known target for Irish nationalist assassins, while his secret sexual orientation leaves him open to blackmail and scandal.
To make matters worse, the Prince is also in the habit of heading out late at night to sample the dubious pleasures of the East End.
Both outsiders in their different ways, perhaps the two men have more in common than they know, but when a series of horrible murders begins in Whitechapel, on just the nights the Prince has been there, George is drawn into an investigation which forces him to confront the unthinkable…
A brilliant standalone adventure based on detailed research, this is a thrilling novel of suspense and a fascinating new twist on the Jack the Ripper story.

Review

I cannot believe its been 10 years since Zulu Hart was released, a book that i highly enjoyed along with its follow up Hart of Empire, Saul David brought alive the character of George Hart, the history of the time and the depth of history in each of those books, as an author he truly brought those books to life.

The Prince and the Whitechapel Murders was a wonderful surprise after a 6 year break from George Harts adventurous life, a long awaited next on the series. Its has been sometime since the last fictional novel from Saul David and i felt it in the start of this book, unlike the previous two books this one didn’t capture me immediately, or at least it wasn’t George who did, as with other books the realism of the authors portrayal of the period did, it was my previous attachment to the character that kept me totally involved and interested in him. However it didn’t take long for the author to bring George back to life, particularly with the intrigue around his past.

What follows next is a well crafted crime novel full of intrigue and misdirection, set in a period where great squalor and hardship exists, an environment where the weak can be preyed upon, an environment where Jack the Ripper roams. While George is tasked with protecting Prince Albert Victor from Fenian terrorists, he also gets drawn into the investigation for one of the most notorious killers in British history. Saul David doesn’t just then take the reader on a fanciful ride, we are treated to an accurate and plausible account of the investigation of who the ripper may have been. In doing so i defy anyone to not be hooked by the plot and enamored with the characters.

During the book the author also drops many little Easter eggs from Georges past, the gap in time that exists between Hart of Empire and this book, all of which could be potential stand alone novels or novellas, i hope this means we will see much much more of Georges past and his future, and i also hope that we don’t have to wait another six years for it because Saul David has a talent for creating the most fantastic scenery for his characters to grow into.

Recomended

(Parm)

Series
Zulu Hart
1. Zulu Hart (2008)
2. Hart of Empire (2010)
3. The Prince and the Whitechapel Murders (2016)
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Non fiction series
First World War
1. 1914: The Outbreak of War to the Christmas Truce(2014)
2. 1915: The Battle of Dogger Bank to Gallipoli (2014)
3. 1916: Verdun to the Somme (2015)
4. 1917: Vimy Ridge to Ypres (2016)
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Non fiction
Churchill’s Sacrifice of the Highland Division (1994)
Mutiny At Salerno (1995)
The Homicidal Earl (1997)
Military Blunders (1997)
Prince of Pleasure (1998)
The Indian Mutiny (2002)
Zulu (2004)
Victoria’s Wars (2006)
Great Battles (2011)
All The King’s Men (2012)
Mud and Bodies (2013)
100 Days to Victory (2013)
Fighting Times (2013) (with David Boyle, Joseph Conrad, Stephen Cooper, Richard Foreman, Richard Freeman, Rachel Johnson, Rudyard Kipling, Matt Lynn, Roger Moorhouse, Marc Morris and Stuart Tootal)
The Devil’s Wind (2013)
Great Military Commanders (2013)
Operation Thunderbolt (2015)
After Dunkirk (2017)
Entebbe (2018)
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Saul David

SJA Turney Caligula (review)

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Simon lives with his wife, children and dogs in rural North Yorkshire. Having spent much of his childhood visiting historic sites with his grandfather, a local photographer, Simon fell in love with the Roman heritage of the region, beginning with the world famous Hadrian’s Wall. His fascination with the ancient world snowballed from there with great interest in Egypt, Greece and Byzantium, though his focus has always been Rome. A born and bred Yorkshireman with a love of country, history and architecture, Simon spends most of his rare free time travelling the world visiting historic sites, writing, researching the ancient world and reading voraciously.

Simon’s early career meandered along an arcane and eclectic path of everything from the Ministry of Agriculture to computer network management before finally settling back into the ancient world. During those varied years, Simon returned to university study to complete an honours degree in classical history through the Open University. With what spare time he had available and a rekindled love of all things Roman, he set off on an epic journey to turn Caesar’s Gallic War diaries into a novel accessible to all. The first volume of Marius’ Mules was completed in 2003 and has garnered international success, bestseller status and rave reviews, spawning numerous sequels. Marius’ Mules is still one of Simon’s core series and although Roman fiction features highly he now has Byzantine, Fantasy and Medieval series, too, as well as several collaborations and short stories in other genres.

Now, with in excess of 25 novels available and 5 awaiting release, Simon is a prolific writer, spanning genres and eras and releasing novels both independently and through renowned publishers including Canelo and Orion. Simon writes full time and is represented by MMB Creative literary agents.

Look out for Roman military novels featuring Caesar’s Gallic Wars in the form of the bestselling Marius’ Mules series, Roman thrillers in the Praetorian series, set during the troubled reign of Commodus, adventures around the 15th century Mediterranean world in the Ottoman Cycle, and a series of Historical Fantasy novels with a Roman flavour called the Tales of the Empire.

 

Author Web site

Caligula (The Damned Emperors)

book cover of Caligula

Everyone knows his name. Everyone thinks they know his story.

Rome 37AD. The emperor is dying. No-one knows how long he has left. The power struggle has begun.

When the ailing Tiberius thrusts Caligula’s family into the imperial succession in a bid to restore order, he will change the fate of the empire and create one of history’s most infamous tyrants, Caligula.

But was Caligula really a monster?

Forget everything you think you know. Let Livilla, Caligula’s youngest sister and confidante, tell you what really happened. How her quiet, caring brother became the most powerful man on earth.

And how, with lies, murder and betrayal, Rome was changed for ever . . .

Review

As always full honest disclosure, Simon is an author i have known and reviewed for many years, and is someone i class as a very good friend, that said he knows if he turns out a stinker i’m going to tell him.

In Caligula i hoped for not another take on the madness and depravity of an emperor, and you know what Simon delivered, this is a very new and unique look at this emperor. Take everything you have thought and heard and read about the mad youthful emperor and sit it on a shelf, sit back and listen as Simon Turney delivers a new and highly plausible view of who and what Caligula really was and all from the view point of his younger sister.

The book starts with the innocence of youth and to some degree retains this with Livia for most of the book, a girl then woman who can see no wrong in her brother, and who is devoted to her family. Despite all the perils thrown at her, all the dangers and misfortunes, the deaths and murders in her youth her belief in her brother is unwavering, when she eventually see’s the parallels in her brother she may waver slightly in her conviction but never in her love and its this that will be her eventual downfall…. and the eventual downfall of the man himself.

Simon Turney delivers the entire story with a level of intriguing plausibility and  leaves you wondering if he isn’t just a bit more on the nose than the history books have always portrayed this emperor so loved by the people and the Legions. His writing style as always is highly engaging and draws you slowly and surely into the story until you find that the clock says 3am and you want to curse him for how you will feel at work the next day, but this is a mark of his talent as a writer, something that ranks him right up there in the pantheon of current great Historical fiction writers.

I had thought he could not surpass his ottoman series in my eyes, but he managed it with this book, a true masterpiece that leaves you questioning your opinions and views, and heading off to do some research yourself, and there is no greater accolade i think for a writer in this genre than to know he has educated and then sent you off to learn more.

