Tag Archives: ancient greece

Christian Cameron: Tom Swan and the Head of St. George Part Six: Chios


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 Description

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A young Englishman, Tom Swan, finds himself in the midst of the Turkish siege of one of the riches islands in the Genoese Empire. Swan’s biggest problem is that he hates the Genoese a good deal more than he hates the Turks. Despite which, he has to catch the spy, steal the ring, kill the traitor, and if possible rescue the princess. Or maybe just bed her.

All duty, of course. So he can get home to the Cardinal, his boss, and his wife, the most beautiful woman in Italy. Suddenly he’s a Knight, a man of action, a leader of men. And none of those are roles he asked for. From the Knights of Rhodes to the court of Mehmet II and Pope Pius II, Swan has to use his sword-and his wits-just to stay alive. And married.


I have called each of these short stories an episode, i do this because this series feels like some of the best episodic short stories i have read. It would make an amazing TV series that would make programs like the Tudors, Spartacus or Borgias’ pale in comparison.
Christian has a clear love of Greece, history, weaponry, fighting skills, Italy…. and on and on. He is a true renaissance man, He is in my mind the inspiration for Tom Swan. If there was a time machine the author would have been off already, but lacking that he travels in the mind and fortunately takes us with him.
Tom Swan 6: you may expect battles and sword fighting, and there is some of that, but the fighting is intimate, and built around intrigue and elements of misdirection, planning to a degree that is unexpected, bringing together strands that began in each episode. There is also great humour, great compassion, camaraderie, humility and personal growth. Couple that with the PTSD that Tom Swan clearly still carries from the last episode and this is a stunning end to a brilliant series…. And Season 2 is on the horizon.

Highly Recommended

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. Artemesium (2013)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's Spear
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)
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


Filed under Historical Fiction

Tom Harper: Orpheus Descent (Review)

The Author


Tom Harper (real name Edwin Thomas) won the CWA debut award in 2001 for The Blighted Cliffs. He also wrote The Mosaic of ShadowsKnights of the Cross, and Siege of Heaven, published by Random House

Edwin Thomas grew up in West Germany, Belgium and America before returning to England to study history at Lincoln College, Oxford. His conclusion to the short story ‘Death by the Invisible Hand’ was published in The Economist in 1997, and the first chapter of The Blighted Cliffs was runner-up in the 2001 Crime Writers’ Association Début Dagger Award for new fiction. The first two installments of the adventures of Martin Jerrold, The Blighted Cliffs and The Chains of Albion, are available in Bantam paperback.

orpheus cover med

Buy the book from Amazon

Buy a signed copy from Goldsboro Books

Book Description

I have never written down the answers to the deepest mysteries, nor will I ever…The philosopher Plato wrote these words more than two thousand years ago, following a perilous voyage to Italy — an experience about which he never spoke again, but from which he emerged the greatest thinker in all of human history. Today, twelve golden tablets sit in museums around the world, each created by unknown hands and buried in ancient times, and each providing the dead with the route to the afterlife. Archaeologist Lily Barnes, working on a dig in southern Italy, has just found another. But this tablet names the location to the mouth of hell itself. And then Lily vanishes. Has she walked out on her job, her marriage, and her life — or has something more sinister happened? Her husband, Jonah, is desperate to find her. But no one can help him: not the police and not the secretive foundation that sponsored her dig. All Jonah has is belief, and a determination to do whatever it takes to get Lily back. But like Plato before him, Jonah will discover the journey ahead is mysterious and dark and fraught with danger. And not everyone who travels to the hidden place where Lily has gone can return.


I was really not sure what to expect with Orpheus Descent, I have to admit to owning all of Tom Harpers Books and reading none (until now). They languish in my mountainous TBR (to be read) pile.

So this was always going to be a new experience of style and plot. That said I’m a big fan of well written time-slip books, the interplay of differing era’s, attitudes and people if done right can be fantastic.

Add to the above my love of ancient Greece, thrillers and the glowing praise filtering through on Twitter, what choice did I have but to make Orpheus Descent my first Tom Harper read.

Firstly I need to add that I did read the short story “Twelfth Tablet” (Buy the book) that acts as a teaser for this book. For anyone not sure of Tom Harpers writing, go read this, it had me hooked from page one. It is however a teaser for the modern era side of the time-slip tale only but gives a great insight into Greek tycoon who acts as principle antagonist in both stories.

12th tablet cover small

The main thrust of the plot follows the two  distinct and yet gradually blurring timelines. In modern Greece Lilly an archaeologist goes missing, her husband who has utter faith in his relationship and wife knows she has not run out on him and sets out to find her, battling inner demons and the voices of family and friends who all tell him that she has just left him, he knows something isn’t right, and he will stop at nothing to find her again.

