Monthly Archives: April 2019

Christian Cameron: The New Achilles (review)

The New Achilles (2019)
(The first book in the Commander series)

book cover of The New Achilles

Alexanor is a man who has seen too much blood. He has left the sword behind him to become a healer in the greatest sanctuary in Greece, turning his back on war.

But war has followed him to his refuge at Epidauros, and now a battle to end the freedom of Greece is all around him. The Mediterranean superpowers of Rome, Egypt and Macedon are waging their proxy wars on Hellenic soil, turning Greek farmers into slaves and mercenaries.

When wounded soldier Philopoemen is carried into his temple, Alexanor believes the man’s wounds are mortal but that he is not destined to die. Because he knows Philopoemen will become Greece’s champion. Its last hero. The new Achilles.


I love it when a new Christian Cameron is released, in my opinion he is the finest writer in Historical fiction and Fantasy Fiction.

The New Achilles is no different it is exceptional, while reading i had to stop so often the really appreciate and think through some of the points raised, the ethos and philosophy used for the differing sides is both enlightening and entertaining, the politics and the geography described with subtle information drops and breathtaking detail, rarely have i been challenged and entertained in equal measure, add to that Alexanors and Philopoemens love lives, which will just break your heart. This slower reading approach was my choice and was a challenge because in his usual style Christian and his characters will pull you into the ancient Greek world and hold you there, to feel the sweat blood and tears of the time as well as the everyday activities, its full life immersion, if you’re not careful you get swept along and the book will end before you know it, as it was it still ended far too soon for me, i wanted book 2 immediately.

I also love how this series will dovetail with Ben Kanes excellent new series Clash of Empires (book one Clash of Empires and The Falling Sword)

A high contender for my book of the year


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)
1. Tyrant (2008)
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)
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)
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)
1. The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
2. The Long Sword (2014)
3. The Green Count (2017)
4. Sword of Justice (2018)
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)
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)
1. The New Achilles (2019)
2. The Last Greek (2020)
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)
Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2012)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2012)
4. A Plague of Swords (2016)
5. The Fall of Dragons (2017)
Traitor son cycle series: Books 1-4 (omnibus) (2018)
Masters & Mages
1. Cold Iron (2018)
2. Dark Forge (2019)
3. Light Bringer (2019)
3. Bright Steel (2019)

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Filed under Christian Cameron, Historical Fiction, Uncategorized

Harry Sidebottom: The Lost Ten



book cover of The Lost Ten

When Valens, a junior officer in the Roman Army, joins a crack squad of soldiers on a dangerous mission, little does he know what’s in store for him. Tasked with rescuing the young Prince Sasan, who has been imprisoned in the impenetrable Castle of Silence, the troops set out across Mesopotamia and into the mountains south of the Caspian Sea.

Deep in hostile territory, inexperienced Valens finds himself in charge. And as one by one his soldiers die or disappear, he begins to suspect that there is a traitor in their midst, and that the rescue is fast becoming a suicide mission.

Valens must marshal this disparate group of men and earn their respect, before it’s too late . . .


Harry Sidebottom seems to have hit on a rich vein of fast paced action adventure Historical fiction ideas, his last book the Last Hour was a very 24 esque romp around Rome, a book that was almost impossible to out down as it bounded from one cliff hanger to the next.

The Lost 10 takes a much more “Eagle has landed” approach, with a small select group of Frumentarii sent on an impossible mission, with a traitor in the team, can they succeed, can they survive? and who is the thorn in their side?

Harry Sidebottom as always, gives us a very character driven story, introducing us to the more shadowy arm of the roman military machine, the spies, the murderers, the men capable of blending in and surviving again the odds. His plot has you hooked on the action and the adventure, while at the same time trying to work out who the traitor could be from the crumbs that he drops. Set in the east as we head into Persia, we see a different side of ancient life, a different set of rules and morality and religion and as always Harry Sidebottom educates as he entertains.

His last book was one of my fav books in 2018, The Lost Ten im sure will rank up there for 2019.