I highly recommend this book

(Parm)

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)
9. Pax Gallica (2016)
10. Fields of Mars (2017)
Prelude to War (2014)
Marius’ Mules Books 1-3 (omnibus) (2017)
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Tales of the Empire
1. Interregnum (2009)
2. Ironroot (2010)
3. Dark Empress (2011)
4. Insurgency (2016)
5. Invasion (2017)
6. Jade Empire (2017)
Emperor’s Bane (2016)
Tales of the Empire Books 1-6 (omnibus) (2018)
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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)
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Praetorian
1. The Great Game (2015)
2. The Price of Treason (2015)
3. Eagles of Dacia (2017)
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Roman Adventure
1. Crocodile Legion (2016)
2. Pirate Legion (2017)
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Novels
A Year of Ravens (2015) (with Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter and Russell Whitfield)
A Song of War (2016) (with Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton and Russell Whitfield)
Caligula (2018)
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Collections
Tales of Ancient Rome (2011)
Deva Tales (2017)
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Novellas
Bear and the Wolf (2017) (with Ruth Downie)
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Filed under Historical Fiction, S J A Turney

John Gwynne: A Time of Dread (Extract, GIVEAWAY!!! & Review)

John Gwynne was born in Singapore while his dad was stationed there in the RAF. Up until he retired that meant a lot of traveling around, generally a move every three years or so.
He lives with his wife and four wonderful (and demanding) children in East Sussex. Also three dogs, two of which will chew anything that stands still. He has had many strange and wonderful jobs, including packing soap in a soap factory, waitering in a french restaurant in Canada, playing double bass in a rock n roll band, and lecturing at Brighton University
.I stepped out of university work due to my daughter’s disability, so now I split my time caring for her and working from home – I work with my wife rejuvenating vintage furniture, which means fixing, lifting, carrying, painting and generally doing what my wife tells me to do…

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And somehow during this time I started writing. I’ve always told my children stories at bed-time, and they pestered long and hard for me to write some of it down. At the same time I felt that my brain was switching off a little – vintage furniture is my wife’s passion, whereas my passions are geekier!

book cover of A Time of Dread

A Time of Dread (2018) (The first book in the Blood & Bone series)

The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient enemy may not be as crushed as they thought.

In the snowbound north, Drem, a trapper, finds mutilated corpses in the forests – a sign of demonic black magic.

In the south, Riv, a young, tempestuous soldier, discovers a deadly rift within the Ben-Elim themselves.

Two individuals with two world-changing secrets. But where will they lead? And what role will Drem and Riv play in the Banished Land’s fate? Difficult choices need to be made.

In the shadows, dark forces are gathering, waiting for their time to rise. . .

Extract

He turned, looked around wildly, saw the camp in chaos,
giants and bears everywhere. Others were arriving, columns of
normal-sized warriors on foot, clad in black leather, with huge,
rectangular shields upon their arms, silver wings embossed
upon them. They spread in tight-packed lines about the camp,
surrounding everyone within it and their shields came together
with a resonating snap. Bleda glimpsed shadowed faces in silver
helms, smaller figures appearing amongst them: children, he
realized, offering water skins after a hard march. As he stared,
he saw a figure staring back at him, pale and dark-haired, a girl,
holding a water skin up to a warrior, even as she stared straight
at him.
Shadows flitted across the ground and the sound of wings
filled Bleda’s ears as the Ben-Elim swooped low. One flew
lower than the rest, great wings beating as he hovered above
Erdene and Bleda a long moment, grass and dust swirling, then
he alighted gently upon the ground. He was tall, taller than any
man Bleda had seen, his hair raven-black, wearing a coat of
bright mail and gripping a spear in his fist. Blood crusted the
spear’s blade.
‘Is this him?’ the Ben-Elim asked, eyes lingering on Bleda a
moment, then rising to Erdene.
Erdene was silent for so long that Bleda thought she would
not answer.
‘You must be strong,’ Erdene said to Bleda

Fear trickled through Bleda, then, at something in his
mother’s voice, and in the way the winged warrior had looked
at him.
He tried to master his fear, to control the prickling in his
eyes that threatened tears.
No. I am Sirak. I am son to Erdene, Lord-of-all-she-sees.
‘Good.’ The Ben-Elim stooped down and grabbed Bleda by
the collar of his tunic, hoisting him into the air. Bleda instinctively
snatched for an arrow from his quiver, nocking it to his
bow, but with a flick of his wrist the Ben-Elim slapped it from
Bleda’s grip, sent his bow falling to the ground. Bleda glared at
the Ben-Elim, expecting his mother to intervene, to protect
him, as she always had done, but she just sat upon her horse,
looking at him with her grey eyes.
‘I am Israfil, Lord Protector of the Land of the Faithful,
and you are coming with me,’ the Ben-Elim said. ‘A surety that
your mother will keep the peace once we are gone.’
‘What? Where?’ Bleda said, the Ben-Elim’s words seeping
through to him slowly, as if through water.
‘You are my ward, Bleda, and Drassil will be your new
home,’ the Ben-Elim said.
Ward. Drassil.
The words set Bleda reeling as if they were blows. Drassil
was the Ben-Elim’s fortress, far to the west.
I am to be their Ward. A prisoner, he means.
‘No,’ Bleda whispered. ‘Mother?’
A long silence, a look between Erdene and Israfil that spoke
of pride and shame, of the victor and the defeated. The fear
returned then, a chill in Bleda’s heart, seeping into his veins,
carrying a tremor to his lips.
The cold-face. Do not shame Mother. Do not shame my people.
‘It is agreed,’ Erdene said, her face a mask, only her eyes
speaking her message.
You must be strong.
‘It is the price that must be paid,’ the Ben-Elim intoned.

‘There will be peace in the Land of the Faithful. There is only
one enemy, only one foe who shall be fought: the Kadoshim
and their followers.’
‘No,’ Bleda said, both denial and refusal. He felt hot tears
bloom in his eyes, snatched at them, knowing the shame they
brought.
‘Altan and Hexa will not allow you to do this,’ Bleda said,
anger and fear twisting his voice, then there was a rushing of air
and a beating of wings as more Ben-Elim sped from the sky,
alighting around Israfil. The first was fair-haired, a long scar
running from forehead to chin. He threw something at Israfil’s
feet. They dropped with a thud, rolled in the grass and fell still.
Two heads, eyes bulging, blood still dripping.
Altan and Hexa.
The world went silent. Bleda’s vision was reduced to the
severed heads of his brother and sister. He heard something,
distantly, realized that it was him, that he was screaming, twisting
and bucking in Israfil’s grip, hands reaching to gouge the
Ben-Elim’s eyes, but Israfil held him at arm’s length until
slowly Bleda’s strength drained away, like wine from a pierced
skin. Israfil regarded Bleda with dark, emotionless eyes, then
finally shifted his gaze to the fair-haired Ben-Elim who had cast
the heads at Israfil’s feet. Although Israfil asked no questions,
did not even utter a word, the blond Ben-Elim spoke as if
answering a reprimand, his eyes dropping.
‘They would not surrender,’ he said, his feet shuffling in the
dirt. ‘They slew Remiel.’ His eyes came up, fierce and defiant,
and met Israfil’s. ‘They slew a Ben-Elim, gave me no choice.’
Israfil held his gaze a long moment, then gave a curt nod. With
a flick of his wrist he threw Bleda into the air, a giant catching
him and placing him on the saddle in front of him. Bleda found
new strength, fighting and squirming, tears blurring his vision,
but the giant held him tight.
Israfil waved his hand and then the giant was tugging on his
reins, shouting a command and the huge mountain of fur and

muscle beneath Bleda was turning, lumbering away from the
Ben-Elim and Bleda’s mother, from his kin and people, away
from everything he knew, away from Bleda’s whole world.
Towards his new home.
Towards Drassil.

Review

John Gwynne has created a world of stunning quality, depth and complexity, this i’m sure is no surprise to anyone who has read the Faithful and the Fallen series but for someone coming in fresh, this new book can be ready as a stand alone (ok there are a few things that could be niggly mentions from the past, but i’m a purist who reads from book one) , all i can say is WOW what an amazing feast for the mind.

John Gwynne from the earliest pages weaves in his characters and plot, and subtly threads in his information drops to capture the reader and make them part of the tale, to draw them into this vividly real and highly imagined world. Like only the best writers, the author seems capable of making the fantastic utterly real and believable and thus transporting the reader right into the center of the story.

Finding a series that manages to sidestep a magic system (mainly) and yet provide a world that feels full of magic is a triumph, one i think created by the various beings that inhabit the world, there is nothing strange about creatures with wings or giants, or giant vampire bats… they all fit seamlessly into this world, a place both deadly and ruggedly beautiful, described so the scenery unfolds in the mind as you read.

