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James Rollins / Rebecca Cantrell Blood Infernal (Review)

The Author’s

James Rollins

rollins

JAMES ROLLINS is the New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers, translated into more than forty languages.  His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the “top crowd pleasers” (New York Times) and one of the “hottest summer reads” (People Magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets–and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight. James Rollins decided to become a writer as a boy immersed in the scientific adventures of Doc Savage, the wonders of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, and pulps such as The Shadow, The Spider, and The Avenger. He honed his storytelling skills early, spinning elaborate tales that were often at the heart of pranks played on his brothers and sisters.

Although his talent emerged and grew, writing was not James’ original profession. Before he would set heroes and villains on harrowing adventures, he embarked on a career in veterinary medicine, graduating from the University of Missouri and establishing a successful veterinary. This hands-on knowledge of medicine and science helps shape the research and scientific speculation that set James Rollins books apart.

The exotic locales of James Rollins novels have emerged as a hybrid between imagination, research, and James’ extensive travels throughout the United States and Europe, as well as New Zealand, the South Pacific, China, Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America. Recent travel includes book tours and stops across the country and several European nations to meet readers and give talks, seminars, and media interviews.

In recent years, much of James’ travel has involved meeting readers in small and large groups, at writing and fan conferences, and even aboard seagoing “seminars.” James’ mentoring temperament and coaching skills have made him a sought-out writing instructor and guest speaker for workshops, symposia, conventions, and other forums throughout the country. He is among the core faculty of the annual Maui Writer’s Conference and Retreat.

James Rollins is the author of seven thrillers in the bestselling Sigma Force series (Sandstorm, Map of Bones, Black Order, The Judas Strain, The Last Oracle, The Doomsday Key, and The Devil Colony); six individual adventure thrillers; the blockbuster movie novelization, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; and the Jake Ransom middle grade series (Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow, Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx, and more coming in 2013). The eighth Sigma Force adventure, Bloodline, is coming in Summer 2012.

In 2005, James joined other luminaries in the genre to create the International Thriller Writers, Inc. ITW recognizes and promotes the thriller genre, provides opportunities for mentoring, education, and collegiality among authors and industry professionals, and grants awards for excellence in thriller writing. James is currently the Co-President of ITW, serving alongside Steve Berry. (From Author’s Bio)

Rebecca Cantrell

Rebecca Cantrell

 Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel mystery/thriller novels have won the Bruce Alexander and Macavity awards and been nominated for the Barry and RT Reviewers Choice awards; her critically-acclaimed cell phone novel, iDrakula, was nominated for the APPY award and listed on Booklist’s Top 10 Horror Fiction for Youth. She and her husband and son just left Hawaii’s sunny shores for adventures in Berlin. Find Rebecca Cantrell on Facebook, Twitter, and at Authors Website.

 

Blood Infernal

(2015)
(The third book in the Order of the Sanguines series)
A novel by Rebecca Cantrell and James Rollins

Blood infernal

As an escalating scourge of grisly murders sweeps the globe, archaeologist Erin Granger must decipher the truth behind an immortal prophecy foretold in the Blood Gospel, a tome written by Christ and lost for centuries: The shackles of Lucifer have been loosened, and his Chalice remains lost. It will take the light of all three to forge the Chalice anew and banish him again to his eternal darkness. With the Apocalypse looming, Erin must again join forces with Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Rhun Korza to search for a treasure lost for millennia. But the prize has already fallen into the hands of their enemy, a demon named Legion, before whom even the walls of the Vatican will fall.

The search for the key to salvation will take Erin and the others across centuries and around the world, from the dusty shelves of the Vatican’s secret archives to lost medieval laboratories, where ancient alchemies were employed to horrific ends. All the while, they are hunted, besieged by creatures of uncanny skill and talent. As clues are dug free from ancient underground chapels and found frozen in icy mountain caverns, Erin will discover that the only hope for victory lies in an impossible act–one that will destroy not only her, but all she loves. To protect the world, Erin must walk through the very gates of Hell and face the darkest of enemies: Lucifer himself.

With The Blood Gospel, the first novel in the Order of the Sanguines series, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell combined science, myth, and religion to introduce a breathtaking world where miracles hold new meaning and the fight for good over evil is far more complicated than we ever dreamed. And now, in this epic conclusion to the Sanguines trilogy, Blood Infernal, they take us to the very pit of Hell itself, making us peer into the abyss and face our greatest fears, to answer the ultimate question: what price will we pay for true salvation?

