Tag Archives: battle

S J A Turney: Marius Mules VII The Great Revolt (Review)

Author Bio: in his own words

I live with my wife, son and 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 the 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 paint ing and decorating sales. I have lived in four counties and travelled as widely as time and budget allowed and find myself finally 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Having written a number of unpublished short stories in my early days, I decided back in 2003 to try and write a full length novel.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 the fantasy trilogy complete, six volumes in the Marius’ Mules series, and two books of the Ottoman Cycle quadrilogy now out.

I maintain another website detailing the Roman sites I visit and photograph, and write a blog about books. I am an almost terminally chatty person. That’s just a due warning if you feel like contacting me (see above.) I am always happy to speak to people and have put together an FAQ gathered together from things I have been asked previously.

Author Web site

Buy the book Marius Mules 7

Product Description

MM7

The pieces are in place. After many months of clandestine organisation, Vercingetorix, backed by the druids and leading an army of rebellious tribes, is ready to make his first moves towards independence for his people and the annihilation of Rome’s presence in Gaul.

Meanwhile, Caesar tends to business in Aquileia, unaware that he is cut off from the bulk of his army in the north by the rebellion. A desperate message brought to Fronto at Massilia spurs the forces of Rome into movement and Caesar is compelled to act in cunning and unexpected ways in order to recover the initiative.

Fronto and his friends are heading for a clash of armies the likes of which the north has never seen, and the Tenth’s legate is about to face his most trying year yet facing his opposite number – a chieftain of the Arverni – across the fields and hills of Gaul towards the greatest siege he’s ever experienced: Alesia.

Review:
As anyone who follows my blog knows I’m a friend and fan of Simons work, but I like to think I can still be objective in my reviews. The good thing is I don’t have to try that hard, because every book Simon writes at the moment learns from the last, improves on the last and provides powerful exhilarating characters, intricate plotting and as the series has progressed, a breakneck speed.
MM7 is no exception, in fact it is probably that and a lot more. For me the Marius Mules series has always been more about Fronto and what is he doing, what is he going to get himself into this time. But book 7 is so much more, It’s the all-encompassing piece, with Fronto finally allowing Caesar to shine a little. But more than this we get a nemesis for Fronto to match wits with, while Caesar matches wits with Vercingetorix.
As usual there is a supporting cast that has been built patiently over other books, ready for Simon to cut them down in their prime, a heroic or pointless death in battle, often shocking but never gratuitous, I find myself often mentally gasping that he has had the audacity to kill a favoured character (and this book pulls no punches in that dept), neither does he shy from pulling the battles and plot in certain directions, directions that light the book/ plot up.
Simon in MM7 has taken a very confused period of history and run a steam iron of clarity over it, his own clearly painstaking research providing much-needed entertainment, but Simon has clearly launched himself into the role of teacher at the same time. Some of it for me has more reality because I know Simon has gone and walked some of the land this has taken place on (i have seen the family photo’s), so when he says it’s a steep climb, I can feel it, I feel my heart beating a bit faster and the laboured breath coming from the soldiers, that’s because I know he has walked it (usually behind a pushchair…which is almost as much effort as carrying the full Roman Kit…honest), and you can feel his own exhaustion coming across on the page as he describes the legionary formation battling up Hills and through rivers.
He has added to this experience and descriptive prowess by becoming a Roman reenactor, and for me that has shown in the books, the little descriptions of discomfort and tiredness that sneak into the writing, showing how he himself has blistered and cut and felt tired to the point of dropping, to the camaraderie he has clearly developed with his fellow reenactors, this shows more in the fellowship of Froto’s legion and singularise.
 
So put aside the thought that this is a self-published title, Simon has moved himself right up on a par with the real giants of this genre. I would happily and honestly say that when I go to my TBR and see the authors: Giles Kristian, Conn Iggulden, Douglas Jackson, Anthony Riches etc.. Simon Turney sits right alongside them and makes a choice just as powerful and difficult, over which blooming book to read next. In fact Simon’s ability to self publish is a bonus for you and me the reader, because he is also so prolific. There are not many people who can turn out several high quality books every year, year in year out, and the fact that he does is a clear sign that he is one of the best out there.
 