I have to say i expected good when i picked up this book, i got stunningly great. Its January and i already have one book that sets the bar for the year.

(Parm)

Giveaway

Its very simple to be in with a chance to gain one of the 5 copies of this excellent book.

You get one point for every one of the following:

Like the Blog

Follow the Blog

Tweet about the book

Comment on the blog (showing your tweet)

Share the blog on FB

each point is an entry so if you do all the above, you get 5 chances to gain a copy.

Draw to take place 21st Jan.

UK only. (Sorry)

Faithful and the Fallen
1. Malice (2012)
2. Valour (2014)
3. Ruin (2015)
4. Wrath (2016)
Faithful and the Fallen Collection 4 Books Set (omnibus)(2017)
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Blood & Bone
1. A Time of Dread (2018)
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Novellas
Better to Live than to Die (2015)
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Filed under Fantasy, John Gwynne, Uncategorized

John Owen Theobald: A Kingdom Falls (Extract and Giveaway)

A Kingdom Falls  (2017)
(The third book in the Ravenmaster Trilogy series)

London, 1944. Britain’s capital is back in the firing line. It has been several years since the Blitz ended, but now death is dropping from the skies once more. Has the tide of war turned again?

Anna Cooper survived the Blitz but she lost her mother and the people closest to her. Amid the flames and rubble, she discovered that everything she thought she knew about her family was a lie. She learned that nobody was prepared to take an orphaned girl seriously and she decided to fight back.

Now, Anna flies warplanes for the Air Transport Auxiliary but she knows it is not enough. Hitler is ready to unleash one final terrifying secret weapon, against which there is no defence. But Anna won’t let that happen. If there is no defence, there is only one option: attack.

book cover of A Kingdom Falls

Extract

6 June 1944 

We float in silence through the night. It is the silence of the abyss.

Twenty men sit facing each other across the narrow fuselage. I turn my head away to the porthole. At first it’s an enormous wall of black, but I can just make out shapes in the light of the moon: other gliders headed to other targets, also crowded with soldiers and vehicles.

I look back at the men inside – decent blokes, most of them. D-Company, first boots on the ground. The thought hits me like a brick: Timothy Squire, one of the first soldiers in the greatest invasion ever attempted. Only a year ago, I was working as a builder down at the docks.

A voice rises up, as Bishop, one of the younger soldiers, tries a Cockney tune to mask the fear.

I don’t want to be a soldier, 

I don’t want to go to war; 

I’d rather hang around 

Piccadilly underground 

Some of the lads join in, but swiftly fall silent, and again we are soundless men, stuffed in a glider with a jeep and two anti-tank guns.

I rest my boots lightly on the plywood floor, trying not to think of what would happen if we were shot from beneath – how the whole thing would cave in and crack into pieces. I try not to think of what might happen if the tow rope snaps, and we ditch into the North Sea. I try not to think at all.

With shaking hands, I ease the buckles strapping me in. No matter what happens, I will not be belted in here to drown or burn.

I glance over at Arthur Lightwood, the other sapper and my best mate through all this, ready to make a joke, but his eyes are squeezed shut. It barely looks like him, under a camouflage helmet, his face black with stove soot. I must look the same. Not as ugly, of course.

I can’t worry about us being shot down. Just do my bit. We will land ahead of the armies, find the bridge, and disarm the bombs. I’m a sapper, I can disarm a bomb. That’s all. Then we hold the bridge until the reinforcements arrive.

A man couldn’t ask for better reinforcements. In a few hours a whole continent of British and American troops will be crossing the sea, tens of thousands of trained soldiers. The greatest bloody cavalry you could ask for.

I look back at the window. I’ve got to see something, otherwise this rolling will have me sicking up in my helmet. Clouds hide the stars, I can see only the haze of the full moon.

‘All right!’ Major Roland’s voice blasts into the stillness.

The glider is ready to be cut loose and there is no going back. A powerless glider falling to the earth. The well-defended earth.

I think again of ‘Rommel’s asparagus’ – great sharp poles erected against glider landings. Major Roland had no bright ideas about avoiding these. We’ll try not to land on them. My heart throbs in my chest.

My mind flees to happy, easy, warm thoughts. Anna Cooper on Tower Green, the ravens croaking on the battlements, Dad dusting off his beloved suits of armour. The earth unmoving under my feet.

With a great heave we are cut loose. I count – six heartbeats before gravity rushes in. Seconds have never passed so slowly. My stomach drops to my feet, but I keep my eyes on the porthole.

I can only see a broad shape, dark against the darkness, but I know what it is: the great bomber that towed us here is heading back. There goes Cecil Rafferty, swanning off back to England. Back home. His job is done, ours is about to begin.

Once Rafferty’s plane has vanished, my shoulders sag with relief.

I told him to watch out for Anna, to make sure she is safe from her father, that sneaky German who’s turned up in her life in the middle of a bleeding war. We shook hands on it, Cecil Rafferty and I. 

She’ll be safe, I know. Relief is followed by the suffocating thought that I will never see her again.

Forward motion jolts my head down. The pressure builds in my ears, pushing against my skull. We are falling, fast. No time to spare a thought for Anna or Cecil Rafferty. The dive builds, our speed growing, as we plummet into the howling darkness.

And the abyss swallows us whole.

***Leave a comment and Follow to win a copy, 2 copies to give away***

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Filed under Historical Fiction, John Owen Theobald, Young Adult

Theodore Brun: A Mighty Dawn (Guest Post and Review)

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Theodore Brun studied Dark Age archaeology at Cambridge, where he graduated with a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MPhil in History. He also rowed in the Boat Race for the university. Professionally, Theodore qualified and worked as an arbitration lawyer, in London, Moscow, Paris and finally Hong Kong. In 2010, he quit his job in Hong Kong and cycled 10,000 miles across the whole of Asia and Europe (crossing 20 countries) to his home in Norfolk. Theodore is a third generation Viking immigrant – his Danish grandfather having settled in England in 1932. He is married and divides his time between London and Norfolk. A Mighty Dawn is his first novel.

 Mighty Dawn  (2017)
(The first book in the Viking Chronicles series)

book cover of A Mighty Dawn

Sworn to honour.Broken by betrayal.Hakan, son of Haldan, chosen son of the Lord of the Northern Jutes, swears loyalty to his father in fire, in iron, and in blood. But there are always shadows that roam. When a terrible tragedy befalls Hakan’s household he is forced to leave his world behind. He must seek to pledge his sword to a new king. Nameless and alone, he embarks on a journey to escape the bonds of his past and fulfil his destiny as a great warrior.Whispers of sinister forces in the north pull Hakan onwards to a kingdom plagued by mysterious and gruesome deaths. But does he have the strength to do battle with such dark foes? Or is death the only sane thing to seek in this world of blood and broken oaths?

Guest Post

The birth of A Mighty Dawn

My father once told me this story. When he was a young boy, a famous author of the day came to give a talk at his school. He told the pupils that a great story always has four elements: mystery, nobility, religion, and sex.

After assembly my father’s first class happened to be English. The teacher told the boys to write a story that incorporated these four things. The boys settled in to their task, but after only a minute, one hand shot up.

“Finished, sir!”

“Finished? You can’t possibly have finished. Now, shut up and get on with it,’ growled the teacher.

“Oh, but I have, sir,” insisted the boy. “Mystery, nobility, religion, and – ahem – sex. They’re all in there.”

‘Stupid child,” muttered the teacher. “Very well. Up here and read it out.”

Taking his place, clearing his throat, the boy read out the following: “My God, cried the Duchess. I’m pregnant!   And I don’t know whose it is.”

I can’t say that I believe this little vignette actually took place – at least not in my father’s class – but the punchline (and principle) have stuck in my mind. And I joke not when I say that this was the sole guideline that I had at my disposal when I began writing A Mighty Dawn over 5 years ago now.

Of course, structure and craft are one thing. Content, quite another. And the inspiration for the story came in two stages. First, the seedbed; then, the seed.

