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Steven A McKay: The Wolf and the Raven (Review)

Author

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Biography

My second book, The Wolf and the Raven will be released on April 7th, get your pre-order in now and come meet me at the London Book Fair between April 8-10!I was born in 1977, near Glasgow in Scotland. I live in Old Kilpatrick with my wife and two young children. After obtaining my Bachelor of Arts degree I decided to follow my life-long ambition and write a novel.Historical fiction is my favourite genre, but I also enjoy old science-fiction and some fantasy.

Bernard Cornwell’s King Arthur series was my biggest influence in writing “Wolf’s Head”, but I’ve also really enjoyed recent books by guys like Ben Kane, Glyn Iliffe, Douglas Jackson and Simon Scarrow.

I play lead/acoustic guitars (and occasional bass) in a heavy metal band when we can find the time to meet up.

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Book Description

In the aftermath of a violent rebellion Robin Hood and his men must fight for survival with an enemy deadlier than any they’ve faced before…

1322. England is in disarray and Sir Guy of Gisbourne, the king’s own bounty hunter, stalks the greenwood, bringing bloody justice to the outlaws and rebels who hide there.
When things begin to go horribly wrong self-pity, grief and despair threaten to overwhelm the young wolf’s head who will need the support of his friends and family now more than ever. But Robin’s friends have troubles of their own and, this time, not all of them will escape with their lives…

Violence, betrayal, brutality and death come to vivid life in The Wolf and the Raven, the brilliant sequel to Amazon’s “War” chart number 1, Wolf’s Head.

w and r cover

Buy the eBook

Review

I’m always intrigued by a series starring Robin Hood, there haven’t been too many worth while series in recent years, but then along came Angus Donald with his brilliant series with the style godfather meets robin hood, i was hooked again. Out of the blue another new name appeared, admittedly self published but for me that’s never an impediment, in fact with some of the latest awesome writers, SJA Turney, Gorden Doherty and now Steven A McKay can really write, easily as well as those historical fiction authors being represented and published by the big mainstream publishing houses.

Steven was kind enough to ask me to beta read this book, which for a frustrated writer like myself is a wonderful insight into the writing process. It also meant much less of a wait between books. Book one saw the building of a new world, a different Robin Hood, a Robin Hood those in Nottinghamshire (where i live) would point and shout thief! As he moves Robin Hood away from the boundaries of his fabled home, north into Yorkshire. He manages to pull this off with some considerable style and makes it believable, which is key to this type of book.

Book two The Wolf and the Raven takes Robin Hoods band of men to the next stage, they are still on the wrong side of the law, but now worse they are on the wrong side of a rebellion, and there is a new name hunting Robin and his men. Guy of Gisbourne, and Guy is not the blonde clumsy wally from the TV series of the 80’s this Guy is a black clad killing machine with a devious scheming mind.

I’m not going to say that this is the complete novel, but it is a great fun read, Its well researched, well thought out and has a really fun interesting plot that carry’s you from first page to last with a fairly rapid pace its well worth paltry £2.26 that is the cover price.

So if you’re looking for something to whisk you back to medieval times for a journey around the woodlands dodging soldiers, living off the land, robbing the rich to live and giving back what you can, some classic Robin Hood mixed with some realistic wolf’s head exploits, then this is a series you need to read.

I feel there is a lot more to come from this series and this writer.

recommended

(Parm)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Steven A McKay

Steven A. McKay: Wolfs Head (Review)

About the Author

Steven

My name is Steven A. McKay and I’m a writer from Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow in Scotland, heavily influenced by the likes of Bernard Cornwell, Doug Jackson, Anthony Riches, Robert Low et al.

My first book, Wolf’s Head, is set in medieval England and is a fast-paced, violent retelling of the Robin Hood legends. I think my take on the theme is quite different to anything that’s been done before. It is available worldwide NOW on Kindle, and paperback from Amazon.

The second book in the trilogy is coming along nicely and should – all being well – be available not too long after Wolf’s Head…

Product Description

wolfs head

“Well researched and enjoyably written, Wolf’s Head is a fast-paced and original re-casting of a familiar legend. McKay’s gift as a storyteller pulls the reader into a world of violence, passion, injustice and revenge and leaves us wanting more!”Glyn Iliffe, author, The Adventures of Odysseus series

When a frightened young outlaw joins a gang of violent criminals their names – against a backdrop of death, dishonour, brotherhood, and love – will become legend.

ENGLAND 1321 AD

After viciously assaulting a corrupt but powerful clergyman Robin Hood flees the only home he has ever known in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Becoming a member of a notorious band of outlaws, Hood and his new companions – including John Little and Will Scaflock – hide out in the great forests of Barnsdale, fighting for their very existence as the law hunts them down like animals.

When they are betrayed, and their harsh lives become even more unbearable, the band of friends seeks bloody vengeance.