In the alternate plot-line Plato leaves Greece for Italy, to search for his friend Agathon. That simple voyage turns into a life and death series of mishaps, misfortune, and calamity that tests the great philosopher’s will, beliefs  and view of the world, making him challenge all he holds dear, his vision of the world and his place in it.

I think there will be some who struggle with Plato’s side of this story, it does get very involved in the differences of philosophical types, eg: sophistry and Plato’s view of it. It covers many myths and the thinking of the classical man. But while for me this slowed the pace of the plot, it also gave it a very very different edge and a much greater depth. It made me think which isn’t the norm for treasure hunter/ thriller plot. I used (online) the description that the book “Thrills and messes with your mind in equal measure”, and it really did. The philosophical elements made you stop and contemplate what was meant, what was hidden, what was the meaning behind it. Writing this review is making me stop and re-examine some of the points of the book and its meaning all over again. I think you could re-read the book and find something new every time. The story is very much a product of you the reader, at the time you read it, in the emotion that you read it in (as much as what was written by the author). As the readers position is a changeable position/ emotion so your view and enjoyment of the book I think will change, and what you take away from it… see …it messed with my head!

 So do I recommend it… Of course. Any book that you can read again and again is right up there on the go read it list. Just go in with an open and inquisitive mind.


Other titles

Demetrios Askiates
1. The Mosaic of Shadows (2004)
2. Knights of the Cross (2005)
3. Siege of Heaven (2006)
The Mosaic of ShadowsKnights of the CrossSiege of Heaven
The Lost Temple (2007)
The Book of Secrets (2009)
The Lazarus Vault (2010)
Secrets of the Dead (2011)
The Lost TempleThe Book of SecretsThe Lazarus VaultSecrets of the Dead

Books as Edwin Thomas

Reluctant Adventures of Lieutenant Martin Jerrold
1. The Blighted Cliffs (2003)
2. Chains of Albion (2004)
3. Treason’s River (2006)
The Blighted CliffsChains of AlbionTreason's River

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Filed under Crime, Historical Fiction, Thrillers

Christian Cameron: Poseidon’s Spear Review

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 Online 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 links to Contact Him

Book Description

Arimnestos of Plataea is a man who has seen and done things that most men only dream about. Sold into slavery as a boy, he fought his way to freedom – and then to everlasting fame at the Battle of Marathon where the Greeks crushed the invading Persians. Sometimes, however, a man’s greatest triumph is followed by his greatest sorrow.Returning to his farm, Arimnestos finds that his wife Euphoria has died in childbirth, and in an instant his laurels turn to dust. But the gods are not finished with Arimnestos yet. With nothing left to live for, he throws himself from a cliff into the sea, only to be pulled by strong arms from death’s embrace. When he awakes he finds himself chained to an oar in a Phoenician trireme. And so begins an epic journey that will take Arimnestos and a motley crew of fellow galley slaves to the limits of their courage and beyond the edge of the known world, in a quest for freedom, revenge – and a cargo so precious it is worth dying for.


As a self-confessed addict of Christian Cameron’s books I start to worry about the veracity of my reviews and opinions when a new book is due out, but as ever I will attempt, poorly, to describe his latest book.

Poseidon’s Spear is not your normal historical fiction title (but none of his books are) this book goes even further. You don’t get the steady build to a final battle, you don’t even get a final battle. You dont get the standard flawed man does good. You dont get hero and sidekick. You get something much more real, what you get is one persons personal journey through life, and in the case of Poseidon’s Spear though hell and back.

Poseidon’s Spear is one mans personal journey through a very dark period in his life. His battle against odds that would kill many a person, a journey through the bowels of the ancient world. A view of the depravity that men could inflict on other men in the ancient world (and lets face it still do).

We see this man, Arimnestos’s journey back, we see what true friends are worth and how rich a man truly is with real friends.

We see a man who has regrets and deals with them the same as each and every one of us does.

We see the Resurrection of Arimnestos of Plataea.

I have said since it came out that God of War was the book of the year 2012. I have now been proved a liar.

Poseidon’s Spear has now taken its place. I’m not a person to live the emotions of a book, I would normally read and enjoy the plot and style, but its impossible not to get sucked into the emotion of this book as well, to not to have to fight back the tears with Arimnestos, not to feel his pain to suffer along side him.

This was by far the most exhausting exhilarating book I have ever read physically and emotionally.

My highest Recommendation


Due out on Sept 13th 2012


Filed under Historical Fiction