The seedbed consisted of every Old Norse saga and mythological poem I could lay my hands on after becoming captivated by the epic world of the Ring Cycle. (Yes, embarrassingly enough, it was Wagner’s interminable operas that blew a hole in my imagination so large that only writing my own series of epic historical novels was going to fill it!) So I became obsessed with the language, the poetry, the beauty, the drama, the landscapes of the Old North. The downright strangeness of it all. I had fallen under the spell of the “Northernness” – as C.S. Lewis calls it. Texts like the Saga of the Volsung, the Niebelunglied, the Prose and Poetic Eddas occupied my imagination, when I should have been concentrating on the hoops I need to jump through in order to qualify as a lawyer.

So much for the seedbed.

It was some years before the seed dropped into it. In 2009, during a lecture in Oxford about an obscure 8th century missionary called Saint Boniface, I first heard the story of his chopping down the sacred oak of the thunder god Donner (or Thor) in a dark German forest. As I listened, the fault-line between the paganism of Old Europe and the new faith of Christianity opened up before me like the crack of doom. Intrigued, I read more about this man and was surprised to discover that in this period of European history – the early 8th century – Islam was in the mix too. And the conflict – between Christianity and Islam at least – reached a sort of climax in the Battle of Tours (Poitiers) in 732AD. Surely, I thought, here was the denouement to some epic tale.

The cogs started turning, the world growing in my mind, and before long I had a protagonist. A man from the north. A heathen. A warrior who somehow finds himself embroiled in the events that would forge early Medieval Europe, arguably with echoes that still resound today. But why was this man there? Who was he? A Mighty Dawn is the beginning of the answer to these questions. His origin story, if you like.

So, yes – mystery, nobility, religion, sex – you’ll find them all in this book. And, hopefully, a whole lot more besides!

Review

I will admit to at one point thinking i wouldn’t review this book, as i don’t review books i dislike. The first part of the book seemed like an adolescent love story rapidly doing a romeo and Juliet, and really didn’t float my boat, i suppose i’m too old for being concerned by teenage angst, no matter what era its set in. But then the book started taking a deeper, darker turn, and i suppose the darkness of Hakan appealed to the blue funk i found myself in pre Christmas. But its from the point that Hakan sheds his name and goes off alone that the book really takes flight. Bringing together the harsh reality and harsh climate of the land and time, with his personal journey through emotional hell and his fight to find some new meaning in his life, some new direction, a direction not handed to him by his father.

Finding a new lord to serve adds new elements new characters, new challenges and new dimensions, inc the addition of mythical beings from Norse culture, turning the tale from its darkness to a classic rescue story, the lone warrior aided by his best friend set off against suicidal odds with almost no chance of survival, and no real care if he doesn’t. He would forge his name or failure would mean he no longer cared.

By the end of the book the author had hooked me in, i very much want to read the next step in the saga and see what happens to our Stranger and his friend. To find out what the fall out of their actions may be and how the every changing political landscape will impact them, and i suspect eventually lead them back to his homeland, maybe as a foe or ally?

The book is well worth a read, and i suspect there will be more to come in terms of growth in A Sacred Storm in 2018

(Parm)

Viking Chronicles
1. A Mighty Dawn (2017)
2. A Sacred Storm (2018)
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Ezekiel Boone: Zero Day (Review)

Zero Day  (2018)
(The third book in the Hatching series)

book cover of Zero Day

The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come. The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realisation that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to kill only the queens?

For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can – more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder – and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer.

Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what’s more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?

Review

From book one this series has been amazing fun, scary as hell and written like a fast paced action/ horror film. When i first read The Hatching i thought wow this is new and exciting, book 2 Skitter… no way he could keep it up, yet he did. Would it be possible to round out the series in style?

Yes absolutely it would!

Ezekiel Boone pulls his plot threads together, we have Spiders on pause, when will they rise again? why have they paused? The US military falling out with the president and trying to pull off a military coup, a scientist trying to find the root of the problem and inventors trying to put practical solutions in place. Wrapped in with the larger global scene plot the author keeps it on a local level with snippets of the average Joe, the impacts on all participants across the country, interlinking all the people, the shared tragedy, the points where lives intersect giving a more intimate human feel to the book rather than just a global disaster.

This has major motion film  written all over it, done with a classic B movie style i would be first in the line to watch it.

I highly recommend this book and this series, high entertainment, fast action, and enough spiders to make the bravest person scream.

(Parm)

 

 

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2018…. and the books to come…..

Every year i try to provide a list of the good books to come, there are so many great series out there its very easy to miss something… so whats listed below is by no means exhaustive….. (if you’re an author and i missed your book then please add it in the comments)

The below are in no order or preference or date….. but every single one will be reviewed here on Parmenion Books.

Historical Fiction
Conn Iggulden  The Falcon of Sparta  (May; Michael Joseph)

In the Ancient World, one army was feared above all others. This is their story.

When Cyrus, brother to the Great King of Persia, attempts to overthrow his reckless sibling, he employs a Greek mercenary army of 10,000 soldiers. When this army becomes stranded as a result of the unexpected death of Cyrus, and then witnesses the treacherous murder of its entire officer corps, despair overtakes them.

One man, Xenophon, rallies the Greeks. As he attempts to lead them to freedom across 1,500 miles of hostile territory seething with adversaries, 10,000 men set off on the long way home.

Harry Sidebottom The Last Hour  (March; Zaffre) (Review)

A lone figure stands silhouetted atop the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Behind him, the sun is setting over the centre of the known world. Far below, the river is in full flood. The City of Rome lies spread out before him on the far bank. Footsteps pound up the stairs. He’s been set up. An enemy is closing in; he is cornered. He jumps.

Bruised and battered, he crawls out of the raging river. He is alone and unarmed, without money or friends, trapped in a deadly conspiracy at the heart of the Empire. The City Watch has orders to take him alive; other, more sinister, forces want him dead. As the day dies, he realises he has only 24 hours to expose the conspirators, and save the leader of the world. If the Emperor dies, chaos and violence will ensue. If the Emperor dies, every single person he loves will die.

He must run, bluff, hide and fight his way across the Seven Hills.
He must reach the Colosseum, and the Emperor.
He must make it to The Last Hour.

Saul David The Prince and the Whitechapel Murders: (Zulu Hart 3) (George Hart 3)  (22 Feb 2018 )

London 1888: George ‘Zulu’ Hart is the mixed-race illegitimate son of a Dublin actress and (he suspects) the Duke of Cambridge, commander-in-chief of the army. George has fought his way through wars in Africa and Afghanistan, won the VC and married his sweetheart, but he’s also a gambler, short of money and in no position to turn down the job of ‘minder’ to Prince Albert Victor, second in line to the throne.
George is to befriend the charming young cavalry officer and keep him out of trouble – no easy task, given that the Prince is a known target for Irish nationalist assassins, while his secret sexual orientation leaves him open to blackmail and scandal.
To make matters worse, the Prince is also in the habit of heading out late at night to sample the dubious pleasures of the East End.
Both outsiders in their different ways, perhaps the two men have more in common than they know, but when a series of horrible murders begins in Whitechapel, on just the nights the Prince has been there, George is drawn into an investigation which forces him to confront the unthinkable…
A brilliant standalone adventure based on detailed research, this is a thrilling novel of suspense and a fascinating new twist on the Jack the Ripper story.

Michael Arnold Stryker 7: Book 7 of The Civil War Chronicles

Late Summer, 1644. The King’s cause in the north has been shattered and the pivotal city of York has fallen Parliamentarian eyes now look to his remaining territory in the south in a push for total victory.

But for Major Stryker, captured amid the bloody carnage of Marston Moor, the war appears to be at an end. Confined within the dank hell of London’s Clink Prison, where the stinking floodwaters of the Thames are as deadly as his gaolers, his future is bleak. At the mercy of crazed inmates, murderous soldiers and a sadistic governor, this is a new world of savagery, disease and squalor, where all Stryker’s military expertise counts for nothing, and matters take a turn for the worse when an old foe discovers his whereabouts.

