Category Archives: Historical Fiction

All Historical Fiction Reviews

Simon Turney / Gordon Doherty : Sons of Rome (Review)

book cover of Sons of Rome

Sons of Rome  (2020)
(The first book in the Rise of Emperors series)
A novel by Gordon Doherty and Simon Turney

Four Emperors. Two Friends. One Destiny.

As twilight descends on the 3rd century AD, the Roman Empire is but a shadow of its former self. Decades of usurping emperors, splinter kingdoms and savage wars have left the people beleaguered, the armies weary and the future uncertain. And into this chaos Emperor Diocletian steps, reforming the succession to allow for not one emperor to rule the world, but four.

Meanwhile, two boys share a chance meeting in the great city of Treverorum as Diocletian’s dream is announced to the imperial court. Throughout the years that follow, they share heartbreak and glory as that dream sours and the empire endures an era of tyranny and dread. Their lives are inextricably linked, their destinies ever-converging as they rise through Rome’s savage stations, to the zenith of empire. For Constantine and Maxentius, the purple robes beckon…

Review

What happens when two very talented and prolific authors get their heads together and come up with an idea…. The result can be pure genius.

Simon Turney and Gordon Doherty with over 56 novels between them have really become among the best individual writers in their genre, but combining their talents… that was something new and would need a huge amount of cooperation and discussion. Thankfully these two friends have meshed together their talents and voices seamlessly.

Sons of Rome is a story that grabs you from the first page, it follows both Maxentius and Constantine from childhood , through their growth to power and how they survive the perilous intrigue and back stabbing that forms the daily life in the courts of Emperors, how their personalities and Psyche were formed, how they developed into such powerful figures of history.

Both of these authors are characters writers and creators, in their various series they have a skill that breathes life into dusty history, adding flesh to these famous names is not enough, they want you to love their creations, to root for them, to become invested in them, but with diverging agendas you find yourself invested in two people who are destined to become at odds with one another, its a strange feeling. The style of one author writing Constantine and the other Maxentius and then having them staggered through the books adds a frenetic pace to the reading of this book, you cant put it down because you want to find out what Constantine did next, then how did Maxtenius react to that…. and on and on until…. suddenly the book is over and you’re left desperate to have more.

I honestly put this book as a really contender for book of the year, its a brilliant achievement, and one i encourage you all to read.

(Parm)

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Filed under Gordon Doherty, Historical Fiction, S J A Turney

Theodore Brun: A Burning Sea (review)

book cover of A Burning Sea

A Burning Sea  (2020)
(The third book in the Wanderer Chronicles series)

Erlan Aurvandil has turned his back on the past and his native Northern lands, taking a perilous journey to the greatest city in the world, Constantinople. But as his voyage ends, Erlan is brutally betrayed, captured and enslaved by a powerful Byzantine general. Meanwhile, Lilla Sviggarsdottir, Queen of Svealand, has lost her husband and with him, her father’s kingdom. Her life in danger, Lilla escapes to find Erlan, the one man who can save her, following his trail to the very gates of Constantinople. But corruption infests the city, and a dark tide is rising against the Emperor from within his own court. As the shadows darken and whispers of war begin to strengthen, Erlan’s fate becomes intertwined with that of the city. Are they both doomed to fall, or can freedom be won in the blood of battle?

Review

This is a series that has intrigued me since book one, its in the main an Historical Fiction novel, but dances around some fantasy and supernatural, which is to say that in its historical period anything that cannot be explained has a supernatural/ fantasy edge, especially with the introduction of Azazel (from the book of Enoch, the demon/ fallen angel that corrupted man). Its the inclusion of this element/ character at first that made me skeptical of the book, but came for me to make the book. It added a darker hidden element to the original plot, and now in book 3 has become a driving force in Erlan’s travels and life. It is to excise this influence that he leaves and travels to Constantinople and becomes embroiled in the politics and war of a much larger world, truly a wanderer, a man haunted by so much of his past that he must keep moving, a man who is driven to be more than he is, but weighted down by so much regret for what has gone awry with his life and his perceived destiny.

