Tag Archives: fighting

Anthony Riches : Betrayal (The Centurions 1) Review

Anthony Riches UK flag

Anthony Riches's picture

Anthony Riches began his lifelong interest in war and soldiers when he first heard his father’s stories about World War II. This led to a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. He began writing the story that would become Wounds of Honour after a visit to Housesteads in 1996. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three children.

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Betrayal  (2017)
(The first book in the Centurions series)

book cover of Betrayal

Rome, AD 68. Nero has committed suicide. One hundred years of imperial rule by the descendants of Julius Caesar has ended, and chaos rules. His successor, Galba, dismisses the incorruptible Germans of the Imperial Bodyguard for the crime of loyalty to the dead emperor. Ordering them back to their homeland, he releases a Batavi officer from a Roman prison to be their prefect. But Julius Civilis is not the loyal servant of empire that he seems.

Four centurions, two Batavi and two Roman, will be caught up in the intrigues and the battles that follow – as friends, as victims, as leaders and as enemies. Hramn is First Spear of the Bodyguard. Fiercely proud of his men’s honour and furious at their disgrace, he leads them back to the Batavi homeland to face an uncertain future. Alcaeus is a centurion with the tribe’s cohorts serving Rome on the northern frontier – men whose fighting skills prove crucial as Roman vies with Roman for the throne. A wolf-priest of Hercules, he wields the authority of his god and his own fighting prowess. Marius is a Roman, first spear of the Fifth Legion: a self-made man who hates politics but cannot avoid them in a year of murderous intrigue. Aquillius, former first spear of the Eighth Augustan, like Hramn, is in disgrace for refusing to dishonour his oath of loyalty. But their paths will lead them to opposite sides of an unforgiving war.

And Civilis, Kivilaz to his countrymen, heroic leader, Roman citizen and patriotic Batavi, will change both the course of the empire’s destiny and that of the centurions.

Review

Anthony Riches Books are one of those rare treats i look forward to every year, his writing stands out from the crowd with a style that engages you as part of the story not a voyeur. His, unlike the majority of Historical Fiction is told from the common view, the everyday grunt and how he is impacted by the decisions and machinations of power.

Betrayal is different, in that by its nature it has to have some level of focus on those pulling the strings of political power, but also while the arc of this story must keep us close to those movers and shakers the author keeps us close to what matters, the men of the legion, the Centurions and most of all the action.

In this book and new series Anthony Riches takes on not only one of the most action packed and climactic years in Roman history, but also focuses on a people who gain many mentions in historical books, and also in films when they need to pull out a person of exceptional fighting ability. The Batavi, a people who were for many years Romes shock troops used to break the line, or operate behind the line. This first book in the series starts with the expulsion of the Batavi Imperial bodyguard, an honour they had held for a century, Galba has taken power and changes are afoot, not all is right and happy with the empire. before long Vitellius has been acclaimed Emperor by the Legions of the Rhine and Otho has deposed Galba. Among all of this are the seething animosities of the legions and the distrust and they hold for the Batavi and sins of the past, and the Centurions are determined to right what they deem to be the wrongs of Rome, while the Batavi will look to ensure the future of their people and align themselves with another potential Emperor rising in Judea… all this leading eventually to the Batavian Revolt.

Anthony Riches while adopting a slightly different style in this series manages to make this book a deeper plot whilst retaining the true soul of his style, that action packed true storyteller, in with the muck, spears and swords. Always writing where the action is thickest and the intrigue is dirtiest, coupled with impeccable research and attention to detail.

I loved this book, I loved the brilliant graphic novel snippet that the author produced pre release and know that this series has so much more to give, for those who have not read anything by this author start now, he is one of the best in the genre and you will find it very hard to get more bang for your buck elsewhere.

(Parm)

Series
Empire
1. Wounds of Honour (2009)
2. Arrows of Fury (2010)
3. Fortress of Spears (2011)
4. The Leopard Sword (2012)
5. The Wolf’s Gold (2012)
6. The Eagle’s Vengeance (2013)
7. The Emperor’s Knives (2014)
8. Thunder of the Gods (2015)
9. Altar of Blood (2016)
The Empire Collection Books I-3 (omnibus) (2017)
The Empire Collection Books 4-6 (omnibus) (2017)
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Centurions
1. Betrayal (2017)
2. Onslaught (2017)
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Filed under Anthony Riches, Historical Fiction

E S Moxon : Wulfsuna (Review)

E S Moxon

Of Anglo-Italian heritage, E S Moxon’s life has always involved languages and travel. Growing up she spent many family holidays visiting ancient burial sites and stone circles, exploring Britain’s multi-cultural past. Her Italian grandfather’s tales of the roguish adventures of his youth fuelled Elaine’s passion for writing from a young age. A former holistic therapist and current member of the Historical Novel Society, she lives in the Midlands with her family.

