Category Archives: Uncategorized

Jonathan Spencer : Napoleon’s Run (Review)

Napoleon’s Run

 (2020)
(The first book in the William John Hazzard series)
A novel by Jonathan Spencer

book cover of Napoleon\'s Run

 

One man against an armada

London, 1798. Late one night, a junior naval officer at the Admiralty intercepts a coded despatch, marked with blood: Napoleon Bonaparte is about to launch the largest invasion fleet in history. Target: unknown.

England is vulnerable, bereft of allies, and the Sea Lords fear a direct assault on Britain. Admiralty Intelligence sounds the alarm and prepares to unleash Nelson and the Mediterranean squadron.

But before they can, they need vital information. They need a special officer to infiltrate by land or by sea to uncover the destination of Napoleon’s armada – a man who never stops.

Marine Lt William John Hazzard.

But will he agree to help them?

Betrayed by the Admiralty at the African Cape three years earlier, Hazzard has vowed never to trust them again. Bitter memories poisoned his return home, and his devoted fiancée Sarah, unable to bear his pain any longer, disappears in Naples – never to be seen again.

But the Admiralty knows just how to get him back.

They know where Sarah is, and her life is in danger…

Review

Its been ages since there was a new Napoleon fictional tale out, having enjoyed the likes of Bernard Cornwells Sharpe and Simon Scarrows Wellington i had high expectations.

To start with i was a little concerned, it all felt a bit to Sharpe, the grizzled veteran officer and the big Sargent, but very quickly that dissipated, and gave me a sense of Paul Collards Jack Lark, the same dark, brooding, tortured quality of character. This is no bad thing, because the Jack Lark series is one of the best Historical Action series out there for character driven plot.

Jonathan Spencer though soon started to plot his own course, a debut is always going to feel a bit like something else because we all have influences, its the mark of a new great writer when you see their own style come to life and their characters chart their own course.

Marine Lt William John Hazzard is a new name on the role call of great characters, but a worthy one, dark, brooding, full of menace, and also regret and love. A man who bucks the trend of dilettante officer in an army where rank is purchased, this is a man very much like Sharpe and Lark, a man who charts his own course, a man who shares the dangers and struggles of his men, a man with a conscience and his own moral compass. Orders are to be carried out, but not if they impinge on his own morality.

In this book we see Hazzard badly treated by the admiralty and yet despite a long convalescence from the injuries bot physical and mental he finds himself dragged back into their world of intrigue and back stabbing. His lady love is on danger and they use this to trap him, to use his passion, his moral compass and his drive to get her back safe…

Hazzard set out with a backing cast of veterans, men who have seen it all and are loyal only to their officer, the man who has sweated and bled alongside them, a man who has earned their respect, a man who they would die for, because he would die for them.

I found myself utterly engrossed in this book, its wonderfully vivid characters and explosive action, there was never a moments peace to relax and pause for breath, Hazzard goes at 100mph and never lets up in his search, not for one moment does he think of personal danger, only how he can find Sarah and save her, and you the reader are dragged along on a white knuckle adventure by his Bombay coat tails.

A fantastic Debut, a man to watch, i feel we will be seeing many more fantastic books and a definite contender for a top 5 spot in my best book of the year

Highly Recommended

‘Never give up the boat’

(Parm)

Author and book links below

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Kenneth Cameron: Moody and the Fateful Lightning (Review)

Once a Roman soldier, the man called Moody wanders through time and space, following voices calling him for help and never understanding what drives him to obey. A few years after the end of America’s Civil War, his hot-air balloon follows a tornado into a small Southern town, seeking a woman he thinks he heard as Lulu. But Lulu turns out to be the handsome and commanding madam of a brothel in Darktown, an enclave of impoverished freed blacks across the railroad tracks from the whites-only Doobeyville. He Wants Lula, not Lulu – the disturbed daughter of “Lord” Doobey, owner of a thousand slaves – eight years after slavery was supposedly been abolished.

Moody is drawn into a world of racial injustice that makes him the object of a Ku Klux lynching after a kaleidoscopic mix of a tournament of “White Knights,” a charge of murder, a chain gang, and a surreal trial. Fighting his way free of the lynching, he confronts the slave owner in a climax that endangers Darktown itself and even his own existence.

 

Review

Self published books are always a bit of a crap shoot, except that more and more authors with a writing pedigree are embarking on this route, one of these is Kenneth Cameron a man with a fantastic writing bibliography (see below) 26 Novels is an impressive number in anyone Biblio.

