Category Archives: Historical Fiction

All Historical Fiction Reviews

Conn Iggulden: Falcon of Sparta (Review)

Conn Iggulden

Conn Iggulden is one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today. He has written three previous bestselling historical series, including Wars of the RosesDunstan is a stand-alone novel set in the red-blooded world of tenth-century England.

Get in contact with Conn Iggulden:
conn.iggulden@amheath.com

The Falcon of Sparta

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book cover of The Falcon of Sparta

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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.

Review:

Falcon of Sparta the latest stand alone novel from Conn Iggulden, As ever with Conn Iggulden you get a blending of fact with immersive fiction, you gain insights and education. For me the 10,000 was always about Xenophon’s struggle to get his people home. As always Conn Iggulden starts it well before that, in fact for more than half the book Xenophon is a bit player, far from the central figure of the plot. The story follows the plight of Cyrus, Son and upon his demise brother to the great king of Persia.

Following Cyrus we are introduced to the Greek generals, the soldiers he admires most for their professionalism, and we start to learn the vastness of the Persian empire, and how the Greeks were masters of their art (of war). We learn the differences in cultures, and how the people perceived themselves, only after the great betrayal do we truly find Xenophon and his mettle, and struggle home with him and the remaining people.

As with all Conn Igguldens books, its his totally immersive characters that you grow with that bring the story to life, that enfold you the reader into the plot and in this case make you a Spartan in the front line, a scout out hunting, a member of the camp scared at night wishing only to survive even a Persian running from the utterly terrifying red cloaked war machine that is a Spartan army.

Falcon of Sparta means i have now read 2 books this year that i would class as great, its never a surprise to put an Iggulden in this category and Falcon of Sparta is one of Conn Igguldens best ever books, quite an achievement for a man who has written so many fantastic books.

This book will appeal to Historical Fiction and Fantasy fans, the march of the 10,000 and the Persian empire being the basis for many fantasy novels. But most of all its because its such a fast paced story with a rich tapestry painted for the reader.

go buy this book

(Parm)

Series
Emperor
1. The Gates of Rome (2002)
2. The Death of Kings (2004)
3. The Field of Swords (2004)
4. The Gods of War (2006)
5. The Blood of Gods (2013)
Gates of Rome / Death of Kings (omnibus) (2009)
Emperor (omnibus) (2011)
The Emperor Series Books 1-5 (omnibus) (2013)
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Conqueror 
1. Wolf of the Plains (2007)
aka Genghis: Birth of an Empire
2. Lords of the Bow (2008)
aka Genghis: Lords of the Bow
3. Bones of the Hills (2008)
4. Empire of Silver (2010)
aka Khan: Empire of Silver
5. Conqueror (2011)
Conqueror and Lords of the Bow (omnibus) (2009)
The Khan Series (omnibus) (2012)
Conqueror Series 5-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
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Tollins
1. Tollins (2009)
2. Dynamite Tales (2011)
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Wars of the Roses
1. Stormbird (2013)
2. Trinity (2014)
aka Margaret of Anjou
3. Bloodline (2015)
4. Ravenspur (2016)
Wars of the Roses (omnibus) (2017)
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Novels
Dunstan (2017)
The Abbot’s Tale (2018)
The Falcon of Sparta (2018)
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Novellas
Fig Tree (2014)
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Series contributed to
Quick Reads 2006
Blackwater (2006)
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Quick Reads 2012
Quantum of Tweed (2012)
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Non fiction
The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Yearbook (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do (2007)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get There(2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature Fun (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day Calendar (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and Fun (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Know(2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the World (2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar(2009) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book of Heroes (2009) (with David Iggulden)
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Matthew Harffy: Warrior of Woden (Review)

Matthew grew up in Northumberland where the rugged terrain,

ruined castles and

rocky coastline had a huge impact on him He now lives in Wil

tshire, England, with his

wife and their two daughters.

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.

Links to buy

Amazon https://amzn.to/2I4PeTA

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2Gf2V1P

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2umk5ZO

iBooks: https://apple.co/2G7vhyW

Follow Matthew Harffy

Website: http://www.matthewharffy.com/

Review:

 I have said for some time that Matthew Harffy is writing at a very high level, his Bernicia Chronicles started as most debuts with a good book but one with a few flaws, like a truly talented writer he listened to feedback and learned from it and The Cross and the Curse showed a big leap in writing skill, an improvement that has continued with every book, by Killer of Kings Matthew had a series to rival Bernard Cornwells Uthred, only Matthew Harffys is grittier, the characters deeper, more real and as such the plot more satisfying.