Marius Mules 7: The Great revolt is Simons most fiendishly clever books so far, with a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat for every single page and action that any HBO series would envy… Bring on book 8!!
 
Highly recommended
(Parm)
Series
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)
6. Caesar’s Vow (2014)
7. The Great Revolt (2014)
Prelude to War (2014)
The Conquest of GaulThe BelgaeGallia InvictaConspiracy of Eagles
Hades' GateCaesar's VowThe Great RevoltPrelude to War
Tales of the Empire
1. Interregnum (2009)
2. Ironroot (2010)
3. Dark Empress (2011)
InterregnumIronrootDark Empress
Ottoman Cycle
1. The Thief’s Tale (2013)
2. The Priest’s Tale (2013)
3. The Assassin’s Tale (2014)
The Thief's Tale The Priest's TaleThe Assassin's Tale
Collections
Tales of Ancient Rome (2011)
Tales of Ancient Rome
Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction, S J A Turney

Simon Scarrow: Brothers in Blood (2014) (Book 13 in the Cato series)

author-photos

Simon Scarrow is a Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author. His bestsellers include his novels featuring Roman soldiers Macro and Cato, most recently THE BLOOD CROWS, PRAETORIAN and THE LEGION, as well as SWORD AND SCIMITAR, about the 1565 Siege of Malta, and four novels about the lives of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte. He is the author with T. J. Andrews of the bestselling ARENA, introducing the gladiator hero Pavo, and the new ebook novella series INVADER.

Simon’s novels have been published in the USA and in translation all around the world.

His latest novel is the 13th Cato and Macro adventure, BROTHERS IN BLOOD.

Author Web Site

Author Blog

Buy a special collectors Edition of the book

Brothers in Blood  (2014) (Book 13 in the Cato series)

A novel by Simon Scarrow

brothers in blood

The Roman Empire’s conquest of Britannia is under threat from within. Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro must uncover a traitor to prevent unthinkable defeat.

A messenger on the streets of Rome has been intercepted and tortured, revealing a plot to sabotage the Roman army’s campaign against Caratacus, commander of Britannia’s native tribes. A treacherous agent’s mission is to open a second front of attack against them and eliminate the two Roman soldiers who could stand in the way.

Unwarned, Cato and Macro are with the Roman army pursuing Caratacus and his men through the mountains of Britannia. Defeating Caratacus finally seems within their grasp. But the plot against the two heroes threatens not only their military goals but also their lives.

Review

I always like my reviews to be upfront and honest, so just for sake of clarity: I have been a fan of Simon Scarrow’s books since his first book 14 years ago. I have been lucky enough to consider Simon a friend and have (Centurion) Parmenion appear as a character in two of the Cato series (Eagle in the Sand and Centurion), that however should no way colour my review, each book on its merit.  As a fan of the series i had started to experience some concern with the Cato series around book 9 (Gladiator), I wasn’t a fan of the introduction of Julia as a character, she works well as a device in the background, a way to improve Cato’s position in Roman Society, but as a participant i always felt she diluted the plot, as such i have enjoyed her not being in the book. (sorry Simon)

I very much enjoyed book 12 and the introduction of the Blood Crows, a return to Britannia and a return to Macro and Cato being soldiers, working with their men within the twisted politics of the Roman world and army. Brothers in Blood is another continuation of that return to classic Macro and Cato. Our dynamic duo set to capture Caratacus, dangerous battles to be fought, The spies of Pallas to contend with and the ever present political shenanigans of the Roman army, the petty politics of the cursus honorum driving the behavior of so many of their peers.  As ever Simon manages to weave a splendid web of intrigue, making us guess at every turn who the Pallas may have put in their path, i like to think that knowing Simon and his books so well is why i guessed right, i think the reveal will come as a surprise to most. All in all the plot for this book is very well constructed, throwing plenty in the path of Macro and Cato, but always something the average good solider could deal with, there is no “Super Hero” here. Simons skill with this series is the down to earth soldier.

