Category Archives: Historical Fiction

All Historical Fiction Reviews

Steven A McKay: The Abbey of Death (Review)

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Steven A. McKay was born in Scotland in 1977. His first novel, Wolf’s Head, was published in 2013 and went on to be an Amazon UK top-twenty bestseller. The Abbey of Death is the final story in the Forest Lord series. Steven is currently researching and writing a brand-new tale set in post-Roman Britain. He plays lead guitar and sings in a heavy-metal band when they can find the time to meet.

The Abbey of Death (Kindle Single) by [McKay, Steven A.]

He wanted to find peace in prayer, but some men serve God best with a sword in their hand.

Will Scaflock wants only to live in peace. He had more than his share of adventure when he went by the name Will Scarlet and fought corrupt authority alongside Robin Hood. Now widowed and alone, and estranged from his adult daughter, he has taken holy orders and sought refuge in a remote Benedictine abbey.

But even there, trouble and violence follow him. The abbot, John de Wystow, is a good man but a weak leader, and easily undermined by a faction of dissident monks. When the rebels, led by Brother Robert de Flexburgh, run riot in the local community—stealing, drinking, fornicating—Scaflock’s old instincts return. Reluctantly taking charge of the abbey’s moral defence, he finds himself embroiled in a series of fierce clashes with de Flexburgh’s rowdy gang.

As the abbey’s tranquillity is shattered, its cloisters stained with blood, Scaflock is forced to reconsider the direction of his life. Has he really left Will Scarlet behind him—or has he simply been running from reality?

Review

With each and every book in the forest lord series i have watched Steven A Mckay grow as a writer, both in style and confidence, until he has reached his latest point with The Abbey of Death. This tales shows a much more rounded tale steeped in confident writing and plot twists and misdirection. His characters continue to grow and coalesce into full realized and realistic personas making the book come alive. Will Scaflock being probably my favourite in the series , because he isn’t nice, he is rough and real and he has suffered. This book truly shows just how much he has suffered and how real he can be…. much to the horror of his attackers….

So with Abbey of Death, McKay brings down the curtain on the Forest Lord series, with his best work to date.

if that isnt worth £1.98…. well, im not sure what is.

(Parm)

 

 

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Anthony Riches: Onslaught (The second book in the Centurions series) Review.

Anthony Riches

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

 

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Onslaught (2017)
(The second book in the Centurions series)

 

book cover of Onslaught

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The Rhine frontier has exploded into all-out war. The Batavi cohorts, so recently proud soldiers of Rome, have returned to their homeland, summoned by their new leader Kivilaz: they will be the spearhead of an audacious assault on Roman power.

Humbled by the rebels in a battle they should have won, the Romans retreat to their northern stronghold, the Old Camp, to lick their wounds. The 5th and 15th Legions grimly prepare to defend an undermanned fortress against both the Batavi and thousands of barbarian warriors intoxicated by a charismatic priestess’s vision of their victory.

Four centurions who once fought in the same army find themselves on opposite sides of a vicious civil war. For the Batavi, the prize could be freedom from Roman rule. For the Romans, the choices are victory or the most humiliating defeat their empire has ever known. And for one Batavi soldier, the greatest prize is simply survival in a battle with a cornered, desperate enemy.

Review:

Onslaught is Anthony Riches second book in his new Centurion series, for fans of his work, this series is a diversion from the insanely entertaining exploits of Marcus Aquila and the Tungrians in the Empire series.

Onslaught, like its predecessor Betrayal follow the hugely unsettled period of the Roman Empire when Emperors were two an penny and changed hands at the drop of a few legions being slaughtered. The latest book taking us to the point where Vitellius is now upon the throne, albeit perched on the edge and in no way feeling comfortable, because Titus Flavius Vespasianus has been acclaimed Emperor in the east, his legions are on the march, and his men are in true Roman fashion, double dealing and scheming across the empire. No one wants to be seen to support the wrong man. leaving the many men of the legions to bear the brunt and pay the bloody price of all the political maneuvering.

Taking advantage of all of this is Prince Kivilaz of the Batavi, under the aegis of insults to the tribe and ensuring the tribes future he has taken the fight to rebellion and attacked Rome via her encampments.

