Category Archives: Historical Fiction

All Historical Fiction Reviews

James Jackson: Treason (Review)

James H Jackson's picture

James H Jackson UK flag (1962 – )

Born in London in 1962. Educated at Cheam School, Wellington College, Bristol University, King’s College London, the London College of Law, and the Inns of Court School of Law. Called to the Bar and is a Member of the Inner Temple.

book cover of 

Treason

Behind the famous rhyme lies a murderous conspiracy that goes far beyond Guy Fawkes and his ill-fated Gunpowder Plot . . .

In a desperate race against time, spy Christian Hardy must uncover a web of deceit that runs from the cock-fighting pits of Shoe Lane, to the tunnels beneath a bear-baiting arena in Southwark, and from the bad lands of Clerkenwell to a brutal firefight in The Globe theatre.

But of the forces ranged against Hardy, all pale beside the renegade Spanish agent codenamed Realm.

Review

This is an excellent, hard and uncompromising novel, Taking the reader through the dark murky world of espionage in England in the early 1600’s. The brutality of the clash of protestant and catholic worlds, all narrowed down to a single plot, an attempted act of terrorism that still resounds through the country today such was its audacity.

James Jackson takes very little mercy on the reader, providing a view of London and wider England in all its filth, muck and mire, with betrayals, backstabbing, murder and mayhem. This is not a gentle time in this lands history and it is right it should be shown warts and all. When the author couples that with a twisting winding plot and disparate hunters many of which controlled by the spider at the center of the web of intrigue Robert Cecil you get a book that grabs you and doesn’t let go until the final page.

A very interesting and very powerful book, highly recommended

(Parm)

Novels

Dead Headers (1997)
Cold Cut (1999)
The Reaper (2001)
Blood Rock (2007)
Pilgrim (2008)
Realm (2010)
Hllenfeuer (2011)
Perdition (2012)
Endkampf (2013)
The Race (2013)
Treason (2016)
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Non fiction
The Counter-Terrorist Handbook (2005)
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Lucille Turner: The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer (Review)

Lucille Turner, Author of historical fiction, including Gioconda, and The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer

In her own words:

I was born in Bournemouth in 1964. My first book,Gioconda, which I began in 2007 and finished in 2010, is a novel about the life of Leonardo da Vinci. Although some of Leonardo’s work was familiar to me then, the idea only came to me when I fell upon a print of the Mona Lisa in the aisles of a supermarket one day. One avenue of research led to another, and since then Gioconda has been translated into several languages, winning Spain’s Hislibris prize for historical fiction in 2012.
For the past few years I have been busy writing my second book,
The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer. I sometimes review other people’s work for Bookmunch, and enjoy being surprised by things I didn’t think I’d like, be it books or new experiences. And of course I love history

 

1442: When Vlad Dracula arrives at the court of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II, his life is turned upside down. His father Dracul cannot protect him; he must battle his demons alone. And when the Sultan calls for the services of a soothsayer, even the shrewd teller of fortunes is unprepared for what he learns.
Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turks are advancing through the Balkans with Vienna in their sights and Constantinople, the Orthodox Greek capital, within their grasp. As Eastern Europe struggles against the tide of a Muslim advance it cannot counter, Western Christendom needs only one prize to overthrow its enemies.

Review:

This book was a pleasant surprise, the title gives a suggestion of the supernatural with the inclusion of the Vampyr, and the book all the while hints at it, but only in so far as what was perceived to be supernatural in the 1400’s, that’s the beauty of this book. The author takes you on a journey back to the Balkans of 1442, to a time of huge change and turmoil, clashing empires and religions, the end of the old Roman world and the rise of the Ottoman. Lucille Turner covers brilliantly the variances between the court of Vlad Dracul’s father and the court of Sultan Murad giving all the main players a very human face, a persona molded by circumstance and situation as much as personality. She weaves in the political players from all sides of Christianity, the orthodox and the Holy Roman empire, the old pagan Wallachian’s and the many variances between.

Can Dracul and others save the history that lies within Constantinople before its inevitable fall to the Ottomans? Lucille Turners portrayal of Vlad’s time in Murads court goes a long way to show his later personality and enmity with Mehmed II. The book as a whole brings to life a highly evocative view of the turning point of the world and the clashing empires.

Well worth reading.

(Parm)

 

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Conn Iggulden: Dunstan (Review)

Conn Iggulden 
UK flag (1971 – )

2014-07-19-ConnIggulden.jpg
Conn Iggulden taught English for seven years before becoming a full-time writer. He is married with four children and lives in Hertfordshire, England.