I do feel though that there is a lacking still in the books, we know Macro and Cato cannot die, they never really even suffer an injury to severe.  This is to be expected, many authors protect their Heroes,  But there are no characters surrounding them that grow with them, that you come to invest in and hope for survival, I have come to call all the supporting cast “Red Shirts” because like on a star trek mission you know they are going to get it, they are the cannon fodder, and to be honest, who really cares about them, we know nothing about them and have not grown with them or experienced their pain.  I feel with the introduction of the Blood Crows there is room to develop some supporting cast, some friends for both of the men. Macro and Cato are now set slightly apart in rank, so we could see the development of friendships in their own peer groups. A man who excels at this is Anthony Riches, there is a rich cast of many, and with every book he delights in keeping the reader on tenterhooks as to whom out of the cohort of friends he might kill. Its this that adds an extra depth and element of suspense and drama that is missing at the moment (at least for me) in the Cato books.

That aside this is a splendid 4/5 for me, i enjoyed it and look forward to the next book, Britannia gives Simon a very rich tapestry for Macro and Cato to explore with minimal interjection from the devious politics of Rome. There are so many more fights to come before they need to get back embroiled with Rome…and what will eventually be the Year of the four Emperors.

(Parm)

Series

Cato
1. Under the Eagle (2000)
2. The Eagle’s Conquest (2001)
3. When the Eagle Hunts (2002)
4. The Eagle and the Wolves (2003)
5. The Eagle’s Prey (2004)
6. The Eagle’s Prophecy (2005)
7. The Eagle in the Sand (2006)
aka The Zealot
8. Centurion (2007)
9. The Gladiator (2009)
10. The Legion (2010)
11. Praetorian (2011)
12. The Blood Crows (2013)
13. Brothers in Blood (2014)
Under the EagleThe Eagle's ConquestWhen the Eagle HuntsThe Eagle and the WolvesThe Eagle's PreyThe Eagle's ProphecyThe Eagle in the SandCenturionThe GladiatorThe LegionPraetorianThe Blood CrowsBrothers in Blood
Revolution
1. Young Bloods (2006)
2. The Generals (2007)
3. Fire and Sword (2007)
4. The Fields of Death (2010)
Young BloodsThe GeneralsFire and SwordThe Fields of Death
Gladiator
1. Fight for Freedom (2011)
2. Street Fighter (2012)
3. Son of Spartacus (2013)
4. Vengeance (2014)
Fight for FreedomStreet FighterSon of SpartacusVengeance
Roman Arena
1. Barbarian (2012)
2. Challenger (2012)
3. First Sword (2013)
4. Revenge (2013)
5. Champion (2013)
Arena (omnibus) (2013)
BarbarianChallengerFirst Sword Revenge Champion Arena
Invader
1. Death Beach (2014)
2. Blood Enemy (2014)
3. Dark Blade (2014)
4. Imperial Agent (2015)
5. Sacrifice (2015)
Death BeachBlood EnemyDark Blade
Novels
The Sword and the Scimitar (2012)
The Sword and the Scimitar

1 Comment

Filed under Historical Fiction, Simon Scarrow

Conn Iggulden: Trinity (The second book in the Wars of the Roses series) Review

2014-07-19-ConnIggulden

Author web site

Bio (in the authors own words)

I was born in the normal way in 1971, and vaguely remember half-pennies and sixpences. I have written for as long as I can remember: poetry, short stories and novels. It’s what I always wanted to do and read English at London University with writing in mind. I taught English for seven years and was Head of English at St. Gregory’s RC High School in London by the end of that period. I have enormous respect for those who still labour at the chalk-face. In truth, I can’t find it in me to miss the grind of paperwork and initiatives. I do miss the camaraderie of the smokers’ room, as well as the lessons where their faces lit up as they understood what I was wittering on about.

My mother is Irish and from an early age she told me history as an exciting series of stories – with dates. My great-grandfather was a Seannachie, so I suppose story-telling is in the genes somewhere. My father flew in Bomber Command in WWII, then taught maths and science. Perhaps crucially, he also loved poetry and cracking good tales. Though it seems a dated idea now, I began teaching when boys were told only girls were good at English, despite the great names that must spring to mind after that statement. My father loved working with wood and equations, but he also recited ‘Vitai Lampada’ with a gleam in his eye and that matters, frankly.