Review

When i first heard about this series i worried that it was just another vampire series, that it might be a bit of true blood band wagon jumping. But books 1&2 soon put paid to that. This book 3 is a bitter sweet experience, endings are always tough with a really good series, and this is one that has been a favorite for a couple of years, ending can however be complicated, can the author (s) get it right?

Yes is the answer, James Rollins is one of my favorite thriller writers, and having read Rebecca Cantrell’s Tesla books i can see the where and why the blending of talents has worked so well. Its not that one is better than the other, its similar to when Feist and Wurts got together and wrote the empire trilogy, a set of books that took both authors beyond their normal writing. This is what i feel has happened again here.

Each and every book in this series has been an original action packed supernatural thriller and Blood Infernal is no different. But more important its a fitting and sublime end to a wonderful series. In any thriller like this there is a risk of going OTT, of taking the action beyond the mildly plausible, even with the supernatural you need to avoid that risk. Both these authors avoid doing that with style and panache, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat through-out. So many teasing tit bits from biblical myth brought forth and used in this story, so much action and so much energy and emotion. The characters will make you laugh and cry out in surprise, gasp and sob in anguish. Its going to be up there with my favorite books at the end of this year.

Very highly recommended for this book and this splendid series.

(Parm)

Series
Sigma Force
1. Sandstorm (2004)
2. Map of Bones (2005)
3. Black Order (2006)
4. The Judas Strain (2007)
5. The Last Oracle (2008)
6. The Doomsday Key (2009)
6.5. The Skeleton Key (2011)
7. The Devil Colony (2010)
7.5. Tracker (2012)
8. Bloodline (2012)
9. The Eye of God (2013)
10. The Sixth Extinction (2014)
11. The Bone Labyrinth (2015)
The Doomsday Key / The Last Oracle (omnibus) (2011)
The Sigma Force Novels (omnibus) (2013)
Sigma Force Novels 1 (omnibus) (2014)
SandstormMap of BonesBlack OrderThe Judas Strain
The Last OracleThe Doomsday KeyThe Skeleton KeyThe Devil Colony
TrackerBloodlineThe Eye of GodThe Sixth Extinction
The Doomsday Key / The Last OracleThe Sigma Force NovelsSigma Force Novels 1
Jake Ransom
1. Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow (2009)
2. Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx (2010)
Jake Ransom Complete Collection (omnibus) (2014)
Jake Ransom and the Skull King's ShadowJake Ransom and the Howling SphinxJake Ransom Complete Collection
Order of the Sanguines (with Rebecca Cantrell)
0.5. City of Screams (2012)
1. The Blood Gospel (2013)
1.5. Blood Brothers (2013)
2. Innocent Blood (2013)
3. Blood Infernal (2015)
City of ScreamsThe Blood GospelBlood BrothersInnocent BloodBlood Infernal
Tucker Wayne (with Grant Blackwood)
1. The Kill Switch (2014)
2. War Hawk (2015)
The Kill Switch
Novels
Subterranean (1999)
Excavation (2000)
Deep Fathom (2001)
Amazonia (2002)
Ice Hunt (2003)
Altar of Eden (2009)
SubterraneanExcavationDeep FathomAmazoniaIce HuntAltar of Eden
Novellas
The Devil’s Bones: Cotton Malone vs. Gray Pierce (2014)(with Steve Berry)
The Devil's Bones: Cotton Malone vs. Gray Pierce
Series contributed to
Indiana Jones (Films)
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull(2008)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

 

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, James Rollins, Rebecca Cantrell, Supernatural, Thrillers

Matthew Reilly : The Great Zoo Of China (Review)

Matthew Reilly's picture

Matthew Reilly

Australia (1974 – )

Matthew Reilly was born in Sydney in 1974 and studied Law at the University of New South Wales. He has written both screenplays and magazine articles, and recently optioned the film rights to Contest. His second and third novels, Ice Station and Temple, became No. 1 bestsellers in his native Australia, and went on to enjoy huge success internationally. The author still lives in Sydney, and keeps on writing.

zoo

Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (12 Feb. 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1409134253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409134251
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 4.7 x 24 cm

In the blockbuster and bestselling tradition of Jurassic Park comes the breakneck new adventure from the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Matthew Reilly whose imaginative, cinematic thrillers “make you feel like a kid again; [they’re] a blast” (Booklist).

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have proven the existence of dragons – a landmark discovery no one could ever believe is real, and a scientific revelation that will amaze the world. Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing findings within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see these fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles. The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that the dragons are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t..

Review (With Spoilers… not usual for me… but there you go)

I don’t normally write reviews for books that I score below a 4 star rating, but I felt compelled to write something about this one. I have always enjoyed the release of Matthew Reilly’s books, they are my escape from genre and reality. After spending so much time in the past sometimes I need something fantastical, something out there on the edge that tests your ability to suspend belief, where you are not wondering if a person could really have survived an encounter (we know that really they would have died in scene one).