Now at the impressive age of 89 Kenneth has embarked on another series about Moody, Moody is a complex character, a time travelling angel of good? a man driven to end evil? a man directed by unknown voices and compulsions?  Born at the end of the Roman occupation of Britain he became a warrior and follows his own moral compass.

In fateful Lightning Moody and his sidekick arrive in Southern mid west america, just after the Civil war, racism is still rampant, and made worse by having had to emancipate their slaves…. but emancipation is only an idea when the locals can still hold the power of life and death over the ex slave population, when they can still brutalize and abuse them, and control their every waking and sleeping moments. Moody is called by a voice asking for help arriving with his wagon full of everything he could ever need, a wagon akin to the doctors tardis, with never ending compartments. Moody must find out why he has been called, he must walk the line between the white overlords and the Black slaves, his swarthy skin seeing him truly accepted by neither.

On the surface this is a great supernatural story of good vs evil, but at its core its also a story of the evils of slavery and the horror that that life and society created. Its a story that entertains and educates, the delights and horrifies the reader in equal measure, and its one that i enjoyed more than i expected to, and left me wanting to see where Moody goes next, what adventure will call him, what wrong will need to be put right.

(Parm)

Series
Alan Craik (as  Gordon Kent)… Co written with Christian Cameron
   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)
Denton
   1. The Frightened Man (2008)
   2. The Bohemian Girl (2009)
   3. The Second Woman (2010)
   4. The Haunted Martyr (2013)
   5. The Backward Boy (2013)
   6. The Past Master (2013)
   7. The Oxford Fellow (2013)
Louisa Conan Doyle Mystery
   Winter at Death’s Hotel (2012)
Novels
   Fair Game (1973) (as by George Bartram)
   A Job Abroad (1975) (as by George Bartram)
   The Aelian Fragment (1976) (as by George Bartram)
   White Peril (1977) (as by George Bartram)
   The Sunset Gun (1983) (as by George Bartram)
   Under the Freeze (1984) (as by George Bartram)
   In the Noonday Sun (1985) (as by George Bartram)
   Master of Secrets (1987) (as by George Bartram)
   The Sun Is Bleeding (1989) (as by George Bartram)
   Cauldron of Violence (2000) (as by Gordon Kent)
   The Falconer’s Tale (2007) (as by Gordon Kent)

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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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Adam Croft: What lies Beneath (Review)

Adam Croft's picture

 

Adam Croft is a British author, best known for his standalone psychological thrillers and the Knight and Culverhouse series of crime thrillers.

With more than 1.5 million books sold to date, he is one of the most successful independently published authors in the world.
He’s a USA Today best-selling author, has hit the number one spot in multiple countries, and even briefly knocked J.K. Rowling off the top as most widely read author in the world.

In March 2018, Adam was conferred as an Honorary Doctor of Arts, the highest academic qualification in the UK, by the University of Bedfordshire in recognition of his achievements. Adam presents the regular crime fiction podcast Partners in Crime with fellow bestselling author Robert Daws

 

book cover of What Lies Beneath

(The first book in the Rutland crime series)

A peaceful Sunday morning in Rutland is shattered when a dead body is discovered on the rocks at Normanton Church.

The victim has been laid out in a crucifixion pose, facing the altar. DI Caroline Hills is certain there’s a religious connection — one which threatens the tranquility of life in the area.

The killer has gone to extraordinary lengths to make the symbolism clear. And the deaths will continue until Caroline and DS Dexter Antoine uncover the truth behind the dark secret — and what lies beneath.

 

Review

This is not my normal read, normally the crimes i read took place in the ancient past, or on a fantasy world, so this book was a real move to something new for me. What made me pick it up? … Well i have a little shop in the lovely town of Oakham and when talking to my lovely customers about life and hobbies we discovered that i review books and the son of one lovely couple is an author, but more than that, he was writing a crime series based in Rutland. The immediacy of the area intrigued me greatly, how would he turn the picturesque town and county into a murder scene? Add in the cover of the book with the iconic Normanton Church on the cover and i was in.