Highly recommended


Warrior of Rome
1. Fire in the East (2008)
2. King of Kings (2009)
3. Lion of the Sun (2010)
4. The Caspian Gates (2011)
5. The Wolves of the North (2012)
6. The Amber Road (2013)
7. The Last Hour (2018)
Warrior of Rome Series 6 Books Collection (omnibus)(2016)
Throne of the Caesars
1. Iron & Rust (2014)
2. Blood & Steel (2015)
3. Fire & Sword (2016)
Silence & Lies (2015)
Shadow & Dust (2016)
Smoke & Mirrors (2017)
The Lost Ten (2019)
Non fiction
Ancient Warfare (2004)
The Encyclopedia of Ancient Battles (2017) (with Michael Whitby)

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Filed under Harry Sidebottom, Historical Fiction

Ben Kane : The Falling Sword (Review)

Image result for ben kane

(In his own words)

All about me – where to start? Well, I was born in Kenya, courtesy of the fact that my dad was working out there as a veterinarian. We moved to Ireland (where my parents are from) when I was 7, and that’s where I grew up. Did the usual school thing, whilst becoming an avid reader of just about any genre, but especially military and historical fiction. I spent nearly all my pocket money on books and devoured the contents of the local library. Favourites included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s medieval tales, Sir Nigel and The White Company; I did love the Sherlock Holmes books too though. Other top books were Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Eagle of the Ninth and The Silver Branch, Henry Treece’s Viking sagas, as well as loads of fantasy – JRR Tolkien, Guy Gavriel Kay, Julian May, Roger Zelazny and Stephen Donaldson. I’ll stop now…

Although I loved reading, I never really thought about studying English or writing. Why, I’m not completely sure. As a real animal lover, all I’d ever wanted to be was a veterinarian, so that’s what I put on my university application form. Five years in college followed – a great time was had by all – and then a career in veterinary started. In 1996, I moved to the UK to concentrate on ‘small’ animal practice. But my itchy feet took me abroad in 1997, on a 3 month solo trip along part of the ancient Silk Road. Visiting the ruins of Merv, in Turkmenistan, started my interest in the Roman campaign into Parthia in 53 BC.

I felt the urge to travel again soon after returning, and in 1998, I set out on a trip around the world which lasted for nearly 3 years.  It was during this prolonged time abroad that I first had thoughts of writing military historical fiction – sparked first I think by wondering what I could do apart from being a veterinarian.

I returned to the UK in early 2001, dragging myself back to ‘reality’ and the ‘real world’ of a career, a mortgage and so on. The terrible Foot and Mouth outbreak occurred a month or so after my return, and I volunteered almost immediately. The work took me to the stunning county of Northumberland, and the buzzing city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where I was to spend nearly a year. While the work of slaughtering livestock was truly awful – to put it mildly – I was able to visit some of the amazing Roman sites and museums along Hadrian’s Wall as well.

These were places that I had longed to visit as a child, and my imagination ran riot as I stood on the craggy ridges looking north, and wondering what the Italian legionaries first posted here must have thought. How had the Scottish tribes  reacted to the mighty structure which dwarfed anything they’d seen before? My determination to become a writer emerged then, and I started writing not long afterwards.

What started as a hobby soon became an obsession, and about four years later The Forgotten Legion emerged into the light. Through the hard work of Charlie Viney, my amazing agent, I managed to land a book deal in the summer of 2007. Things since then have been a bit crazy – working as a veterinarian, writing, having kids etc. but it’s great fun too. Thanks to my wife and son and newly arrived baby daughter for keeping me grounded, most of the time.

Author Web site

book cover of The Falling Sword

The thrilling follow-up to Clash of Empires – centred around the climax of the Roman invasion of Greece – from Ben Kane, the master of historical fiction.

One empire will rise Flamininus of Rome and Macedonian King Philip’s battle-hardened armies are on the march towards their final, climactic encounter.

The other must burn. The outcome will decide the fate of Greece. But, on opposite sides, legionary Felix and Phalanx soldier Demetrios have more pressing concerns: staying alive long enough to taste glory….


I’m a big fan of Ben Kane and his writing, he writes books that stay with you long after you have finished reading, his style of writing for me is a slightly slower burn than … say Anthony Riches, but slower pace is tempered with deep deep characters, and always a switching of perspectives, there is never a bad guy, just opposing sides with opposing view points, and when you get down to the front line soldiers, just men who happen to be from somewhere else. His books are very human, very emotive and very real.

Falling Sword, takes the reader on the next leg of the journey for Flamminius of Rome and Philip of Macedon, but for me more importantly its the next struggle for survival for Felix and Demetrios, on opposing sides, but living a very similar existence, march, fight, go hungry, kill, protect their comrades and try not to die. The multi POV is something that Ben Kane is a master at, especially in this series, we see top down views from the leaders of each army and also bottom up from the soldiers. Ben Kane always has a great way of making you feel the weight of decisions and the results of those choices,  from battle changing or just simple immediate life for the soldier, the death and destruction isn’t just washed away with a new sentence, and yet at the same time it isn’t modern post traumatic reactions, because life and death are so much closer in the ancient world, there is regret and loss and also an inevitability of war.