To offset Erlans POV we also have Lilla’s, who herself has gone through so much to and given up so much to save her fathers kingdom, only for it to be cruelly snatched away from her again. She must chase Erlan footsteps into the unknown, following his trail to the greatest city on earth, and attempt to bring him and hopefully an army back and win her kingdom again.

This for me is easily the best book of the series, while i have enjoyed the Azazel edge to the tales, book 3 brings about its climax (or does it… never assume and author is done)… Erlans internal fight against the taint of this demon and its baresark rage sets him apart, but his fight for more, to prove he is more, that he can fight and live without the demon really makes his character stand out in book 3, we start i think to see who Hakan is and can be. The inclusion of Einar in the book is IMHO genius, he brings the needed humour to the tale that could otherwise be too dark at times, a character with indomitable courage and will, a man with an iron word who will be there to the end and beyond, and most especially with something sarcastic or funny to add.

In among all the fighting and scheming is also a love story and a story of personal discovery, Erlan has loved and lost, and in that loss he lost his identity, he lost his home, his life and how to be himself, in part he has run from so he is so he can try and escape the pain of that loss, both family and his childhood love. Nothing in his life prepared him for the pain he would feel and the desolation it would bring to his world, i think this allowed him to throw himself into what ever came next, he had tried to numb himself to mental emotion and pain, and accept the physical pain in its stead, this helped shape the warrior he has become, his fatalistic approach to all, yet some part of Hakan is always there because he still craves that friendship, and then the sunrise of Lila has slowly made him doubt Erlans existence….its this underlying plot that really gives the story its power.

All of this is against the backdrop of Constantinople on the verge of destruction, the Muslim army is at the door, traitors abound, and a new emperor must walk the tightrope of politics and war, both internally and externally. I normally shy from byzantine books, but every now and again someone manages to show me the majesty and the machinations of the time and its location and so hooks me (it helps that it includes vikings).

I find these days the speed that i read is a very good indication of my enjoyment, this is a 512 page book, a decent door stop, as all in the series have been. But i read it in the same amount of time i read my last 200 page book, its a book that engages from the first page, and throws you into the plot, i felt at times like i’d been kidnapped, stuck in the bowels of the ship or the corner of a cell to cower and endure the journey/ confinement, to feel all the trials of Erlan and just when finally we are saved from servitude and punishment i was thrust with him into the tale of backstabbing and war. its a book that thrills and exhausts at the same time (i was up until the early hours reading this, i couldn’t put it away). I’m now left lamenting the end, but rejoicing that there will be more, and i shall be prodding Mr Brun for book 4…. because i cant wait.

This book is easily going to be top 10 for the year, i highly suspect top 5.

Very highly recommended

(Parm)

 

 

Author Web Site

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Series
Wanderer Chronicles
   1. A Mighty Dawn (2017)
   2. A Sacred Storm (2018)
   3. A Burning Sea (2020)
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Novellas
   A Winter’s Night (2018)
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Theodore Brun

Steven A Mckay: The Northern Throne (Review)

book cover of The Northern Throne

(The third book in the Warrior Druid of Britain series)

Northern Britain, AD431, Spring.
Bellicus the Druid and his friend Duro, a former Roman centurion, have already suffered a great deal in recent years but, for them, things are about to get even worse.
Britain is changing. The Romans have gone and warriors from many different places seek to fill the void the legions left behind. In the south, the Saxons’ expansion seems unstoppable despite the efforts of the warlord Arthur, while north of Hadrian’s Wall various kings and chieftains are always looking to extend their borders.
In Dun Breatann, Bellicus believes the disparate northern tribes must put aside their differences, become allies, and face the Saxon threat together, under one High King. Or High Queen…
Small-minded men don’t always look at the bigger picture though, and, when Bellicus and Duro seek to form a pact with an old enemy, events take a shocking and terrible turn that will leave the companions changed forever.
This third volume in the Warrior Druid of Britain Chronicles is packed with adventure, battles, triumph, and tears, and at the end of it a new course will be set for Bellicus.
But at what cost?