I’ve always loved historical fiction as a genre and cut my teeth on Hornblower and Tai-Pan, Flashman, Sharpe and Jack Aubrey. I still remember the sheer joy of reading my first Patrick O’Brian book and discovering there were nineteen more in the series. I love just about anything by David Gemmell, or Peter F. Hamilton or Wilbur Smith. I suppose the one thing that links all those is the love of a good tale.

That’s about it for the moment. If you’d like to get in touch with me leave a comment in the forum or you can tweet me @Conn_Iggulden. I’ll leave it there for the moment. If you’ve read my books, you know an awful lot about the way I think already. There’s no point overdoing it.

Conn Iggulden

Trinity

trinity

(2014)
(The second book in the Wars of the Roses series)
A novel by Conn Iggulden

The brilliant retelling of the Wars of the Roses continues with Trinity, the second gripping novel in the new series from historical fiction master, Conn Iggulden.

1454: King Henry VI has remained all but exiled in Windsor Castle, struck down by his illness for over a year, his eyes vacant, his mind a blank.

His fiercely loyal wife and Queen, Margaret of Anjou, safeguards her husband’s interests, hoping that her son Edward will one day know the love of his father.

Richard Duke of York, Protector of the Realm, extends his influence throughout the kingdom with each month that Henry slumbers. The Earls of Salisbury and Warwick make up a formidable trinity with Richard, and together they seek to break the support of those who would raise their colours in the name of Henry and his Queen.

But when the King unexpectedly recovers his senses and returns to London to reclaim his throne, the balance of power is once again thrown into turmoil.

The clash of the Houses of Lancaster and York will surely mean a war to tear England apart . . .

Following on from Stormbird, Trinity is the second epic instalment in master storyteller Conn Iggulden’s new Wars of the Roses series. Fans of Game of Thrones and The Tudors will be gripped from the word go.

Praise for Stormbird:

‘Pacey and juicy, and packed with action’ Sunday Times

‘Energetic, competent stuff; Iggulden knows his material and his audience’ Independent

‘A novel that seamlessly combines narrative, historical credence and great knowledge of the period’ Daily Express

‘A page-turning thriller’ Mail on Sunday

‘Superbly plotted and paced’ The Times

Conn Iggulden is one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today. Following on fromStormbird, the Sunday Times best-seller, Trinity is the second book in his superb new series set during the Wars of the Roses, a remarkable period of British history. His previous two series, on Julius Caesar and on the Mongol Khans of Central Asia, describe the founding of the greatest empires of their day and were number one bestsellers. Conn Iggulden lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and children.

Review

I often find that if you ask an Iggulden fan what their favorite book is, there is a clear divide between those who love the Emperor series and those who love the Conqueror series. You can be a fan of all the books, but that draw to preference usually goes to one series.  As a fan of his books since the very first, back in 2002, i have put some thought into this before and think its to do with the restriction of history.

Conn is a brilliantly natural story teller, of the type that if born before the modern age would have made his way in life travelling from town to town, city to city telling tales, or even as a master story teller in a royal palace. Anyone who has met him will have experienced the presence he brings to a room, one i find he brings to the fore in the conqueror series more than the emperor one. Why? Because he can let free reign to his imagination, and his experiences from travelling the Mongolian steppes. The emperor series, and now the War of the Roses constrains that imagination with the wealth of history that exists, the sheer volume of detail and information that the author has to be bound to or be crucified by the reading history buffs.

Despite that, I think Conn tackles the story in a brilliant fashion, while i enjoyed book one immensely, Trinity feels more mature, rounded. For a while i almost had to check that it was really was written by Conn Iggulden, the style felt different, older, more mature. The cast of players from history are expanded on, filling our idea of who they are and why, who the good guy is and who the bad guy is in the war of the roses, and then WHAM! in the very next chapter the preconceptions he has let you build, he tears down, and you mentally shift allegiance over and over again, until your head is spinning, and you realise the sheer complexity and scale of the conflict. That there were no simple bad guys, just people caught up in the events of history, their inadequacies, old feuds and building/ retaining family titles and lands.