Dunstan  (2017)
A novel by Conn Iggulden

From acclaimed historical writer Conn Iggulden comes a novel set in the red-blooded days of Anglo-Saxon England. Welcome to the original game for the English throne. The year is 937. England is a nation divided, ruled by minor kings and Viking lords. Each vies for land and power. The Wessex king AEthelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, readies himself to throw a spear into the north. As would-be kings line up to claim the throne, one man stands in their way. Dunstan, a fatherless child raised by monks on the moors of Glastonbury Tor, has learned that real power comes not from God, but from discovering one’s true place on Earth. Fearless in pursuit of his own interests, his ambition will take him from the courts of princes to the fields of battle, from exile to exaltation. For if you cannot be born a king, or made a king, you can still anoint a king. Under Dunstan’s hand, England may come together as one country – or fall apart in anarchy . . . From Conn Iggulden, one of our finest historical writers, Dunstan is an intimate portrait of a priest and murderer, liar and visionary, traitor and kingmaker – the man who changed the fate of England.

Review

So far from Conn Iggulden we have had Caesar, Genghis, Margaret of Anjou and the other major players in the War of the Roses…. So whom would he pick next, which shining light of history would he dazzle us with?

Dunstan? who the heck is Dunstan?

That is often the beauty of Conn Igguldens writing, the bringing to life of periods of history we know little or nothing about, or thought we knew something about and then Conn expands it into a colourful 3D world full of sights sounds and smells.

One of the earliest things i learned about Conn is that he was a teacher, oh how i wish for a teacher who could bring history to life so well. In the case of this book he takes the life of a Monk and he educates…. yes thrilling sounding isnt it! But Dunstan is no ordinary monk. In the same vein as Igguldens other highly successful series he starts with a Young Dunstan and takes us though those formative years showing how the personality and metal of the man is formed.

I really don’t want to give away much of the actual plot, but we follow the rise and fall and rise again of Dunstan’s star, a man who in Mr Iggulden’s own words was a Da’Vinci of his own time and place. The book is written in the first person and for me i think its the only way it could really be great, and it is, its wonderful. The book for me could have been set anywhere any when because its success is its characters, Conn writes them so beautifully, so filled with life and emotion that you cannot help but be swept along with them.  But fortunately for me and you reader its set in a world of flux, Vikings still stalk the coast, England as we know it is still being pulled together, the client kingdoms are straining at the leash and it will take a strong king, or kings, to keep it all together, and those kings need an adviser…. even one who isn’t always thinking of others.

This is a huge contender for Historical Fiction book of the year…. its going to take something stunning to knock it off the top. I’ve read two stand out books this year, one about a Nun, one about Monk. and they both head up Best Fantasy and Best Hist Fiction so far this year. Pre-Order what will be one of the outstanding reads of 2017.

(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) (with Lizzy Duncan)
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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)
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Novellas
Blackwater (2006)
Fig Tree (2014)
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Series contributed to
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: Kin of Cain (Guest Blog & review)

Matthew Harffy

Matthew Harffy's picture

Matthew Harffy lived in Northumberland as a child and the area had a great impact on him. The rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline made it easy to imagine the past. Decades later, a documentary about Northumbria’s Golden Age sowed the kernel of an idea for a series of historical fiction novels. The first of them is the action-packed tale of vengeance and coming of age, THE SERPENT SWORD. The sequel is THE CROSS AND THE CURSE.

Matthew has worked in the IT industry, where he spent all day writing and editing, just not the words that most interested him. Prior to that he worked in Spain as an English teacher and translator. He has co-authored seven published academic articles, ranging in topic from the ecological impact of mining to the construction of a marble pipe organ.

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book cover of Kin of Cain

Parmenion Books

Guest blog post

The inspiration behind the Bernicia Chronicles

 

Writers and other creative types are often asked what inspired them to create their work. In the case of my Bernicia Chronicles series of books, it’s a very difficult question to answer succinctly. I suppose sometimes a single moment in an artist’s life inspires them to paint a specific picture, or to put pen to paper, but more often than not, I would imagine that it is an accumulation of many influences that leads to somebody creating something new.

This is particularly true of the first of my novels, The Serpent Sword. I had never written anything longer than a short story or an essay at school before, so I had no real idea of how to go about writing a full-length novel. I didn’t even know how long a novel was supposed to be! When I came to the writing, I pulled on everything I had ever experienced, every movie I’d enjoyed, every book that had enthralled me, even all the great music I had listened to. I am sure that even things like video games and artwork have influenced me and provided inspiration for certain scenes or characters.

