Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Miles Cameron: Cold Iron (Review)

Christian Cameron 
aka Miles Cameron, Gordon Kent

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.

 

book cover of Cold Iron

A young mage-in-training is unwittingly pulled into a violent political upheaval, in the first book of this new epic fantasy trilogy by Miles Cameron, author of the Traitor Son Cycle.

Aranthur is a promising young mage. His talents compel him to attend University to develop his abilities further. But the world is not safe for a mage, and after a confrontation leaves him no choice but to display his skill with a blade, Aranthur is instructed to train under a renowned Master of Swords.

During his intensive training he begins to question the bloody life he’s chosen. And while studying under the Master, Aranthur is conscripted to the City Militia. Soon after, he finds himself thrown into the middle of a political revolt that will impact everyone he’s come to know.

To protect his friends, Arnathur will be forced to decide if he can truly follow the Master of Swords into a life of violence and cold-hearted commitment to the blade.

Review

Miles Cameron is undoubtedly a hugely talented writer, his work as Christian Cameron is at the forefront of writing in Historical Fiction, and his debut fantasy series (Traitor Son Cycle) has been a huge hit.

For me there was little question about the expected quality of this next series, just what direction would it take, and could it be as original as the Traitor Son series?

My first surprise was that this book starts the series off at a very measured pace, no big battles. What it delivers instead is world building on a hugely imaginative scale, in-depth characterization and characters you can connect with instantly on a personal level. A magic system that’s new and fresh and complex, that cannot be used for simple plot escapes, and a political system as complex and dizzying as anything in the real world. In fact as always i think we find many modern world issues explored and exposed in this book, racism, right wing attitudes, an ISIS equivalent ideology, and yet also compassion, and understanding, religious ideals and many other thoughts and ideas are explored and incorporated.

The depth and breadth of this book is breath taking, the skill with which its delivered is sure to make this book and this series a huge hit.

Very very highly recommended.

(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)
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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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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)
The New Achilles (2019)
The Last Greek (2020)
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Filed under Fantasy, Miles Cameron, Uncategorized

David Gilman: Scourge of Wolves (Guest Blog)

David Gilman

Image result for david gilman

David Gilman has had an impressive variety of jobs – from firefighter to professional photographer, from soldier in the Parachute Regiment’s Reconnaissance Platoon to a Marketing Manager for an international publisher. He has countless radio, television and film credits before turning to novels. From 2000 until 2009 he was a principal writer on A Touch Of Frost.         David currently lives in Devon with his wife.

book cover of Scourge of Wolves

Winter, 1361: Edward III has finally agreed a treaty with the captive French King, John II. In return for his freedom, John has ceded vast tracts of territory to the English. But the mercenary bands and belligerent lords will not give up their hard-won spoils to honour a defeated king’s promises.

As he battles to enforce Edward’s claim, Thomas Blackstone, once again, will face the might of the French army on the field. But this time there will be no English army at his back.

Parmenion:

Guest Blog:

David Gilman – Scourge of Wolves.

The enmity between the French house of Valois and Thomas Blackstone is as fierce as always and if the French cannot corner him then they will turn his actions against him and persuade the English King that Thomas Blackstone is a murderer and a rapist. Any treaty between the English and the French is ignored when it comes to destroying Blackstone.

War and superstition were often travelling companions for the men who fought in medieval times. Portents of death were taken seriously, and no soldier wanted to die unshriven, without his sins being forgiven by a priest. In the winter of 1361 and then into 1362 France was still plagued with thousands of vicious armed men, ex-soldiers no longer held by their fealty to a lord or arrayed by their respective king, be they French, English, Gascons, Navarrese or German. Like the pestilence, they inflicted fear and devastation on the population. King Edward 111 had seemingly won his war against the French but now came the reckoning. Edward needs to claim what was no rightfully his and the French King, John 11, had to try and salvage what he could of his eviscerated country. The great set piece battles were no more there were many hard-fought contests between forces vying for power and influence.

