Tag Archives: ancient greece

Andy McDermott: Kingdom of Darkness (Review)

Author: Andy McDermott

Andy McD

Andy McDermott is the international bestselling author of the Nina Wilde/Eddie Chase series of adventure thrillers, the first of which, THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS, became a New York Times bestseller on its September 2009 publication in the United States. He is currently working on his twelfth novel.

Born in Halifax, England, and a graduate of Keele University, Andy now lives in Bournemouth, where he works as a full-time writer. Previously, he was an entertainment journalist and the editor of such magazines as DVD Review and the iconoclastic film publication Hotdog, where his lifelong love of movies (and vast knowledge of movie trivia) finally became a useful job skill. He has also worked as a cartoonist, graphic designer and videogame reviewer, and written for the award-winning British sci-fi comic2000AD.

Author Web Site

Kingdom of Darkness (2014)
(The tenth book in the Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase series)

Kingdom of darkness

 

Buy the book

“What’s the connection between a dig in Alexandria for Alexander the Great’s tomb and a wanted Nazi war criminal?

Nina and Eddie about to find out as they go on a search across the globe, from Egypt to Argentina and Italy to Iran, to find the truth. They have located the most exciting archaeological treasures the world has ever known – they have found Atlantis and walked in the Garden of Eden, they have wielded Excalibur and seen the vast sums of gold in El Dorado.
Could they now be about to find the greatest prize of all – the secret to eternal life?

Full of his trademark action, thrills and humour, this is Andy McDermott’s most exciting novel to date and marks the 10th novel featuring his brilliant series leads, Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase.”

Review

I’ve always been a little astounded by the books from Andy McDermott, first that he could write so fast, these are not small books, but look at his track record, his first six books were published in three years, in 7 years Eleven novels (Stunning). Each and every book has been a epic thrill ride, worthy of any Hollywood studio / film writer. Which brings me to my amazement that none of these books have been made into a big budget film.

So Kingdom of Darkness, probably the least OTT of the series, but this is a series you read for the wild thrill ride, not plausibility. That said its also well researched, down to some very fine detail (both the modern and the historical) and always remains just within the bounds of possible. This time, throw in Nazis’s, Alexander the Great and a secret to eternal life and you have an absolute winner.  With any great thriller, to talk to much about the plot is a spoiler, and same about the back story. Needless to say for those who read this series Eddie Chase is his usual puntastic self, Nina gets them into the thick of trouble with her single minded pursuit of legend and along the way there will be wild chases, explosions, bullets galore and twists and turns so mind bendingly good you will be guessing all the way to the end.

In summary: An excellent thriller, exhausting, Laugh out loud funny and gobsmackingly heartbreaking.

If you like high octane thrillers then you CANNOT miss this book.

(Parm)

 

 

Series
Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase
1. The Hunt for Atlantis (2007)
2. The Tomb of Hercules (2008)
3. The Secret of Excalibur (2008)
4. The Covenant of Genesis (2009)
5. The Cult of Osiris (2009)
aka The Pyramid of Doom
6. The Sacred Vault (2010)
aka The Vault Of Shiva
7. Empire of Gold (2011)
8. Temple of the Gods (2011)
aka Return to Atlantis
9. The Valhalla Prophecy (2014)
10. Kingdom of Darkness (2014)
The Hunt for AtlantisThe Tomb of HerculesThe Secret of ExcaliburThe Covenant of GenesisThe Cult of OsirisThe Sacred VaultThe Sacred VaultTemple of the GodsThe Valhalla ProphecyKingdom of Darkness
Novels
The Persona Protocol (2013)
aka The Shadow Protocol
The Persona Protocol
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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Andy McDermott, Historical Fiction

Christian Cameron: Force of Kings (Review)

Christian Cameron

Christian Cameron

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 (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.