I am a firm believer that the best way to approach any new endeavour is to emulate those who have gone before and have been successful. I have heard the great author, Bernard Cornwell, tell the story of how he took his favourite Hornblower novel and then analysed its structure to create the plot for his first novel, Sharpe’s Eagle. For The Serpent Sword, I didn’t dissect any books I had liked in order to come up with the structure, but there are definitely well-loved characters and scenes that I recognise from other sources. Much of this was done subconsciously, and I didn’t even realise it at the time of writing. Some of the inspiration and influences for parts of the novel have only become clear to me years after completing the writing. There are even clearly autobiographical sections that I didn’t spot until quite recently.

A few weeks ago, I listened to the audio book of David Gemmell’s great debut novel, Legend. I first read Legend when it was published in the 80s. I was a fantasy-loving teenager and I just lapped it up. I enjoyed it just as much on this recent listen, but what surprised me were the number of sections where I thought to myself, “Wow! That’s just like a scene from The Serpent Sword!” Clearly Gemmell’s novel had soaked so deeply into my psyche that I was not even aware of how it had inspired parts of my writing.

There are some parts of my writing where I have knowingly used something I have read, seen or heard as inspiration. I love westerns and the whole section in The Serpent Sword where Beobrand and some other warriors chase miscreants across the wilderness of Northumbria is an homage of sorts to the western genre, in particular to a section of one of my all-time favourite novels, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

I’m not going to give away all of the nods and mentions of other books and popular culture in the series, but if you look carefully you might well find quotes or references to science fiction movies and rock songs, along with more homages to famous westerns.

Of course, another massive inspiration for the books is the land of Northumbria itself. As a child I lived in a small village call Norham on the banks of the Tweed, which you may well recognise if you’ve read the series. I love the north-east coast of England. The cliffs, castles and islands dotting the slate-grey North Sea, all serve to make the past spring to life. It is easy to imagine the men and women of 1,400 years ago on those same windswept bluffs with the guillemots and gannets wheeling and diving into the sea. They too would have seen the heads of seals bobbing in the waves in the mouth of the river Tweed. The chill spray from the breaking waves would have felt the same to our forebears as to us. I find nature a great inspiration and a wonderful way to get close to the characters from my books. In fact, I think the weather and nature almost become another character in my writing.

Finally, another strong inspiration for me came from all those hours playing good old fashioned role playing games, like Dungeons and Dragons. You know, the ones with all the weird shaped dice? I loved creating epic stories with friends. Tales of heroes facing unimaginable odds against terrible foes. Unlike in my books, which are firmly grounded in historical fact, in the games I played there were monsters and magic. But even as a teenager I knew it was very important to maintain a consistent and believable reality within the story. And real jeopardy. Many kids at school would never allow beloved characters to get killed. In my games, if the dice didn’t go your way, or you made a rash decision, you were dead.

In my writing, I like to think I bring that same element of epic adventure and heroism that can be found in role playing games, but also the true sense of danger I found so appealing. Just because a character is well-loved, does not mean he or she will live forever. Sometimes their very death can be a tale of greatness.

Everything and anything acts as inspiration for my writing. Some of it knowingly, much of it unwitting. I plan my novels around a loose structure and synopsis, but the details of each scene and chapter are always undecided until I sit down to write. Then I just try to picture the scene in my mind and write as fast as I can. Where the ideas come from, well, we can call that an accumulation of life experience coupled with a vivid imagination.

But surely it is more poetic to call it that most elusive of things at a writer’s disposal — the muse.

 

Author info:

Matthew Harffy is the author of the Bernicia Chronicles, a series of novels set in seventh century Britain. The first three books in the series, The Serpent Sword, The Cross and the Curse and Blood and Blade are available on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, and all good online bookstores.

Kin of Cain, a standalone prequel novella set in the same world as the Bernicia Chronicles was published on Amazon and all good online bookstores on March 1st 2017.

Killer of Kings , the fourth of the Bernicia Chronicles, is available for pre-order now on Amazon and all good online bookstores.

Website: www.matthewharffy.com

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Facebook: MatthewHarffyAuthor

Review

Kin of Cain, is a brilliant look at the world of Bernicia Chronicles, where we can meet the younger and deceased members of the authors series, the building blocks for his world. More importantly the way he achieves this weaving in a saga that is known to so  many. As always Matthew does all of this with such subtle skill and passion for the era, immersing himself and then you the reader in his world. The more i read of Matthews work the more i find i can see influences of writers like Bernard Cornwell, the pace and characterization that has matured with each and every book the tighter sparse prose not wasting the readers time with flowery over descriptive, yet conveying all about the characters, making him one of the emerging quality names on the genre.