 

Not only did routiers, mercenary bands, scour the land there was a civil war raging between Breton lords – a proxy war between the French and English. King John 11 backed one side, the English King the other, and amid this turmoil were those trying to claim the ceded territory due to the victorious English. Sir John Chandos the renowned knight, a man of great skill and political acumen was tasked with bringing those territories under English control and in Scourge of Wolves, it falls to Thomas Blackstone to defeat those who still opposed the will of the Crown. King Edward 111 played loose and fast with the treaty. He ordered any English mercenaries holding towns and land to return them to the French but in truth, he was slow to enforce this because it suited him to have the French tormented and to force them to concentrate their armies against the mercenaries.  It served to keep these disaffected men fighting in France rather than to return to England and create havoc at home.

 

Here then was a complex and brutal time politically and militarily where the future of two nations rested on a satisfactory outcome of a fragile peace treaty. Ceded territories were contested and routiers seemed to be aiding Edward who had not rescinded his claim to the French crown. In this broad sweep of historical mayhem Scourge of Wolves is told mostly through the eyes of the common soldier and the man who leads them, Sir Thomas Blackstone. In every conflict, those who engage in the fighting see only the immediate danger and to write about this time of great upheaval I needed to simplify events, imagine interlocking incidents that occurred behind the scenes and create dramatic intrigue to drive forward the story. Real events, real people, others invented. And above all else to take my readers on a journey where the portent of death hovers remorselessly over my characters.

Many thanks for this insight David.

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)
5. Scourge of Wolves (2017)
Master of War Boxset: Books 1-3 (omnibus) (2017)
David gilman collection master of war series Books 1-4(omnibus) (2018)
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Novels
Monkey and Me (2014)
The Last Horseman (2016)
Night Flight to Paris (2018)
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Filed under David Gilman, Historical Fiction, Uncategorized

Michael Rutger: The Anomaly

Michael Rutger

Sorry  not pic and no Bio……. for me this makes me think Pseudonym!!

The Anomaly

The Anomaly: Would you DARE to put this gripping, terrifying new thriller down? by [Rutger, Michael]

THEY SOUGHT
A team of explorers seek ancient treasures, hidden in a secret cave.
THE TRUTH
At first it seems they will return empty handed. Then their luck turns.
THEY FOUND
But the team’s elation is short-lived as they become trapped there in the dark, with little possibility of escape.
A NIGHTMARE
Then events take an even more terrifying turn.
For not all secrets are meant to be found . . .

Review

The book for a debut feels like a pretty accomplished piece of writing, that said it feels like a movie script right from the start. which has its good and its bad.  The story is led from the POV of our main character Nolan a You tube channel presenter of an Xfiles style channel a show looking for the fantastic, the strange, the different, the bizarre. On a shoe string budget their latest show is looking to find an old cave system that may prove the existence of a civilization much older than we know in North America.

If i’m honest the book has a bit of an overly long build up to actually getting to the cave, but once we get to the cave things start to get very real, very dark and very odd. Nolan as a character is really quite fun and like-able, but its his British boss that i loved, im a sucker for a line where a yank gets called a wanker… its always funny. The group dynamic in the book is well worked, with a great dialogue and mix of ability and inability. if your a fan of Rollins and Matthew Reilly then you will appreciate the fantastical of just how out there and X-files this story gets.

Ultimately i really enjoyed the book, i think it will make a much better movie or TV series than book, but as a book its a great escape from the norm and well worth reading.