 

Force of Kings (2014)

(The sixth book in the Tyrant series)

Buy the book

force of kings

Twin monarchs Satyrus and Melitta have worked hard, seen much blood shed and many good friends die to secure their fertile kingdom on the Black Sea. But as the colossal conflict between Alexander the Great’s former generals to inherit his empire rages from one end of the known world to the other, sitting on the sidelines is not an option. If their kingdom is to have a future, Satyrus and Melitta must join forces with one of the contenders, knowing that making the wrong choice could mean disaster. And with Ptolemy, Antigonus-One-Eye and his son Demetrius ‘the Besieger’, Lysimachus and Seleucus all massing their forces for one last battle, the stakes could not be higher. But with the wily Athenian schemer Stratokles, the courtesan-spy Phiale and Satyrus’s lover, the power-hungry Briseis, daughter of the Tyrant of Syracuse, also determined to secure the spoils of victory for themselves, the twins find themselves caught in a deadly web of intrigue that could cost them everything.

Review

I makes no bones about the fact that I’m a Christian Cameron fan, his books top my annual must read list every year, and are often competing for my book of the year award. This latest book Force of Kings is no different, although its a bitter sweet experience, the final book in a series going back to 2008 and the debut book in this series, a series that has helped give me a deeper love of ancient Greek culture, respect for that culture and respect for the author as one of the smartest most driven, nicest guys i know.

None of that tells you about force of Kings, as ever i hate to and wont give away the plot of a book in a review. What i will cover is: the totally immerse history, so well researched and written the reader is sucked back in time to live, breath fight and die hand in hand with Satyrus and his friends and enemies. My favorite underlying part of all Christians books is that there is no real good guy/ bad guy dynamic, he paints the shades of grey, weaving reality into the plot but without losing the wonder of the age.

The history is romantic and idealised, at times poetic, but that comes across as the authors love of the location and the period. None of it corrupts the plot, the woven intricacies of Stratokles, the machinations of “the doctor”, the self assured megalomania of Demetrius ‘the Besieger’ and the quiet self assured nature of Satyrus, always searching to be a better man, and running headlong into any fire going to do the right thing.

I love the way the author plays out his script, and at the same time makes the reader explore their own inner self, own decisions and the reasons behind them. I’m always left with some form of self examination afterwards, both myself and going back over decisions by characters, should they have made that choice, would i have made that choice. For me its the sign of a great book that challenges you to reread, to explore deeper and more thoroughly the plot and the people. A book that educates while it entertains.

This is the second book this year from this prolific author (great king already out and been an outstanding read) The Long Sword the second William Gold book is out in November 2014 and there are 3 more Tom Swan books due out also.

this is in my top 5 for this year, and will be competing for the top spot come the end of the year. A writer who makes you love history the way he loves it, seen through his eyes, and sharing his experiences. (visit his web site and you will see how intimately he will share the privations and wonders of Ancient Greece, and his commitment to learning the martial skills.)

Highly recommended

(Parm)

 

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)
TyrantStorm of ArrowsFuneral GamesKing of the BosporusDestroyer of CitiesForce of Kings
Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King
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)
7, 8 & 9 due (2014)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRomeRhodesChios
Novels
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
The Long Sword (2014)
Washington and CaesarGod of WarThe Ill-Made KnightThe Long Sword

 

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Noble Smith: Spartans at the Gates (review)

Author Bio (Noble Smith)

Noble-Smith_homepage

Noble Smith is an award-winning playwright and documentary film executive producer as well as a 16-year veteran of the interactive entertainment industry as a narrative designer. He is the author of The Wisdom of the Shire, a guide to life for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien (translated into 8 languages), praised by Kirkus Reviews as a “must-have” for fans of Middle-earth. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and children.

Book Description (Spartan at the gates)

Spartans_NSmith_cover-197x300

The Peloponnesian War has begun. An army of merciless Spartan invaders have arrived at the gates of Plataea, bent on obliterating the city and its inhabitants. Plataea’s oldest allies, the Athenians, are spread too thin in their own campaigns to send help. Cut off and alone, the Plataeans dig in behind their high walls for the coming siege, while the ruthless Spartans gather outside.