I savored this book over a whole week, it wanted me to power through it in a couple of sittings, but i deliberately drew it out, teasing out the enjoyment, the pain, the betrayals, the reversal of fortune, the ecstasy of victory, the bitter pill of defeat, the horror of war, the stress of battle, the knowledge of defeat and the heroism of surrender rather than dogged resistance ending with the ultimate and futile death of thousands. This truly is an epic book in whats shaping up to be an epic series showing why Conn Iggulden holds the title as “one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today”.

I don’t know that this will replace my favorite book by Conn Iggulden, because Wolf of the Plains is a truly special story. What i do know is that its a very very close second, and an absolute must buy.

BUY A SIGNED COPY

Very Highly recommend this one

(Parm)

Series
Emperor
1. The Gates of Rome (2002)
2. The Death of Kings (2004)
3. The Field of Swords (2004)
4. The Gods of War (2006)
5. The Blood of Gods (2013)
Gates of Rome / Death of Kings (omnibus) (2009)
Emperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of War (omnibus) (2012)
The Emperor Series Books 1-5 (omnibus) (2013)
The Gates of RomeThe Death of KingsThe Field of SwordsThe Gods of WarThe Blood of GodsGates of Rome / Death of KingsEmperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of WarThe Emperor Series Books 1-5
Conqueror
1. Wolf of the Plains (2007)
aka Genghis: Birth of an Empire
2. Lords of the Bow (2008)
aka Genghis: Lords of the Bow
3. Bones of the Hills (2008)
4. Empire of Silver (2010)
aka Khan: Empire of Silver
5. Conqueror (2011)
Conqueror and Lords of the Bow (omnibus) (2009)
The Khan Series (omnibus) (2012)
Conqueror Series 5-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Wolf of the PlainsLords of the BowBones of the HillsEmpire of SilverConquerorThe Khan SeriesConqueror Series 5-Book Bundle
Tollins
1. Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children (2009)
2. Dynamite Tales (2011) (with Lizzy Duncan)
Tollins: Explosive Tales for ChildrenDynamite Tales
Wars of the Roses
1. Stormbird (2013)
2. Trinity (2014)
StormbirdTrinity
Novellas
Blackwater (2006)
Fig Tree (2014)
BlackwaterFig Tree
Series contributed to
Quick Reads 2012
Quantum of Tweed (2012)
Quantum of Tweed: The Man with the Nissan Micra
Non fiction
The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Yearbook (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do (2007)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get There(2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature Fun (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day Calendar (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and Fun (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Know(2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the World (2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar (2009) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book of Heroes (2009) (with David Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for BoysThe Dangerous Book for Boys YearbookThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to DoThe Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get ThereThe Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature FunThe Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day CalendarThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and FunThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to KnowThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the WorldThe Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day CalendarThe Dangerous Book of Heroes

Leave a comment

Filed under Conn Iggulden, Historical Fiction

Mark Alder: Son of the Morning: (Review)

Author:

md L

Mark Alder AKA Mark Barrowcliffe AKA MD Lachlan. (Bio from Goodreads)

Mark Alder & MD Lachlan are pen names – created after Mark Barrowcliffe, author of works such as Girlfriend 44 and Lucky Dog, felt himself irresistibly drawn back to fantasy after writing his Dungeons and Dragons memoir The Elfish Gene.

Wolfsangel might surprise readers of Mark’s other work. He’s always been noted for his comic writing (‘Wickedly funny’ – New York Post, ‘Painfully funny’ – The Bookseller) but Wolfsangel marks a sharp departure of content and style.

The book is a historical fantasy/horror hybrid that reflects Mark’s childhood reading on the occult and witchcraft. ‘If it makes you laugh, I’ve done something wrong’ says Mark.

The MD in MD Lachlan stands for Mark Daniel – Mark’s real name. He went with initials instead of a name because, as so often in his life, he didn’t really think things through. Now he attends publishing events where people don’t know what to call him. He wishes he’d gone with Mark Lachlan but it’s too late now.

The comic Steve Martin was once told by Johnny Carson ‘You will use everything you know’. Wolfsangel, for Mark, bears that out.