Author Web Site

Description

9781781322734-Perfect.indd

 

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AD433 Torn apart when Rome abandoned Bryton, the Wulfsuna are a disparate tribe. Twenty years on, two long ships sail for the east fens to honour their Warrior-Lord’s dream and reunite with lost kin. Soon after landing however, a murderous betrayal divides loyalties, some craving revenge and others indignant on pursuing their Lord’s dream. Blood and brotherhood are tested to their deadly limits. The discovery of a young Seer adds to the turmoil. Expelled from her village after foretelling of an attack by blue painted savages, the Wulfsuna are equally wary of the one they call ‘Nix’. None fear her more than Lord Wulfgar, who refuses to believe an ancient saga bearing his name, is weaving the Seer’s destiny into his own. But a treacherous rival threatens their fate and Wulfgar must accept the Seer’s magic may be all that can save them.

Review

A debut book is always a privilege to review, its also a tough responsibility. You can do untold damage if enough people read your blog, as well as give plenty of benefit with a good review. Ultimately my view is that you need to walk a fine line. bridge the gap. Give and honest review, but also factor in the fact the writer is beginning a career. I’m not arrogant enough to yet know what impact my review has, but i’m honest enough to know it has an impact….

So … what does that mean for Wulfsuna? well happily for me Elaine can write, she has clearly spent many long hard hours, days and nights pouring her passion for a subject into a novel. She has chosen a period in time that is very underwritten, and seems to be gaining popularity at the moment, that period when Rome has pulled out of Britain and the populace has been left to fend for its-self against the ever migrating hordes from the the mainland.

The story follows the Sons of the Wolf as they look to meet up with past members of their group, people who have settled the land, farmed it. The plot follows the leader of this band and a young woman, a seer. Both suffer personal tragedy, She expelled from her village, forced to fend for herself, He the loss of family to betrayal. Fate has their lives interwoven, and she will have her fickle way.

The authors love for her characters and her time period clearly shine through on every page, i did feel that the book was perhaps over polished, when you have too much time to finish a book, its easy to go back and tweak a phrase, add a description, and i think Elaine has perhaps suffered that first book wobble where she had that extra time. To her credit she finished a book, and made it a decent plot, one which really pulls the reader with it. I think knowing her as i do (for quite some time online) she will be taking on board all her feedback to make book 2 really hit home. Also she has set herself a much shorter window to write the book, thus removing the habit of polishing.

The book i would rate as a 3/5, it has lots of charm and plenty of action and great characters, but more than anything it has potential, so i will be back for book 2. I hope you will also give this a go and join the journey, because if we don’t support new authors…. we lose anything new and different.

(Parm)

 

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Michael Arnold: Warlords Gold (Review)

Michael Arnold

Mike

UK
Michael lives in Hampshire with his wife and young son. His childhood holidays were spent visiting castles and battlefields, but his fascination with the civil wars was piqued partly by the fact that his hometown and region of Hampshire are steeped in Civil War history.

Book Description

warlords gold

3 July 2014 The Civil War Chronicles

Autumn,1643. As an increasingly bitter war rages across England, Captain Innocent Stryker leaves Oxford with orders to recover a lost treasure, vital to the success of the Royalist cause. But a seemingly simple mission to the remote Scilly Isles is soon jeopardised, for enemies lie in wait. A formidable Parliamentarian agent has been sent ahead of Stryker’s force, intent on defeating Royalist plans. Feared by ally and enemy alike, he is a man whose determination is only matched by his hatred for Stryker.

The quest for the gold takes Stryker across storm-ravaged seas, through enemy territory and finally to the Royalist stronghold of Basing House. And it is there that Stryker will face his most dangerous challenge yet.

Review

Reading Innocent Stryker is always a pleasure, I’m not even going to try and lead up to is this book any good, It is, its Bloody good. I had one more day left on my holiday, i got up took the little one to nursery, came home made a cuppa and sat in my sunny conservatory. The next eight hours were a trip back in time, a dark revenge fueled mission for a man from Strykers past. Can Stryker survive the violent world of Civil War England? will his past catch up and kill him? will his weaknesses and hidden compassion’s cause his ruination.

From dark Scilly isles shrouded in storm and misery, through to the wild rides and action of Basing House, a story jammed with every type of action and emotion, the book is a truly exhausting roller-coaster of emotion and action.

There are very few authors and subjects I can read for 464 pages and Michael Arnold is very much one of them, When you get an writer with the skill and ability to blend sublime and realistic characterization with superbly researched plot and that fictional flair to make the story race along and fire the imagination, that’s when you have a winner and a book and writer that not only should be on the best seller list, but very much has earned the right to be there.