(Parm)

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John Gwynne: A Time of Dread (Extract, GIVEAWAY!!! & Review)

John Gwynne was born in Singapore while his dad was stationed there in the RAF. Up until he retired that meant a lot of traveling around, generally a move every three years or so.
He lives with his wife and four wonderful (and demanding) children in East Sussex. Also three dogs, two of which will chew anything that stands still. He has had many strange and wonderful jobs, including packing soap in a soap factory, waitering in a french restaurant in Canada, playing double bass in a rock n roll band, and lecturing at Brighton University
.I stepped out of university work due to my daughter’s disability, so now I split my time caring for her and working from home – I work with my wife rejuvenating vintage furniture, which means fixing, lifting, carrying, painting and generally doing what my wife tells me to do…

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And somehow during this time I started writing. I’ve always told my children stories at bed-time, and they pestered long and hard for me to write some of it down. At the same time I felt that my brain was switching off a little – vintage furniture is my wife’s passion, whereas my passions are geekier!

book cover of A Time of Dread

A Time of Dread (2018) (The first book in the Blood & Bone series)

The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient enemy may not be as crushed as they thought.

In the snowbound north, Drem, a trapper, finds mutilated corpses in the forests – a sign of demonic black magic.

In the south, Riv, a young, tempestuous soldier, discovers a deadly rift within the Ben-Elim themselves.

Two individuals with two world-changing secrets. But where will they lead? And what role will Drem and Riv play in the Banished Land’s fate? Difficult choices need to be made.

In the shadows, dark forces are gathering, waiting for their time to rise. . .

Extract

He turned, looked around wildly, saw the camp in chaos,
giants and bears everywhere. Others were arriving, columns of
normal-sized warriors on foot, clad in black leather, with huge,
rectangular shields upon their arms, silver wings embossed
upon them. They spread in tight-packed lines about the camp,
surrounding everyone within it and their shields came together
with a resonating snap. Bleda glimpsed shadowed faces in silver
helms, smaller figures appearing amongst them: children, he
realized, offering water skins after a hard march. As he stared,
he saw a figure staring back at him, pale and dark-haired, a girl,
holding a water skin up to a warrior, even as she stared straight
at him.
Shadows flitted across the ground and the sound of wings
filled Bleda’s ears as the Ben-Elim swooped low. One flew
lower than the rest, great wings beating as he hovered above
Erdene and Bleda a long moment, grass and dust swirling, then
he alighted gently upon the ground. He was tall, taller than any
man Bleda had seen, his hair raven-black, wearing a coat of
bright mail and gripping a spear in his fist. Blood crusted the
spear’s blade.
‘Is this him?’ the Ben-Elim asked, eyes lingering on Bleda a
moment, then rising to Erdene.
Erdene was silent for so long that Bleda thought she would
not answer.
‘You must be strong,’ Erdene said to Bleda

Fear trickled through Bleda, then, at something in his
mother’s voice, and in the way the winged warrior had looked
at him.
He tried to master his fear, to control the prickling in his
eyes that threatened tears.
No. I am Sirak. I am son to Erdene, Lord-of-all-she-sees.
‘Good.’ The Ben-Elim stooped down and grabbed Bleda by
the collar of his tunic, hoisting him into the air. Bleda instinctively
snatched for an arrow from his quiver, nocking it to his
bow, but with a flick of his wrist the Ben-Elim slapped it from
Bleda’s grip, sent his bow falling to the ground. Bleda glared at
the Ben-Elim, expecting his mother to intervene, to protect
him, as she always had done, but she just sat upon her horse,
looking at him with her grey eyes.
‘I am Israfil, Lord Protector of the Land of the Faithful,
and you are coming with me,’ the Ben-Elim said. ‘A surety that
your mother will keep the peace once we are gone.’
‘What? Where?’ Bleda said, the Ben-Elim’s words seeping
through to him slowly, as if through water.
‘You are my ward, Bleda, and Drassil will be your new
home,’ the Ben-Elim said.
Ward. Drassil.
The words set Bleda reeling as if they were blows. Drassil
was the Ben-Elim’s fortress, far to the west.
I am to be their Ward. A prisoner, he means.
‘No,’ Bleda whispered. ‘Mother?’
A long silence, a look between Erdene and Israfil that spoke
of pride and shame, of the victor and the defeated. The fear
returned then, a chill in Bleda’s heart, seeping into his veins,
carrying a tremor to his lips.
The cold-face. Do not shame Mother. Do not shame my people.
‘It is agreed,’ Erdene said, her face a mask, only her eyes
speaking her message.
You must be strong.
‘It is the price that must be paid,’ the Ben-Elim intoned.