If you have not read Matthews work then this is a fantastic way to have a peek before committing to one of the full novels… and im positive you will love the clever way he has woven this around an old tale.

(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)
Kin of Cain (2017)
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David Gilman : Vipers Blood (Blog Tour Guest Post) + Competition

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Viper’s Blood
David Gilman

With the English army at the gates of Paris, Blackstone faces his deadliest mission yet. The fourth in the grittiest historical fiction series.

Published: 9th February 2017 | Price: £18.99

Buy a Signed Limited Edition

Read Review

Winter 1360: Edward III has invaded France at the head of the greatest English host ever assembled. But his attempt to win the French crown is futile. The Dauphin will no longer meet the English in the field and the great army is mired in costly sieges, scavenging supplies from a land ruined by decades of conflict.

Facing a stalemate – or worse – the English are forced to agree a treaty. But peace comes at a price. The French request that Blackstone escort the Dauphin’s daughter to Italy to see her married to one of the brothers who rule Milan – the same brothers who killed Blackstone’s family. Blackstone, the French are certain, will not leave Milan alive…

 

Competition

 Question: In what Year is did Edward Invade France??

Please Follow the blog and email me @ parmenionbooks@yahoo.co.uk with the answer.

Winner gets a Signed Limited edition HB of Defiant Unto Death

(UK Only i’m afraid)

Guest Post by David Gilman

DAVID GILMAN BLOG POST

 

February 2017

I had spent several years writing the television series, A Touch of Frost and was working on the penultimate episode prior to Sir David Jason retiring from the series. I had a few of my own television projects ideas in mind but for some time had been tempted to write, and tackle, novels. Once I had delivered the script and gone through rehearsals and rewrites my contract came to an end. I had lived in Africa and was keen to explore that fascinating country further with a Young Adult thriller that had a strong emotional basis for a teenage hero, but was also a novel that encapsulated elements like the threats to the environment and tribal people. The result was a full-length novel, the first in the Danger Zone series, called The Devil’s Breath.

An assassination attempt on my teenage hero, Max Gordon, whose scientist father had gone missing in Africa, was the starting point that took him from his school on Dartmoor to the vast expanse of African veld. The book also allowed me to explore the culture of the San Bushman in the Kalahari Desert. So I had a really good mix within the story. (Following publication I was invited by Survival International to the ‘Parliamentary All Party Committee on Tribal Peoples’ where I met two tribal representatives, Roy Sesana and Kgosimontle Kebuelemang.) This first novel also became a recommended book for the government reading scheme for boys even before the manuscript was published. It became the first in a three-book series starring Max Gordon and was followed by Ice Claw and Blood Sun, all of which were published in a dozen languages.

Then it was time to decide whether to continue with Young Adult fiction – a fascinating place to be with many school visits – or to try a different tack. I was about to go back to a life of crime (writing that is) and a novel I had been planning, but then I saw a fresco of a grand looking gent on a war horse in Florence’s Duomo. It was an English mercenary captain who lived and fought in Italy in the 14th century. I was intrigued because I knew nothing about the period. When I pitched the idea to my agent as to whether I should write the crime story or the historical fiction novel she urged me to write the 14th century book. And that was when I created Thomas Blackstone, archer, and later knight and leader of a group of men who fought across France and Italy in one of the most turbulent times of our history. (Although I had no idea where this character was going, development-wise.)

These things tend to take me along as an observer and I simply write down what I see.) I quickly realized that I couldn’t start in Italy and had to double back a bit so that Thomas Blackstone had a backstory.

gilman I was very keen to explore the universal experience of young men going to war for the first time, but who was he before this terrifying experience overtook him?  How did children and young people live in those times? The more I read – and I did a lot of what turned out to be rather daunting research – I began to piece together the story and character of this young man. Blackstone was only sixteen years old when he was called up to fight in 1346. He was a quick-witted young man who cared for his brother, a deaf-mute, and so began his character development and an early emotional complexity in the story. Children were put to work early on in those days and I decided that Blackstone had worked in a quarry since the age of six and then as a stonemason. Now I had a man who had muscle, brains and stamina and like many other village boys he had the strength and ability to draw what became known as the longbow.