This book as you might have guessed will be competing come December for the Parmenionbooks book of the year, what ever happens its easily going to be Top 5.

I don’t think i need to say anything else, because if you’re not convinced to buy this by now you never will be… go buy it and read for your self.

(Parm)

Series
Civil War Chronicles
1. Traitor’s Blood (2010)
2. Devil’s Charge (2011)
3. Hunter’s Rage (2012)
4. Assassin’s Reign (2013)
5. Warlord’s Gold (2014)
Stryker and the Angels of Death (2013)
Traitor's BloodDevil's ChargeHunter's RageAssassin's Reign
Warlord's GoldStryker and the Angels of Death
Novellas
Highwayman: Ironside (2013)
Highwayman: Ironside

 

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C C Humphreys: Plague (Review)

C C Humphreys

CC H

aka Chris Humphreys

Author Bio (and web site)

Book Description

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Plague

London, 1665. A serial killer stalks his prey, scalpel in his hand and God’s vengeance in his heart.

Five years after his restoration to the throne, Charles II leads his citizens by example, enjoying every excess. Londoners have slipped the shackles of puritanism and now flock to the cockpits, brothels and, especially, the theatres, where for the first time women are allowed to perform alongside the men.
But not everyone is swept up in the excitement. Some see this liberated age as the new Babylon, and murder victims pile up in the streets, making no distinction in class between a royalist member of parliament and a Cheapside whore. But they have a few things in common: the victims are found with gemstones in their mouths. And they have not just been murdered; they’ve been . . . sacrificed.
Now, with the plague is returning to the city with full force, attacking indiscriminately . . . and murder has found a new friend.

Review

Plague for me was always going to be a difficult book by this exceptional author. His last title Shakespear’s Rebel was just so amazingly well written, researched and composed, it became my book of the year last year, a book that had more than just writing passion, but I felt a little of the authors soul poured onto the pages. How can you follow that? Can you follow that?

Plague isn’t in the same league as Shakespear’s Rebel, but once again C C Humphreys has served up a real reading treat. The book very patiently paints a vivid and real London of 1665 (the dirt and squalor, but also the families who live there), adding in the authors usual realistic and dramatic main characters, developing the plot introducing each character carefully and fully. Moving carefully from a Highwayman, to a dangerous killer who is every bit as nasty as Jack the ripper, to a thief catcher of one of the boroughs of London. It doesn’t end there, some big great players walk upon this stage, including the King, I really enjoyed seeing the king portrayed in the book, his love of theater giving the impression of a frivolous king, but clearly hidden under that a sharp and keen mind. As ever I enjoyed the introduction of one of the Absolute Clan, the link that ties the authors books together.

Writing a book about the Plague is also a tough ask, its a seriously dark period of time, and a dark subject matter. Chris manages to imbue it with something different, the plague is happening, but it isn’t the key driver for the plot. There is instead a Psychotic and dangerous killer loose in London, a dangerous plot brewing,  families struggling to survive the danger that is daily life, let alone the plague. All of this we see though the eyes of Captain Coke and Pitman the thief and the thief catcher. So while this isn’t a new Shakespeare Rebel, it is a plot with many many levels with characters real, but for me having a hint of the stage about them, not that i mind that, in fact i enjoy it in this author books because its coupled with such vivid portrayal of the time, place and circumstances (the many sub plots).

So as ever I highly recommend this book, this time to fans of Historical Fiction, Crime, and books that are just brilliantly written.

(Parm)

Other Books

Series
French Executioner
1. The French Executioner (2002)
2. Blood Ties (2002)
The French ExecutionerBlood Ties
Jack Absolute
1. Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770s (2003)
2. The Blooding of Jack Absolute (2004)
3. Absolute Honour (2006)
Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770sThe Blooding of Jack AbsoluteAbsolute Honour
Novels
Vlad: The Last Confession (2008)
The Hunt of the Unicorn (2011)
A Place Called Armageddon (2011)
Shakespeare’s Rebel (2013)
Plague (2014)
Vlad: The Last ConfessionThe Hunt of the UnicornA Place Called ArmageddonShakespeare's RebelPlague

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Filed under C C Humphreys, Crime, Historical Fiction, Thrillers

Nick Brown: The Black Stone (Review and Q&A)

Nick Brown

Nick Brown grew up in Norfolk and has taught English and history in both the UK and abroad. He was inspired to try his hand at historical fiction after reading C.J. Sansom’s Dissolution.

The Black Stone (2014)
(The fourth book in the Agent of Rome series)
A novel by Nick Brown

black stone

AD 273. Obsessed by the solar religions of the east, the emperor Aurelian sets out to obtain every sacred object within his realm. But one – a conical rock said to channel the very voices of the gods – lies beyond his reach. Arabian king Amir Adi has captured the stone and intends to use its fabled power to raise an army against Rome. For imperial agent Cassius Corbulo and his bodyguard Indavara, recovering the stone will constitute their toughest mission yet.