I have to be utterly honest that while reading the first quarter of the book i really didn’t like the key character, DI Caroline Hills, i was worried that for a reader she just wasn’t engaging me in a positive fashion, and as such i didn’t feel drawn to her situation as a new copper in a new area, she really did come across as the copper from the big smoke who was just a bit to arrogant, thankfully her sidekick DS Dexter Antoine was there to keep me reading, urging him on to prove the boss wrong. What i think i missed initially, is that i believe there is a deliberate ploy to have that dynamic, to integrate Caroline into the sleepier, more community focused lifestyle of Rutland as apposed to London. As someone who grew up in oxford and the surrounding Cotswold’s, but spent many many weekends in London, I can see how the character would appear more rushed, impatient, brash even, because Living in London is a different world by comparison, and people just move faster both physically and in daily interactions, and so they appear brash and rude, more impersonal.

But you do reach a point where something seems to click with DI Caroline Hills, you notice something is wrong, missing from the narrative, she is holding something back, and when it hits you will feel the emotion, the tears will be there for even the hardiest of reader, or maybe that’s me because i’ve been in her situation, wanting to hold a secret so personal to save others from worry.

The main plot driver, hunting for a killer is only part of the overall plot, because we have to get to know the area , the people and the lead character of what will be a fantastic new series. Adam Croft keeps you guessing as long as possible abut who the killer is, with misdirection and plot leads that head off on tangents, tangents mixed into DI Caroline Hills character growth, i have to say i was really impressed with the plot / character development and all the blending that happened. (although i had the murderer pegged right…. but i’ve read too many books 😉

I did also love the way the book is also a tour guide for Rutland, I’ve been here for 18 months owning a shop and learned more about the area in one book than all that time. Its made me want to get out and explore the area more, it answered my own question about Normanton Church and in a truly entertaining fashion, it beautifully portrays a county many have not heard of.

This book for me is the start of Adam Crofts version of Morse, having grown up with Morse being filmed around my youth and even nabbing some extra roles in the TV series as a kid i know it just has the same vibe. And i think it would creatively make a perfect basis for a new TV series.

Grab a copy online

Paperback

Kindle

And locally in Oakham you can also pick up a signed paperback from many of the shops, i know i will have a few on the counter soon

(Parm)

Series
Knight and Culverhouse
   1. Too Close For Comfort (2011)
   2. Guilty As Sin (2011)
   3. Jack Be Nimble (2015)
   4. Rough Justice (2015)
   5. In Too Deep (2016)
   6. In the Name of the Father (2016)
   7. With A Vengeance (2017)
   8. Dead & Buried (2018)
   9. In Plain Sight (2019)
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Kempston Hardwick Mysteries
   1. Exit Stage Left (2011)
   2. The Westerlea House Mystery (2013)
   3. Death Under the Sun (2014)
   4. The Thirteenth Room (2015)
   5. The Wrong Man (2019)
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Young Culverhouse
   1. The Rookie (2017)
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Sam Barker (with Steven Moore)
   1. Absolution (2019)
   2. Betrayal (2020)
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Rutland crime
   1. What Lies Beneath (2020)
   2. On Borrowed Time (2020)
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Novels
   Her Last Tomorrow (2015)
   Only The Truth (2017)
   In Her Image (2017)
   Tell Me I’m Wrong (2018)
   The Perfect Lie (2018)
   Closer To You (2020)
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Novellas
   Gone (2016)
   Love You To Death (2017)
   The Harder They Fall (2017)
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Non fiction
   We Need to Talk About Adam (2013)
   Tips for Writers (2013)
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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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Robert Fabbri : Alexander’s Legacy: To the Strongest

book cover of To The Strongest

Let the battles begin…

‘I foresee great struggles at my funeral games.’

Babylon, 323 BC: Alexander the Great is dead, leaving behind him the largest, and most fearsome, empire the world has ever seen. As his final breaths fade in a room of seven bodyguards, Alexander refuses to name a successor. But without a natural heir, who will take the reins?

As the news of the king’s sudden and unexpected death ripples across the land, leaving all in disbelief, the ruthless battle for the throne begins. What follows is a devious, tangled web of scheming and plotting, with alliances quickly made and easily broken, each rival with their own agenda.

But who will emerge victorious: the half-chosen; the one-eyed; the wildcat; the general; the bastard; the regent? In the end, only one man, or indeed woman, will be left standing..

 

Review

I’ve been a fan of Robert fabbri and his writing since Tribune of Rome came out in 2011, and to hear that he was tackling one of my favorite historical characters (Alexander) was a real buzz, even more so when i learned that the series would begin at the end, the end of Alexanders life. The turmoil his passing unleashed across his empire was huge and changed the face of the ancient world, there was and is so much scope and so many hugely interesting characters.

