Category Archives: Fantasy

Fantasy reviews

Miles Cameron: Cold Iron (Review)

Christian Cameron 
aka Miles Cameron, Gordon Kent

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

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

 

book cover of Cold Iron

A young mage-in-training is unwittingly pulled into a violent political upheaval, in the first book of this new epic fantasy trilogy by Miles Cameron, author of the Traitor Son Cycle.

Aranthur is a promising young mage. His talents compel him to attend University to develop his abilities further. But the world is not safe for a mage, and after a confrontation leaves him no choice but to display his skill with a blade, Aranthur is instructed to train under a renowned Master of Swords.

During his intensive training he begins to question the bloody life he’s chosen. And while studying under the Master, Aranthur is conscripted to the City Militia. Soon after, he finds himself thrown into the middle of a political revolt that will impact everyone he’s come to know.

To protect his friends, Arnathur will be forced to decide if he can truly follow the Master of Swords into a life of violence and cold-hearted commitment to the blade.

Review

Miles Cameron is undoubtedly a hugely talented writer, his work as Christian Cameron is at the forefront of writing in Historical Fiction, and his debut fantasy series (Traitor Son Cycle) has been a huge hit.

For me there was little question about the expected quality of this next series, just what direction would it take, and could it be as original as the Traitor Son series?

My first surprise was that this book starts the series off at a very measured pace, no big battles. What it delivers instead is world building on a hugely imaginative scale, in-depth characterization and characters you can connect with instantly on a personal level. A magic system that’s new and fresh and complex, that cannot be used for simple plot escapes, and a political system as complex and dizzying as anything in the real world. In fact as always i think we find many modern world issues explored and exposed in this book, racism, right wing attitudes, an ISIS equivalent ideology, and yet also compassion, and understanding, religious ideals and many other thoughts and ideas are explored and incorporated.

The depth and breadth of this book is breath taking, the skill with which its delivered is sure to make this book and this series a huge hit.

Very very highly recommended.

(Parm)

 

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)
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Series
Alan Craik (as by Gordon Kent)
1. Night Trap (1998)
aka Rules of Engagement
2. Peace Maker (2000)
3. Top Hook (2002)
4. Hostile Contact (2003)
5. Force Protection (2004)
6. Damage Control (2005)
7. The Spoils of War (2006)
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Tyrant
1. Tyrant (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)
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Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
5. Salamis (2015)
6. Rage of Ares (2016)
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Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
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Chivalry
1. The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
2. The Long Sword (2014)
3. The Green Count (2017)
4. Sword of Justice (2018)
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Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part One (2014)
2. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Two (2014)
3. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Three (2014)
4. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Four (2015)
5. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Five (2015)
6. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Six (2015)
7. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Seven (2015)
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Tom Swan and the Last Spartans
1. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part One (2016)
2. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Two (2016)
3. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Three (2017)
4. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Four (2017)
5. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Five (2017)
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Novels
Cauldron of Violence (2000) (as by Gordon Kent)
Washington and Caesar (2001)
The Falconer’s Tale (2007) (as by Gordon Kent)
God of War (2012)
A Song of War (2016) (with Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, S J A Turneyand Russell Whitfield)
The New Achilles (2019)
The Last Greek (2020)
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Robert V. S. Redick: Master Assassins (Review)

Robert V S Redick's picture

Robert V. S. Redick’s Chathrand Voyage Quartet (The Red Wolf Conspiracy and sequels) is among the most beloved and critically acclaimed epic fantasy series of recent years. A social and environmental justice consultant, he has worked in Indonesia, Argentina, Colombia and many other countries. His new fantasy series, The Fire Sacraments, will be published by Talos Press. He lives with his partner in Western Massachusetts.

Master Assassins  (2018)
(The first book in the Fire Sacraments series)

book cover of Master Assassins

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.

Review

I had heard many many great things about this book, people i know with the right sort of taste (my taste) in books were highly praising this book, so needless to say i went into this book with very high expectations.

Once i reached about 50 pages in i had some concerns, the book had lots of quality, but i didn’t see this amazing sparkle that everyone was waxing lyrical about, but … well one of those people was Mark Lawrence, i’m going to trust him and persevere was my thinking.

So night after night i plugged away at this book and very soon i wasn’t looking for the magic i was engrossed in it. A world so very new, so bleak and deadly and yet so captivating that you the reader cannot help but be dragged into the mire with our two very unlucky (or are they really lucky?) brothers.

As with all truly great books its not really the world that is the genius (but it helps), although the author for this book truly goes beyond Epic fantasy in his world building, But its the Characters that define great and in this book they are so flawed so unique, so different to anything i have read before. The rising of the underclass behind popular religion, twisted to a zealotry ideology, yet showing that many of the zealots are just people dragged along, to eat, survive and live in a country ruled in such a way, (not everyone is a terrorist… sorry Zealot). Our brothers have so much mystery surrounding them, their pasts, and their loves and is one of the possessed or just plain crazy, all of this taking place at the same time as a helter skelter escape plan that is just plain insanity personified.