Review

Since book one of this series i have been a fan, I don’t normally find myself gravitating towards mixed genres and this series with its Roman Spies, investigations all mixed in with classic blood and sandals Roman battles is as mixed as you can find.

BUT…it works and works well. I think for me its because it doesn’t really have the big muscle-bound hero, on one person who is just amazingly good at fighting or intelligent beyond his peers etc.. Cassius Corbulo is young, too young, and scared, he never wanted to be part of the Frumentarii, he wanted to be an Orator, to belong to the cerebral arts, to enjoy his status at the top of society. At the beginning he would never have survived without his bodyguard Indavara a man with his own troubled past. The series is set against varying locations of the empire, but always at a time when the Roman world was still struggling with all the varied religions and revolts, as much as it wanted to absorb other cultures, it struggled with the Christ Cult and to add to Cassius’s problems his slave Simo is a member.

Books 4 The Black Stone: unlike books two and three which (were excellent books) showed incremental improvements, the improvements I look for in authors as a series progresses. Book four however goes to a whole new level, the plot is woven with multiple layers of religious intrigue and intolerance, political intrigue, fighting, comradeship and the ever growing relationship and maturity of our band of hero’s. Cassius learns more about his limits, his courage, and his friends. Indavara starts to learn and over come his past. The relationship between these two has matured to a whole new level in this book.

The story the black Stone is well thought out and put together, and has the layers to keep you galloping along at a decent pace. But its the characters that make it a winner, the development of the characters in the book alone is excellent (let alone the series). There are many teasing glimpses of Indavara and his past which i feel will become the focus if a future book in the series. There is very real wear and tear on the team and their personalities and the dynamic as a group. Its this frailty this real humanity that shines out from the page and makes this such a good book. Its so easy to make a near invincible hero or villain, but Nick creates shades of grey. Good guys do bad things for the sake of others or politics, or just that its expedient. Bad guys do good things on a whim, or because they just want to walk away.  All of it means that when reading it you can empathise with the characters, to think..”Yeah..I get that”. The introduction of Gutha was a master-stroke, the perfect bad guy foil to Indavara, you spend so much of the book waiting for them to face off. Also the mystery of a Germanic warrior in the far east, adds such an element of difference to the tale, also bad guy is probably the wrong term, he is a mercenary, he fights for money and his master, so good guy / bad guy in this time period is a matter of perspective, His side pays him, and while they do, they are the good guys! I found this sort of thinking refreshing in a book of this type, rather than the standard good v evil. (im going to stop now before i give something away)

At almost 500 pages you get your moneys worth and a whole lot more, not once did this book feel like it should have been trimmed, despite the length the writing is sparse where it needs to keep the pace flowing and descriptive where you need to feel the heat and desolation of the desert. By the end of the book i guarantee you will be wanting more!

This book is Highly recommended

(Parm)

Q&A

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s a good question; it’s probably only recently that I’d say I was if someone asked what I do. Of course anyone who writes is a writer but I think most people – possibly unfairly – would expect you to have had something published. In creative terms, I’m a big believer in just putting in the hours. Stephen King said it takes a million words to really get to grips with writing and I think there’s a lot of truth to that.

What led you to write Roman fiction?

Even though there are so many books covering the period, the Empire was so long-lasting and vast that the story opportunities are almost endless. Also, the sources allow us to picture the Roman world yet we remain in the dark about so many aspects. That is a compelling and attractive blend for creative minds.

 How much of the character behaviour in the series is based on people you know?

Not a huge amount though I do occasionally use real people for little details like speech patterns or physical behaviour. While I was on holiday in Croatia a couple of years back I saw a striking fellow and started making notes describing his appearance. My girlfriend was a bit bemused at the time but he turned out to be Captain Asdribar from ‘The Far Shore’!

 Where did the inspiration for Cassius come from?

I think it’s quite interesting to focus on a character from the patrician class because it provides a window on the ruling ‘elite’ – both the good and the bad. I appreciate that some of his antics can occasionally put readers off but I have always tried to stay true to how I believe someone like him would behave. At heart he is a good person but very much a product of his class and with all the accompanying traits of a young man with considerable status and power.

 Your Roman books are a mix of investigation (crime) and classic swords and sandals is this deliberate and why?

Absolutely. I think readers are very well served elsewhere if they want huge battles and political machinations so if I had to use one word to describe what I’m aiming for I would say ‘adventure’. There have been military and mystery elements in all four so far but I am always on the lookout for new story ideas.

Where next for our very mixed trio of (mis) adventurers?