With enemies on all sides, Stryker faces death at any moment. But he knows he must fight for freedom at all costs, for beyond the Clink’s high walls there remains a spy to be hunted, a lover to be found and a war to win.

Robert Fabbri Rome’s Sacred Flame (Vespasian) ( 4 Jan 2018)

Rome, AD 63. Vespasian has been made Governor of Africa. Nero, Rome’s increasingly unpredictable Emperor, orders him to journey with his most trusted men to a far-flung empire in Africa to free 200 Roman citizens who have been enslaved by a desert kingdom. Vespasian arrives at the city to negotiate their emancipation, hoping to return to Rome a hero and find himself back in favour with Nero.

But when Vespasian reaches the city, he discovers a slave population on the edge of revolt. With no army to keep the population in check, it isn’t long before tensions spill over into bloody chaos. Vespasian must escape the city with all 200 Roman citizens and make their way across a barren desert, battling thirst and exhaustion, with a hoard of rebels at their backs. It’s a desperate race for survival, with twists and turns aplenty.

Meanwhile, back in Rome, Nero’s extravagance goes unchecked. All of Rome’s elite fear for their lives as Nero’s closest allies run amok. Can anyone stop the Emperor before Rome devours itself? And if Nero is to be toppled, who will be the one to put his head in the lion’s mouth?

Anthony Riches Retribution: The Centurions III ( 19 Apr 2018 )

Victory is in sight for Kivilaz and his Batavi army. The Roman army clings desperately to its remaining fortresses along the Rhine, its legions riven by dissent and mutiny, and once-loyal allies of Rome are beginning to imagine the unimaginable: freedom from the rulers who have dominated them since the time of Caesar.

The four centurions – two Batavi and two Roman, men who were once comrades in arms – must find their destiny in a maze of loyalties and threats, as the blood tide of war ebbs and flows across Germania and Gaul.

For Rome does not give up its territory lightly. And a new emperor knows that he cannot tolerate any threat to his undisputed power. It can only be a matter of time before Vespasian sends his legions north to exact the empire’s retribution

David Gilman Scourge of Wolves (Master of War) ( 8 Feb 2018 )

Winter, 1361.

After two decades of conflict, Edward III has finally agreed a treaty with the captive French King, John II. In return for his freedom, John has ceeded vast tracts of territory to the English. But for five long years mercenary bands and belligerent lords have fought over the carcass of his kingdom. They will not give up their hard-won spoils to honour a defeated king’s promises.

If the English want their prize, they’ll have to fight for it… Thomas Blackstone will have to fight for it.

As he battles to enforce Edward’s claim, Thomas Blackstone will see his name blackened, his men slaughtered, his family hunted. He will be betrayed and, once again, he’ll face the might of the French army on the field. But this time there will be no English army at his back. He’ll face the French alone.


S.J.A. Turney Caligula (The Damned Emperors) (8 Mar 2018)

Everyone knows his name. Everyone thinks they know his story.

Rome 37AD. The emperor is dying. No-one knows how long he has left. The power struggle has begun.

When the ailing Tiberius thrusts Caligula’s family into the imperial succession in a bid to restore order, he will change the fate of the empire and create one of history’s most infamous tyrants, Caligula.

But was Caligula really a monster?

Forget everything you think you know. Let Livilla, Caligula’s youngest sister and confidante, tell you what really happened. How her quiet, caring brother became the most powerful man on earth.

And how, with lies, murder and betrayal, Rome was changed for ever . . .

 Anthony Riches Untitled: Empire X (Empire series) (20 Sep 2018)

Set in the second century AD, Empire X continues the story of Marcus Aquila’s fight for justice for a family ripped asunder by imperial assassins. Still seeking revenge, Marcus finds himself thrown back into the heart of the chaos that is shaking the Roman Empire to its roots.

Fresh from their close escape from imperial betrayal in the German forest, Marcus and the Tungrians are ordered to Gaul, where an outlaw called Maturnus is wreaking havoc. Havoc that may be more than mere banditry, as deserters and freed slaves flock to his cause: rebellion is in the air for the first time in a generation.

And if escape from Rome’s memories is a relief for the young centurion, he soon discovers that danger has followed him west to Gaul. The expedition is led by Praetorians whom he has every cause to hate. And to fear, if they should discover who he really is.

James Heneage A World on Fire (9 Aug 2018 )

Greece 1821
In the wild south, the people of the Mani have risen up against four hundred years of Ottoman rule. But initial triumph leads to bitter feuding among the Greek victors and the Sultan sends his vassal, Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt, to invade. Burning everything in his path, he is on the point of victory. Only the intervention of the Great Powers of France, Russia and Britain can save Greece.

Hara, young daughter of a Maniot chief, is the fearless symbol of her people’s spirit. When she rescues Greek Prince Tzanis from a shipwreck, on his way to deliver secret gold for the revolution, they fall in love but are forced apart by events.

Yet a shared resolve to wreak vengeance on Turkish rule unites them again, and their heroism and sacrifice will ultimately inspire an unlikely band of men and women to join them in rescuing Greece. Will their plan to involve the Great Powers succeed before Greece is destroyed by fire?


S.G. MacLean Destroying Angel: The Seeker 3 (12 Jul 2018)

Captain Damian Seeker has gone north. Charged with preparing the way for the rule of the major-generals, he is now under the command of Colonel Robert Lilburne at York. But when Lilburne orders him to a small village on the North York moors with details of the stringent new anti-Royalist laws, Seeker finds that what should be a routine visit will reveal a plot to rival anything in scheming London

An invitation to dinner at the house of local businessman Matthew Pullan lifts the lid on the bubbling cauldron of grudges and resentment that is Faithly village. The local constable, drunk on the tiny bit of power he holds, using it to avenge old resentments. The hated lord of the manor, the last of a staunchly Royalist family who has managed to avoid suspicion of treachery – for now. The vicar on trial for his job and his home, accused of ungodly acts. And the Pullans themselves, proudly Puritan but disillusioned with Cromwell’s government, respected and despised in Faithly in equal measure. The man for whom this unlikely gathering was organised – The Trier, the enforcer of Puritan morality for the local villages – hasn’t shown up. And by the end of the night, on of those gathered around Matthew Pullan’s table will be fatally poisoned.

Seeker must find out the motive behind the death – mushroom misidentification, petty revenge, or part of a larger plot against Cromwell’s government in the north? But who in Faithly, if anyone, can he trust? And when the most painful part of his past reappears after eleven years, will the Seeker meet his match?

Christian Cameron Sword of Justice (Chivalry) (12 Jul 2018)

1367: Europe stands on the brink of total war.

Political alliances are beginning to rupture. No state is immune: England, France, the Holy Roman Empire, Milan, Genoa, Venice, Constantinople . . . Every mercenary knight for hundreds of miles must sharpen his sword and prepare for battle.

But Sir William Gold has other problems. Just to reach Europe, he must capture its most unassailable fortress. He must also protect his liege-lord, the Green Count, from assassins hell-bent on his demise.

The balance of power in the West will change. William Gold must trust to hope, and his men, that he lands on the winning side . . .

 
James Wilde Dark Age: (Dark Age Book 2) (26 Jul 2018)
Bridging the gap between ‘Game of Thrones’ and Bernard Cornwell comes the second chapter in James Wilde’s epic adventure of betrayal, battle and bloodshed set during the darkest of times – a time when civilisation itself was foundering, when Britain was facing a Dark Age and in desperate need of a hero…

It is AD 367, and Roman Britain has fallen to the vast barbarian horde which has invaded from the north. Towns burn, the land is ravaged and the few survivors flee. The army of Rome – once the most effective fighting force in the world – has been broken, its spirit lost and its remaining troops shattered.

Yet for all the darkness, there is hope. And it rests with one man. His name is Lucanus who they call the Wolf. He is a warrior, and he wears the ancient crown of the great war leader, Pendragon, and he wields a sword bestowed upon him by the druids. With a small band of trusted followers, Lucanus ventures south to Londinium where he hopes to bring together an army and make a defiant stand against the invader.