I  read this book on ebook format so had no idea what the page count was, and guessed at something around 800, and was shocked to find it was only 460, that’s not it dragged on, but so very much detail and action is packed into a book of this size. (stunned)

So i add my voice to the others that have gone before…… BUY THIS BOOK!! its really really good.

(Parm)

Series
Chathrand Voyage
1. The Red Wolf Conspiracy (2007)
2. The Rats and the Ruling Sea (2009)
aka The Ruling Sea
3. The River of Shadows (2011)
4. The Night of the Swarm (2012)
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Fire Sacraments
1. Master Assassins (2018)
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Raymond E Feist : King of Ashes (Review)

Raymond E Feist's picture

Raymond Elias Feist
USA flag (1945 – )
Feist is one of the world’s leading fantasy writers. His Riftwar and Serpentwar Sagas have been global bestsellers for years.
Born and raised in Southern California, Raymond E. Feist was educated at the University of California, San Diego, where he graduated with honours in Communication Arts. He is the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Riftwar Saga.

King of Ashes (2015)
(The first book in the Firemane series)

book cover of King of Ashes

For centuries, the five greatest kingdoms of North and South Tembria, twin continents on the world of Garn, have coexisted in peace. But the balance of power is destroyed when four of the kingdoms violate an ancient covenant and betray the fifth: Ithrace, the Kingdom of Flames, ruled by Steveren Langene, known as “the Firemane” for his brilliant red hair. As war engulfs the world, Ithrace is destroyed and the Greater Realms of Tembria are thrust into a dangerous struggle for supremacy.

As a Free Lord, Baron Daylon Dumarch owes allegiance to no king. When an abandoned infant is found hidden in Daylon’s pavilion, he realizes that the child must be the missing heir of the slain Steveren. The boy is valuable – and vulnerable. A cunning and patient man, Daylon decides to keep the baby’s existence secret, and sends him to be raised on the Island of Coaltachin, home of the so-called Kingdom of Night, where the powerful and lethal Nocusara, the “Hidden Warriors,” legendary assassins and spies, are trained.

Years later, another orphan of mysterious provenance, a young man named Declan, earns his Masters rank as a weapons smith. Blessed with intelligence and skill, he unlocks the secret to forging King’s Steel, the apex of a weapon maker’s trade known by very few. Yet this precious knowledge is also deadly, and Declan is forced to leave his home to safeguard his life. Landing in Lord Daylon’s provinces, he hopes to start anew.

Soon, the two young men unknowing rightful heir to a throne and a brilliantly talented young swordsmith – will discover that their fates, and that of Garn, are entwined. The legendary, long-ago War of Betrayal has never truly ended . . . and they must discover the secret of who truly threatens their world.

Review

A new Feist, not only a new Feist but a new series, this has been a book i have waited for with some anticipation. I’ve been a fan of this writers work since my early reading days, Magician was a revelation, how fantasy could be written, to be epic and sweeping, and yet immediate and crammed with great characters and prose. Raymond Feist created a unique voice and style and a world that has wowed fantasy readers for over 30 years.

The question is….. can he create a new world?

When i started reading King of Ashes i felt that familiar voice, the voice that had attracted me all those years ago, there was so much familiarity that for the first few chapters it felt like i did when Talon of the Silver Hawk was released a new chapter of the same wonderful world, yet something utterly new, but that was just an echo of the writing style that i have loved, because quickly a new world unfolds before the reader.

Very quickly Raymond Feist brings a new voice to his writing, woven with echos of the past, but certainly something new and exciting. This new world of betrayal, new religion and violence given in such a way that echos Krondor, characters that have the mischievous edge of Jimmy the Hand, but warped and wefted into new people and new societies, new cultures and beliefs. Much is revealed in book one who the firemane child is, how he was raised, and yet i feel we have only just scratched the surface of the world we have entered.  Book one King of Ashes is a full complete and amazing book all in its own right, but like the Riftwar books its chock full of promise and menace for the series to come, its the start…..

This book is a high contender for my fantasy of the year, i admit partly for the nostalgia, but also because this truly is the start of something very special.

