Monthly Archives: April 2020

Ben Kane (Lionheart) Review.

book cover of Lionheart

 

Lionheart  (2020)
(The first book in the Richard the Lionheart series)

 

1179. Henry II is King of England, Wales, Ireland, Normandy, Brittany and Aquitaine. The House of Plantagenet reigns supreme.

But there is unrest in Henry’s house. Not for the first time, his family talks of rebellion.

Ferdia – an Irish nobleman taken captive during the conquest of his homeland – saves the life of Richard, the king’s son. In reward for his bravery, he is made squire to Richard, who is already a renowned warrior.

Crossing the English Channel, the two are plunged into a campaign to crush rebels in Aquitaine. The bloody battles and gruelling sieges which followed would earn Richard the legendary name of Lionheart.

But Richard’s older brother, Henry, is infuriated by his sibling’s newfound fame. Soon it becomes clear that the biggest threat to Richard’s life may not be rebel or French armies, but his own family…

(Review)

I will have to admit that when i heard Ben Kane was writing about Richard the Lionheart i groaned a little, im always going to read a book by him because he is simply an excellent writer, But…. I hate the crusades, or at least i usually find that i do, there is usually just a bit to much pious religion, knights flogging themselves and dodgy priests galore, so i tend to steer clear of them, in the same way i tend to with anything plague related, because they are just dark and grim.

With Lionheart though Ben has taken me back to his writing style of 12 years ago, taking a character from youth and growing the story around them, in this case Rufus (Ferdia), and then he lets the story resolve its-self around this character, its a style i love and always makes me very invested in a character.

The story of Rufus takes us from his time as a hostage to his families good behaviour, through the harsh times and brutality of his captivity, to his steady rise as a squire and beyond. We get to see life in a border castle, through to royal courts of europe and the battles for the provinces of Duke Richards lands and those of France and Normandy. Ben has a style and ability to remove the grandeur that can be distracting to the story and concentrate on the intimate life of his character, the world is how Rufus perceives it and gives a different lens to the times. Mixed in with his view comes that of Sir William Marshall, who allows us to see a different view, that of a Knight in the employ of the Royal Heir Henry, and thus the pair provide opposing views of the machinations of the big stage and its players.

I devoured this book in a couple of days, and at 400 pages its no small read. But the whole concept and the characters had me from the first chapter and didn’t let go, it left me desperate for the next installment of what i think will be Ben Kanes best work to date, this is easily going to sit in the top 5 for the year for me.

Very Very Highly recommend this book

(Parm)

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Forgotten Legion Chronicles
   1. The Forgotten Legion (2008)
   2. The Silver Eagle (2009)
   3. The Road to Rome (2010)
   The March (2018)
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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
   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)
   Eagles in the Wilderness (2019)
   Eagles in the East (2020)
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Clash of Empires
   1. Clash of Empires (2018)
   2. The Falling Sword (2019)
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Richard the Lionheart
   1. Lionheart (2020)
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Filed under Ben Kane, Historical Fiction

Conn Iggulden: The Gates of Athens (Review)

book cover of The Gates of Athens

 

 

490 B.C.

Two great empires are about to go to war . . .

The momentous struggle between Athens and Sparta as rival powers and political systems will last for twenty-seven years (431 to 404 BC).

It will end in the fall of a dynasty.

Filled with cunning political scheming and astonishing military prowess, invasions and treacheries, plagues and slaughters, passion and power, Conn Iggulden brings to life one of the most thrilling chapters of the ancient world.

Review:

As always with Conn Iggulden he has produced a great book set against an epic backdrop of history, he has populated it with big names from history and set the scene for action and adventure in spades and he pulls it off as usual with a casual ease, and the pages fly by while you read and get drawn back in time.

But…. and this is a big but for me as i don’t think i’ve every criticized anything he has written before (and this is purely personal my feeling , not the writing), the main protagonists for me didn’t come alive. This is usually the authors bread and butter and something that he achieves with ease. Now this may be me and my own fault as a reader because i have read some truly astounding books in this period, and while i was reading this i was also reading the latest daily doses of Arimnestos by Chrstian Cameron as part of Authors without borders where i have grown with that character from his youth over 7 books . I also think that with Conn i have come to expect the characters to also grow from a youth into the great warriors/ Statesmen that he is well known and loved for writing, in this book those people are already leaders, so there felt like no emotional tie to them, that bond that is created, wasnt….I have high hopes that this will resolve in book 2 as we have followed the growth of Cimon and touched on Pericles as a youth as well.

That said thats my (very) person gripe, the book is still an astounding story, from Marathon through to the sacking of Athens its a truly amazing period of history with so much going on and so many heroic names that you can fail to be stunned by the momentous events and people, i know it will sit proudly in my book collection and i look forward to the next in this new series.

(Parm)

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Filed under Conn Iggulden, Historical Fiction