Book Description

SoM

Meet Hal Romsey Priest, sorcerer, assassin A good man Who fights for the Devil It’s 1337. Genoese mercenaries under the French are harrying the channel ports and Edward III is powerless to stop them. He’s bankrupt, up to his ears in debt to Florentine bankers. He can’t hope to defend his lands in France, which are subject to a vicious scorched earth policy pursued by the French king. Hal Romsey is a sixteen year old boy, frightened and intimidated by exalted company. But he is a Luciferist – a visionary and a disciple of the devil. He has one of the keys to Hell, and knows how to use it. Hell is willing to ally with England – and thus begins a story that will shake the thrones of medieval Europe and see angels and demons fighting for the future of England and France. Son of the Morning will provide readers with politics, intrigue and massed ranks of soldiers battering against each other, while angels and demons stalk the battlefield and hell comes to earth.

Buy the book from Amazon

Buy from WhSmiths

Buy from Waterstones

Mark Alder: Son of the Morning: (Review)

Imagine taking the 100 years’ war and setting it in a different world, a parallel world. Some might say…its been done: Game of Thrones? Ok that’s a concept I concede. But game of thrones is a fantasy setting. Son of the Morning takes and uses the real history, it encompasses the main players of the Day, the likes of Edwards (Black Prince), Joan of Arc, John the blind, Henry V and so many many more. Throw in the odd revolting peasant, a spot of black death and you have a fairly miserable period in history. What Mark does to this is a touch of writing genius, he throws into the mix religion…But that’s a central part of Medieval Europe I hear you cry! But so much more so if the Angels and Devils that were so much a part of the lives of these superstitious people were real .

Churches and relics were imbued with angels, the more powerful the angle for example the more gilded and beautiful the church. The problems in a mortal world though come to the fore when both sides have “God on their side” who in fact does, the Hosts of Angels start to become unresponsive and the great and powerful men of Europe start wonder if God has abandoned them and if they need to look to darker powers for aid.

Now comes the real genius behind the story: All is not what it seems, God may not be the good all-knowing being we are led to believe, Lucifer is not the devil incarnate. The whole hierarchy as we understand it between Heaven and Hell is based on lies. ‘God’ created nothing but the barren wastes of Hell. When God in his jealousy saw the Paradise that Lucifer had created in his rage he imprisoned Lucifer in Hell and bound mankind up in a system of arbitrary rules and sins that demanded worship of him alone. These sins are so wide reaching that only a tiny minority can ever hope to avoid the fires of Hell.

Woven into this extremely rich tapestry of imagination and history, are battles worthy of any great swords and sandals novel and the dark imagination worthy of Dante. But Mark doesn’t just stick at the high level, the writing goes down to the detail of the clothing, the sounds, the sights and the smells of the time, this is no tale of polished knights, this is medieval and grimy. It is also riddled with wry sardonic humour, and outright laugh out loud moments.

This book should appeal to those who love great writing, fans of Historical fiction, fantasy, supernatural tales… it should appeal to anyone who loves books, because this is writing at its best.

(Parm)

Other Books

Girlfriend 44 (2000)
Infidelity for First-time Fathers (2001)
Lucky Dog (2004)
Girlfriend 44Infidelity for First-time FathersLucky Dog
The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange(2007)
Mr Wrong (2008)
The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up StrangeMr Wrong
Craw Trilogy
1. Wolfsangel (2010)
2. Fenrir (2011)
3. Lord of Slaughter (2012)
WolfsangelFenrirLord of Slaughter

Leave a comment

Filed under Fantasy, Mark Alder

Stewart Binns: The Shadow of War (Review)

binns

Author:

Stewart has spent most of his professional life in television. Initially trained as an academic, he was variously a teacher, soldier and copy-writer before joining the BBC, where he worked in documentary features and current affairs, including stints on Panorama and QED.He was Director of Special Projects at TWI and later Head of Production at Octagon CSI. He produced a wide range of innovative programmes from sports magazines like Trans World Sport, Futbol Mundial and Golazo to historical documentaries like Britain at War, Century and Indochine.He has won over thirty international television awards including a BAFTA, Grierson and Peabody, was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is Visiting Professor at the University of Bedfordshire.The author of several non-fiction books connected to his work in television, his first work of historical fiction, Conquest, set around the pivotal events of 1066 and the life of legendary hero Hereward of Bourne, was published by Penguin in February 2011. Stewart now lives in Somerset with his wife, Lucy and their twin boys, Charlie and Jack. Their home is also the base for Big Ape Media International, the independent media company run by Stewart and Lucy.