Warrior of Woden isn’t a book that kind on Beobrand, for a man who is a bit of a tortured soul, this book takes him further, and shows that no matter the era, warriors suffered from the constant war and the killing, but as ever our man digs deep into that well of courage to try to survive and over come. This is a brutal time and to survive it takes a man of depth and one who has come to terms with his own level of brutality.

Be prepared for death both on a big scale, but also on a personal scale, in the same vein as Anthony Riches, no one is safe….. read the book and see who gets it!

a highly accomplished gritty book, in a series that never fails to impress.

(Parm)

Series
Bernicia Chronicles
1. The Serpent Sword (2015)
2. The Cross and the Curse (2016)
3. Blood and Blade (2016)
4. Killer of Kings (2017)
5. Warrior of Woden (2018)
6. Storm of Steel (2019)
Kin of Cain (2017)
The Bernicia Chronicles Boxset 1-3 (omnibus) (2018)
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Giles Kristian: Lancelot (Review)

Giles Kristian USA flag (1975 – )

Giles Kristian's picture

Giles has led a varied life, to say the least. During the 90s he was lead singer of pop group Upside Down, achieving four top twenty hit records, performing twice on Top of the Pops, and singing at such venues as the Royal Albert Hall, the N.E.C. and Wembley Arena. As a singer-songwriter he lived and toured for two years in Europe and has made music videos all over the world, from Prague, Miami, Mexico and the Swiss Alps, to Bognor Regis! To fund his writing habit, he has worked as a model, appearing in TV commercials and ads for the likes of Walls Ice Cream (he was the Magnum Man), Canon cameras and two brands of lager! He has been an advertising copywriter and lived for three years in New York, where he wrote copy for movie marketing company Empire Design but mainly worked on his first novel.

Family history (he is half Norwegian) inspired Giles to write his first historical novels: the acclaimed and bestselling RAVEN Viking trilogy – Blood EyeSons of Thunder and Odin’s Wolves. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War to chart the fortunes of a family divided by this brutal conflict in The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury. Giles also co-wrote Wilbur Smith’s No.1 bestseller, Golden Lion. In his newest novels – God of Vengeance (a TIMES Book of the Year), Winter’s Fire, and Wings of the Storm – he returns to the world of the Vikings to tell the story of Sigurd and his celebrated fictional fellowship. Currently, Giles is working on his next novel, Lancelot, scheduled for publication in the summer of 2018. Giles Kristian lives in Leicestershire.

Lancelot  (2018)

Buy a Signed Copy

book cover of Lancelot

The legions of Rome are a fading memory. Enemies stalk the fringes of Britain. And Uther Pendragon is dying. Into this fractured and uncertain world the boy is cast, a refugee from fire, murder and betrayal. An outsider whose only companions are a hateful hawk and memories of the lost.
Yet he is gifted, and under the watchful eyes of Merlin and the Lady Nimue he will hone his talents and begin his journey to manhood. He will meet Guinevere, a wild, proud and beautiful girl, herself outcast because of her gift. And he will be dazzled by Arthur, a warrior who carries the hopes of a people like fire in the dark. But these are times of struggle and blood, when even friendship and love seem doomed to fail.
The gods are vanishing beyond the reach of dreams. Treachery and jealousy rule men’s hearts and the fate of Britain itself rests on a sword’s edge.
But the young renegade who left his home in Benoic with just a hunting bird and dreams of revenge is now a lord of war. He is a man loved and hated, admired and feared. A man forsaken but not forgotten. He is Lancelot.

Set in a 5th century Britain besieged by invading bands of Saxons and Franks, Irish and Picts, Giles Kristian’s epic new novel tells – through the warrior’s own words – the story of Lancelot, that most celebrated of all King Arthur’s knights. It is a story ready to be re-imagined for our times.

Review

In 1995 Bernard Cornwell wrote the Warlord Chronicles, with that he set the bar for Arthurian tales. He took the world of knights in plate armour on horseback, with couched lances and their flowery medieval poetry of vanquishing barbarian foes with honour and knocked them right back to the 6th century, a post Roman world, riddled with Saxon invaders, a land with its opulent stone buildings falling down and no skills to repair them, back to the dirt the grime and the terror of small kingdoms stitching together parts of that Roman prowess to forge new alliances and petty grievances. No one has attempted to emulate that achievement since… Until Lancelot.