Without being too specific, they are returning to a province where they’ve seen plenty of action before. Cassius thinks he’s found himself a nice and easy assignment but you won’t be surprised to hear that things soon go awry.

 If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I wouldn’t say I’ve studied anyone’s work to that degree but I am aware of certain aspects of my stuff being influenced by Tolkien, Fleming and Macdonald Fraser.

 Just for Fun: All time fav book?

Easy. ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Story and character tremendous, not to mention the fact that Tolkien pretty much invented a genre.

Dinner…any 4 people from history, who would you invite and why?

First off, the Roman emperor Aurelian, who ruled at the time my series is set. Mind you, there’s then a danger I would ignore the rest of my dining companions so they need to be just as intriguing. Hammurabi would be another – the ruler of ancient Babylon lived in a fascinating time and led his people for about forty years. Then perhaps Boudicca, though I’d have to remember to seat her well away from Aurelian.  Lastly, I would go for the Roman gladiator Asteropaeus, who was said to have won 107 victories in the arena. Now that guy would have some stories to tell!

Series

Agent of Rome
1. The Siege (2011)
2. The Imperial Banner (2012)
3. The Far Shore (2013)
4. The Black Stone (2014)
The SiegeThe Imperial BannerThe Far ShoreThe Black Stone
Novellas
Death This Day (2012)
The Eleventh Hour (2013)
Death This DayThe Eleventh Hour

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Nick Brown, Uncategorized

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

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Filed under Giles Kristian, Historical Fiction

Miles Cameron: Fell Sword (review)

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Author:

Miles Cameron….AKA… 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 him.

Fell Sword

Fell Sword

 

THE RED KNIGHT was one of the most acclaimed fantasy debuts of 2012 – and now he rides again. Prepare for one epic battle . . .

Loyalty costs money.

Betrayal, on the other hand, is free

When the Emperor is taken hostage, the Red Knight and his men find their services in high demand – and themselves surrounded by enemies. The country is in revolt, the capital city is besieged and any victory will be hard won. But The Red Knight has a plan.

The question is, can he negotiate the political, magical, real and romantic battlefields at the same time – especially when intends to be victorious on them all?

Review

This is a book that has taken me longer than any other to read this year so far, not because its a bad book, very much the opposite. This book contains some of the most involved, imaginative and impressive world building i have seen, right up there with the depth and passion of lords of the rings.

This is book two in the series following on directly from the fabulous debut that was the Red Knight, once again following the mercenary band headed by the Red Knight, the Captain. A man who is both a fighting Knight at the peak of his prowess, but also a magister (a sorcerer) very powerful and growing in skill all the time. Unlike many books we don’t just live the story from the point of view of the hero (the Red Knight) we get a Multi POV, we see the opinion and perspective of all, and as such get to see what the individual see’s, themselves a hero, or in the right. This multi POV is very encompassing, so  much so that there are times it becomes hard to keep all the threads and all the names straight, hence the length of time needed to read the book.

The world of the Red Knight is HUGE, made more so by the depth of detail, history and politics. This world encompasses much of the real world just with a twist. Outwallers that are native Americans for example, countries that resemble Canada, Great Britain, France, an empire that bears a striking resemblance to a decaying Byzantine empire, the fantastic Nordikans, who more than resemble the Varangian guard. All of these people and places imbued with the authors rich depth of historical knowledge. Miles Cameron being the highly renowned Historical Author Christian Cameron, a writer who imbues all of his work with not just literary research, but with physical research, hours spent in armour and training with weapons. Walking the wilds of Canada wearing the garb of a true knight, all of this detail is powered into his books to stunning effect.

Does Fell sword bring a better book with more satisfaction than Red Knight? yes and no, i found the ending more satisfying than Red Knight, but i think that may be because Red Knight had so much hard work to do with regard to world building, it was only the latter quarter of book one that truly showed the excellence of his writing talent. Fell Sword was a much more immersive encompassing tale, one that carries the reader into the depth of the wilds to learn more of the creatures who dwell there, more of Thorn and what drives him, or more importantly who. Most important of all it takes the reader into the depths of the politics of the world, a truly dark murky, back stabbing politics, politics fueled by ambition and magic. Most interesting is that Fell Sword reveals the true darkness from the wild, we now know what is coming, we just don’t really know why. Its exactly what a middle book should be, if not more, many middle books are a pause, this is anything but. Next year 2015 will see the third book in the series The Tournament of Fools, i highly recommend getting a Pre-Order in, i feel its going to sell fast.

Its a book i highly recommend you read in large bites, not small. But most of all its a book i Highly recommend to all readers, not just fantasy of Historical fiction.