On a rugged mountain road a young Plataean warrior named Nikias rides to Athens on an urgent quest. He carries with him a bag of ill-gotten gold, hoping to raise an army of mercenaries to help defend his city from the coming Spartan assault. But in the sprawling stronghold of Athens, Nikias encounters perils that prove to be more dangerous than those he has faced on the battlefield.
Noble Smith’s Spartans at the Gates is a thrilling action-adventure novel set during the war between the great powers of Ancient Greece.

Review:

I first discovered Noble last year when i stumbled across Sons of Zeus, The concept was the bit that intrigued me despite the cover being another unfortunate US cover (sorry guys, but US publishers have an amazing skill for awful covers, Spartans at the Gates isn’t really an improvement…sorry Noble). In the last five years plus I have developed a real passion for books set in ancient Greece, something driven mainly by the awesome writing of Christian Cameron. Couple that with Nobles setting of Plataea again a location at the heart of Christians writing and I was hooked in to read book one and give it a go. What i didn’t expect was excellent pace and plotting of the book and its characters. My review of Sons of Zeus is Here

When I know Spartan at the Gates was ready in advance copy I was front and centre begging the author for a copy. I hadn’t enjoyed a book this much in this time period since Christian Cameron’s works first hooked me in. (and that really is my highest compliment). The worry of a great first book is “can the author repeat it?”

In the case of Spartan the answer is yes with a tiny quibble. The fantastic setting is there, the descriptive is there, the research is impeccable, the characters are once again sublime. Noble imbues Nikias and all his family and friends with a real passion, the protagonists are all complex bad guys, giving an amazing keep you guessing plot, who will pop up where, what are the real motives? Introduce the multitude of whisperers (spies) from all sides and factions and you don’t know what will happen next.  This book has Nikias thrown from one set of issues and adversity to another, testing his stamina and metal to the limit, We also fill in more of the blanks on Chusor the mysterious Smith and will Nikias young friend Kolax finally find his father, and how many people will this whirling devil of a Scythian boy kill on his journey to find him. The whole book flew by, it was over before I felt I had really got to the meat of it, and I think that was my only regret with the read, it felt like a bridging book, moving pieces on the chess board and shifting them into position for the final book in the series, its done so well that on the Amazon scale I would still give this 5/5 stars, but on a personal note I felt that bridging and plot building too keenly in its ending, that could just be a great compliment that i never wanted it to end? but in a world of hefty tomes, i felt this could have benefitted from another 100 pages of meat.

So once again from Noble Smith a truly excellent read, crammed with great characters and story telling , an engaging and fast paced writing skill and style to rival the best of them (Bernard Cornwell, , Conn Iggulden, Christian Cameron, Giles Kristian, Anthony Riches, Ben Kane, Paul Collard, Michael Arnold, Angus Donald (hope I didn’t miss anyone 😉 etc..) and well worth the cover price, a book I heartily recommend.

(Parm)

 

Novels
Stolen from Gypsies (2000)
Sons of Zeus (2013)
Spartans at the Gates (2014)
Stolen from GypsiesSons of ZeusSpartans at the Gates
Novellas
The One-Armed Warrior (2013)
The One-Armed Warrior
Non fiction
The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life (2012)
The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life

 

 

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The Parthenon Enigma by Joan Breton Connelly

About the author
Joan Breton Connelly

Joan Breton Connelly is Professor of Classics at New York University.She has held visiting fellowships at All Souls and New College, Oxford, at Harvard University and at Princeton. She is the author of Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece.

Book Description

parthenon

A radical new interpretation of the meaning and purposes of one of the world’s most iconic buildings.

For more than two millennia, the Parthenon has been revered as the symbol of Western culture and its highest ideals. It was understood to honour the city-state’s patron deity, Athena, and its sculptures to depict a civic celebration in the birthplace of democracy.

But through a close reading of a lost play by Euripides, Joan Connelly has developed a theory that has sparked fierce controversy. Here she explains that our most basic sense of the Parthenon and the culture that built it may have been crucially mistaken. Re-creating the ancient structure, and using a breathtaking range of textual and visual evidence, she uncovers a monument glorifying human sacrifice set in a world of cult ritual quite alien to our understanding of the word ‘Athenian’.