‘There will be peace in the Land of the Faithful. There is only
one enemy, only one foe who shall be fought: the Kadoshim
and their followers.’
‘No,’ Bleda said, both denial and refusal. He felt hot tears
bloom in his eyes, snatched at them, knowing the shame they
brought.
‘Altan and Hexa will not allow you to do this,’ Bleda said,
anger and fear twisting his voice, then there was a rushing of air
and a beating of wings as more Ben-Elim sped from the sky,
alighting around Israfil. The first was fair-haired, a long scar
running from forehead to chin. He threw something at Israfil’s
feet. They dropped with a thud, rolled in the grass and fell still.
Two heads, eyes bulging, blood still dripping.
Altan and Hexa.
The world went silent. Bleda’s vision was reduced to the
severed heads of his brother and sister. He heard something,
distantly, realized that it was him, that he was screaming, twisting
and bucking in Israfil’s grip, hands reaching to gouge the
Ben-Elim’s eyes, but Israfil held him at arm’s length until
slowly Bleda’s strength drained away, like wine from a pierced
skin. Israfil regarded Bleda with dark, emotionless eyes, then
finally shifted his gaze to the fair-haired Ben-Elim who had cast
the heads at Israfil’s feet. Although Israfil asked no questions,
did not even utter a word, the blond Ben-Elim spoke as if
answering a reprimand, his eyes dropping.
‘They would not surrender,’ he said, his feet shuffling in the
dirt. ‘They slew Remiel.’ His eyes came up, fierce and defiant,
and met Israfil’s. ‘They slew a Ben-Elim, gave me no choice.’
Israfil held his gaze a long moment, then gave a curt nod. With
a flick of his wrist he threw Bleda into the air, a giant catching
him and placing him on the saddle in front of him. Bleda found
new strength, fighting and squirming, tears blurring his vision,
but the giant held him tight.
Israfil waved his hand and then the giant was tugging on his
reins, shouting a command and the huge mountain of fur and

muscle beneath Bleda was turning, lumbering away from the
Ben-Elim and Bleda’s mother, from his kin and people, away
from everything he knew, away from Bleda’s whole world.
Towards his new home.
Towards Drassil.

Review

John Gwynne has created a world of stunning quality, depth and complexity, this i’m sure is no surprise to anyone who has read the Faithful and the Fallen series but for someone coming in fresh, this new book can be ready as a stand alone (ok there are a few things that could be niggly mentions from the past, but i’m a purist who reads from book one) , all i can say is WOW what an amazing feast for the mind.

John Gwynne from the earliest pages weaves in his characters and plot, and subtly threads in his information drops to capture the reader and make them part of the tale, to draw them into this vividly real and highly imagined world. Like only the best writers, the author seems capable of making the fantastic utterly real and believable and thus transporting the reader right into the center of the story.

Finding a series that manages to sidestep a magic system (mainly) and yet provide a world that feels full of magic is a triumph, one i think created by the various beings that inhabit the world, there is nothing strange about creatures with wings or giants, or giant vampire bats… they all fit seamlessly into this world, a place both deadly and ruggedly beautiful, described so the scenery unfolds in the mind as you read.

I have to say i expected good when i picked up this book, i got stunningly great. Its January and i already have one book that sets the bar for the year.

(Parm)

Giveaway

Its very simple to be in with a chance to gain one of the 5 copies of this excellent book.

You get one point for every one of the following:

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each point is an entry so if you do all the above, you get 5 chances to gain a copy.

Draw to take place 21st Jan.

UK only. (Sorry)

Faithful and the Fallen
1. Malice (2012)
2. Valour (2014)
3. Ruin (2015)
4. Wrath (2016)
Faithful and the Fallen Collection 4 Books Set (omnibus)(2017)
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Blood & Bone
1. A Time of Dread (2018)
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Novellas
Better to Live than to Die (2015)
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