Tag Archives: Historical fiction

Matthew Harffy The Serpent Sword (Bernicia Chronicles Book 1) Review

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Matthew Harffy is currently writing a series of novels set in seventh century Northumbria. The first book isThe Serpent Sword. The sequel is The Cross and The Curse.

In his day job he is a manager of fifteen technical writers, so spends all day writing and editing, just not the words he’s most interested in! Prior to that he worked in Spain as an English teacher and translator. He has co-authored seven published academic articles, ranging in topic from the ecological impact of mining to the construction of a marble pipe organ.

Matthew is outnumbered at home by his wife and their two daughters.

When not writing, or spending time with his family, Matthew sings in a band called Rock Dog.

The Serpent Sword (Bernicia Chronicles Book 1)

Author Web site

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BRITAIN 633 A.D.

Certain that his brother’s death is murder, young farmhand Beobrand embarks on a quest for revenge in war-torn Northumbria. When he witnesses barbaric acts at the hands of warriors he considers his friends, Beobrand questions his chosen path and vows to bring the men to justice.

Relentless in pursuit of his enemies, Beobrand faces challenges that change him irrevocably. Just as a great sword is forged by beating together rods of iron, so his adversities transform him from a farm boy to a man who stands strong in the clamour and gore of the shieldwall.

As he closes in on his kin’s slayer and the bodies begin to pile up, can Beobrand mete out the vengeance he craves without sacrificing his own honour … or even his soul?

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Review

Once again its been one of those occasions where i feel privileged to be asked to read and review a book by a debut author, anytime someone trusts you with something which has been their passion and that has consumed hours, days weeks and months of their life is something you should and i do cherish. At the same time it does not earn you a free pass to a good review.

What does earn you praise is something new, something set in a period where many others have not gone before, when you can couple together plot, great characters, scene setting and action packed fight scenes. This is just what you get with Serpent Sword.

Beobrand is a well thought out totally rounded character, the author builds his personality slowly and carefully and provides lots of depth and emotion to really tie the reader to his fate. He then couples this with something many authors fail at, which is bringing the supporting cast to life, spending as much time bringing to life the characters who are destined to die. Its this level of commitment to characters that pays off with a powerful rich story that sucks you in and drives you to turn the next page and the next until you suddenly notice its 2am.

The antagonist in the plot Hengist is the perfect foil for our protagonist Beobrand, someone who impacts multiple aspects of his life, someone truly nasty that the reader can dislike and wish to see destroyed. The author plays out that inevitable conclusion with care and precision, taking you to the edge and back more than once, until you are champing at the bit to see him gutted on the end of Beobrand’s sword.

The time period being Dark Ages allows the author a large amount of scope to round his plot using history as a guide and not a restriction. As someone who reads a lot of Roman fiction its fun seeing the Romans viewed as giants of the past, people of myth almost. with an incredulity towards the structures they left behind. At the same time there is a rich culture of sights sounds smells and society that the author draws you into and makes you a part of.

this is an excellent debut… and i can promise an better follow up (I’ve been fortunate enough to see that also) so add this to the list of an excellent new voice who will be a fast riser.

(Parm)

 

 

 

 

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Anthony Riches Thunder of the Gods (2015) Review

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The eighth book in the Empire sequence takes Centurion Marcus Aquila and his Tungrian legion on a dangerous mission to the heart of the Parthian empire

With Rome no longer safe Marcus and the Tungrians are ordered east, to the desolate border lands where Rome and Parthia have vied for supremacy for centuries.

Ordered to relieve the siege of an isolated fortress, their task is doomed to bloody failure unless they can turn the disaffected Third Legion into a fighting force capable of resisting the terrifying Parthian cataphracts.

And Marcus must travel to the enemy capital Ctesiphon on a desperate mission, the only man who can persuade the King of Kings to halt a war that threatens the humiliation of the empire and the slaughter of his friends

Review

Whenever there is a new Anthony Riches book in the offing it always create an air of anticipation in my reading schedule, Its very easy for me to say Tony is a fun read but really he is so much more than that. His early books were just that, great fun, but I always felt that this squad of Tungrians could be from any time period, they were/ are the epitome of what I expect squaddies to be, they are just the same as many soldiers I have known…. Only tougher and more dangerous, purely by dint of the time period they live in, where life is cheap, Tony captures the essence of the men on the front line so well and the fatalistic approach to much of their everyday life. What is so easy to miss in the early books is the subtle web that Tony weaves to draw the reader in, to create the Roman world and the politics that surround the people in the book, its so fun and the language so irreverent that its easy to miss the subtlety, but its there, and he orchestrates ii in what appears an effortless fashion, to build a world and a group of men that capture the imagination, and hold on for grim death.