But within the walls of that great city there are others waiting on his arrival – hidden enemies who want more than anything to possess the great secret that has been entrusted to his care. To seize it would give them power beyond imagining. To protect it will require bravery and sacrifice beyond measure. And to lose it would mean the end of everything worth fighting for.

Before Camelot. Before Excalibur. Before all you know of King Arthur. Here is the beginning of that legend . .

Julian Stockwin The Iberian Flame: Thomas Kydd 20 (14 Jun 2018)

1808. With the Peninsula in turmoil, Napoleon Bonaparte signs a treaty to dismember Portugal and put his brother, Joseph, on the throne of Spain.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Renzi, the Lord Farndon, undertakes a deadly mission to stir up partisan unrest to disrupt this Napoleonic alliance with Spain.

Thrust into the crucible of the uprising, Captain Sir Thomas Kydd is dismayed to come up against an old foe from his past – now his superior and commander – who is determined to break him. Kydd will soon face the greatest decision of his professional career.

Bonaparte, incensed by the reverses suffered to his honour, gathers together a crushing force and marches at speed into Spain. After several bloody encounters the greatly outnumbered British expedition have no option other than make a fighting retreat to the coast. Only the Navy can save them.

But the flame of insurrection has been lit – and the Peninsular War has begun.

Adrian Goldsworthy The Encircling Sea (Vindolanda) (31 May 2018)

AD 100: Flavius Ferox, Briton and Roman centurion, is finding it hard to keep the peace. Based at Vindolanda – an army fort on the northern frontier of Britannia and the entire Roman world – he feels the eyes of his enemies on him at all hours.

Ambitious leaders sense a chance to carve out empires of their own. While men nearer at hand speak in whispers of war and the destruction of Rome.

And out at sea, ships of pirates and deserters restlessly wait for the time to launch their attack on the empire’s land.


Ben Kane Clash of Empires (17 May 2018)

Hannibal has just been defeated, and Rome now turns its eyes on Greece. The Roman legion was pitted against the Greek phalanx in the ultimate ancient military showdown as Rome stretched its military muscles into the birthplace of civilisation. In Kane’s trademark style, the novel will follow both soldiers on the ground, as well as the great political figures of the day. In three tumultuous years, Greece, birthplace of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and Alexander of Macedon, whose soldiers saw off the invading Persians hordes at Thermopylae, whose phalanxes made the world tremble, fell beneath the inexorable Roman legions’ march. This victory cemented the birth of the mightiest empire that has ever existed.

Andrew Taylor The Fire Court (5 April 2018 )

Somewhere in the soot-stained ruins of Restoration London, a killer has gone to ground…

The Great Fire has ravaged London, wreaking destruction and devastation wherever its flames spread. Now, guided by the incorruptible Fire Court, the city is slowly rebuilding, but times are volatile and danger is only ever a heartbeat away.

James Marwood, son of a traitor, is thrust into this treacherous environment when his ailing father claims to have stumbled upon a murdered woman – in the very place where the Fire Court sits. Then his father is run down and killed. Accident? Or another murder…?

Determined to uncover the truth, Marwood turns to the one person he can trust – Cat Lovett, the daughter of a despised regicide. Marwood has helped her in the past. Now it’s her turn to help him. But then comes a third death… and Marwood and Cat are forced to confront a vicious and increasingly desperate killer whose actions threaten the future of the city itself.

Robyn Young  Court of Wolves: New World Rising Series Book 2 ( 9 August 2018)

In this sweeping epic novel, which can be read as a completely standalone story or as the sequel to SONS OF THE BLOOD, the New World Rising series opens out into the pageant and power of renaissance Europe.

Snorri Kristjansson Kin (The Helga Finnsdottir Mysteries) ( 8 March 2018 )

Everyone loves a family reunion.

He can deny it all he likes, but everyone knows Viking warlord Unnthor Reginsson brought home a great chest of gold when he retired from the longboats and settled down with Hildigunnur in a remote valley. Now, in the summer of 970, adopted daughter Helga is awaiting the arrival of her unknown siblings: dark, dangerous Karl, lithe, clever Jorunn, gentle Aslak, henpecked by his shrewish wife, and the giant Bjorn, made bitter by Volund, his idiot son.

And they’re coming with darkness in their hearts.

The siblings gather, bad blood simmers and old feuds resurface as Unnthor’s heirs make their moves on the old man’s treasure – until one morning Helga is awakened by screams. Blood has been shed: kin has been slain.

No one confesses, but all the clues point to one person – who cannot possibly be the murderer, at least in Helga’s eyes. But if she’s going to save the innocent from the axe and prevent more bloodshed, she’s got to solve the mystery – fast . . .

Lies. Manipulation. Murder. There’s nothing quite like family . . .

Ian Ross Imperial Vengeance (Twilight of Empire) (11 Jan 2018 )

THE ROMAN EMPIRE HAS NO MERCY IN ITS QUEST FOR POWER.

Aurelius Castus is one of the leading military commanders of an empire riven by civil war. As the emperor Constantine grows ever more ruthless in his pursuit of power, Castus fears that the world he knows is slipping away.

On the eve of the war’s final campaign, Castus discovers that the emperor’s son Crispus aims to depose his father and restore the old ways of Rome.

Castus must choose between honour and survival, and face a final confrontation with the most powerful man in the Roman world, the ruler he has sworn loyally to serve: the emperor Constantine himself.

Paul Fraser Collard The Rebel Killer (Jack Lark, Book 7)  26 July 2018

Virginia, 1861. With his comrades defeated, Jack turns his back on the battlefield. At heart he’s still a soldier, but this wholly uncivil war has left him wanting something – and someone – more. Lost in the woods with the Confederate army closing in, Jack will stop at nothing to protect Rose and the future they might share.

Then one bullet changes everything and Jack wakes up in a military hospital – alone. Broken but determined, he sets out on an epic journey across the Confederacy disguised in the grey coat of his one-time enemy. He will find the man who destroyed his life. Jack Lark is out for revenge.

Giles Kristian Lancelot (14 June 2018 )

Set in a 5th century post-Roman Britain besieged by invading war bands of Saxons and Franks, Irish and Picts, Giles Kristian’s epic new novel will tell – through the warrior’s own words – the story of Lancelot, the most celebrated of all King Arthur’s knights. And it’s a story that’s ready to be re-imagined for our times. It’s a story imbued with the magic and superstition that was such an integral part of the enchanted landscape of Britain during this dark times. Many of the familiar names from Arthurian mythology will be here – Mordred and Gawain, Morgana and, of course, Merlin – as will be those vital icons of the legend such as the Round Table and the sword in the stone but these will be reinvented, reforged for a new generation of readers. Lancelot is a story of warriors and kings, of violent, of warfare and bloodshed but it is also a story of loyalty and friendship, of over-arching ambition, of betrayal and guilt, of love and lust, and the win tragedies of revenge and remorse.

Simon Mayo Mad Blood Stirring ( 19 April 2018)
1815: The war is over but for the inmates at Dartmoor Prison, peace – like home – is still a long way away.

On the eve of the year 1815, the American sailors of the Eagle finally arrive at Dartmoor prison; bedraggled, exhausted but burning with hope. They’ve only had one thing to sustain them – a snatched whisper overheard along the way.

The war is over.

Joe Hill thought he’d left the war outside these walls but it’s quickly clear that there’s a different type of fight to be had within. The seven prison blocks surrounding him have been segregated; six white and one black. As his voice rings out across the courtyard, announcing the peace, the redcoat guards bristle and the inmates stir. The powder keg was already fixed to blow and Joe has just lit the fuse.

Elizabeth Shortland, wife of the Governor looks down at the swirling crowd from the window of her own personal prison. The peace means the end is near, that she needn’t be here for ever. But suddenly, she cannot bear the thought of leaving.

Inspired by a true story, Mad Blood tells of a few frantic months in the suffocating atmosphere of a prison awaiting liberation. It is a story of hope and freedom, of loss and suffering. It is a story about how sometimes, in our darkest hour, it can be the most unlikely of things that see us through.

Kate Mosse The Burning Chambers (Burning Chambers 1) ( 3 May 2018 )

Bringing sixteenth-century Languedoc vividly to life, Kate Mosse’s The Burning Chambers is a gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets; of war and adventure, conspiracies and divided loyalties . . .