(Parm)

Other books by this author

Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2014)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2015)
The Red KnightThe Fell Sword
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)
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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Filed under Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Miles Cameron

Nick Brown: (Author of Agent of Rome Series) Q&A

Author

Nick B

Bio

Nick was born in Norwich in 1974. A keen reader from a young age, he graduated from Enid Blyton to Douglas Hill and JRR Tolkien, and from there to Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton. After three years studying in Brighton, he travelled to Nepal where he worked at an orphanage and trekked to Mount Everest. After qualifying as a history teacher in 2000, he worked for five years in England before taking up a post at an international school in Warsaw.

Nick had completed a few screenplays and a futuristic thriller before being inspired to try historical fiction after reading C.J. Sansom’s Dissolution: “Researching the Roman army and life in the third century was a fascinating but time-consuming project and the book went through many drafts before arriving at its final form. I had always intended Cassius to be a somewhat atypical protagonist and when I came across the research about the Roman ‘secret service’, I knew I’d found an ideal vocation  for my reluctant hero.”

Recently, most of Nick’s spare time has been spent on the fourth Agent of Rome novel, but if he’s not writing he might be found at the cinema, in a pub or playing football.

Author web site

3_books_clear_background

Hi Nick, how are you? Thank you for taking some time away from your busy schedule to answer some questions.

Tell us about your series, and its characters?

My pleasure, Robin!

 The Agent of Rome series is set in the 3rd century AD and follows the adventures of reluctant imperial agent Cassius Corbulo, his ex-gladiator bodyguard Indavara and his Christian servant Simo. So far their travels have taken them to Syria, Cilicia, Rhodes and Africa.

Looking back at you as a writer, and why you became one… 

When and why did you begin writing?

I always liked creative writing as a child but my first real crack at it was after university. I was looking for a job and decided to try a screenplay. It was a contemporary thriller about two American assassins sent to kill each other. I got an agent in L.A. but unfortunately never sold it. Around the year 2000 I started a sci-fi project which again didn’t really get anywhere. I began the first Cassius book in 2005 and it took a long, long time to get right! As for why – I have always loved stories and it was probably inevitable that I would eventually try my hand.  

What inspired you to write your first book?

It’s hard to remember, to be honest. I think I just wanted to see if I could do it and I always have loads of ideas popping around in my head. Although the first two didn’t really get anywhere I learned a lot and proved to myself that I could get to the end of something. That’s the first hurdle really.

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?

Not really, though I do try my best to capture something of the reality of the times. We can never really know of course but I research as much as I can to understand what life in the third century was like. My main goal is to create convincing, three-dimensional characters and place them in compelling, varied stories.

How much research is there involved in each book?

Quite a bit – I refer back to all the notes I’ve assembled over the past nine years and also get some new texts. Once I know the location I usually start with that – the geography, economy, political situation etc.; then I move on to what might have been going on there in the 270s. But it’s also the case that the books I’ve bought recently suggest story lines to me. For example, I read ‘Corruption and the Decline of Rome’ by Ramsey Macmullen in 2012 and it informed much of the plot of ‘The Far Shore.’

What books have most influenced your life?

I think anything I really rate probably affects my work in some way at some point. The writers who I’m very conscious of having influenced me include Ian Fleming, Tolkien, Tom Clancy and Michael Connelly. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is my favourite book and made me appreciate the importance of intriguing, compelling characters. Clancy I loved as a teenager and although he’s not everyone’s cup of tea I think the way he built his plots was fantastic. My dad introduced me to Bond at a young age and Fleming has ensured that I cannot write about a meal without describing exactly what was eaten!

Do you have any advice for budding writers?

I think the main thing is to enjoy the process because making a career out of it is not easy. I always say it’s important to have your story straight before you really commit because you can end up wasting a lot of time otherwise. I would also say try to read the type of thing you want to write and learn from it. What you really need is something you just cannot wait to write – without that type of commitment you’ll struggle to get anything done.  

Finally: Open forum, sell Far Shore to the readers…Why should they buy this book. (oh and what’s next?)

Well I hope it’s a novel that transports you back to the 3rd century and lands you in the middle of a mystery that then leads to a sea voyage and finally a confrontation between my heroes and an exceptionally nasty piece of work! It has been the most well-received of the books so far and there are certainly plenty of twists and turns.

 Next is ‘The Black Stone’ which finds Cassius and Indavara off to Arabia on the trail of a sacred rock. 

Agent of Rome

1. The Siege (2011)
2. The Imperial Banner (2012)
3. The Far Shore (2013)
4. The Black Stone of Emesa (2014)
The SiegeThe Imperial BannerThe Far Shore
Novellas
Death This Day (2012)
The Eleventh Hour (2013)
Death This DayThe Eleventh Hour

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Nick Brown

Sebastien de Castell: Traitor’s Blade (The Greatcoats) review

Author

Sebastien de Castell ,

Author Web site

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.

Sebastien lives in Vancouver, Canada with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats.