What I think that readers of this genre do demand though is originality, and for the first time ever I think the author fails, there is no way anyone can do anything but compare this book to Jurassic park, only instead of Raptors and T-Rex chomping people to bits we have dragons. The author does add in a few nuances around intelligence (but we saw that with the raptors in Jurassic park) the Dragons desire to escape, again we saw that in Jurassic park. The hero (Geoff Goldblum) became a heroine (CJ Cameron), nice move, but she was just too much, she would have and should have died so many times, too many to swallow. Normally The authors weapon research is excellent, but this time they only worked to suit the author, eg: grenades that go off at the touch of a flame (nope) tanks and Apache helicopters destroyed in a blink, yet they (dragons) could not destroy a fire truck, and CJ… well charmed life with the odd scratch.

I know already that fans of the author will flame any review I add like this, if I put it on good reads or amazon I can ticker tape count the negative votes it will get. But I’m sorry that will be an emotive response… quick protect the poor fragile author. I’m pretty certain that he is expecting reviews like this, and maybe hoping to get away with out them. Reviews are a personal thing, so for me, personally this did not work, I’m sure it will for many other.

That said I still passed some fun hours, even if I scoffed at much of the action… but it really is a 3/5. The characters are fun as ever, the writing is splendidly paced as usual, but the plot was the let down… and that’s the first time I have ever said that for a Matthew Reilly book.

as with any book that isn’t to my taste… read it yourself, make up your own mind (just maybe save it for the pool on holiday when you have left the brain back at home.)

(Parm)

Scarecrow

1. Ice Station (1998)
2. Area 7 (2001)
3. Scarecrow (2003)
4. Hell Island (2006)
5. Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves (2011)
aka Scarecrow Returns
Ice Station / Hell Island (omnibus) (2007)
Ice StationArea 7ScarecrowHell IslandScarecrow and the Army of Thieves
Hover Car Racer
1. Crash Course (2005)
2. Full Throttle (2006)
3. Photo Finish (2007)
Hover Car Racer (2004)
Crash CourseFull ThrottlePhoto FinishHover Car Racer
Jack West Junior
1. The Seven Ancient Wonders (2005)
aka Seven Deadly Wonders
2. The Six Sacred Stones (2007)
3. The Five Greatest Warriors (2009)
The Seven Ancient WondersThe Six Sacred StonesThe Five Greatest Warriors
Tournament
Roger Ascham and the King’s Lost Girl (2013)
The Tournament (2013)
Roger Ascham and the King's Lost GirlThe Tournament
Troll Mountain Serial Novel
1. Troll Mountain: Episode I (2014)
2. Troll Mountain: Episode II (2014)
3. Troll Mountain: Episode III (2014)
Troll Mountain: The Complete Novel (2014)
Troll Mountain: Episode ITroll Mountain: Episode IITroll Mountain: Episode IIITroll Mountain: The Complete Novel
Novels
Temple (1999)
Contest (2000)
The Great Zoo of China (2014)
TempleContestThe Great Zoo of China
Series contributed to
Quick Reads 2006
Hell Island (2006)
Hell Island

 

 

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Matthew Reilly, Thrillers

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

Buy a Signed Exclusive Limited Edition

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

Andy McDermott: Kingdom of Darkness (Review)

Author: Andy McDermott

Andy McD

Andy McDermott is the international bestselling author of the Nina Wilde/Eddie Chase series of adventure thrillers, the first of which, THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS, became a New York Times bestseller on its September 2009 publication in the United States. He is currently working on his twelfth novel.

Born in Halifax, England, and a graduate of Keele University, Andy now lives in Bournemouth, where he works as a full-time writer. Previously, he was an entertainment journalist and the editor of such magazines as DVD Review and the iconoclastic film publication Hotdog, where his lifelong love of movies (and vast knowledge of movie trivia) finally became a useful job skill. He has also worked as a cartoonist, graphic designer and videogame reviewer, and written for the award-winning British sci-fi comic2000AD.

Author Web Site

Kingdom of Darkness (2014)
(The tenth book in the Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase series)

Kingdom of darkness

 

Buy the book

“What’s the connection between a dig in Alexandria for Alexander the Great’s tomb and a wanted Nazi war criminal?

Nina and Eddie about to find out as they go on a search across the globe, from Egypt to Argentina and Italy to Iran, to find the truth. They have located the most exciting archaeological treasures the world has ever known – they have found Atlantis and walked in the Garden of Eden, they have wielded Excalibur and seen the vast sums of gold in El Dorado.
Could they now be about to find the greatest prize of all – the secret to eternal life?