Product Description

 shadon shadow 1

Buy the book (amazon)

The Shadow of War is the first novel in Stewart Binns’s new series which will see a book release for each year of the First World War.

This title will be released on July 17, 2014.

June 1914: the beginning of another long, prosperous summer for Britain. But beneath the clear skies, all is not as it seems – the chill wind of social discontent swirls around this sceptred isle.

Shots ring out in a distant European land – the assassination of a foreign aristocrat. From that moment the entire world is propelled into a conflict unlike any seen before.

This is the story of five British communities, their circumstances very different, but who will all share in the tragedy that is to come. All that they have known will be changed forever by the catastrophic events of the Great War.

This is a story of love and comradeship, of hatred and tragedy – this is the story of the Great War.

Review

When I first started this book my initial reaction was “what the hell”, the books style seemed very bizarre, it was very much an outside view looking in on people and events. Then slowly as I read the chapters I was drawn into the lives of multiple different families and communities, before i knew it i was hooked. This book is still odd…different, it’s not like Stewarts previous series. It feels very much like a documentary mixed into a fictional drama, yet it works, it works so well. Anyone who reads my reviews and follows my blog knows I love Historical Fiction. But what they don’t know is that I’m really not a fan of WW1. I find the horror and darkness of that war too hard to read, too emotional to take in without feeling my own version of Churchill’s “black dog”. (read the book to understand that)

Stewart Binns has managed to portray the different strata of society without judging or demeaning any of them, and to cover in book one the lead up to and the early days of WW1 with passion and compassion, with energy and purpose, and to leave me feeling the emotion but not suffering from the horror. It’s all there contained in the pages, but delivered in such a way you can see and feel the passions of the different players, the struggles that sent individuals to war, the misconceptions of blame for the death toll and the passion to do all for family and country.

Stewarts books always leave me with a sense of pride for my country, and this book is no exception, but this is tempered by the individual courage and the individual loss. The personal tales that inspire and horrify in equal measure. By the time I finished the book I felt entertained and educated, which for me form the key pillars of a great Historical Fiction novel.

Once again Stewart Binns has managed to create something unique, entertaining and eye-opening, I’m very much looking forward to book 2.

Recommended

(Parm)

Other books

Making of England
1. Conquest (2011)
2. Crusade (2012)
3. Anarchy (2013)
4. Lionheart (2013)

ConquestCrusadeAnarchyLionheart
)

1 Comment

Filed under Historical Fiction, Stewart Binns

Giles Kristian: God of Vengeance (Review)

Author

Author Website

GK-watch-1

Giles has led a varied life to say the least. During the 90s he was lead singer of pop group Upside Down, achieving four top twenty hit records, performing twice on Top of the Pops, and singing at such venues as the Royal Albert Hall, N.E.C. and Wembley Arena. As a singer songwriter he lived and toured for two years in Europe and has made music videos all over the world, from Prague, Miami, Mexico, and the Swiss Alps, to Bognor Regis! To fund his writing habit he has worked as a model, appearing in TV commercials and ads for the likes of Walls Ice Cream (he was the Magnum Man) Canon cameras and two brands of lager! He has been an advertising copywriter and lived for three years in New York where he wrote copy for movie marketing company Empire Design but mainly worked on his first novel.

Family history (he is half Norwegian) and his storytelling hero, Bernard Cornwell, inspired Giles Kristian to write his first historical novels, the acclaimed and bestselling Raven Viking trilogy – Blood EyeSons of Thunder and Odin’s Wolves. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War. The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury follow the fortunes of a divided family against the complex and brutal backcloth of a conflict that tore this country apart and ended with the killing of a king. In his new novel – God of Vengeance – Giles returns to the world of the Vikings to tell of the beginnings of Sigurd and his celebrated fictional fellowship. Giles lives in Leicestershire.