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.

Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

Angus Donald Blood’s Revolution (Bonnier Zaffre)  October 2018

Douglas Jackson Hammer of Rome: Gaius Valerius Verrens 9  (9 Aug 2018)

AD 80 Gaius Valerius Verrens is back where he belongs, at the head of a legion. But this is no ordinary legion. His command is the ‘unlucky’ Ninth, tainted by four decades of ill fortune and poor leadership. A unit regarded as expendable by Valerius’s superior, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, governor of Britannia.
Yet all that can be swept aside by a single moment of glory, and the long heralded invasion of the north of the province provides the perfect opportunity. Valerius leads his men to a devastating victory against the recalcitrant Brigantes, infuriating Agricola in the process. Soon, even greater honours beckon with the death of Emperor Vespasian and the succession of Valerius’s friend, Titus.
But, back in Rome, the new emperor faces his own challenges, not least from his own brother, Domitian, a man with an insatiable ambition for power and a deadly hatred of Valerius.
All Valerius can do is forget the great prizes on offer, concentrate on defeating the savage tribes who lie in the path of the Ninth, and ignore Agricola’s intrigues.
But watching his every move is the most formidable enemy he has ever faced: mighty Calgacus, war chief of the Northern alliance.

Warrior of Woden (The Bernicia Chronicles) by [Harffy, Matthew]

Matthew Harffy  WARRIOR OF WODEN Hardcover – 1 April 2018

AD 642. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical thriller and the fifth instalment in the Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Oswald has reigned over Northumbria for eight years and Beobrand has led the king to ever greater victories. Rewarded for his fealty and prowess in battle, Beobrand is now a wealthy warlord, with a sizable warband. Tales of Beobrand’s fearsome black-shielded warriors and the great treasure he has amassed are told throughout the halls of the land.

Many are the kings who bow to Oswald. And yet there are those who look upon his realm with a covetous eye. And there is one ruler who will never kneel before him.

When Penda of Mercia, the great killer of kings, invades Northumbria, Beobrand is once more called upon to stand in an epic battle where the blood of many will be shed in defence of the kingdom.

But in this climactic clash between the pagan Penda and the Christian Oswald there is much more at stake than sovereignty. This is a battle for the very souls of the people of Albion.

Fantasy

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RJ Barker King of Assassins: (The Wounded Kingdom Book 3) 7 Aug 2018

THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING . . .

Many years of peace have passed in Maniyadoc, years of relative calm for the assassin Girton Club-Foot. Even the Forgetting Plague, which ravaged the rest of the kingdoms, seemed to pass them by. But now Rufra ap Vthyr eyes the vacant High-King’s throne and will take his court to the capital, a rat’s nest of intrigue and murder, where every enemy he has ever made will gather and the endgame of twenty years of politics and murder will be played out in his bid to become the King of all Kings.

Friends become enemies, enemies become friends and the god of death, Xus the Unseen, stands closer than ever – casting his shadow over everything most dear to Girton.

Bloody Rose: The Band, Book Two

Nicholas Eames Bloody Rose: The Band, Book Two 10 Jul 2018

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants-and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side.

Angus Watson The Land You Never Leave: West of West, Book 2 13 Sep 2018
Newly and uneasily allied, two tribes from different worlds set off across the Ocean of Grass. Their mission is to fulfil a prophecy and take Ottar the Moaner west of west to save mankind.
In their way are the denizens of the Badlands, the most terrifying and powerful collection of murderers and monsters the world has ever seen.

Mark Lawrence Grey Sister (Book of Ancestor 2) ( 17 May 2018 )

Second novel in the brilliant series from the bestselling author of PRINCE OF THORNS.

In Mystic Class Nona Grey begins to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the Convent of Sweet Mercy Nona must choose her path and take the red of a Martial Sister, the grey of a Sister of Discretion, the blue of a Mystic Sister or the simple black of a Bride of the Ancestor and a life of prayer and service.

All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the ambition of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a blade, and the vengeance of the empire’s richest lord.

As the world narrows around her, and her enemies attack her through the system she has sworn to, Nona must find her own path despite the competing pull of friendship, revenge, ambition, and loyalty.

And in all this only one thing is certain. There will be blood.

 

Saladin Ahmed The Thousand and One ( 9 Aug 2018)

Raymond E. Feist King of Ashes (Firemane, Book 1) ( 5 April 2018 )

The world of Garn once boasted five great kingdoms, until the King of Ithrace was defeated and every member of his family executed by Lodavico, the ruthless King of Sandura, a man with ambitions to rule the world.

Ithrace’s ruling family were the legendary Firemanes, and represented a great danger to the other kings. Now four great kingdoms remain, on the brink of war. But rumour has it that the newborn son of the last king of Ithrace survived, carried off during battle and sequestered by the Quelli Nacosti, a secret society whose members are trained to infiltrate and spy upon the rich and powerful throughout Garn. Terrified that this may be true, and that the child will grow to maturity with bloody revenge in his heart, the four kings have placed a huge bounty on the child’s head.

In the small village of Oncon, Declan is apprenticed to a master blacksmith, learning the secrets of producing the mythical king’s steel. Oncon is situated in the Covenant, a neutral region lying between two warring kingdoms. Since the Covenant was declared, the region has existed in peace, until violence explodes as slavers descend upon the village to capture young men to press as soldiers for Sandura.

Declan must escape, to take his priceless knowledge to Baron Daylon Dumarch, ruler of Marquensas, perhaps the only man who can defeat Lodavico of Sandura, who has now allied himself with the fanatical Church of the One, which is marching across the continent, imposing its extreme form of religion upon the population and burning unbelievers as they go.

Meanwhile, on the island of Coaltachin, the secret domain of the Quelli Nacosti, three friends are being schooled in the deadly arts of espionage and assassination: Donte, son of one of the most powerful masters of the order; Hava, a serious girl with fighting abilities that can set any opponent on their back; and Hatu, a strange, conflicted lad in whom fury and calm war constantly, whose hair is a bright and fiery shade of red…

Miles Cameron Cold Iron (Masters & Mages) ( 23 Aug 2018 )

Aranthur is a student. He showed a little magical talent, is studying at the local academy, and is nothing particularly special. Others are smarter. Others are more talented. Others are quicker to pick up techniques. But none of them are with him when he breaks his journey home for the holidays in an inn. None of them step in to help when a young woman is thrown off a passing stage coach into the deep snow at the side of the road. And none of them are drawn into a fight to protect her.
One of the others might have realised she was manipulating him all along . . .
A powerful story about beginnings, coming of age, and the way choosing to take one step towards violence can lead to a slippery and dangerous slope, this is an accomplished fantasy series driven by strong characters and fast-paced action.

S. A. Chakraborty The City of Brass ( 8 March 2018)

Among the bustling markets of eighteenth century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike.

But alongside this new world the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust.

Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and sleights of hand: there’s nothing magical about them. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes…

John Gwynne A Time of Dread (Of Blood and Bone) ( 11 Jan 2018 )

Set in the same world as the Faithful and the Fallen quartet, the first novel in John Gwynne’s Of Blood and Bone series, A Time of Dread, takes place one hundred years after the end of Wrath.

The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient enemy may not be as crushed as they thought.

In the snowbound north, Drem, a trapper, finds mutilated corpses in the forests – a sign of demonic black magic. In the south, Riv, a young, tempestuous soldier, discovers a deadly rift within the Ben-Elim themselves.

Two individuals with two world-changing secrets. But where will they lead? And what role will Drem and Riv play in the Banished Land’s fate? Difficult choices need to be made. Because in the shadows, demons are gathering, waiting for their time to rise. . .

The Tower of Living and Dying (Empires of Dust)

 Anna Smith Spark The Tower of Living and Dying (Empires of Dust) 24 Jul 2018

Marith has been a sellsword, a prince, a murderer, a demon, and dead. But something keeps bringing him back to life, and now there is nothing stopping him from taking back the throne that is rightfully his.
Thalia, the former high priestess, remains Marith’s only tenuous grasp to whatever goodness he has left. His left hand and his last source of light, Thalia still believes that the power that lies within him can be used for better ends. But as more forces gather beneath Marith’s banner, she can feel her influence slipping.