Meanwhile, the country is in turmoil, as many of the powerful lords strive to undermine King Edward II’s rule until, inevitably, rebellion becomes a reality and the increasingly deadly yeoman outlaw from Wakefield finds his fate bound up with that of a Hospitaller Knight…

“Wolf’s Head” brings the brutality, injustice and intensity of life in medieval England vividly to life, and marks the beginning of a thrilling new historical fiction series in the style of Bernard Cornwell and Simon Scarrow.

Review

Steven is a new member of the fraternity of self published Historical Fiction writers who can actually write. Its a surprising and welcome find when one of these authors pop up. Not only do they have to come up with an idea, write the idea well, but they also need to edit the book, proof it but they also need to do the PR for it. It often the PR they concentrate on and not the quality of the writing and the substance of the plot.

Steven has concentrated, he has picked a classic and added a twist, sticking to one of the original ballads, moving Robin to Yorkshire (which will get him shot where i live in Nottinghamshire) the King is Edward not Richard, there is no Prince John etc. Its a very well told tale, well thought out with characters he has clearly put a lot of time and thought into. They take on their own life as the book progresses, they grow in age and stature, they are not modern constructs in the past, they are true to their period.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t perfection, there are some issues, a few slips with equipment, equipment usage, character inconsistency, and the odd contrived plot change. But this is a début self published novel, and has not benefited from a professional editor, who would polish and pull this together.

All of that aside, this is a splendid novel and I am genuinely looking forward to book 2 in the series, and I recommend that you give this book a try.

(Parm)

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Filed under Historical Fiction

David Gilman: Master of War (Review)

About David Gilman
gilman da
David Gilman has had an enormously impressive variety of jobs – from firefighter to professional photographer, from soldier in the Parachute Regiment’s Reconnaissance Platoon to a Marketing Manager for Penguin South Africa.
He is also a hugely successful television screenwriter. For the last six years he has been principal writer on A Touch Of Frost. He has lived and travelled the world gathering inspiration for his exotic children’s adventure series along the way.Now, David is based in Devon, where he lives with his wife.

The Blooding (2013)
(The first book in the Master of War series)
A novel by David Gilman

Buy a Signed copy for £9.99

Master of War

England, 1346: For Thomas Blackstone the choice is easy – dance on the end of a rope for a murder he did not commit, or take up his war bow and join the king’s invasion.
As he fights his way across northern France, Blackstone learns the brutal lessons of war – from the terror and confusion of his first taste of combat, to the savage realities of siege warfare.

Vastly outnumbered, Edward III’s army will finally confront the armoured might of the French nobility on the field of Crécy. It is a battle that will change the history of warfare, a battle that will change the course of Blackstone’s life, a battle that will forge a legend.

THE BLOODING is the first part of the David Gilman’s epic novel MASTER OF WAR, published on 01 August 2013. Readers of Conn Iggulden, Simon Scarrow and Bernard Cornwell will be delighted to discover a new series to follow.

Review

Is Rome becoming the period of the past? More and more books and series seem to be gravitating to medieval periods and warfare. This is no bad thing, a change to different times, different outlooks on the aspects and manner of war. A change in weapons and a change in the pre-eminent

There are as many rich periods and great battles to centre a series around, and so many more nations to look at and explore.

Of all the battles and wars David Gilman has chosen one of the true stand outs; The battle of Crecy, set during the Hundred Years War.

My personal knowledge of the period is not the best, and that’s what I love about more and more authors writing in this period, it’s a chance for me to learn something new. Can I be educated at the same time as entertained?

In Master of War we the reader are introduced to one of the kings archers, Thomas Blackstone, a boy trained from childhood (as were all boys) to master the English longbow. The longbow was at the time THE weapon of destruction, ranks of archers firing bows of over 100lb draw, with a destructive force that could pierce plate armour, thus nullifying the French superior numbers in chivalry.

This book is a brilliant mix or characterisation, intrigue, battles, nationalities, history, enmity, courage, cowardice, fear and bravery. But ultimately for this period it is Chivalry that rules the day, the rules of chivalry that bind nobleman or all nations, as long as you are of noble blood, the peasants are as ever…fodder for the mill of war. This does not lessen the brutality of war, it does not reduce the death count in the field or war, in the destruction of castles and sieges, it just adds a set of rules, rules iron clad and the breaching of such would lead to outrage, ridicule and shunning by all sides.

Thomas soon becomes a man to know, and a man to fear, a bringer of death in a world or death dealers. Life is short and to be lived to the full, love is quick, and comradeship earned, won, lost and grieved over many times in short periods. It’s a harsh life and one that Thomas Blackstone is good at.

I was very impressed an immersed in this book, the only bits that brought me up short were the depiction of the ladies and attitudes towards them. While I know we are in a period where women were chattel for many men, they were also many strong women, women who led through a power behind the throne, and some who were a lot more overt, and I’m not sure that all men were so universally of that opinion. But this was my only nit-pick with the book, a book that I really enjoyed and look forward to more.

(Parm)

Other titles

Danger Zone
1. The Devil’s Breath (2007)
2. Ice Claw (2008)
3. Blood Sun (2009)
The Devil's BreathIce ClawBlood Sun

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Filed under Historical Fiction