Review

I’ve enjoyed watching the growth of Steven as a writer, i’ve been lucky enough to be involved in giving him feedback on some of the books, and most of all i’ve enjoyed this latest series “Warrior Druid of Britain” where he can grow his own main character, but also make it live on the edges of of one of the greatest tales of Britain, King Arthur and Merlin. Each book of this series sees the growth of Bellicus and the formation of his friendship with Duro a former Roman Centurion. There are shades of Macro and Cato (Simon Scarrow) in their relationship, but in these tales they are pure Mckay in their telling.

This latest book sees our duo put to the their greatest test, tortured , abused and betrayed, they must survive and they must save their queen and their home and as important they must find a way to get south and help Arthur and Merlin, to fight the great Saxon threat. There are some truly harrowing moments for both our heroes and neither will be the same by books end, but blimey its a hell of a ride for the reader, one i cant wait to continue.

Every book Steven has written has seen his skill as a writer evolve and grow to the point now that he is as good as anyone in his genre, if you haven’t read his work you are now spoiled for Legends with both Robin Hood and now Arthurian Britain… and both series are an excellent read.

(Parm)

 

Series
Forest Lord
   1. Wolf’s Head (2013)
   2. The Wolf and the Raven (2014)
   3. Rise of the Wolf (2015)
   4. Blood of the Wolf (2016)
   The Prisoner (2016)
   The Escape (2017)
Warrior Druid of Britain
   1. The Druid (2018)
   2. Song of the Centurion (2019)
   3. The Northern Throne (2020)
   Over the Wall (2020)
Collections
   The Rescue And Other Tales (2017)
Novellas
   Knight of the Cross (2014)
   Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil (2015)
   The Abbey of Death (2017)
   Faces of Darkness (2019)

 

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Anthony Riches : River of Gold (Review)

book cover of River of Gold

River of Gold (2020)
(Book 11 in the Empire series)

After saving the emperor’s life in Rome, Marcus and his comrades have been sent across the sea to the wealthy, corrupt Greek metropolis of Aegyptus, Alexandria.
An unknown enemy has slaughtered the garrison of the Empire’s last outpost before its border with the mysterious kingdom of Kush. Caravans can no longer reach the crucial Red Sea port of Berenike, from which the riches of the East flow towards Rome.
The Emperor’s most trusted and most devious adviser has ordered Marcus’s commander Scaurus and his trusted officers to the south. With orders that are tantamount to a suicide mission, and with only one slim hope of success.
Can a small force of highly trained legionaries restore the Empire’s power in this remote desert no-man’s-land, when faced by the fanatical army of Kush’s iron-fisted ruler?

Review

11 Books into this series and it still feels fresh new and exciting, which is a testament to the authors skill in writing a well researched and exciting story, but most of all a story full of real and alive characters, characters who make you feel the story. Anthony Riches main skill as a writer for me has always been his characters, and when he couples that with his utter disregard for their safety you get a book and series that is always going to thrill, always going to make you turn the next page and never let you put the book down until the last page is turned.

Anthony Riches is on my very short list of authors who are a one sit read, the book needs a whole day set aside to just sit back and enjoy, because the people and the plot wont allow for anything else, wont allow you to put it down for a moment. You spend the whole book wondering which main character he will murder next, and when you find it, when that moment hits you can imagine the evil little glint in his eye, because he knows you never saw it coming. He has developed so many characters to be the “Main character” that absolutely no one is safe, and this adds a truly unique element to his series. Mixing that with his truly impressive ability to thill and entertain has created on of the best series in the genre.

I loved River of Gold because i knew nothing of Kush, and as always with this authors books he left me just enough information and education to want to go and find more about this fascinating empire and its culture. I met new characters that i feel will be back in book 12, and after an utterly thrilling roller-coaster ride full of misdirection, action, humour, sudden violence and intricate problem solving, i was left totally satisfied with the story because there is that perfect mix of completion and desire for more.

Anthony Riches remains one of my all time favourite writers, because i can read anything he writes again and again, and never lose a moments enjoyment.

I highly recommend this book and the entire series.

(Parm)

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)
   10. The Scorpion’s Strike (2019)
   11. River of Gold (2020)
Centurions
   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

Paul Fraser Collard : Fugitive (Review)

book cover of Fugitive

Roguish hero Jack Lark – soldier, leader, imposter – crosses borders once more as he pursues a brand-new adventure in Africa.