Fabbri keeps in the main to real historical personages in this book, only interspersing the occasional fictional character, he brings those historical notables to life, and i have to say from the start Eumenes is my stand out favorite… who doesn’t love an underdog and a devious Greek one, Fabbri really brings that out in his writing, but he is just one of the many stunning characters in the book as we watch the great men and women of the time vie for power and control of the great empire Alexander carved. Many times its mentioned that Alexander didn’t name a successor because he wanted this division and strife and he wanted no one to eclipse his achievements…. if that really was his intention then Robert Fabbri captures it brilliantly.

If i had to have one nagging annoyance at the book it was the way it was structured, changes of time and location were not defined in the book, eg Eumenes could be talking about Cassandra and what his intentions were and on the next line he was talking to her, even though that may be a day or week later in another town, it just happened on the next line…. that was somewhat confusing for a while and threw off the pace of the book for me.

But the story is stunning, the politics of the time is just mind boggling but told in a pacy engaging way, the battles and the warriors brought to life in vivid detail, i love it when the writer can transport you to the dust , the muck, the blood sweat and horror of a battle and also the stress and frustration of the politics… as usual Robert fabbri does not disappoint in this.

Im really looking forward to the next in this series, this is one of the great periods of history, told with true style.

Highly reccomended

(Parm)

Series
Vespasian
   1. Tribune of Rome (2011)
   2. Rome’s Executioner (2012)
   3. False God of Rome (2013)
   4. Rome’s Fallen Eagle (2013)
   5. Masters of Rome (2014)
   6. Rome’s Lost Son (2015)
   7. Furies of Rome (2016)
   8. Rome’s Sacred Flame (2018)
   9. Emperor of Rome (2019)
   The Succession (2018)
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Crossroads Brotherhood
   1. The Crossroads Brotherhood (2011)
   2. The Racing Factions (2013)
   3. The Dreams of Morpheus (2014)
   4. The Alexandrian Embassy (2015)
   5. The Imperial Triumph (2017)
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Alexander’s Legacy
   1. To The Strongest (2020)
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Novels
   Arminius (2017)
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Nicholas Eames: Kings of the Wyld & Bloody Rose (Review)

Nicholas Eames's picture

Nicholas Eames was born to parents of infinite patience and unstinting support in Wingham, Ontario. Though he attended college for theatre arts, he gave up acting to pursue the infinitely more attainable profession of ‘epic fantasy novelist.’ Kings of the Wyld is his first novel. Nicholas loves black coffee, neat whiskey, the month of October, and video games. He currently lives in Ontario, Canada, and is very probably writing at this very moment.

book cover of Kings of the Wyld

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help–the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It’s time to get the band back together. 

(Review)

 

 

 

book cover of Bloody Rose

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side. 

(Review)

Ok so i may seem a little late to the table with these two books, but that’s because i wanted to read them when i could really enjoy them, to spend time on them, and am i so glad i did, this is a truly excellent new series. Its been a long time since i’ve read anyone who reminds me so much of James Barclay (an author who deserves to have been sooo much bigger). The characters and new , fresh, funny, a team dedicated to each other over and above any mission or cause, friends and family come first, even if you need to cross the most dangerous land and battle an entire horde to get there….

What won me to these books is the easy comradeship, the conversation and the gallows humour, i chuckled all the way through these books and i read them both twice, something i almost never do, there is an easy reading qulity to these while containing complex and very real characters.

There is no need to analyse every person or place in this review….. simply if you love reading go buy these books, they are awesome , Nicholas Eames has with 2 books jumped onto my MUST read pile and must collect book shelf.

beyond Highly recommended … you would be mad not to buy these

(Parm)

 

 

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Christian Cameron: The New Achilles (review)

The New Achilles (2019)
(The first book in the Commander series)

book cover of The New Achilles

Alexanor is a man who has seen too much blood. He has left the sword behind him to become a healer in the greatest sanctuary in Greece, turning his back on war.

But war has followed him to his refuge at Epidauros, and now a battle to end the freedom of Greece is all around him. The Mediterranean superpowers of Rome, Egypt and Macedon are waging their proxy wars on Hellenic soil, turning Greek farmers into slaves and mercenaries.