(parm)

Series
Riftwar
1. Magician: Apprentice (1982)
2. Magician: Master (1982)
3. Silverthorn (1985)
4. A Darkness at Sethanon (1986)
5. Prince of the Blood (1989)
6. The King’s Buccaneer (1989)
Magician (1982)
The Riftwar Saga (omnibus) (1988)
The Riftwar Saga Trilogy (omnibus) (2012)
Silverthorn / A Darkness at Sethanon (omnibus) (2012)
Midkemia: The Chronicles of Pug (2013)
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Riftwar : The World On the Other Side (with Janny Wurts)
1. Daughter of the Empire (1987)
2. Servant of the Empire (1989)
3. Mistress of the Empire (1989)
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Riftwar : Serpentwar
1. Shadow of a Dark Queen (1994)
2. Rise of a Merchant Prince (1995)
3. Rage of a Demon King (1997)
4. Shards of a Broken Crown (1998)
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Riftwar : Legacy
1. The Betrayal (1998)
2. Krondor: The Assassins (1999)
3. Tear of the gods (2000)
4. Jimmy and the Crawler (2013)
The Riftwar Legacy 4-book bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Riftwar Legacy (omnibus) (2014)
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Legends of the Riftwar
1. Honoured Enemy (2001) (with William R Forstchen)
2. Murder in Lamut (2002) (with Joel Rosenberg)
3. Jimmy the Hand (2003) (with S M Stirling)
The Complete Legends of the Riftwar Trilogy (omnibus)(2013)
Legends of the Riftwar (omnibus) (2014)
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Conclave of Shadows
1. Talon of the Silver Hawk (2002)
2. King of Foxes (2003)
3. Exile’s Return (2004)
The Complete Conclave of Shadows Trilogy (omnibus)(2013)
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Darkwar
1. Flight of the Nighthawks (2004)
2. Into a Dark Realm (2006)
3. Wrath of a Mad God (2008)
Darkwar Saga (omnibus) (2014)
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Demonwar Saga
1. Rides a Dread Legion (2009)
2. At the Gates of Darkness (2009)
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Chaoswar Saga
1. A Kingdom Besieged (2011)
2. A Crown Imperilled (2012)
3. Magician’s End (2013)
The Chaoswar Saga (omnibus) (2014)
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Firemane
1. King of Ashes (2018)
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Novels
Faerie Tale (1988)
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Omnibus
Assassin’s Apprentice / Magician (2013) (with Robin Hobb)
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Collections
The Wood Boy / The Burning Man (2006) (with Tad Williams)
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Graphic Novels
Magician Apprentice Volume 1 (2007)
Magician Apprentice Volume 2 (2008)
Magician Master: The Great One (2012)
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Non fiction
Return to Krondor (1987)
The Atlas of Midkemia (2000) (with Stephen A Abrams)
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Anthologies containing stories by Raymond E Feist
David Copperfield’s Tales of the Impossible (1995)

A Magic-Lover’s Treasury of the Fantastic (1998)

Legends (1998)
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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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Josiah Bancroft: Senlin Ascends (review)

Josiah Bancroft

Josiah Bancroft started writing novels when he was twelve and by the time he finished his first, he was an addict. Eventually, the writing of Senlin Ascends began, a fantasy adventure, not so unlike the stories that got him addicted to words in the first place. He wanted to do for others what his favourite writers had done for him: namely to pick them up and carry them to a wonderful and perilous world that is spinning very fast. If he’s done that with this book, then he’s happy.

Josiah lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Sharon, and their two rabbits, Mabel and Chaplin.

 

Mild-mannered headmaster, Thomas Senlin prefers his adventures to be safely contained within the pages of a book. So when he loses his new bride shortly after embarking on the honeymoon of their dreams, he is ill-prepared for the trouble that follows.

To find her, Senlin must enter the Tower of Babel – a world of geniuses and tyrants, of menace and wonder, of unusual animals and mysterious machines. He must endure betrayal, assassination attempts and the long guns of a flying fortress. And if he hopes to ever see his wife again, he will have to do more than just survive . . . this quiet man of letters must become a man of action.

Review

This book is a wonderful surprise, a steady building strong story with twisting turned imaginative design and evocative prose. I was all set to dislike this book. Its steampunk as far as i can see with all its little machines and airships, and that for me is as bad as Sci-Fi, neither genres i really like, yet there keeps popping up these amazing surprises in both generes, little nuggets of brilliance.

Writers with such a wonderful style of writing and a depth of imagination that goes beyond describing the immediate surroundings, to an immersive style that creates the world and every nuance down to the smallest item while still letting the imagination soar free, to add colour, sound and smell to the prose.

In all the journeys of Senlin there are many hints and teases dropped, often misdirection, but then looped back to later. leaving you reading but also speculating, what is the tower? why are things the way they are? what is its hierarchy? but this is backdrop and tease to the the story of a mans struggle, his search for his identity and his wife, his search to understand the tower, something he thought he knew intimately, but now knows he knew nothing.

Josiah Bancroft has created some wonderful characters and an amazing backdrop, and if you stick with the slow build of the story then you will be rewarded in spades by this book, i look forward to book 2.

(Parm)

 

 

Series
Babel
1. Senlin Ascends (2013)
2. Arm of the Sphinx (2015)
3. The Hod King (2018)
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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…

Image result for john gwynne

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)

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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

Christian Cameron: The Green Count (Review)

Christian Cameron

Image result for christian cameron

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

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

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

book cover of The Green Count

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Parm)

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

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Filed under Christian Cameron, Historical Fiction, Miles Cameron