And then to war. It was a brutal, unforgiving age with a counterpoint of chivalry. Courtly love, poetry, dance and the ideals of the Arthurian age tempered even the most famous of warrior knights, but if you were a bog-standard soldier you were underfed, underpaid and faced severe punishment for any wrongdoing. Having been a soldier I remembered only too well being cold, wet, exhausted and scared (and I was certainly underpaid) and that, along with the black humour familiar to anyone who works in danger and has experienced violence and death gave my characters a ‘Band of Brothers’ camaraderie.

When time permits I like to broaden my own horizons as a writer and try and squeeze in the occasional standalone novel. It usually takes a fairly long time writing part-time in the hours after the battle of the Master of War series is being waged during the day. My latest standalone is The Last Horseman, a story I had wanted to write for some time. I was fascinated by the multitude of international characters who fought in the South African War, or the (second) Boer War as it became more commonly known. I had visited some of the battle sites and it’s not hard to imagine the hardship undertaken in the conflict.  But I did not wish to have a hero of Thomas Blackstone’s stature who might have come across as a carbon copy. I chose, instead, a man in his late forties, a lawyer in Dublin, an American who represented those who often fought against the Crown. It was these turbulent times that forced him to go to war in South Africa in 1899. Joseph Radcliffe was a man who had experienced war in his youth and had no desire to do so again.  Against his will this anti-war character was obliged to revert to the killing skills he had known years before.

And now it’s time for me to return to Thomas Blackstone. I am about to deliver the manuscript of the fifth book, A Scourge of Wolves.And it’s not all hunky dory for Blackstone or his men. People we grow to love in the series die.

I like to have a strong sense of reality in my books and you can’t have life going on throughout a series without people getting killed. And so far in the Master of War series there have been plenty of shocks along the way.

And, of course, more to come.

END

The latest in David Gilman’s MASTER OF WAR series is VIPER’S BLOOD, the fourth title in the series. See more at www.davidgilman.com

Follow David on Twitter@davidgilmanuk

David Gilman enjoyed many careers, including firefighter, soldier and photographer, before turning to writing full time. He is an award-winning author and screenwriter.

Photograph: Writing Master of War series – Italy.

© Suzy Chiazzari.

 

 

 

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Ben Kane: Eagles in the Storm (Review)

Ben Kane Image result for irish flag (1970 – )

Ben Kane's picture

Ben Kane 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.
 Eagles in the Storm  (2017)
(The third book in the Eagles of Rome series)

book cover of Eagles in the Storm

AD 15. The German chieftain Arminius has been defeated, one of the lost Roman eagles recovered, and thousands of German tribesmen slain.

Yet these successes aren’t nearly enough for senior centurion Lucius Tullus. Not until Arminius is dead, his old legion’s eagle found and the enemy tribes completely vanquished will he rest.

But Arminius – devious, fearless – is burning for revenge of his own.

Charismatic as ever, he raises another large tribal army, which will harry the Romans the length and breadth of the land.

Soon Tullus finds himself in a cauldron of bloodshed, treachery and danger.

His mission to retrieve his legion’s eagle will be his most perilous yet…

Buy Signed copy

Review

Ben Kane is one of a select few authors, who writes books that sit in the category of “Must” read. The problem this creates for him and similar authors is that they have to compete with themselves and my ever increasing expectations. Now i’m utterly unqualified to know if Bens research is 100% accurate, i wish i could retain all the detail, but i do know the work he puts into ensuring it is, i do know when a book feels authentic and impassioned, and this like all his other work sits firmly in that category, this is a writer who has put himself in the kit and walked the miles to understand the pain of the legionary.

Once for our roman and Germanic friends time moves on, Arminius still hungers for Roman blood, but it will not be so forthcoming, not under a real General such as “Germanicus”, the legions are taking the fight well and truly to the Germanic tribes, the sneaky tricks of his traitorous actions are well known and less and less likely to defeat any further legions. Those few few men to survive the bloodbath that Varus led them into are eager for revenge, none more so than Centurion Lucius Tullus, Vengeance burns through him, drives him to greater and greater acts of martial heroics, desire for perfection from his troops and defeat for any and all barbarians. He wants Arminius’ head on a spike and he wants his legions eagle back. Opposite him is arminius, with an equal burning passion to tear down anything Roman that treads in his world, but also to make himself King or even Emperor of the Germanic Tribes, he is a man of both and neither world, more Romanised that he cares to admit.