Book description

Paperback Published 4th Sept 2014, click to buy.

traitors blade

 

(Published March 6th 2014)

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.

Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.

All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…

Review

There must be something in the water or maybe the good clean open air of Canada at the moment, this is yet another author able to turn out something amazing. (others being Christian Cameron and CC Humphreys, two of my personal fav authors.)

Traitors Blade is something new in the fantasy genre, at least for me (im not as widely read in fantasy as i used to be). To get a fantasy using Timeslip, something normally reserved to thrillers worked fantastically, introducing back story and tension at the same time. This book is neither character driven or plot driven, its a wonderful blending, the author getting that fine balance between driving forward the story, and the characters voices and narrative. The story is packed with humour, emotion, banter and great character camaraderie. I’m sure that some of my enjoyment is due to the dry, self deprecating at time sarcastic voice of Falcio first Cantor of the Greatcoats and his companions.

The Greatcoats being the books/ authors fantastic creation, both the Armour they are named for, and the ideals and reason for their being. The enemy, the Dukes of the kingdom, put me in mind of the opposite of King John, where the dukes brought the King to heel and signed the people charter (Magna Carta) in Traitors Blade the king was the driving force for good and change, for the people, and the dukes are the petty tyrants.

This is yet another book this year that is in the category, “Left me with a book Hangover”, ie left me thinking about it for days afterwards, the style, the plot, the characters, and most of all wishing for the next book in the series. In finding and publishing Sebastian de Castell and Traitors Blade Jo Fletcher Books have given the genre a real treat, and i hope something new for years to come.

I want to join the Greatcoats, and ride with them again…. i honestly urge you to also Join them Buy the book

Also to find your greatcoat name, use your maternal grandmothers maiden name and your primary school. (mine is Carter St Joseph)

Highly recommend this one

(Parm)

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Filed under Fantasy, Sebastien De Castell

Anthony Riches: Emperors Knives (Review and Q&A)

Anthony Riches

Tony R

Author Bio (pinched from his own web site)

Following a childhood which featured a deep interest in the military rooted in my father and grandfather’s service in the two world wars, I took a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. Working for a succession of blue chip companies over the next twenty five years, I gravitated into business systems and change project management, and I’ve worked as a freelance project manager in the UK and Europe, the USA, the Middle and Far East over the last decade.

Over the same period I’ve gradually refined my ability to write fiction, initially for my own entertainment but more recently with the serious aim of achieving my debut publication. The manuscript of Wounds of Honour eked out a precarious ten year existence on a succession of computer hard drives and memory sticks until a life changing encounter in Belfast energised me to rewrite the manuscript and seek publication. Thanks Gerry!

I’ve been married to Helen, our family’s only true adult for 25 years now, and we live in Hertfordshire with our three children. I’m a confirmed petrol head, and I spend my spare time listening to music, reading (mainly on planes going to and coming back from work) and surfing internet car reviews with a purposeful glint in my eye.

Author Web site

Buy the book Signed

Book Description

emperors Knives

The seventh novel in Anthony Riches’ acclaimed Empire sequence brings Marcus Aquila back to Rome, hunting the men who destroyed his family.
But the revenge he craves may cost him and those around him dearly.

The young centurion’s urge to exact his own brutal justice upon the shadowy cabal of assassins who butchered his family means that he must face them on their own ground, risking his own death at their hands.
A senator, a gang boss, a praetorian officer and, deadliest of all, champion gladiator Mortiferum – the Death Bringer – lie in wait.

The knives are unsheathed, and ready for blood . . .

Review

When i first picked up Wounds of Honour in 2009 i had no idea i would be starting a journey of so much danger, excitement and action. Also when starting with a debut writer i had no idea i would be enjoying these books more and more every year, watching the skill of the writer grow and the depth of the plot increase with every tome.

Book 7 the Emperors Knives  goes so much further than its predecessors, it truly is a book crammed with Machiavellian schemes, plots within plots, as our group of heroes try to help Marcus survive his honour and the machinations of the various schemers set against him within the walls of Rome. As with any Anthony Riches book the reader is left with that ever present feeling of the norns / fates, sat there spinning away the destinies of those in the book, Tony Riches joining them at the loom of life ready to snip an unsuspecting characters life thread at a moments notice either in a spectacular or blasé fashion. I shall not spoil the book by saying if anyone interesting dies…. but blood will be spilled and as writers go Tony is a bit of a swine to his men.

This book comes with a warning to readers, it is one that sucks away your time, you will sit down to read and find that the day has passed while you are marching with legions and uncovering plots. As ever i doff my cap to Tony Riches as he exceeds the plot and power of the previous book, something very very hard to keep doing, but the constant hard work and effort, the striving for more, the digging for detail in dusty research books, and the re-enactment that gives first hand experience, really pays off in the pages of this wonderful book.

