Monthly Archives: March 2018

Mark Lawrence: Grey Sister (Review)

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence was born in Champagne-Urbanan, Illinois, to British parents but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. He says he never had any ambition to be a writer so was very surprised when a half-hearted attempt to find an agent turned into a global publishing deal overnight. His first trilogy, THE BROKEN EMPIRE, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy. Following The Broken Empire comes the bestselling RED QUEEN’S WAR trilogy. The BOOK OF THE ANCESTOR trilogy, in an entirely new setting, commences with RED SISTER in 2017. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol.

Second novel in the brilliant new 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.

Review

I LOVE this series, Mark Lawrence is one of the most exciting writers in the fantasy genre.  Yet when i started this book i worried if he could reach the heady heights of Red Sister, and for a little while at the start of the book i felt that worry coming to fruition, the book while containing the wonderfully vivid and imagined world and characters of Red sister, seemed to be just a continuation of nun training, with a little angst over the death of a friend…. I worried, what was going on? was this book two doldrums, a filler?…. but then the threads of the beginning of this book started to come together the angst and training made sense, Nona’s enemies and the church’s enemies start to coalesce, The big players in the SIS start to show their hands.

Grey Sister took flight and soared after about 50 pages, my doubts were washed away, what was left was breathless breakneck writing of the highest quality. I don’t want to drop any spoilers, so excuse some of the vagueness…. but by now some of the novices have some truly astounding abilities it would be very simple for Mark Lawrence to have them carve up whole armies, he manages to neutralise those abilities with cunning, guile and astounding twists, pitting the girls against some truly terrifying opponents, he introduces some new beings that leave you guessing all the way through and i believe we will understand more in the next book, we have a league of assassins, we have regal plots, the inquisition, the whole world teeters on the edge….. and at the center of the storm is Nona.

The last part of this book is so beguiling and breathtaking that i was actually holding my breath, the run away finale so completely absorbing that i was shattered when i had finished reading, and my copy has creases where i was gripping the book so hard.

Grey Sister better than its Red predecessor?… hell yes! I’ve never been so tired and so captivated in a fantasy book.

BUY THIS BOOK

(Parm)

 

Series
Broken Empire
1. Prince of Thorns (2011)
2. King of Thorns (2012)
3. Emperor of Thorns (2013)
Mark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
The Complete Broken Empire Trilogy (omnibus) (2014)
The Secret (2015)
The Broken Empire (omnibus) (2016)
Road Brothers (2017)
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Red Queen’s War
1. Prince of Fools (2012)
2. The Liar’s Key (2015)
3. The Wheel of Osheim (2016)
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Book of the Ancestor
1. Red Sister (2017)
2. Grey Sister (2018)
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Novellas
During the Dance (2014)
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Filed under Fantasy, Mark Lawrence

Ben Kane: Clash of Empires (Review)

Ben Kane

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Is a bestselling Roman author and former veterinarian. He was born in Kenya and grew up in Ireland (where his parents are from). He has traveled widely and is a lifelong student of military history in general, and Roman history in particular. He lives in North Somerset, England, with his family.

Clash of Empires  (2018)
(The first book in the Clash of Empires series)

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When a new empire rises, and old one must fall

After 16 years of bloody war against Rome, Hannibal Barca is on the verge of defeat. On the plains of Zama, Felix and his brother Antonius stand in the formidable Roman legions, ready to deliver the decisive blow. Victory will establish Rome as the pre-eminent power in the ancient world.

But in northern Greece, Philip V of Macedon is determined to restore Alexander the Great’s kingdom to its former glory. Charismatic leader, ruthless general, he will use the unforgiving might of his phalanx to unite Greece and to fend off Rome’s grasping fingers.

In Rome, young senator Flamininus is set on becoming one of the Republic’s greatest military commanders. With Hannibal on the verge of defeat, the as-yet-unconquered Macedon and Greece are ripe for conquest. Strategist and spymaster, politician and general, Flamininus will stop at nothing to bring Philip V to heel.

Demetrios slumps on the rowing bench of his Macedonian ship. Thirsty, hungry, burnt by the unforgiving Mediterranean sun, dreams are his only sustenance. Dreams of the perfect thrust of a 15-foot sarissa spear, of the unyielding phalanx wall, of the glory of Macedon.

The Roman wolf has tasted blood, and it wants more. But the sun of Macedon will not set without a final blaze of glory.

Review

Series five begins for Ben Kane with Clash of Empires, two empires butting up against one another, one a shadow of its once greatness but still with sharp teeth, and the other an Empire on the rise, growing, determined and ravenous for conquest.

Ben Kane’s books are always an annual treat, his ability to tell a tale from each and every side in  such a personal fashion has always been the uniqueness that brings me back book after book. Clash of Empires is no different, no matter how low each of the major players can go at some point Ben Kane has you rooting for them, You find sympathy for Flamininus despite his rampant ambition, you find sympathy and root for Philip despite his ruthless streak as king. Ben also lifts the narrative up and down, showing us the heights of power and the machinations of the political climates of both worlds, and then in the next breath takes us down to the dirt where the soldiers abide, to what drives them, what makes them stand in line and die, to the camaraderie and the drive of men with nothing but each other.

Its always easy to say a book is better than the last, because its fresh, its new and both of those things drive that vision of it being better. But in the case of this book its more, its an immersive read, a total absorption into the worlds of both Greece and Rome driving you both one way then the next, splitting your loyalties, despite knowing the history it makes you hope for different outcomes, living with the soldiers of both armies and somehow wanting all to survive and both to walk away winners.

Ben Kane has tapped into a fantastic period of history, one with a rich vein of story, and he writes it so well, this will appeal to fans of both Greek and Roman history and once read they will be hooked for this series…. and his others.

A highly recommended book

(Parm)

 

 

Forgotten Legion Chronicles
1. The Forgotten Legion (2008)
2. The Silver Eagle (2009)
3. The Road to Rome (2010)
Forgotten Legion Chronicles Collection (omnibus) (2012)
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Hannibal
1. Enemy of Rome (2011)
2. Fields of Blood (2013)
3. Clouds of War (2014)
The Patrol (2013)
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Spartacus
1. The Gladiator (2012)
2. Rebellion (2012)
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Pompeii (with Stephanie Dray, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter)
A Day of Fire (2014)
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Eagles of Rome
The Shrine (2015)
1. Eagles at War (2015)
2. Hunting the Eagles (2016)
3. Eagles in the Storm (2017)
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Clash of Empires
1. Clash of Empires (2018)
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Novellas
The Arena (2016)
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Filed under Ben Kane, Historical Fiction