This rich backdrop of politics and battle is prime fodder for a writer of the skill and wit of Anthony Riches and one he exploits to the fullest. As you can expect (if you are a regular reader of his work) his characters explode to life as the story unfolds, keeping the reader fully engaged as the plot switches from Roman to Batavi perspective leaving you unsure who is the good guy and who is the bad, where should your reader loyalties sit?

This book and series explores deeper than just the camaraderie of the soldier and their deep ties to each other and their officers, it looks to the limits that a legion can be pushed or will accept and the limits a man can endure before his will finally breaks and he can fight no more. Interspersed as always with laugh out loud moments and the inevitable gallows humour of the men destined to die a bloody death very soon, and the more reflective moments of family, and friends and their loss, this is a book that spans not only events and people but also emotions. Antony Riches is now the undisputed master at this style of book, giving the reader a tale where no character is safe, no pages should be read unprepared because he can change pace or fully unfold some Machiavellian plot device at any moment. The ending of this book leaves me feeling that he has many such plots up his sleeve… and that the final book, Retribution will be a corker.

Onslaught is another fantastic new book in a series that is as Brutal and uncompromising as an enraged first spear, and should not be missed.

(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)
The Empire Collection Books I-3 (omnibus) (2017)
The Empire Collection Books 4-6 (omnibus) (2017)
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Centurions 
1. Betrayal (2017)
2. Onslaught (2017)
3. Retribution (2018)
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Angus Donald: Blood’s Game (Review)

Angus Donald

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Angus Donald was born in China in 1965 and educated at Marlborough College and Edinburgh University.

He has worked as a fruit-picker in Greece, a waiter in New York and as an anthropologist studying magic and witchcraft in Indonesia.

For the past 20 years, he has been a journalist in Hong Kong, India, Afghanistan and London.

Author Website

Buy Signed copy

 

book cover of Blood's Game

THE THRILLING NEW SERIES FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE ‘OUTLAW CHRONICLES’. PERFECT FOR FANS OF BERNARD CORNWELL AND CONN IGGULDEN. AFTER THE TUDORS CAME THE STUARTS . . . London, Winter 1670. Holcroft Blood has entered the employ of the Duke of Buckingham, one of the most powerful men in the kingdom after the king. It is here that his education really begins. With a gift for numbers and decoding ciphers, Holcroft soon proves invaluable to the Duke, but when he’s pushed into a betrayal he risks everything for revenge. His father, Colonel Thomas Blood, has fallen on hard times. A man used to fighting, he lives by his wits and survives by whatever means necessary. When he’s asked to commit treason by stealing the crown jewels, he puts himself and his family in a dangerous situation – one that may end at the gallows. As the machinations of powerful men plot to secure the country’s future, both father and son must learn what it is to survive in a more dangerous battlefield than war – the court of King Charles II.

Review

Angus Donald has managed over the last 8 years to provide us with one of the best modern retelling’s of Robin Hood that you could ever possibly want to read. When it finished what would come next?

Colonel Blood is not an unknown character to me, but he is very much a little known enigma for many readers…..

So how would Angus bring this man alive?

The answer is through his own trials and those of his family and the daring theft of the Crown Jewels. The key character for me in this book is his son Holcroft Blood. Angus Donald brings to life the time period and the people, the nasty conniving Buckingham with his privilege and power, a spoiled king and various sections of society from the theater to the slums of London. While Angus tells the history lightly, he also manages to weave the reader right into the immediate so you feel part of the story not a voyeur in a tale.

By the end of the story Holcroft Blood has become a new fav character, a young man different from his peers, but gifted and talented in many ways, with an honour that leads him into some strange situations. His friend Jack Churchill and he bring the story to a very satisfying and tense conclusion, in a book with action and humour aplenty, setting the scene for what i feel will be a truly excellent series in the future…. book two cannot come soon enough for me.