Book Description

GoV

Buy a Signed copy

Norway 785 AD. It began with the betrayal of a lord by a king . . .

But when King Gorm puts Jarl Harald’s family to the sword, he makes one terrible mistake – he fails to kill Harald’s youngest son, Sigurd.

On the run, unsure who to trust and hunted by powerful men, Sigurd wonders if the gods have forsaken him: his kin are slain or prisoners, his village attacked, its people taken as slaves. Honour is lost.

And yet he has a small band of loyal men at his side and with them he plans his revenge. All know that Ódin – whose name means frenzy – is drawn to chaos and bloodshed, just as a raven is to slaughter. In the hope of catching the All-Father’s eye, the young Viking endures a ritual ordeal and is shown a vision. Wolf, bear, serpent and eagle come to him. Sigurd will need their help if he is to make a king pay in blood for his treachery.

Using cunning and war-craft, he gathers together a band of warriors – including Olaf, his father’s right hand man, Bram who men call Bear, Black Floki who wields death with a blade, and the shield maiden Valgerd, who fears no man – and convinces them to follow him.

For, whether Ódin is with him or not, Sigurd will have his vengeance. And neither men nor gods had best stand in his way . . .

Review

Fans of the hit “Raven” series, great news the Vikings are back, only this isn’t the Sigurd we know from the fantastic Raven Series. God of Vengeance begins a prequel series for Sigurd, his early years, how he became who he is and what molded him into the fearsome and Odin favoured warrior that he is. Its an introduction into some of the key characters such as Black Floki and Bear, and oh what an introduction.

Sigurd very quickly goes from the son of a prominent Jarl to a man hunted, no home and death dogging his footsteps. But he comes from a respected lineage and supported by his fathers remaining men who will back him all the way to Odin’s’ Hall, he is not out for the count. He is also a tricky little SOB and soon his star is on the rise, recruiting what will be the core of the crew we meet in the Raven. Along the way the body count is high but none of it just for the heck of it, this is a bloody tale, but a tale told in a poetic yet brutal fashion. If Giles had pulled a single punch in the telling i think it would have demeaned the plot, because he didn’t we are left with a tale of truly epic proportions.

I held off writing my review because i had the additional readers glow of a character in the book (Kætil Kartr) having that character was…. i have no words that describe it well enough, awesome, amazing, fantastic all that and more. I have been fortunate in that i have won a character in several books, and friends have kindly used the Parmenion name in their books, and each one brings a smile to my face and a warm glow to my heart. But Kætil, Kætil made me want to be a viking, made me want to pack my kit, grab an oar and take to the whale road (and i get really sea sick). Even after all of that fan boy excitement faded, we’ll a little, (but lets face it, its never going away) i could not escape the fact that this book is a saga that will and does deliver on every page, and then afterwards leaves you wanting more. A tale so boldly told, so beautifully told that you will experience the whole spectrum of emotions, and finish the book exhausted.

This is the book where the bloody legend of Sigurd is born, given voice not just in swathes of blood and violence, but also in the living breathing Norse world that comes to life on every page, as Giles weaves his tale like a master skald from the past.

God of Vengeance is without doubt a top 5 book this year, and come December it’s going to take something seriously amazing to stop it taking my book of 2014. If I could find time in my swamped reading schedule I would honestly read it again immediately.

Giles i doff my cap sir…bravo..

my highest possible recommendation

(Parm)

Have a look behind the scenes of the God of Vengeance Trailer film shoot

 

Raven 
1. Blood Eye (2009)
2. Sons of Thunder (2010)
3. Odin’s Wolves (2011)
Blood EyeSons of ThunderOdin's Wolves
Bleeding Land
1. The Bleeding Land (2012)
2. Brothers Fury (2013)
The Bleeding LandBrothers Fury
Novels
God of Vengeance (2014)
God of Vengeance

5 Comments

Filed under Giles Kristian, Historical Fiction

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

Author

P1100851x

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.

Wolf-and-Raven-Banner_Facebookbanner

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)

4 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction, Steven A McKay