 

Kester Gran A Court of Miracles (The Court of Miracles Trilogy, Book 1)( 2 May 2018 )
Anthony Ryan The Empire of Ashes: Book Three of Draconis Memoria (The Draconis Memoria)( 5 July 2018)

Armies will clash and ancient secrets will be revealed in The Empire of Ashes, the thrilling conclusion to Anthony Ryan’s Draconis Memoria series.

The White Drake’s army has cut a bloody swathe across the world, leaving nothing but ash in its wake. Thousands of innocents have died beneath its blades and countless more will surely follow.

Only small-time criminal Claydon Torcreek and master spy Lizanne Lethridge – along with their ragtag band of allies – stand between the white drake’s fury and the world’s end.

To save the future, they must delve into the past – and unravel a timeless mystery that might just turn the tide once and for all.

Peter Newman The Deathless ( 14 June 2018)

Peter Newman’s new series takes readers to the world of the Deathless, beings as immortal as the precious stones from which they take their names.

Sebastien de Castell Spellslinger 3: Charmcaster: Book Three in the page-turning new fantasy series ( 17 May 2018 )

Andrew Caldecott Wyntertide: Rotherweird Book II( 31 May 2018 )

Welcome back to Rotherweird.

The town of Rotherweird has been independent from the rest of England for four hundred years, to protect a deadly secret.

Sir Veronal Slickstone is dead, his bid to exploit that secret consigned to dust, leaving Rotherweird to resume its abnormal normality after the travails of the summer . . . but someone is playing a very long game.

Disturbing omens multiply: a funeral delivers a cryptic warning; an ancient portrait speaks; the Herald disappears – and democracy threatens the uneasy covenant between town and countryside.

Geryon Wynter’s intricate plot, centuries in the making, is on the move.

Everything points to one objective: the resurrection of Rotherweird’s dark Elizabethan past – and to one date: the Winter Solstice.

Wynter is coming . . .

Leo Carew The Wolf (The UNDER THE NORTHERN SKY Series, Book 1) (Under the Northern Sky 1)( 5 April 2018)

Violence and death have come to the land under the Northern Sky.

The Anakim dwell in the desolate forests and mountains beyond the black river, the land under the Northern Sky.

Their ancient ways are forged in Unthank silver and carved in the grey stone of their heartland, their lives measured out in the turning of centuries, not years.

By contrast, the Sutherners live in the moment, their vitality much more immediate and ephemeral than their Anakim neighbours.

Fragile is the peace that has existed between these very different races – and that peace is shattered when the Suthern armies flood the lands to the north.

These two races revive their age-old hatred and fear of each other. Within the maelstrom of war, two leaders will rise to lead their people to victory.

Only one will succeed.

Robert V.S. Redick Master Assassins: The Fire Sacraments, Book One ( 12 April 2018)

Two village boys mistaken for assassins become the decisive figures in the battle for a continent in the thrilling new desert-based epic fantasy by the author of The Red Wolf Conspiracy.

Kandri Hinjuman was never meant to be a soldier. His brother Mektu was never meant for this world. Rivals since childhood, they are drafted into a horrific war led by a madwoman-Prophet, and survive each day only by hiding their disbelief. Kandri is good at blending in, but Mektu is hopeless: impulsive, erratic―and certain that a demon is stalking him. Is this madness or a second sense? Either way, Kandri knows that Mektu’s antics will land them both in early graves.

But all bets are off when the brothers’ simmering feud explodes into violence, and holy blood is spilled. Kandri and Mektu are taken for contract killers and must flee for their lives―to the one place where they can hope to disappear: the sprawling desert known as the Land that Eats Men. In this eerie wilderness, the terrain is as deadly as the monsters, ghouls, and traffickers in human flesh. Here the brothers find strange allies: an aging warlord, a desert nomad searching for her family, a lethal child-soldier still in her teens. They also find themselves in possession of a secret that could bring peace to the continent of Urrath. Or unthinkable carnage.

On their heels are the Prophet’s death squads. Ahead lie warring armies, sandstorms, evil spirits and the deeper evil of human greed. But hope beckons as well―if the “Master Assassins” can expose the lie that has made them the world’s most wanted men.

Bradley P Beaulieu A Veil of Spears (Song of Shattered Sands) ( 20 March 2018)

The third book in The Song of Shattered Sands series–an epic fantasy with a desert setting, filled with rich worldbuilding and pulse-pounding action.

Since the Night of Endless Swords, a bloody battle the Kings of Sharakhai narrowly won, the kings have been hounding the rebels known as the Moonless Host. Many have been forced to flee the city, including Ceda, who discovers that the King of Sloth is raising his army to challenge the other kings’ rule.

When Ceda finds the remaining members of the Moonless Host, now known as the thirteenth tribe, she sees a tenuous existence. Ceda hatches a plan to return to Sharakhai and free the asirim, the kings’ powerful, immortal slaves. The kings, however, have sent their greatest tactician, the King of Swords, to bring Ceda to justice for her crimes.

But the once-unified front of the kings is crumbling. The surviving kings vie quietly against one another, maneuvering for control over Sharakhai. Ceda hopes to use that to her advantage, but whom to trust? Any of them might betray her.

As Ceda works to lift the shackles from the asirim and save the thirteenth tribe, the kings of Sharakhai, the scheming queen of Qaimir, the ruthless blood mage, Hamzakiir, and King of Swords all prepare for a grand clash that may decide the fate of all.

Steven Savile Coldfall Wood ( 21 Aug 2018)

Steven Savile returns to the world of Glass Town with this gritty new fantasy where reluctant hero Julie Gennaro will combat a forgotten god.

Every legend promises the same thing: at the time of the land’s greatest need the heroes shall return. What they don’t mention is that we are the greatest threat our green and pleasant land has ever known. In the legends, saving the land never involves the slaughter of its inhabitants. Legends lie.

In a single night six girls who have never met and bear no relation to each other are struck down by a mysterious sickness that leaves them in persistent vegetative state. Across the city an old woman who hasn’t opened her eyes in years finally wakes. Her first words are: The Horned God is Awake.

One for one. Josh is about to learn the terrible truth behind these three words seared in the floor of his crazy grandfather’s flat. He is all that stands between our world and the cleansing fire of the once and future king. The question Josh and Julie must answer, how do you kill a god the world has forgotten about?

 

Victoria Aveyard  War Storm (Red Queen 4) Hardcover – 15 May 2018

The Spear of Atlantis (Wilde/Chase 14) by [McDermott, Andy]

Andy McDermot The Spear of Atlantis (Wilde/Chase 14) ( 20 Sept 2018)
After KING SOLOMON’S CURSE comes Andy McDermott’s newest Wilde and Chase novel, in which the intrepid pair find themselves in a race against time – to stop an ancient Atlantean weapon (more powerful than an H-bomb) from falling into the wrong hands… before modern civilization is brought to its knees…

Image result for zero day boone

Ezekiel Boone Zero Day ( 1 March 2018)

The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come.

The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to kill only the queens?

For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can-more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder-and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what’s more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?

Terry Hayes The Year of the Locust (20 Sept 2018)

IF YOU THOUGHT I AM PILGRIM WAS GOOD…

Bear Grylls: The Hunt (Will Jaeger 3) 31 May 2018

Someone has stolen uranium, hidden for decades, from a secret Nazi hideout. When Will Jaeger finds the murder scene covering it up, he knows he’s caught the scent of something important.

But he’s lost something precious, too. His wife Ruth, whom he spent four years searching for, has been kidnapped. Someone clearly has it in for Jaeger, and the only thing to do is hunt them down.

The trail takes him around the world, from South America to deepest China, in his search for answers. There’s only one thing someone could want that much uranium for, and Jaeger knows the world is counting on him to stop them.

But all is not as it seems. As Jaeger – the hunter – closes in, he must accept the truth might worse than he could ever imagine.

And some old enemies might not be as finished as he thought.

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