Tag Archives: greek

Noble Smith: Spartans at the Gates (review)

Author Bio (Noble Smith)

Noble-Smith_homepage

Noble Smith is an award-winning playwright and documentary film executive producer as well as a 16-year veteran of the interactive entertainment industry as a narrative designer. He is the author of The Wisdom of the Shire, a guide to life for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien (translated into 8 languages), praised by Kirkus Reviews as a “must-have” for fans of Middle-earth. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and children.

Book Description (Spartan at the gates)

Spartans_NSmith_cover-197x300

The Peloponnesian War has begun. An army of merciless Spartan invaders have arrived at the gates of Plataea, bent on obliterating the city and its inhabitants. Plataea’s oldest allies, the Athenians, are spread too thin in their own campaigns to send help. Cut off and alone, the Plataeans dig in behind their high walls for the coming siege, while the ruthless Spartans gather outside.

On a rugged mountain road a young Plataean warrior named Nikias rides to Athens on an urgent quest. He carries with him a bag of ill-gotten gold, hoping to raise an army of mercenaries to help defend his city from the coming Spartan assault. But in the sprawling stronghold of Athens, Nikias encounters perils that prove to be more dangerous than those he has faced on the battlefield.
Noble Smith’s Spartans at the Gates is a thrilling action-adventure novel set during the war between the great powers of Ancient Greece.

Review:

I first discovered Noble last year when i stumbled across Sons of Zeus, The concept was the bit that intrigued me despite the cover being another unfortunate US cover (sorry guys, but US publishers have an amazing skill for awful covers, Spartans at the Gates isn’t really an improvement…sorry Noble). In the last five years plus I have developed a real passion for books set in ancient Greece, something driven mainly by the awesome writing of Christian Cameron. Couple that with Nobles setting of Plataea again a location at the heart of Christians writing and I was hooked in to read book one and give it a go. What i didn’t expect was excellent pace and plotting of the book and its characters. My review of Sons of Zeus is Here

When I know Spartan at the Gates was ready in advance copy I was front and centre begging the author for a copy. I hadn’t enjoyed a book this much in this time period since Christian Cameron’s works first hooked me in. (and that really is my highest compliment). The worry of a great first book is “can the author repeat it?”

In the case of Spartan the answer is yes with a tiny quibble. The fantastic setting is there, the descriptive is there, the research is impeccable, the characters are once again sublime. Noble imbues Nikias and all his family and friends with a real passion, the protagonists are all complex bad guys, giving an amazing keep you guessing plot, who will pop up where, what are the real motives? Introduce the multitude of whisperers (spies) from all sides and factions and you don’t know what will happen next.  This book has Nikias thrown from one set of issues and adversity to another, testing his stamina and metal to the limit, We also fill in more of the blanks on Chusor the mysterious Smith and will Nikias young friend Kolax finally find his father, and how many people will this whirling devil of a Scythian boy kill on his journey to find him. The whole book flew by, it was over before I felt I had really got to the meat of it, and I think that was my only regret with the read, it felt like a bridging book, moving pieces on the chess board and shifting them into position for the final book in the series, its done so well that on the Amazon scale I would still give this 5/5 stars, but on a personal note I felt that bridging and plot building too keenly in its ending, that could just be a great compliment that i never wanted it to end? but in a world of hefty tomes, i felt this could have benefitted from another 100 pages of meat.

So once again from Noble Smith a truly excellent read, crammed with great characters and story telling , an engaging and fast paced writing skill and style to rival the best of them (Bernard Cornwell, , Conn Iggulden, Christian Cameron, Giles Kristian, Anthony Riches, Ben Kane, Paul Collard, Michael Arnold, Angus Donald (hope I didn’t miss anyone 😉 etc..) and well worth the cover price, a book I heartily recommend.

(Parm)

 

Novels
Stolen from Gypsies (2000)
Sons of Zeus (2013)
Spartans at the Gates (2014)
Stolen from GypsiesSons of ZeusSpartans at the Gates
Novellas
The One-Armed Warrior (2013)
The One-Armed Warrior
Non fiction
The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life (2012)
The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life

 

 

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Noble Smith

S.J.A Turney The Assassin’s Tale (The Ottoman Cycle book 3)

Author Biography

SJA

(In his own words)
I live with my wife, my son 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 painting and decorating sales. I have lived in four counties and traveled as widely as time and budget allowed and find myself, on the cusp of my fortieth year, 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 has spawned sequels to each work, with three tales in each series so far and more planned.

As well as my own website at http://www.sjaturney.co.uk I maintain a website detailing the Roman sites I visit and photograph at http://www.roman-sites.com, and blog at http://sjat.wordpress.com. I am an almost terminally chatty person. That’s just a due warning if you feel like contacting me (via my website.) I am always happy to speak to people and have just put together an FAQ gathered together from things I have been asked previously.

Buy Kindle copy

Product Description

HiResAssassin'sTaleCoverFront

Italy, 1493. Returning from the new world to the old, Skiouros is confronted with lands ruled by a strict and unyielding religion, and which yet still contrive to be corrupt and debased, as the inquisition takes hold in Spain and the Vatican seethes under the rule of the Borgia family.Through this world of intolerance, greed and wickedness, the former thief-turned-explorer finally sets his mind to that mission that has underlain his every move since leaving the great city of Istanbul some two years earlier: the death of the usurper sultan, Cem.

Gathering old friends and new, Skiouros travels the length of Italy in his quest for vengeance and the quieting of his brother’s restless soul. But on his dreadful quest he will face more than mere physical danger, for beneath all his strength and will, does Skiouros have a heart black enough to commit murder in the name of revenge?