London, 1868. Jack has traded the battlefield for business, running a thriving club in the backstreets of Whitechapel. But this underworld has rules and when Jack refuses to comply, he finds himself up against the East End’s most formidable criminal – with devastating consequences.

A wanted man, Jack turns to his friend Macgregor, an ex-officer, treasure hunter and his ticket out of England. Together they join the British army on campaign across the tablelands of Abyssinia to the fortress of Magdala, a high-stakes mission to free British prisoners captured by the notorious Emperor Tewodros.

But life on the run can turn dangerous, especially in a land ravaged by war . . .

 

Review

In 2013 i was asked to review a new title called “The Scarlet Thief”, and so was born one of my new favorite characters. Jack Lark was and is a newer grittier, tougher version of Sharpe, a more fallible and broken character, and at the same time one that felt so much more real and filled with adventure.

Jack Lark has had a rough time of it under Paul Collards pen, but every story is realistic and plausible and high octane fun. More than anything Jack Larks growth as a character has been a pleasure to experience, even the toughest, darkest days, because those are the ones where you the reader dig deep to urge him on, to hope for his survival and success, and experience every nuance of the story along side him.

Fugitive in the beginning sees a more peaceful Jack, a man enjoying the fruits of his labour, but at the same time you can sense the hidden darkness, like a caged tiger placidly walking the boundaries of his cage, looking for that moment when his true nature can explode and he can once again let loose his true nature, a killer of men.

Very soon life decides once again that Jack Lark isn’t destined to enjoy a peaceful retirement. He falls foul of a local gangster and needs to leave London fast, so adventure beckons in the form of an expedition to Abyssinia and to the fortress of Magdala. His friend Macgregor, an ex-officer and treasure hunter had asked for him to join him in making a name and making themselves rich, what hadn’t appealed to Jack before has suddenly become a lifeline, and so Jack joins a group of 4 headed into the unknown . As always with Jack, danger and death will be their companions and only Jack truly has the experience to help them survive whats ahead.

After some truly dark times for Jack that started in the devils assassin, i think this book helps Jack truly come to terms with who he is, his true nature and his place in the world, where he had fought against the darkness he accepts it now, a darkness he can control, unlike the evil men of the world Jack can turn to his darkness to survive and to save others but when peace reigns again then jack can settle back again to enjoy life, or to seek out more adventure. Abyssinia see’s jack come closer to death than ever before and to come alive in a way he hasn’t for a long time.

As always Paul Collard has written a truly wonderful story, one that pulled me into Jack Larks life again from page one and didn’t let me go until i turned the last page. He is one of the very few authors that i have to set aside a whole day for, because i simply cannot put the book down. Its a day i look forward to every year, drinking some beers, and sitting back in my comfy chair so i can devour the book in a single uninterrupted sitting.

Very Highly recommended, as is the whole series.

(Parm)

Series
Jack Lark
   0.5. Rogue (2014)
   1. The Scarlet Thief (2013)
   2. The Maharajah’s General (2013)
   3. The Devil’s Assassin (2015)
   4. The Lone Warrior (2015)
   5. The Last Legionnaire (2016)
aka The Forgotten Son
   6. The True Soldier (2017)
   7. The Rebel Killer (2018)
   8. The Lost Outlaw (2019)
   9. Fugitive (2020)
   Recruit (2015)
   Redcoat (2015)

 

 

 

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Paul Fraser Collard, Uncategorized

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)

Buy The book

Buy a signed copy

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

Christian Cameron: The Last Greek (Review)

book cover of The Last Greek

 

The Last Greek: Book 2 in the Commander series:

211BCE. The Roman invasion from the western seas is imminent, and from the south the Spartans are burning and pillaging their way north.

Battle-hardened Philopoemen believes the Achean League is facing annihilation if it does not arm. But without a formal army or cavalry, they don’t stand a chance. Convincing his friend and healer Alexanor that the threat is real, together they begin to build a massive cavalry guard from the ground up – one that will fight on all fronts.

It is the last roll of the dice for the Achean League. But Alexanor knows Philopoemen is one of the greatest warriors Greece has ever known – the New Achilles. The Last Greek.