Bravo Angus…. loved this book

(Parm)

Series
Outlaw Chronicles
1. Outlaw (2009)
2. Holy Warrior (2010)
3. King’s Man (2011)
4. Warlord (2012)
5. Grail Knight (2013)
6. The Iron Castle (2014)
7. The King’s Assassin (2015)
8. The Death of Robin Hood (2016)
The Rise of Robin Hood (2013)
The Betrayal of Father Tuck (2013)
The Hostility of Hanno (2013)
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Blood 
1. Blood’s Game (2017)
2. Blood’s Revolution (2018)
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Miles Cameron: Fall of Dragons (review)

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

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice, currently age seven. He attends the University of Toronto when the gods move him and may eventually have a Masters in Classics, but right now he’s a full time historical novelist, and it is the best job in the world.

Christian is a dedicated reenactor and you can follow some of his recreated projects on the Agora. He’s always recruiting, so if you’d like to try the ancient world, the medieval world, or the late 18th century, follow the link to contact us.

The Fall of Dragons  (2017)
(The fifth book in the Traitor Son Cycle series)

book cover of The Fall of Dragons

The Red Knight’s final battle lies ahead…but there’s a whole war still to fight first.

He began with a small company, fighting the dangerous semi-mythical creatures that threatened villages, nunneries and cities. But as his power – and his forces – grew, so the power of the enemy he stood against became ever clearer. Not the power of men…but that of gods, with thousands of mortal allies.

Never has strategy been more important, and this war will end where it started: at Lissen Carak. But to get there means not one battle but many – to take out the seven armies which stand against them and force Ash, the huge black dragon, to finally take to the field himself….

Review

The Traitor Son Cycle has been Miles Cameron’s fantasy debut, with so many amazing Historical fiction titles written and read by many proving the quality and power of his writing, for me this was always going to be a case of how good can this get, how can it compare to the many accomplished fantasy series out there, how will the plot cope with the freedom beyond the structure of history?

Miles Cameron has since book one given us an astounding series, one filled with a new and highly intelligent and in-depth magical system, a total world spanning societal structure based on varying real world empires and a code of chivalry that underpins the fighting force of the red Knight, one that we can truly believe, because Christian himself lives this code himself, fights in the amour and knows the history. Most of all it has given us a deeply involved plot that employs all of the research and all of the knowledge of a great writer.

Fall of Dragons is the culmination of this wonderful series, and for me the linchpin of the series, if you fail to tie the knots of a series so full and complex you fail the series. At times Christian/ Miles has cast his net of plot far and wide, sometimes worryingly so, but slowly carefully and with great precision he has pulled those differing views, plots, perspectives and locations together back into the main sort arc, giving a series and book that absorbs you utterly with all its twists and turns. More complex and yet with none of the waffle when compared to series like Game of Thrones, for me this blows away GRRM’s work, because it keeps the plot on point, nothing is there just to appear smart, its there for a reason and you can feel the tension mounting as the author takes you on this majestic and massive journey.

Most of all for me, the series had an ending, one that’s hugely satisfying and really powerfully done. The author doesn’t save himself for a another book or a further series, he powers towards the promised ending and leaps into that void with the reader no character is safe. Couple that with the utterly relentless pace of this book, which is essentially 560 pages of battle , journey to battle, preparation for battle and then more battle…. yet written with true heart and passion, taking account of the lives and travails of all involved, lost and celebrated in this war to end all wars.

I cant give this any higher recommendation…. i doff my cap sir!!

(Parm)

Series
Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2014)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2014)
4. A Plague of Swords (2016)
5. The Fall of Dragons (2017)
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Masters & Mages
1. The Master (2018)
Christian Cameron
Series
Tyrant
1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
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Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
5. Salamis (2015)
6. Rage of Ares (2016)
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Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
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Chivalry
1. The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
2. The Long Sword (2014)
3. The Green Count (2017)
4. Sword of Justice (2018)
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Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part One (2014)
2. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Two (2014)
3. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Three (2014)
4. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Four (2015)
5. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Five (2015)
6. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Six (2015)
7. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Seven(2015)
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Tom Swan and the Last Spartans
1. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part One (2016)
2. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Two (2016)
3. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Three (2017)
4. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Four (2017)
5. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Five (2017)
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Novels
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
A Song of War (2016) (with Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, S J A Turneyand Russell Whitfield)
Tudor Knight (2018)
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Omnibus
Songs of Blood and Gold (2017) (with Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, Libbie Hawker, Ben Kane, E Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, S J A Turney and Russell Whitfield)
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James Wilde: Pendragon (Reviews)