I highly recommend this book, and if you have not read any of the Empire series (Why?) then please do start it now, you will not be disappointed. Seven books in and its just getting better and better.

(Parm)

Q&A

Q: When and why did you begin writing?

A: Fiction? In the 90s. I had a great idea for a thriller (still do, it keeps getting updated in my head) but I couldn’t write it well enough to get accepted by an agent and there it lay, putting me off doing anything with Wounds of Honour from 1996 when I wrote the book to 2007 when I finally mustered the courage to send it out to agents.

Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A:From the moment I started writing seriously, aged 22. It was all non-fiction then, mainly about the VietNam War and the best ways to kill tanks… I didn’t consider myself to be much of an author though!
 
Q: How much of the character behavior in books is based on people you know?
A: A fair bit. Mannerisms, language, sometimes a face that has character… My favourite is the brother of a friend of mine who is, shall we say, uncompromising. When threatened with the sack if he refused to take on a further journey (he was lorry driving at the time) he said ‘look at your tracker screen – see that I’ve turned round (with his load still on board) and I’m coming to beat the crap outta you, you ****’ Which, for the record, he did. He’s the source of my favourite line in any of the books… ‘and that’s why you’re sitting on your arse with a broken nose…’. Old fashioned manliness that you don’t see all that much these days.
 
Q: What do you think makes a good story?
A: Action, humour, proper history and the ability to keep me guessing until the end – something I strive for in my own books.
 
Q: What books and authors have most influenced your life as a writer?
A: I don’t know, in truth. I never consider the work of others in terms of what I can take and use,  and I very simply just like to read what I like to read. Whether any of it creeps in to my work I have no idea. I’m not the type to get analytical about my writing style, and I certainly couldn’t change it even if I had to! No degree in creative writing here, just whatever skill I was gifted by upbringing and whatever’s rubbed off on me since then. Favourite authors down the years? Adam Hall (Quiller), Iain M Banks (the Culture), Richard Morgan (Takashi Kovacs), Patrick O’Brian (Aubrey and Maturin) and Christian Cameron (Killer of Men) would probably be my top five. Although I have a huge soft spot for Len Deighton…
 
*WARNING SPOILER ALERT IN NEXT ANSWER*
Q: As a man known for killing his characters, who is your favorite character across the series so far?
A: No you don’t, Carter, you tried that old trick last time I interviewed for you. Let’s find out who’s safe, eh? Nobody’s safe. Nobody was more surprised than me when Rufius got his head cut off (I had no idea until the moment it was raised above the warband on a spear). Read my lips…Nobody’s. Safe. Helen (my wife) thinks she’s got Dubnus under her wing by means of forbidding me to kill him off, but when his time comes…
*WARNING SPOILER ALERT OVER *
 
Q: What is you favorite scene in the series?
A: That I can tell you about without spoilers? The palace scene at the end of The Eagle’s Vengeance. What a way to get your revenge!
 
Q: Now that the many actions of book 7 have played out in Rome, is there a new far reaching plot?
A: Yes, we’re still going all the way to AD211. There will be thirty or so books in the series, unless something happens to stop me writing them. A huge three sided civil war, the biggest battle of the second century, and a military strongman who roams the empire looking for enemies to subdue…what a canvas! And vengeance remains to be taken…
 
Q: If you had to busk your book on the street corner to a new audience, how would you hook those buyers in?
A: Dress in my centurion’s armour with you wearing a loin cloth as my slave! And seriously? I’d tell them that they were about to meet what I modestly consider the most entertaining collection of characters in Roman military fiction, and travel with them to every corner of the empire over thirty years of history. That alright?
 
Q: With the Impending Romani walk 2 would you like to tell people why they should support you and the great charities you Ben and Russ work so hard for? 
A: I support Combat Stress because of the hidden psychological damage done to men like my father who volunteer to be stripped of a portion of their sanity in order that we can maintain our way of life (three generations of my family all having collected medals and mental problems in equal portions in the Boer War and World Wars 1 & 2) – and Medicins Sans Frontieres for the amazing good that they do in countries where all other agencies have either left or are unwilling to enter. Hats off to both causes. 
Many thanks Tony, great interview as ever, and an excellent book.

Other books by this author

Empire 
1. Wounds of Honour (2009)
2. Arrows of Fury (2010)
3. Fortress of Spears (2011)
4. The Leopard Sword (2012)
5. The Wolf’s Gold (2012)
6. The Eagle’s Vengeance (2013)
7. The Emperor’s Knives (2014)
Wounds of HonourArrows of FuryFortress of SpearsThe Leopard SwordThe Wolf's GoldThe Eagle's VengeanceThe Emperor's Knives

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Filed under Anthony Riches, Historical Fiction