So Falling Sword the latest from Ben Kane is an unmissable tour of the ancient world, full of emotion and action, drama and reality, humour and heartache. as always i highly recommend this and all his work (listed below by series)

and dont forget to follow Ben Kane on Facebook, he works tirelessly to raise money for charity, currently Park in the Past


(Keep an eye out for Cameos)

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)
The March (2018)
1. Enemy of Rome (2011)
2. Fields of Blood (2013)
3. Clouds of War (2014)
The Patrol (2013)
1. The Gladiator (2012)
2. Rebellion (2012)
Eagles of Rome
0.5. The Shrine (2015)
1. Eagles at War (2015)
1.5. The Arena (2016)
2. Hunting the Eagles (2016)
3. Eagles in the Storm (2017)
Clash of Empires
1. Clash of Empires (2018)
2. The Falling Sword (2019)

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Filed under Ben Kane, Historical Fiction

Anthony Riches: Scorpion’s Strike (Review)

Anthony Riches (in his own words)

Following a childhood which featured a deep interest in the military rooted in my father and grandfather’s service in the two world wars, I took a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. Working for a succession of blue chip companies over the next twenty five years, Tony_RichesI gravitated into business systems and change project management, and I’ve worked as a freelance project manager in the UK and Europe, the USA, the Middle and Far East over the last decade.

Over the same period I’ve gradually refined my ability to write fiction, initially for my own entertainment but more recently with the serious aim of achieving my debut publication. The manuscript of Wounds of Honour eked out a precarious ten-year existence on a succession of computer hard drives and memory sticks until a life-changing encounter in Belfast energised me to rewrite the manuscript and seek publication. Thanks Gerry!

I’ve been married to Helen, our family’s only true adult for 25 years now, and we live in Hertfordshire with our three children. I’m a confirmed petrol head, and I spend my spare time listening to music, reading (mainly on planes going to and coming back from work) and surfing internet car reviews with a purposeful glint in my eye.

book cover of The Scorpion\'s Strike

Set in the second century AD, The Scorpion’s Strike 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.


I’ve been looking forward to reading a new Empire book for a while, the entire series is a breath of fresh air in the genre, fast paced, full of amazing characters, that drive the plot, the excitement and the emotion.

That said before i start any Empire book i message Tony and threaten him that if he has killed Dubnus we will be having words… that’s the true mark of these books, not one single character is safe, the series now could keep going even with the death of its lead character, with that hanging over every page it lends an extra edge to the tension of the entire story.

After a break of three years i can certainly say that Anthony Riches has lost none of his swagger when it comes to ballsy fast paced action and comedic repartee amongst his large array of leading characters. One of the most engaging things in the book is that anyone from Marcus to Morban could lead a story, and so we the reader get perspectives from all levels of the Legionary life, and in this book a great look at the Praetorian mindset.

As ever i wont add any spoilers for the plot, but suffice to say as with almost every Anthony Riches book, once you crack open the book to the first page you need to hold on tight, the book will not let you go, fortunatly you can take the book with you when you need a toilet break, because from the first page to the last its Danger, daring, blood and glory, death and destruction and full of laugh out loud banter between the troops.

I never wonder if one of the books in this series will be good, they all are, its just how many rude messages i need to send the author for killing certain people!!

Love this book, love this series, if you have not read any… WHY!!?? and if you have not pre-ordered this book, WHY!??

VERY Highly recommended



1. Wounds of Honour (2009)
2. Arrows of Fury (2010)
3. Fortress of Spears (2011)
4. The Leopard Sword (2012)
5. The Wolf’s Gold (2012)
6. The Eagle’s Vengeance (2013)
7. The Emperor’s Knives (2014)
8. Thunder of the Gods (2015)
9. Altar of Blood (2016)
10. The Scorpion’s Strike (2019)
The Empire Collection Books I-3 (omnibus) (2017)
The Empire Collection Books 4-6 (omnibus) (2017)
The Empire Collection Books 7-9 (omnibus) (2017)
1. Betrayal (2017)
2. Onslaught (2017)
3. Retribution (2018)
Betrayal: The Raid (2017)
Centurions: Codex Batavi (2018)

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Filed under Anthony Riches, Historical Fiction, Uncategorized