This book takes you on many journeys from so many perspectives: You have both the opposing perspectives of Arminius and Tullus, riven by rage and a desire to destroy their opposing enemy. The difference being Arminius will do at any cost, no matter who he destroys in the process, Tullus only seems to be hell bent on destroying himself as he tries to come to grips with his foe, its his love for his men that pulls him back from the abyss. Tullus men bring the humour and the boots on the ground squaddie view, the everyday, among the destruction, the distance of orders and yet the close proximity of the action to give a uniquely close perspective of the fighting. There are some real laugh out loud moments in this book from characters like Piso, likewise there are some truly shocking irrevocable moments startling in their waste and pointlessness. I  loved this book, there are some startling shocks in there that make it very real. At times its light, at times its dark, its melancholy, its brilliantly funny and poignantly thought provoking… its got so much packed into it and is a real winner, this years bar met and exceeded Ben, bravo!

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Series
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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Novellas
The Arena (2016)
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David Gilman: Vipers Blood (Review)

David Gilman UK flag

David Gilman's picture

David Gilman has had an enormously impressive variety of jobs – from firefighter to professional photographer, from soldier in the Parachute Regiment’s Reconnaissance Platoon to a Marketing Manager for Penguin South Africa.

He is also a hugely successful television screenwriter. For the last six years he has been principal writer on A Touch Of Frost. He has lived and travelled the world gathering inspiration for his exotic children’s adventure series along the way.

Now, David is based in Devon, where he lives with his wife.

book cover of Viper's Blood

Buy a Signed Limited HB

and

Buy a Signed Limited HB edition of Defiant Unto Death

A gripping chronicle of pitched battle, treachery and cruelty’ ROBERT FABBRI.

Edward III has invaded France at the head of the greatest host England has ever assembled. But his attempt to win the French crown is futile. The Dauphin will no longer meet the English in the field and the great army is mired in costly sieges, scavenging supplies from a land ruined by decades of conflict.

Facing a stalemate – or worse – the English are forced to agree a treaty. But peace comes at a price. The French request that Blackstone escort their King’s daughter to Italy to see her married to one of the two brothers who rule Milan – the same brothers who killed Blackstone’s family to revenge the defeats he inflicted on them. Blackstone, the French are certain, will never leave Milan alive..

Review

Book four in the Master of War series and the bone crunching intensity of this series shows no signs of abating. Blackstone and his men leading the way, first at Reims and then onward towards Paris, the war of muck, mire and attrition takes its toll on all and truce is finally in the air. Tasked with taking the kings daughter to his deadliest enemies  the Vipers of Milan, Benarbo and Galeazzo to see her married to Galeazzo’s son and thus provide the funds to secure the release of the King of France, this sale was vital to the stability of Europe. Yet to Thomas Blackstone it was a means of access to the man or men who arranged the death of his wife and child. Revenge is in the air, will Blackstones rage cloud his judgement, can his friends survive to aid him in his wrath?

As ever David Gilman provides us with a well researched book set right in the heart of the action of 1300’s war torn Europe. There is no pretension to pomp and parade, even royalty is down in the mud and the damp, their only concessions to rank being the ability to get dry and eat better food than their men. With Gilmans writing, you can feel the ooze of the mud, the bite of the cold, most of all you can feel the weight of the sword and armour, the draw and weight of the bow and the rushing death of the arrow storm and the disregard of mortality.

But if you mistake this book and series for just the hack of the sword you would be missing out on so much more depth. Blackstone is a complex man, with a deep loyalty to his men and to his King. His honour is something he holds dear, but not so dear that he would get his men killed needlessly for it. He wages war for soldiers and men, he will not stand for the rape and murder if innocents, his punishments are swift and they are brutally final. He is a no nonsense man who holds his emotions close, his feelings for his men expressed in bluff soldiers conversation and friendly abuse, his love for his son threatening to overwhelm him while at the same time he knows he must raise him to be hardy enough to survive this brutal world and so appearing at times the cold father. All this is reflected upon as is Blackstone’s battle with his own guilt and grief over the death of his wife and child, he may have dragged himself from the bottle, but for a man like him, facing all that emotion is not an easy task…. and i pity the person in front of him when he is having a bad day dealing with it all.

A truly excellent book and part of an excellent series.

(Parm)

Series
Danger Zone
1. The Devil’s Breath (2007)
2. Ice Claw (2008)
3. Blood Sun (2009)
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Master of War
1. Master of War (2013)
2. Defiant Unto Death (2015)
3. Gate of the Dead (2015)
4. Viper’s Blood (2016)
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Novels
Monkey and Me (2014)
The Last Horseman (2016)
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