Review
I know Simon prefers transparency in the case of reviews, so to be totally upfront: I would always struggle to dislike this book. Simon is about as good a friend as i have, add to that he did me the huge honour of adding a character to this series (Parmenio). Its those things that put a huge smile on my face and give a wonderful gloss to this reviewing lark.
All that aside; This is a wonderful book, even without being predisposed to want to love the book. Simon has a true talent for story telling, and a prodigious output (see below for his full book list). This series (Ottoman Cycle) is my personal favorite from Simon. Filled with a deep sense of connection for every location, i know Simon has meticulously researched each and every one, but research only takes you so far, its the passion for history in general that makes this a winner add to that the writing, the locations and telling talent a story that shines through on every page and you get a little bit of magic.
Assassins Tale see’s our main character Skiouros return from an unexpected trip to the new world, he returns to a Europe divided and held together at the same time by religion, its wars, its politics and its superstitions. Skiouros returns older, wiser, stronger; ready to take on the rest of his mission. He has to find his friends and return to his pledge to rid the world of the man responsible for his brothers death.
A journey that will place him at the heart of Roman politics, in direct harms way of a warrior king hell bent on expanding his empire, and smack in the middle of Borgia politics.
There is so much in this book i was riveted, i remember emailing Simon at midnight to go “What the F…” on at least one occasion.
A book that can elicit emotions like that is for me a winner.
So this is highly recommended.
(Parm)
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)
Prelude to War (2014)
The Conquest of GaulThe BelgaeGallia InvictaConspiracy of EaglesHades' GateCaesar's VowPrelude 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

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Filed under Historical Fiction, S J A Turney

Noble Smith: Sons of Zeus (Review)

Author

Noble-Smith_homepage

Noble Smith is an award-winning playwright and documentary film executive producer as well as a 16-year veteran of the interactive entertainment industry as a narrative designer. He is the author of The Wisdom of the Shire, a guide to life for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien (translated into 8 languages), praised by Kirkus Reviews as a “must-have” for fans of Middle-earth. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and children.

Product Description

zeus

Buy the book

In 431 B.C., Ancient Greece experienced its own “Pearl Harbor” – a treacherous sneak attack that would mark the start of the bloody war between the democracy of Athens and the tyranny of Sparta. Caught between these superpowers, the independent city-state of Plataea became the arena where their battle for control of all of Greece would begin.

In Plataea, the young Greek warrior Nikias dreams of glory in the Olympic games as he trains for the pankration – the no-holds-barred ultimate fighting of the era – until an act of violence in defense of his beloved threatens to send him into exile. But before his trial can take place, a traitor opens the city gates to a surprise attack force.

Suddenly trapped inside their own fortress, the Plataeans are fighting for their lives. As Nikias seeks to discover the identity of the man who betrayed the city, he makes a daring escape, gathers an army, and leads this ragtag band into a suicidal battle at the gates of the citadel – a battle that will decide the fates of his family, his friends, and the woman he loves.

In the vein of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden, and Steven Pressfield, Sons of Zeus marks the beginning of a richly detailed new action-adventure series.

Sons of Zeus Review

It’s always a privilege to be considered as worthy to review a book, and even more so to be specifically asked to do so.

This book was one that had managed to slip past what I thought was a fairly good radar for new books and new authors. So to get the nod as someone who knows / likes good Historical Fiction especially that which is set in Ancient Greece was a bit of an ego boost.

To then, via some back and forth email banter discover that the author is also a total gent, really nice bloke and someone with a real passion for the period was all I needed to whole heartedly say yes please.

Yet somehow it then took me 6 or 7 weeks to crack the book open, this I can only put down to the pressures of one of the busiest years ever for fantastic books. It’s not like the book isn’t visually appealing, the book, a burnt orange colour depicting a Warrior in full panoply backed by a city in flames. The cover shouts that the story is bursting forth from the pages with tales of action, violence and history.

I was determined that this really nice bloke would get his review, so two nights ago I picked up the book. WOW what a journey, two nights of staying up until around 2am to finish the book left me tired, but the book left me exhausted. Both from the pace of the plot and the battles, but also from the emotion of the loss of life and loved ones. The brutality of war and life in ancient Plataean Greece, and the standards to which most of the men and women held themselves for honour, propriety and prowess.

Noble, uses and weaves his tale into the history really well, introducing characters, creating others, breathing life into every one of them. But he also manages to educate the reader on life at the time without making it feel like a history lesson. He works from a neutral standpoint not judging but allowing the reader to judge good from bad. Even hero’s commit evil acts, its just depends on time place and circumstance. War is an evil mistress, and demands a high price.

It takes a really strong book to keep me up late (I have a 2 year old, and a job, sleep is precious) It takes a great story to make me read and read until I fall asleep holding the book, or have to physically force myself to put the book down.

In the shape of Nikias the young warrior, his grandfather Menesarkus the old general, the household slave, the Skythian slave, the blacksmith and inventor Chusor  and many other great character inventions Noble Smith takes a passage from Thucydides “History of the Peloponnesian War” covering an attempt by the Thebans to take over their rivals the Plataeans city and adds meat to the bones to create this wonderful take, the first I hope in a long series.

The publisher blurb makes a comparison to Conwell and Pressfield. I would be more inclined to make a comparison to Christian Cameron, the tale gripped me with the same intensity that his books do.

Very highly recommended, one of my top 5 books for the year.

(Parm)

Coming in June 2014 Spartans at the Gates

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