James Wilde

James Wilde is a Man of Mercia. Raised in a world of books, James studied economic history at university before travelling the world in search of adventure. He was unable to forget a childhood encounter in the pages of a comic with the great English warrior, Hereward. Wilde returned to the haunted fenlands of Eastern England, Hereward’s ancestral home, where he became convinced that this legendary hero should be the subject of his first novel. Wilde now indulges his love of history and the high life in the home his family have owned for several generations, in the heart of a Mercian forest.

Author Website

book cover of Pendragon

Pendragon (2017)
(The first book in the Dark Age series)

Here is the beginning of a legend. Long before Camelot rose, a hundred years before the myth of King Arthur was half-formed, at the start of the Red Century, the world was slipping into a Dark Age…

It is AD 367. In a frozen forest beyond Hadrian’s Wall, six scouts of the Roman army are found murdered. For Lucanus, known as the Wolf and leader of elite unit called the Arcani, this chilling ritual killing is a sign of a greater threat.
But to the Wolf the far north is a foreign land, a place where daemons and witches and the old gods live on. Only when the child of a friend is snatched will he venture alone into this treacherous world – a territory ruled over by a barbarian horde – in order to bring the boy back home. What he finds there beyond the wall will echo down the years.
A secret game with hidden factions is unfolding in the shadows: cabals from the edge of Empire to the eternal city of Rome itself, from the great pagan monument of Stonehenge to the warrior kingdoms of Gaul will go to any length to find and possess what is believed to be a source of great power, signified by the mark of the Dragon.
A soldier and a thief, a cut-throat, courtesan and a druid, even the Emperor Valentinian himself – each of these has a part to play in the beginnings of this legend… the rise of the House of Pendragon.

Review

Pendragon…. the name just screams Arthur, Genevieve, Lancelot and all that goes with it. Well take that preconception and throw it out the window. Not since Bernard Cornwall took on the Arthur myth has any writer provided such a new and innovative view of the Arthurian story.

James Wilde takes us back to before Arthur, to a time when Rome still clings to power in Britain, but only by its finger nails. The barbarians that have been held back so long by the great wall of Hadrian  are probing, looking, change is in the wind, because they can sense a weakness in Rome, a chance to retake the land a chance that has not been there in all the year of Roman occupation.

In a book filled with the history of both Britain and Rome, James Wilde pulls on the tale of Mithras and also the burgeoning power and rise of the Christ religion to provide a back drop of conspiracy and intrigue wrapped around the ever present guidance of the Druids and Myrddin. How can the rise of Arthur be assured, who would be the ones to protect him, who will be his parents/ grandparents. So many questions and ideas are opened up by this story, so many surprises and all delivered with a fast paced action packed book brimming with wonderful characters. If you were making a tv series it has action, fights, love interest, bad guys a plenty, tortured heroes… sometimes mentally often physically, highs, lows, misdirection and utter surprises… so much packed into a book 1.

I love the Arthur myth but always approach a new book with low expectations because there are so very many bad books, this i’m glad to say is not one, its a wonderful tale and i honestly cannot wait for the next one.

Highly recommend this read.

(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 (2014)
5. The Immortals (2015)
6. The Bloody Crown (2016)
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Dark Age
1. Pendragon (2017)
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Matthew Harffy: Killer of Kings (review)

Matthew Harffy

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 that became THE BERNICIA CHRONICLES.

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.

Matthew lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.

Matthew was the singer in Rock Dog.

Buy links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nNItf2

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2nNEyPz

iBooks: http://apple.co/2ocWWEi

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2ocS2Y7

Follow Matthew

Website: www.matthewharffy.com

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Facebook: MatthewHarffyAuthor

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Ad 636. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical thriller and the fourth instalment in The Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell. Beobrand has land, men and riches. He should be content. And yet he cannot find peace until his enemies are food for the ravens. But before Beobrand can embark on his bloodfeud, King Oswald orders him southward, to escort holy men bearing sacred relics. When Penda of Mercia marches a warhost into the southern kingdoms, Beobrand and his men are thrown into the midst of the conflict. Beobrand soon finds himself fighting for his life and his honour. In the chaos that grips the south, dark secrets are exposed, bringing into question much that Beobrand had believed true. Can he unearth the answers and exact the vengeance he craves? Or will the blood-price prove too high, even for a warrior of his battle-fame and skill?