Full of his trademark action, thrills and humour, this is Andy McDermott’s most exciting novel to date and marks the 10th novel featuring his brilliant series leads, Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase.”

Review

I’ve always been a little astounded by the books from Andy McDermott, first that he could write so fast, these are not small books, but look at his track record, his first six books were published in three years, in 7 years Eleven novels (Stunning). Each and every book has been a epic thrill ride, worthy of any Hollywood studio / film writer. Which brings me to my amazement that none of these books have been made into a big budget film.

So Kingdom of Darkness, probably the least OTT of the series, but this is a series you read for the wild thrill ride, not plausibility. That said its also well researched, down to some very fine detail (both the modern and the historical) and always remains just within the bounds of possible. This time, throw in Nazis’s, Alexander the Great and a secret to eternal life and you have an absolute winner.  With any great thriller, to talk to much about the plot is a spoiler, and same about the back story. Needless to say for those who read this series Eddie Chase is his usual puntastic self, Nina gets them into the thick of trouble with her single minded pursuit of legend and along the way there will be wild chases, explosions, bullets galore and twists and turns so mind bendingly good you will be guessing all the way to the end.

In summary: An excellent thriller, exhausting, Laugh out loud funny and gobsmackingly heartbreaking.

If you like high octane thrillers then you CANNOT miss this book.

(Parm)

 

 

Series
Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase
1. The Hunt for Atlantis (2007)
2. The Tomb of Hercules (2008)
3. The Secret of Excalibur (2008)
4. The Covenant of Genesis (2009)
5. The Cult of Osiris (2009)
aka The Pyramid of Doom
6. The Sacred Vault (2010)
aka The Vault Of Shiva
7. Empire of Gold (2011)
8. Temple of the Gods (2011)
aka Return to Atlantis
9. The Valhalla Prophecy (2014)
10. Kingdom of Darkness (2014)
The Hunt for AtlantisThe Tomb of HerculesThe Secret of ExcaliburThe Covenant of GenesisThe Cult of OsirisThe Sacred VaultThe Sacred VaultTemple of the GodsThe Valhalla ProphecyKingdom of Darkness
Novels
The Persona Protocol (2013)
aka The Shadow Protocol
The Persona Protocol

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Andy McDermott, Historical Fiction

John Hornor Jacobs: The Incorruptibles (2014) Review

John Hornor Jacobs

JHJ
John Hornor Jacobs has worked in advertising for the last fifteen years, played in bands, and pursued art in various forms. He is also, in his copious spare time, a novelist, represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. His first novel, Southern Gods, was published by Night Shade Books and shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Award. His second novel, This Dark Earth, will be published in July, 2012, by Gallery/Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. His young adult series, The Incarcerado Trilogy comprised of The Twelve Fingered Boy, Incarcerado, and The End of All Things, will be published by Carolrhoda Labs, an imprint of Lerner Publishing

The Incorruptibles (2014)
(The first book in the Incorruptibles series)

Buy a Signed Copy

Buy from WH Smiths

 

 

 

The Incorruptables

 

 

In the contested and unexplored territories at the edge of the Empire, a boat is making its laborious way up stream. Riding along the banks are the mercenaries hired to protect it – from raiders, bandits and, most of all, the stretchers, elf-like natives who kill any intruders into their territory. The mercenaries know this is dangerous, deadly work. But it is what they do. In the boat the drunk governor of the territories and his sons and daughters make merry. They believe that their status makes them untouchable. They are wrong. And with them is a mysterious, beautiful young woman, who is the key to peace between warring nations and survival for the Empire. When a callow mercenary saves the life of the Governor on an ill-fated hunting party, the two groups are thrown together. For Fisk and Shoe – two tough, honourable mercenaries surrounded by corruption, who know they can always and only rely on each other – their young companion appears to be playing with fire. The nobles have the power, and crossing them is always risky. And although love is a wonderful thing, sometimes the best decision is to walk away. Because no matter how untouchable or deadly you may be, the stretchers have other plans.

“One part ancient Rome, two parts wild west, one part Faust. A pinch of Tolkien, of Lovecraft, of Dante. This is strange alchemy, a recipe I’ve never seen before. I wish more books were as fresh and brave as this.”
Patrick Rothfuss

“An exceptionally well written book.”
Mark Lawrence

Review

This book was dangled in front of me at just the right time (thank you sophie), something different but with hints of my staple reading genre (historical fiction)  i fully expected a decent read, but after the anticipation i had for Red Country, which ended in (for the first time ever with a Joe Abercrombie) disappointment, i was concerned that another fantasy western would equal a book i would struggle to finish.