Review
I don’t often step outside my comfort zone of fiction, but every now and again there is something that is just too tempting to resist.
Thanks to the fantastic fictional author Christian Cameron i have developed a passion for things set in ancient Greece, i strive to learn and know more, but often struggle for time.
What this means is that i can enjoy the history of something like The Parthenon Enigma and how it explores something new as a concept, but not because its a new concept, just for the history, i don’t know enough about the Parthenon to know the old and extrapolate the new ground.
What i can say is that for anyone who loves history, be they serious historians or interested travelers in time like me, this book is a great read. For non fiction that i normally peruse through over a period of months, this book sped by in a matter of days. Maybe that’s the love of Greek culture and maybe its the style and content of the book, it is for the individual reader to decide.
What i can say is that this book stands out from the pack, both in cover and content and is well worth the time and money to read.
(Parm)

 

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Christian Cameron: Great King review

Christian Cameron

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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 (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.

Author Web site

Author Forum

Also Christian Cameron is Miles Cameron: read about the reveal

Review

great king

I find it more and more difficult to write a review of Christians books, it’s so expected to write how wonderful they are.

This book is no exception. The characters as ever are some of the most rounded and real that you will read in any historical fiction novel, the action is probably the most realistic and authentic (all driven by his passion for Re-enactment and trying to live the parts, to write about them). What sets these tales apart is that while i get the cut and thrust of battle that i love in these ancient tales, i also get so much more.

The Hero Arimenestos isn’t perfect, he is very flawed, he can be vain, arrogant, passionate, impulsive, heroic. But more than that, he is a family man, his family being more than just relations, his ship mates, his friends, Plataea and his fellow hero’s. So often he finds himself on opposing sides to people he cares about while fighting with of for those he is indifferent to, but country wins over personal loyalty. The tug of war for his soul played out on the page. It’s this emotional tug of war that Christian Cameron excels at in his writing, drawing on what i can only assume is personal experience in the armed forces, and his own innate kindness as a human being.

I can’t go into the history behind the novel in anywhere close to the depth of the author or even JPS (review on here) what i can say is that i felt the history, it felt real. I felt i was there for every battle, for every race, for every tear and every heartbreak and betrayal. The ending and the inevitable death of the Spartan king is heart-breaking and crushing for the reader, portraying a fraction of what the men of the time must have felt. all again showing the skill of the writing.

This truly ranks up there as my all-time favourite series.

(Parm)

Other books by this author

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)
TyrantStorm of ArrowsFuneral GamesKing of the BosporusDestroyer of Cities
Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2013)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King
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)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRomeRhodesChios
Novels
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
Alexander: God of War (2013)
The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
The Long Sword (2014)
Washington and CaesarGod of WarAlexander: God of WarThe Ill-Made Knight

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SJA Turney Priests Tale Review

simon1

Author Bio (in his own words)

I live with my wife, my crazed lunatic son and very vocal baby daughter, and two (close approximations of) dogs in rural North Yorkshire, where my wife and I both grew up, surrounded by friends and family. A born and bred Yorkshireman with a love of country, I cannot envisage spending my life anywhere else, though my anchor is sometimes tested as the wanderlust hits and we travel wherever I can find the breathtaking remains of the classical world. I have a love of travel and history, architecture and writing and those four interact well enough to keep me almost permanently busy.

Since leaving school and University, I have tried a great number of careers, including car sales, insurance, software engineering, computer network management, civil service and even painting and decorating sales. I have lived in four counties and travelled as widely as time and budget allowed and find myself, on the cusp of my fortieth year, back where I began and finally doing something I love.

Having written a number of unpublished short stories in my early days, I decided back in 2003 to try and write a full length novel. That was the start of Marius’ Mules. Being a lover of Roman history, I decided to combine my love of writing and my love of classical history. Marius’ Mules was followed two years later by Interregnum, my attempt to create a new fantasy story still with a heavy flavour of Rome. Since then, the success and popularity of both have inflated my head so that I can no longer comfortably fit through doors, and has spawned sequels to each work, with a third in the fantasy series and the fourth Marius’ Mules now complete.