When wounded soldier Philopoemen is carried into his temple, Alexanor believes the man’s wounds are mortal but that he is not destined to die. Because he knows Philopoemen will become Greece’s champion. Its last hero. The new Achilles.

Review

I love it when a new Christian Cameron is released, in my opinion he is the finest writer in Historical fiction and Fantasy Fiction.

The New Achilles is no different it is exceptional, while reading i had to stop so often the really appreciate and think through some of the points raised, the ethos and philosophy used for the differing sides is both enlightening and entertaining, the politics and the geography described with subtle information drops and breathtaking detail, rarely have i been challenged and entertained in equal measure, add to that Alexanors and Philopoemens love lives, which will just break your heart. This slower reading approach was my choice and was a challenge because in his usual style Christian and his characters will pull you into the ancient Greek world and hold you there, to feel the sweat blood and tears of the time as well as the everyday activities, its full life immersion, if you’re not careful you get swept along and the book will end before you know it, as it was it still ended far too soon for me, i wanted book 2 immediately.

I also love how this series will dovetail with Ben Kanes excellent new series Clash of Empires (book one Clash of Empires and The Falling Sword)

A high contender for my book of the year

(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 Turneyand Russell Whitfield)
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Series
Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2012)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2012)
4. A Plague of Swords (2016)
5. The Fall of Dragons (2017)
Traitor son cycle series: Books 1-4 (omnibus) (2018)
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Masters & Mages
1. Cold Iron (2018)
2. Dark Forge (2019)
3. Light Bringer (2019)
3. Bright Steel (2019)
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Filed under Christian Cameron, Historical Fiction, Uncategorized

Anthony Riches: Scorpion’s Strike (Review)

Anthony Riches (in his own words)

Following a childhood which featured a deep interest in the military rooted in my father and grandfather’s service in the two world wars, I took a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. Working for a succession of blue chip companies over the next twenty five years, Tony_RichesI gravitated into business systems and change project management, and I’ve worked as a freelance project manager in the UK and Europe, the USA, the Middle and Far East over the last decade.

Over the same period I’ve gradually refined my ability to write fiction, initially for my own entertainment but more recently with the serious aim of achieving my debut publication. The manuscript of Wounds of Honour eked out a precarious ten-year existence on a succession of computer hard drives and memory sticks until a life-changing encounter in Belfast energised me to rewrite the manuscript and seek publication. Thanks Gerry!

I’ve been married to Helen, our family’s only true adult for 25 years now, and we live in Hertfordshire with our three children. I’m a confirmed petrol head, and I spend my spare time listening to music, reading (mainly on planes going to and coming back from work) and surfing internet car reviews with a purposeful glint in my eye.

https://www.anthonyriches.com/

book cover of The Scorpion\'s Strike

Set in the second century AD, The Scorpion’s Strike continues the story of Marcus Aquila’s fight for justice for a family ripped asunder by imperial assassins. 

Still seeking revenge, Marcus finds himself thrown back into the heart of the chaos that is shaking the Roman Empire to its roots.

Fresh from their close escape from imperial betrayal in the German forest, Marcus and the Tungrians are ordered to Gaul, where an outlaw called Maturnus is wreaking havoc. Havoc that may be more than mere banditry, as deserters and freed slaves flock to his cause: rebellion is in the air for the first time in a generation.

And if escape from Rome’s memories is a relief for the young centurion, he soon discovers that danger has followed him west to Gaul. The expedition is led by Praetorians whom he has every cause to hate. And to fear, if they should discover who he really is.

Review

I’ve been looking forward to reading a new Empire book for a while, the entire series is a breath of fresh air in the genre, fast paced, full of amazing characters, that drive the plot, the excitement and the emotion.

That said before i start any Empire book i message Tony and threaten him that if he has killed Dubnus we will be having words… that’s the true mark of these books, not one single character is safe, the series now could keep going even with the death of its lead character, with that hanging over every page it lends an extra edge to the tension of the entire story.

After a break of three years i can certainly say that Anthony Riches has lost none of his swagger when it comes to ballsy fast paced action and comedic repartee amongst his large array of leading characters. One of the most engaging things in the book is that anyone from Marcus to Morban could lead a story, and so we the reader get perspectives from all levels of the Legionary life, and in this book a great look at the Praetorian mindset.

As ever i wont add any spoilers for the plot, but suffice to say as with almost every Anthony Riches book, once you crack open the book to the first page you need to hold on tight, the book will not let you go, fortunatly you can take the book with you when you need a toilet break, because from the first page to the last its Danger, daring, blood and glory, death and destruction and full of laugh out loud banter between the troops.