I’m so happy to say that my concern could not have been further from the reality of the book. The author has taken a western, added an alternate world built on a Rome that has survived to become a global empire, added in demons, magic, and other beings. With these elements he has built an exceptional world, that given the magic (used very lightly) is very believable  and easy to become swept into, even into the exceptionally well thought out detail of the guns, the ammunition, the magic, the society, all of this is brought to the fore in the flow or narrative. Allowing the reader to be submerged in the land and absorbed by the characters at the same time. For such a dark tale (at times) its very easy to find many moments of enjoyment in the characters and the situation. The interplay between Shoe, Fisk and the Ruman nobility is at times incredibly funny, especially when dealing with Gnaeus the eldest son.

This for me reminded me of the first time i read a Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie, that sense of WOW, this is fresh and new and exciting. That i need to read more from this author very soon. (it certainly made me go Buy a signed copy )

So all you fans of Fantasy, and historical fiction (who like a cross over), please do read this, its a great new world to live in and explore.

(Parm)

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Filed under Fantasy, Historical Fiction, John Hornor Jacobs

I.D Roberts : Kingdom Lock (Review)

Author

roberts-ian-4-wb

I.D. Roberts was born in Australia in 1970 and moved to England when he was three. From a young age he developed an obsession with war comics, movies, Tintin and James Bond. For the past decade he has been the film writer for a national listings magazine. After living all over the country and buying a farmhouse by mistake in Ireland, he finally settled in the South West and currently lives in rural Somerset with his wife Di and their chocolate Labrador, Steed.

Follow him on Twitter: @KingdomLock

Author’s Website: www.idroberts.com

Buy a signed copy

9780749016302-kingdom-lock-wb-1768

It is 1914 and while battles rage across Europe, three empires – the Ottoman, the German and the British – fight for dominance in the Middle East. The merciless landscape of Persia and Mesopotamia are prizes to be claimed by the most ruthless opponent.

In the midst of the chaos is Kingdom Lock. Working for the British Intelligence Service known as the White Tabs, Lock is sent to Persia on a commission from the Australian Infantry Force. His mission: to prevent a German spy from inciting jihad and rebellion among the Muslim tribes and from seizing control of the precious oilfields. But before then, having recently rescued Amy Townshend, the daughter of a top ranking British officer, from Turkey, he now finds that he must save her from the clutches of death once more. It’s a task that seems destined to fail with bloodthirsty, relentless Turks at every turn . . .

To complete his mission, Lock must stay one step ahead of the war raging around him. And to make matters worse, Amy’s fiancé, an aristocratic young officer, is none too pleased about Lock’s developing relationship with his future wife. In this super-charged  adventure, can Kingdom Lock survive the dangers that threaten him?

Review:

I love a debut, well… I love a debut when it turns out to be one that’s something new and exciting, a bit different, and then ultimately turns out to be wonderfully written. Despite my passion for Historical Fiction, i have never really had a love of the first world war. Its always felt too dark, too emotional, to personal to the near past of everyone in the UK and Europe. This is the second book in a number of weeks that has managed to prove that great books do exist in this period (well apart from Charlies war obviously…that’s just part of my childhood reading).  The first of those read was The Shadow of War which was an eye opener, Kingdom Lock by I.D Roberts was something else.

If i was to make any comparison i suppose it would be to John Wilcox and his Simon Fonthill series, only this book is slightly more stark and gritty. Instead of the witty 352 Jenkins we have the angry, dangerous Underhill, and instead of the slightly dippy reserved Fonthill we have Kingdom Lock, a highly competent soldier / spy. A man who has his flaws yet lives with them, through them, a human among elitist snobs of the officer class. For me he was exactly the soldier i would want to have been.

The other difference in this story is the setting, its WW1 but not France, its the oilfields of Persia, chasing the very real German spy Wilhelm Wassmuss, (known as “Wassmuss of Persia”. He attempts to foment trouble for the British in the Persian Gulf. This man is someone i had heard of before, but since reading the book i have done a little research. This guy was the German Lawrence of Arabia and I.D Roberts doesn’t just bring Kingdom Lock to life he also brings Wassmuss to life in a great chase across a war torn landscape, through a rich tapestry of ancient lands and culture.

(oh and there’s a love story in there….. well told too, its not in there just for the ladies, or because these stories should have one)

Its a wonderful debut and i look forward to book 2

Highly recommended

(Parm)

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Stewart Binns: The Shadow of War (Review)

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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
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Stewart Binns