Extract

Beobrand smelt the smoke before he heard the screams.

The scent of burning wood was not uncommon. They had passed many small steadings as they travelled south. Each hut or hall had its own hearth. Sometimes, the aroma of baking bread or roasting meat would waft on the wind from some unseen farmer’s hovel, or from a shepherd’s camp nestled in the shelter of a valley. At such times, it always surprised him how far smells could travel.

Sounds of anguish, shouts of terror and shrieks of pain, could not be heard from so far away. And were less common.

There was a light breeze blowing into their faces and at the first scent of smoke Beobrand had wondered whether there was a hall nearby. They had been travelling for days and had not slept with a roof above them in all that time. The days were warm, but the nights were yet chill. A place by a fire and some warm food would be welcome. Perhaps even some ale or mead.

Then he had seen the broad smudge of grey, like a blurred heron’s feather, hanging in the flax-flower blue sky and he had known they would not be sleeping in a hall that night. Judging from the amount of smoke, something big was burning.

A piercing scream came to them on the wind. No, there would be no rest any time soon. Someone was in agony just the other side of the next rise. Beobrand’s black stallion, Sceadugenga, lowered its ears and snorted.

Beobrand pulled the beast’s head back with a tug of the reins. He could feel the great muscles bunching beneath him, ready to gallop forward; towards the screams. Towards danger. Sceadugenga was a true warrior’s steed.

“Are we yet in Mercia, Attor?” he asked, twisting in the saddle to turn to the slim rider beside him.

“I cannot say for certain, lord. We are in the land of the Gyrwas, I believe, but we may already be in the territory of the Herstingas. It is all fen and forest in this part of Albion.” He shrugged. “I cannot be sure.” Another scream drifted to them. Attor’s mount tossed its mane and rolled its eyes.

Beobrand had hoped to make this journey without incident, but the island of Albion was seldom safe. He rode at the head of a small band of mounted warriors. Not large enough to be called a warband, but hopefully enough of a show of force to avoid most confrontations. They numbered thirteen men in all. Beside Beobrand rode Wynhelm, fellow thegn of Bernicia. He was several years Beobrand’s senior. Black-haired, with a close-cropped beard, he was aloof and sometimes haughty, but had fought bravely at Hefenfelth and Din Eidyn, and King Oswald trusted him. Wynhelm brought four warriors from his retinue, all battle-hard, grim-faced men. Killers, if Beobrand was any judge.

In the centre of the group rode the monks, Gothfraidh and Coenred, whom they were charged with protecting. Gothfraidh was an elderly man, his grey hair thinning. Kindly, and uncomplaining, he was always quick to offer his help when they were setting up camp. Coenred was much younger, barely a man, though Beobrand knew that despite his youthful aspect, he was brave and had proven himself to be a true friend.

Beobrand quickly cast his gaze on those of his own retinue, his gesithas, who accompanied him. Dour Dreogan was closest to Attor, the black lines of his soot-scarred cheeks making his face savage. Behind him followed Gram, tall and powerful. He was a mighty warrior, who never seemed to show fear or excitement; a steadfast shield-brother whom they would be glad to have at their shoulder, if it came to a fight.

Broad-shouldered Elmer rode towards the rear of the group. He was brave and bold, and despite the horrific sounds of pain that came to them on the breeze, he had a wide grin on his face. He was still so pleased to have been asked to ride with his lord. He felt that in the past he had too often been left behind with the women, children and old men, and no matter the number of times Beobrand had told him this was due to the trust he had in the muscular warrior, Elmer had taken it as a slight. The last two riders were the inseparable Ceawlin and Aethelwulf. They were woven from the same cloth, each taciturn and stocky, savage in combat but quick to jest and laugh when the mead flowed.