Review

Im sure many of you who read my reviews will know whats coming…. blah blah… Christian is brilliant etc… yes i will admit to loving his work… but why?

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Christian for over 10 years, and in that time his writing has never wavered, his drive to write has always been there, and the quality and depth has always pushed to be better and better, which i think is a reflection of the man behind the books, check out his Web site 

What you will see from his web site his how much experience and effort goes into each book, the level and depth of research, and more than anything the passion to learn and to know and to share it all in a way that we can all enjoy, and not just the fighting and the weapons, but everything down to a simple meal, the discomfort of travel, the quality and skill of everyday artisans, there is no area he doesn’t want to learn and share.

So when i pick up a book like The last Greek i know that i will be entertained , but also i will be lost in the depth of reality that exists in the book, the real sense of passion and excitement, the love and the losses are all there and come across with a totally engaged and  unrelenting passion of someone who wants to know more and to share what he has found.

In The Last Greek we once again follow Philopoemen through the eyes of his friend Alexanor, as they try to survive the politics of the Achean League, the friendship that is Philip of Macedon and on top of that build an army that can defend them against a ring of more powerful enemies. Christian Cameron shows us how they may have managed the politics of the time, deals with Slavery, women’s rights, the politics between other nations, the religion of the times, inc the Olympics and more. Among all this we learn about training both cavalry and infantry, outfitting them, the crippling costs, the impacts of soldiers away from their real professions, heroism, revenge, love, loss and so much more. This books follows the many battles and preparation for those battles back and forth across the cities of the league, the almost wins, the almost losses and the rebuilding to do it all again, to survive is often a victory…..i will admit to just becoming utterly swallowed up by every book he writes inc this one, the engagement for the reader is total, and the ending is always bitter sweet, a culmination that also leaves that sense of loss when you leave new friends behind.

As always i cant recommend Christians books highly enough, and given how fast he writes if you have not yet dived in… you have so many great adventures ahead (see below for bibliography), He writes so often about a warrior being a master of what he does, a killer of men, or a tactician being at the peak of his game…. well when it comes to writing Christian Cameron is a true master at his craft at the top of his game.

(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 (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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Commander
   1. The New Achilles (2019)
   2. The Last Greek (2020)
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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 Turney and Russell Whitfield)
   Tudor Knight (2019)
   Hawkwood’s Sword (2021)
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Giles Kristian: Camelot (Review)

book cover of Camelot

 

Britain is a land riven by anarchy, slaughter, famine, filth and darkness. Its armies are destroyed, its heroes dead, or missing. Arthur and Lancelot fell in the last great battle and Merlin has not been seen these past ten years. Now, the Saxons are gathering again, their warbands stalk the land, their king seeks dominion. As for the lords and kings of Britain, they look only to their own survival and will not unite as they once did under Arthur and his legendary sword Excalibur.

But in an isolated monastery in the marshes of Avalon, a novice of the order is preparing to take his vows when the life he has known is suddenly turned upside down in a welter of blood. Two strangers – the wild-spirited, Saxon-killing Iselle and the ageing warrior Gawain – will pluck the young man from the wreckage of his simple existence. Together, they will seek the last druid and the cauldron of a god. And the young man must come to terms with his legacy and fate as the son of the most celebrated yet most infamous of Arthur’s warriors: Lancelot.

For this is the story of Galahad, Lancelot’s son – the reluctant warrior who dared to keep the dream of Camelot alive . . .

Review

For many who read my ramblings about books it will come as no surprise i loved this book, its predecessor Lancelot was my book of the Year last year, and it was hugely justified, a book that spoke so much from the heart and wove a new version of a fantastic legend ( Review of Lancelot )

Camelot once again sees the storytelling brilliance of Giles Kristian reach for and attain new heights.

Many of his readers will be used to the cut and thrust of the viking tales fueled with daring deeds and bloody battles (told with his elegance of phrase and character insight), but Camelot is several steps above this, it continues a journey begun in Lancelot where the authors writing ascended to a new level, where emotions are laid bare, where middle genre historical fiction (as some may term “Swords and sandals”) becomes a leap into something much more, something that speaks to the heart, mind and soul of the reader, where every phrase and passage is weighed for its ability to tell its own tale, to wring out the emotions and make the reader ask questions of the story and characters and themselves.  The writing makes you experience every nuance of the world, the actions of the characters and the emotions they generate.