I maintain another website detailing the Roman sites I visit and photograph here, and write a blog you can find here. Find me on twitter as @sjaturney. I am an almost terminally chatty person. That’s just a due warning if you feel like contacting me (on the left hand menu.) I am always happy to speak to people and have just put together an FAQ gathered together from things I have been asked previously.

Author Web site

Description

Layout 1

Crete, 1492.

After a sojourn of more than a year on the Venetian-controlled island , Skiouros has learned the art of the sword, the languages of his peers and his enemies and everything he believes he needs to know in order to begin his great quest: to seek the death of the one remaining conspirator in the plot responsible for his brother’s death. Circumstances collide, forcing the former thief to set forth on his journey, with the aid of his old friends Parmenio and Nicolo.

Meanwhile, far across the Mediterranean, a small fleet of Turkish galleys is engaged in a last desperate attempt to preserve Islamic influence in the Iberian Peninsula.  While the great naval commander Kemal Reis battles to save a lost people, his subordinate burns to sack, destroy and murder every hint of Christian life in the west.

When the Isabella, complete with the three companions and a young Italian nobleman, cross paths with the violent Ottoman would-be pirate, things turn sour and Skiouros finds himself driven ever further from his goal, bringing him to face some harsh and unsettling personal truths. Skiouros is about to be tested to the limits of his endurance, with his very life at stake.

Priests Tale Review

Reading this book was a very interesting experience.

Firstly because Simon Turney is such an excellent writer. Every book leaves me astounded that he still self publishes. But that self publishing seems to give him a freedom of style and expression as well as release schedule.

What I expected from Priests Tale was a book packed full of vengeance, action and adventure, of Skiouros next trials in seeking the revenge for the death of his brother Lykaion. (in Thiefs Tale)

This to some degree is what I got, the book is indeed packed with action, adventure and a thirst for vengeance. Only the vengeful beast we see isn’t Skiouros, it is Etci Hassan the dark brooding captain of a Turkish ship, a man burning with the flames of Jihad against the Christian nations. This hatred brings him in direct conflict with Skiouros, Captain Parmenio, Nicolo and a wonderful new character Master Cesare Orsini.

The conversational interplay between these characters is so natural so charismatic it draws the reader into the plot, wraps them in the intrigue and comradeship and takes them on a journey through the world of slavery and Tunis.

What I had expected to be a story of all out action, in fact turned out to be a story of comrades, of men finding out who they are deep down, when push came to shove would they run or would they stand, what does a friend truly mean, how much would you give up for them, how much can comradeship and friendship change a persons soul. All these things and more are explored and covered either overtly or covertly within the text.

When you combine this level of skilful writing with the fun and adventure that Simon imbues the story, you end up with a top class book, one that thrills form the first page to the last.

From a personal extra enjoyment I know that Simon has named some of the main characters for some friends (for which I am personally honoured with Captain Parmenio). Its something that will always bring a smile to my face (and at the same time would not influence my view of the book). What did surprise me, in a good way, was how little traits, personality idiosyncrasies had also crept in. (and I don’t just mean Nicolo’s love of the grape). I’m sure some of this is deliberate, but i do wonder if some also crept in subconsciously, Does the author realise how much of himself is in Skiouros? All of this does however give an extra depth to the story.

This is a must buy, because we should support great writing, and because its a fantastic book

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Other titles (Visit Simon’s web site and book store)

Marius’ Mules
1. The Conquest of Gaul (2009)
aka The Invasion of Gaul
2. The Belgae (2010)
3. Gallia Invicta (2011)
4. Conspiracy of Eagles (2012)
5. Hades’ Gate (2013)
The Conquest of GaulThe BelgaeGallia InvictaConspiracy of EaglesHades' Gate
 Tales of the Empire
1. Interregnum (2009)
2. Ironroot (2010)
3. Dark Empress (2011)
InterregnumIronrootDark Empress
 Ottoman Cycle
1. The Thief’s Tale (2013)
The Thief's Tale

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Noble Smith: Sons of Zeus (Review)

Author

Noble-Smith_homepage

Noble Smith is an award-winning playwright and documentary film executive producer as well as a 16-year veteran of the interactive entertainment industry as a narrative designer. He is the author of The Wisdom of the Shire, a guide to life for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien (translated into 8 languages), praised by Kirkus Reviews as a “must-have” for fans of Middle-earth. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and children.