I never wonder if one of the books in this series will be good, they all are, its just how many rude messages i need to send the author for killing certain people!!

Love this book, love this series, if you have not read any… WHY!!?? and if you have not pre-ordered this book, WHY!??

VERY Highly recommended

(Parm)

 

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)
The Empire Collection Books I-3 (omnibus) (2017)
The Empire Collection Books 4-6 (omnibus) (2017)
The Empire Collection Books 7-9 (omnibus) (2017)
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Centurions 
1. Betrayal (2017)
2. Onslaught (2017)
3. Retribution (2018)
Betrayal: The Raid (2017)
Centurions: Codex Batavi (2018)
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Filed under Anthony Riches, Historical Fiction, Uncategorized

Miles / Christian Cameron : Dark Forge (Review) Blog Tour

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

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

 

DARK FORGE

Some are warriors, some captains; others tend to the fallen or feed the living.

But on the magic-drenched battlefield, information is the lifeblood of victory, and Aranthur is about to discover that carrying messages, scouting the enemy, keeping his nerve, and passing on orders is more dangerous, and more essential, then an inexperienced soldier could imagine . . . especially when everything starts to go wrong.

Battle has been joined – on the field, in the magical sphere, and in the ever-shifting political arena

book cover of Dark Forge

Review:

Miles Cameron burst onto the fantasy scene in 2012 and quickly established himself as one of the best writers in the genre, not a huge surprise given that he is also Christian Cameron arguably the best writer in Historical Fiction genre. In both genres he takes all his knowledge as a soldier, intelligencer, historian and re-enactor and couples that with a writing ability that is the envy of many established writers.

The big worry for any reader and writer in a new genre is that when a series is as good as The Traitor Son cycle, then what comes next is it possible to reach that same heady heights as series one? and TSC is one of the best epic fantasy series you can find so that’s a tough ask.

But Miles/ Christian gave us Master and Mages: Cold Iron, somehow he managed to create yet another world, yet another world structure, magic ethos and more and made it new and original and even better than TSC.

Dark Forge progresses that high skill level of writing and that extraordinary world building. But more than the world building you have layers and layers of politics, magic, friendship, honour and all written through the eyes of such real and honest characters. people you can read and love and shed blood with.  Thats the true power of his writing, the characters that while they live in another time and a place of magic, you feel totally connected to them, and so feel pulled ever deeper into the plots and the intrigues.

Be prepared for all out action and intrigue in Dark Forge, this book follows the further growth of Aranthur, The battles get bigger and more desperate, the magic deeper and more complex and the intentions of the dark forces more obscure…. can Aranthur unravel the mad schemes of the pure? can you the reader keep up with all the spy craft? the layers of mystery and misdirection? the huge scale battles and city sieges? Can you keep up with the one on one swashbuckling sword scenes? and the utter scale of adventure that’s both hugely complex and yet so simply and elegantly written.

I loved this book, it was my first read for a few months, having taken time out… and what a way to return. Easily a contender for book of the year.

Parm.

 

Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2012)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2012)
4. A Plague of Swords (2016)
5. The Fall of Dragons (2017)
Traitor son cycle series: Books 1-4 (omnibus) (2018)
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Masters & Mages
1. Cold Iron (2018)
2. Dark Forge (2019)
3. Light Bringer (2019)
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Series
Alan Craik (as by Gordon Kent)
1. Night Trap (1998)
aka Rules of Engagement
2. Peace Maker (2000)
3. Top Hook (2002)
4. Hostile Contact (2003)
5. Force Protection (2004)
6. Damage Control (2005)
7. The Spoils of War (2006)
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Tyrant
1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
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Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
5. Salamis (2015)
6. Rage of Ares (2016)
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Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
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Chivalry
1. The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
2. The Long Sword (2014)
3. The Green Count (2017)
4. Sword of Justice (2018)
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Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part One (2014)
2. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Two (2014)
3. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Three (2014)
4. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Four (2015)
5. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Five (2015)
6. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Six (2015)
7. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Seven (2015)
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Tom Swan and the Last Spartans
1. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part One (2016)
2. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Two (2016)
3. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Three (2017)
4. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Four (2017)
5. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Five (2017)
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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 Turneyand Russell Whitfield)
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Filed under Fantasy, Miles Cameron, Uncategorized