This book for me was Giles Kristian taking his writing to new and heady heights, and taking the reader along for the ride, every single page and description and narrative was packed with meaning and emotion, and had clearly been examined and weighted before it made it into the book. Giles continues to take his skill as a musician and apply it to his novels, that skill that a lyricist has to distill a story down to as few words as they can yet convey so much more than is written, to make you feel every passage and word, to leave the telling half on the page and half in the mind, to let the ears and the mind take hold of the story and add personal layers to it…. just the same way we do with a song, and thus leaving the story very personal and individual to the reader.

Giles Kristian makes us do all of this and more with this story of and it is now his story….. i don’t say it lightly , but this duology for me is now the go to Arthurian tale, surpassing Bernard Cornwells tale, which for many years was the Arthurian benchmark.

Every year i look out for the book that will define my years reading…. and its going to take something very exceptional to stop Camelot being that book and for the second year running, Giles Kristian being the top author.

This gets the highest recommendation i can give, it has across the board reading appeal, so don’t get ties by genre loyalty, no matter what you enjoy this book will give you you want and need…. it truly is a classic being born.

(Parm)

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James Wilde: Bear King (Review)

book cover of The Bear King

 

For all the darkness in the land, there is hope. And it rests with one man. Lucanus – the one they call the Wolf – is a warrior. He wears the ancient crown of the great war leader Pendragon, and he wields a sword bestowed upon him by the druids. And he is the guardian of a secret entrusted to him and to protect that secret will demand untold bravery and sacrifice beyond measure – but to lose it would mean the end of everything worth fighting for.

Before Camelot. Before Excalibur. Before all you know of King Arthur. Here is the beginning of that legend….

Review

I grew up reading the legends of Robin Hood, King Arthur etc… and Arthur was always the head of a band of knights, and as a kid you didn’t question it, it wasn’t until much later that the glaring issues of arms and armour, ethos etc presented themselves… so it was fantastic to have an author like Cornwell challenge all that with his Warlord Chronicles to bring Arthur back into the muck and grime of the dark ages, Now both Giles Kristian and James Wilde have taken that further with examining the myth and coming at the tales from a new perspective, so for me there are now 3 must read Arthurian tales, Bernard Cornwell (Warlord Chronicles), Giles Kristian (Lancelot / Camelot) & now James Wilde (Dark Age).

Bear King completes the Dark Age saga, where we started pre Arthur, the story arc comes to its climax with the introduction of Arthur and not how i would ever have envisaged it. James Wilde mixes myth and story telling into the historical backdrop of the Roman Withdrawal of Britain, the power vacuum and the strife this causes he brings in old enemies, old friends are reunited, and new fantastic characters ( Niall of the Nine hostages being my favorite), the backdrop is the quest for the Cauldron of the Dagda / Holy Grail .. and the pending war with rivals to the crown.. the only man who can pull together the people, to stave off the impending darkness is Lucanas whom everyone believes is dead, but legend says will return in the hour of need, the true Pendragon…

I was riveted to this book, James Wilde weaves this final book in the series with such skill and attention that i struggled to put the book down at night. His characters are as always perfectly drawn, fallible yet heroic, his friends dedicated, funny, sardonic and better men than they know, there is betrayal, heroism, vast action and terrible fear …. true light can only been seen after terrible darkness and its through this darkness that James takes the reader…. this is simply and excellent tale, one of the best re-imagining of the iconic Arthur myth out there, and for me James Wilds best book to date.

Highly recommended

Parm

Series

Hereward
   1. Hereward (2011)
aka The Time of the Wolf
   2. The Devil’s Army (2012)
aka The Winter Warrior
   3. End of Days (2013)
   4. Wolves of New Rome (2012)
   5. The Immortals (2015)
   6. The Bloody Crown (2016)
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Dark Age
   1. Pendragon (2017)
   2. Dark Age (2018)
   3. The Bear King (2019)
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Filed under Historical Fiction, James Wilde