They were all good men. Strong warriors. Loyal gesithas. Beobrand was proud that they called him lord. And yet he wished Acennan was with them. He missed his friend. He had not seen him since before Solmonath, the month of rain and mud. Summer had long since begun to warm the land and Beobrand had expected Acennan’s return weeks before.

Another scream.

Acennan would have to wait.

The trail rose up a shallow bluff. To the west huddled a stand of alder.

“Whether Mercia or no,” said Beobrand, reaching his damaged left hand down to touch the hilt of his sword, Hrunting, “I will not ride by while someone faces torment. Come, let us see what is burning.”

 

Review:

What can i say that i have not already said about this series? probably not a lot, Matthew has continued to push and grow both his characters and his writing style book after book. Any of the wrinkles that a debut writers suffers and clunks and slips have long since vanished and his smooth writing and earthy characters shine through, his plot always have a twist and a turn that is unexpected and death lurks around any page for any character, giving the book an immediacy of the time where live is cheap and precious at the same time.

Bring on book 5 Matthew, this series just gets better with age

(Parm)

 

 

 

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Paul Fraser Collard: The True Soldier (Review)

Paul Fraser Collard

Paul Fraser Collard's picture

UK flag (1973 – )

Paul’s love of military history started at an early age. A childhood spent watching films like Waterloo and Zulu whilst reading Sharpe, Flashman and the occasional Commando comic, gave him a desire to know more of the men who fought in the great wars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. At school, Paul was determined to become an officer in the British army and he succeeded in wining an Army Scholarship. However, Paul chose to give up his boyhood ambition and instead went into the finance industry. Paul stills works in the City, and lives with his wife and three children in Kent.

The True Soldier  (2017)
(The sixth book in the Jack Lark series)
book cover of The True Soldier

April, 1861. Jack Lark arrives in Boston as civil war storms across America.

A hardened soldier, Jack has always gone where he was ordered to go – and killed the enemy he was ordered to kill. But when he becomes a sergeant for the Union army, he realises that this conflict between North and South is different. Men are choosing to fight – and die – for a cause they believe in.

The people of Boston think it will take just one, great battle. But, with years of experience, Jack knows better. This is the beginning of something that will tear a country apart – and force Jack to see what he is truly fighting for.

Review

I have to be transparent from the start, i’m a HUGE fan of this series, If any writer has managed to capture the spirit and adventure of Sharpe and the daring of his character then its Paul Collard, but he has done it in his own unique way with his own unique character, Jack Lark. ( Jack Lark v Sharpe).

What this series has (for me) more than Bernard Cornwells Sharpe is a disquiet about war. Jack like Sharp is a beast of war, but Jack Lark sees and feels the darkness and futility of war, he like Sharpe has also been on both sides of the army line, both soldier and officer, but his was always riven with fear of being discovered. But no longer, now Jack is himself and essentially a mercenary, he is in America and Civil War has begun, Jack has been tasked with looking after a rich mans son, but Jack is also a consummate professional, and can’t help but impose his skills on his men, to turn them into the best fighting men they can be.

When i started reading this book i felt it had a slight melancholy edge, one that blended perfectly with the feelings i experienced after waking to the Manchester bombings, joining Jack in that feeling of hopelessness and darkness, Paul Collard had captured that feeling so well, the futility of all that death. The book moves on from there, but gone is the Jack we knew, he is older, and no longer having to hide who he is. But does he like who he has found himself to be, he like America is searching for his identity, fighting to make a place for himself.

This is the best book Paul Collard has written, the most accomplished with the most mature writing, i did tell him it wasn’t my fav read when i was about 30% in, but i was wrong, it is. As the book progressed it worked its magic on me and it made me love it so much so that once again i miss Jack Lark his absence leave a hole that hard for another book to fill, a year is a long time to wait until his next adventure but the wait i’m sure will be worth it as there is so much detail and depth, and so many places for Jack to be Jack in a Civil War torn USA.

Very Highly Recommended

(Parm)

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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)
Recruit (2015)
Redcoat (2015)
The Jack Lark Library (omnibus) (2017)
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Paul Fraser Collard