Product Description

zeus

Buy the book

In 431 B.C., Ancient Greece experienced its own “Pearl Harbor” – a treacherous sneak attack that would mark the start of the bloody war between the democracy of Athens and the tyranny of Sparta. Caught between these superpowers, the independent city-state of Plataea became the arena where their battle for control of all of Greece would begin.

In Plataea, the young Greek warrior Nikias dreams of glory in the Olympic games as he trains for the pankration – the no-holds-barred ultimate fighting of the era – until an act of violence in defense of his beloved threatens to send him into exile. But before his trial can take place, a traitor opens the city gates to a surprise attack force.

Suddenly trapped inside their own fortress, the Plataeans are fighting for their lives. As Nikias seeks to discover the identity of the man who betrayed the city, he makes a daring escape, gathers an army, and leads this ragtag band into a suicidal battle at the gates of the citadel – a battle that will decide the fates of his family, his friends, and the woman he loves.

In the vein of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden, and Steven Pressfield, Sons of Zeus marks the beginning of a richly detailed new action-adventure series.

Sons of Zeus Review

It’s always a privilege to be considered as worthy to review a book, and even more so to be specifically asked to do so.

This book was one that had managed to slip past what I thought was a fairly good radar for new books and new authors. So to get the nod as someone who knows / likes good Historical Fiction especially that which is set in Ancient Greece was a bit of an ego boost.

To then, via some back and forth email banter discover that the author is also a total gent, really nice bloke and someone with a real passion for the period was all I needed to whole heartedly say yes please.

Yet somehow it then took me 6 or 7 weeks to crack the book open, this I can only put down to the pressures of one of the busiest years ever for fantastic books. It’s not like the book isn’t visually appealing, the book, a burnt orange colour depicting a Warrior in full panoply backed by a city in flames. The cover shouts that the story is bursting forth from the pages with tales of action, violence and history.

I was determined that this really nice bloke would get his review, so two nights ago I picked up the book. WOW what a journey, two nights of staying up until around 2am to finish the book left me tired, but the book left me exhausted. Both from the pace of the plot and the battles, but also from the emotion of the loss of life and loved ones. The brutality of war and life in ancient Plataean Greece, and the standards to which most of the men and women held themselves for honour, propriety and prowess.

Noble, uses and weaves his tale into the history really well, introducing characters, creating others, breathing life into every one of them. But he also manages to educate the reader on life at the time without making it feel like a history lesson. He works from a neutral standpoint not judging but allowing the reader to judge good from bad. Even hero’s commit evil acts, its just depends on time place and circumstance. War is an evil mistress, and demands a high price.

It takes a really strong book to keep me up late (I have a 2 year old, and a job, sleep is precious) It takes a great story to make me read and read until I fall asleep holding the book, or have to physically force myself to put the book down.

In the shape of Nikias the young warrior, his grandfather Menesarkus the old general, the household slave, the Skythian slave, the blacksmith and inventor Chusor  and many other great character inventions Noble Smith takes a passage from Thucydides “History of the Peloponnesian War” covering an attempt by the Thebans to take over their rivals the Plataeans city and adds meat to the bones to create this wonderful take, the first I hope in a long series.

The publisher blurb makes a comparison to Conwell and Pressfield. I would be more inclined to make a comparison to Christian Cameron, the tale gripped me with the same intensity that his books do.

Very highly recommended, one of my top 5 books for the year.

(Parm)

Coming in June 2014 Spartans at the Gates

Spartans_NSmith_cover-197x300

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