Giles Kristian is one of the finest storytellers in the genre, he has a lyrical poetry to his writing that has never failed to capture me and my imagination, so when i heard he was writing Lancelot i was excited, but also intrigued, after all Arthurian legend is about Arthur….. isn’t it?

What struck me immediately on starting the book was how the approach was similar to Conn Igguldens Gates of Rome (a No 1  best seller), taking a historical figure (or in this case myth) and starting their story at the beginning, showing how the man was made, the sequences, the accidents, the mistakes and the tragedies that shaped the man who would be. Not only do you get that shape, you get that emotion, the child becomes your family, you grow with them, you nurture them and hurt with them and love with them and this is the brilliance of the writer and his craft, to weave you into the fabric of the book, but also the soul of the characters.

Giles Kristian is very honest at the outset of this book in that its inception started at a time of great personal tragedy, and you can feel in the book and the story raw honest emotion, its not that the grief he must have experienced is expressed in the book, his writing transcends that, its more that every event is viewed with an exposed honesty, an openness that hides nothing, instead you feel the love. Given that the soul of this book is a love story, the story of Lancelot , Guinevere and ultimately Arthur, sworn lord and friend of one and Husband of the other,  the heartbreak that must ensue, and ultimately for one a betrayal, that outpouring of emotion has so many outlets, so many paragraphs to fill and Giles Kristian pored into them until they over flowed. This is a book that you feel as much as you read.

What we end up with is utterly staggering. A book to be beyond proud of. Giles Kristian has surpassed the Cornwall trilogy in a single title. Truly I’m in awe of this book, I’ve been spell bound for days, and the ending … I’m emotionally spent. … really a honour and a privilege to read it.

I cannot recommend this book enough, no matter the genre you love, if you love great writing and great stories, read this book.

(Parm)

Buy a Signed Limited Edition

Series
Raven 
1. Blood Eye (2009)
2. Sons of Thunder (2010)
3. Odin’s Wolves (2011)
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Bleeding Land
1. The Bleeding Land (2012)
2. Brothers’ Fury (2013)
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Rise of Sigurd
1. God of Vengeance (2014)
2. Winter’s Fire (2016)
3. Wings of the Storm (2016)
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Courtney (with Wilbur Smith)
14. Golden Lion (2015)
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Novels
Lancelot (2018)
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Novellas
The Terror (2014)
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Anthony Riches: Retribution (review)

Anthony Riches

Image result for anthony riches

began his lifelong interest in war and soldiers when he first heard his father’s stories about World War II. This led to a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. He began writing the story that would become Wounds of Honour after a visit to Housesteads in 1996. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three children.

Retribution  (2018)
(The third book in the Centurions series)

book cover of Retribution

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.

Review

Book Three of Anthony Riches brilliant new series, with any trilogy the expectation is clear….. can he finish it with style and energy or will it be a damp squib of an ending?

Was the result ever in doubt? I’ve not read a book yet by Anthony Riches that was anything but a thrill ride and Retribution continues that epic roll of fantastic books.

The Centurions series has always felt like something new, a series taking a more serious edge to the writing than Empire usually does (don’t get me wrong, Empire is one of my Fav series), but the writing of Kivilaz and the Batavi has always felt more serious, more intense and more sweepingly intense as a historical period than the exploits of Two Knives and Dubnus.

Book Three pulls together all the threads from the previous books, not only does the author fully tie every thread off with a flourish, but the book romps along at a breakneck pace, more though, the book contains some very raw emotion driven by the betrayals, the deaths and the culmination of the Batavi mutiny. For a story based on history, somehow Antony Riches has you guessing and hoping for a different outcome, that history can change and the Batavi can win their independance.

Anthony Riches has always managed to surprise me with who he feels capable of killing in a book and the twisted machinations of his mind. But with this book he has managed to surprise me in new ways, that an author can write something so different, and yet maintain his pace and wonderful characterization.  This book will be right up there at the end of the year, butting heads for a spot in the top 10 of the year, its a do not miss book and series.

(Parm)

Buy a Signed copy

Series
Empire 
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)
The Empire Collection Books I-3 (omnibus) (2017)
The Empire Collection Books 4-6 (omnibus) (2017)
The Empire Collection Books 7-9 (omnibus) (2017)
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Centurions 
1. Betrayal (2017)
2. Onslaught (2017)
3. Retribution (2018)
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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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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)

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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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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