Tag Archives: cavalry

Paul Fraser Collard: Devil’s Assassin (Review)

Paul Fraser Collard's picture

Paul’s love of military history started at an early age. A childhood spent watching films like Waterloo and Zulu whilst reading Sharpe, Flashman and the occasional Commando comic, gave him a desire to know more of the men who fought in the great wars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. At school, Paul was determined to become an officer in the British army and he succeeded in wining an Army Scholarship. However, Paul chose to give up his boyhood ambition and instead went into the finance industry. Paul stills works in the City, and lives with his wife and three children in Kent.

Devil’s Assassin

The bold hero of THE SCARLET THIEF and THE MAHARAJAH’S GENERAL returns in an exhilarating and dangerous new adventure.

Bombay, 1857. Jack Lark is living precariously as an officer when his heroic but fraudulent past is discovered by the Devil – Major Ballard, the army’s intelligence officer. Ballard is gathering a web of information to defend the British Empire, and he needs a man like Jack on his side. Not far away, in Persia, the Shah is moving against British territory and, with the Russians whispering in his ear, seeks to conquer the crucial city of Herat. The Empire’s strength is under threat and the army must fight back.

As the British march to war, Jack learns that secrets crucial to the campaign’s success are leaking into their enemies’ hands. Ballard has brought him to the battlefield to end a spy’s deceit. But who is the traitor?

THE DEVIL’S ASSASSIN sweeps Jack Lark through a thrilling tale of explosive action as the British face the Persian army in the inky darkness of the desert night

Review

 DA PfC

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The book starts out with a splendid and evocative title, I have been speculating for some time as to the plot of this next Jack Lark book. Fortunately due to the vagaries of ordering some copies from the publisher im luck and they arrived so nice and early, my wait was finally over. Paul Collard has rapidly become mush read material, since the first book burst onto the market in 2013 (it seems so long ago) Scarlet Thief Review

Since that first book I have seen Paul Collards work get better and better ( Maharajah’s General Review ), more detailed, the plot tighter and tighter, the character growth sharp, to the point that you wonder if Jack will survive the book. There are the inevitable comparisons to Bernard Conwell’s Sharpe, Jack is a man from the ranks, brought up in the gutter. But that’s where in the main the similarities end. Sharpe never tried or pretended to the gentry, where Jack is living the lie, always looking over his shoulder, not to be stabbed in the back by some posh boy, but to be caught out, denounced. Will he get something wrong, will he bump into someone who knew the man he has assumed the identity of? That anticipation and fear oozes from the pages but only as the underlying heartbeat to each storyline, to each character that Jack dons and each dramatic situation he becomes embroiled in.

In devils assassin we are introduced to our usual cast of side characters, those who form the plot for Jack, the players in his elaborate scheme, those who really are the gentry of the regiment, the men who might find him out, the men he wants to prove he can be as good as , better than, to prove it’s the man not the lineage that defines.

Right from the start this book felt different, someone knows Jacks secret, and uses it to recruit Jack as a Spy Catcher, for once the fear of being discovered is reduced, and it has meant that the author is required to dial this back in the writing, it also means that that fear can be channelled into something else, and that’s the battles, the wild indiscriminate danger of war. No matter his orders Jack cannot restrain himself from being in the thick of the fight, a born leader, always at the front, going where many would fear to go, Jack has lost that fear, or at least lost the need to be controlled by it, because dead he has no more to worry about, and alive he must keep proving he is the better man and he can only do that from the front. Paul Collard has captured all of this perfectly.

I feel that many reader like me with be sat smugly from early in the book, saying “I know who the spy is”… I caution you now… beware that smugness, there is a twist in this tale, I had that smugness wiped off my face. Despite my protestations earlier in the review about the Lark/ Sharpe comparison, I have to admit to thinking that Devils Assassin could well have been a Sharpe tale, and that said fully as a compliment, I loved Sharpe. I think its because there was less fear at being caught as a pretender in his own life and more that he was an honest down to earth soldier thrust among the dandies and crazy gentry, trying to add some professional soldiers quality to the story, with a proper mission rather than just hiding in plain sight.

Personally I think Paul Collard has become one of the most readable figures in Historical Fiction, it helps that he is in a time period that is covered a lot more lightly than, eg, Rome, but I think he could pick out any period and his writing style would shine through. This truly is edge of the seat writing.

So once again I end a Jack Lark review with … HOW LONG …until the next one… a Year…. Sob??

Enjoy everyone, because if I get reading time I will do so again.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Series
Jack Lark
1. The Scarlet Thief (2013)
2. The Maharajah’s General (2013)
3. The Devil’s Assassin (2015)
Rogue (2014) (Short story)
Recruit (2015) (Short story)
The Scarlet ThiefThe Maharajah's GeneralThe Devil's AssassinRogue

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Paul Fraser Collard

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

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Filed under Historical Fiction, S J A Turney