Then comes Tony’s real talent as a writer, again something quite subtle, but when I find myself talking books and using him as an example to all and sundry on the right way to do something then surely that means he must be one of the best? (at least for me). Its his characters, its very easy I think for a writer to spend time on his key characters, his hero(es), to build them up so we worry about them, so we are invested in them, but many writers do this at the expense of the supporting cast. Tony treats all the characters as the main character, there is no supporting cast, you become invested in everyone. He does this I think with a malicious glee, because then he becomes the Atropos, holding the abhorred shears over the thread of each characters life, leaving you to worry over the fate of everyone, adding a heightened sense of anticipation to each and every scene. This delivers so much more than the average book for the reader, because you do not know who will survive the book, I honestly don’t think a single character is safe, he will kill anyone if the story calls for it, unlike many writers who protect their heroes. I have read more than one book of Anthony’s that has left me shouting “no F—ing way” at the fate of a character, he is the only author who does that to me.

Thunder of the Gods reproduces all this fantastic skill and does it against the dangerous backdrop of the Parthian empire, a part of the world in the forefront of everyone’s minds at present with ISIS and the destruction of historic sites that someday may only be left in the wonderful descriptive and imagination of writers like Tony. This book takes us on a tour of the edges of this territory, into the heart of the empires deadly politics.  Having been a fan of Tony’s since book one I have no qualms in saying that this is his best work to date. It may not have had me swearing at him like the last book, but it is wonderfully descriptive, highly emotive and just a sheer pleasure to read. As ever he will without doubt appear in the fight for my end of year top 10.

Highly recommended, (this book and this series, so prev reviews below)

(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)

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Ian Ross: Twilight of Empire – War at the Edge of the World (Q&A)

Ian ross

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Ian: Many thanks for taking the time to answer some questions….

1)      When I write a review I always like to give some background on the author, but all I could find was the stock blurb.. you are the veritable ghost man (writer) of the roman world… can you add some meat to the bones of who is Ian Ross?

I could do… although I quite like the idea of being ‘the ghost man/writer of the Roman world’! But to be a bit less nebulous: I originally studied painting at art college, but quickly decided that writing fiction allowed me greater freedom to express what I wanted to do. Since then I’ve supported myself with a variety of jobs, while continuing to develop my writing abilities. I spent a year in Italy teaching English, and that reawakened my interest in Roman history. Later, after I returned to the UK, I decided to combine what had become a growing fascination for the ancient world with my love of adventure stories. Other than that, I live in the west country but travel as much and as often as I can, I keep unsociable hours, and I’ve never owned a TV or a car…

  2)      What made you choose Roman Historical Fiction and why so late in the history of the Empire?

I’ve always been drawn to history, and the Romans in particular hold a special appeal. It’s that combination of the familiar and the completely alien I suppose – they resembled us in so many ways, but their society and beliefs were often brutally different. Periods of revolutionary upheaval and change interest me – change creates conflict, and conflict creates stories. The later Roman period was a time when the empire was changing, Christianity was becoming a force in the world and the old certainties were breaking down. There was a real sense that civilisation was in jeopardy, and perhaps the drama seems all the more intense set against that dark background. There was plenty of action too: near-constant wars on all frontiers, tangled alliances and intrigues, enormous battles and towering personalities. For perhaps the first time, ordinary men could rise to positions of great, and perilous, power. To throw a protagonist into that world, and to use his experiences as a sort of prism to show the wider picture, seemed to hold enormous potential.

 3)      I have to admit to ascribing some influences/ comparisons (in my view) for your book. “the depth of detail and narrative of Ben Kane, the action and pace of SJA Turney and a main character that has the depth and personality of Simon Scarrows Macro “  What if any influences do you think you have in writing this series (I really believe each person will see their own version of influences in any writing).

Being compared to some of the biggest writers in the field is very flattering – thanks! Of course, I’ve read most of the Roman fiction that’s come out in the last five or six years, and enjoyed it greatly. But I think with War at the Edge of the World I was consciously trying to reach back to things I’d read a few years before; probably there’s more direct influence from books like Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire, or Wallace Breem’s Eagle in the Snow – I love their very gutsy muscular prose style, and the convincing detailing of the era. Rosemary Sutcliff too – Eagle of the Ninth, naturally, but more especially Frontier Wolf, and The Flowers of Adonis, which was one of her books for adult readers. She had a superb way of summoning a sense of place, a feel for the setting and the landscape. I suppose that might relate to my background in painting – I tend to think very visually, and I enjoy being able to see places through description.

 4)      Centurion Aurelius Castus, what was the influence behind him as a main character, the bluff, soldier rather than the man at the centre of power (eg a book following Constantine)? Is he based on anyone you know? 

One of the first aspects of the story I came up with was the character of the protagonist, Castus – or Knucklehead, as I called him at first (the nickname stuck, even if it is anachronistic!). I found I could picture him very clearly right from the beginning. Essentially he’s the opposite of me in many ways – very physical, instinctive, inclined towards action rather than reflection. He’s also very big and brutal-looking, and can’t read or write, which leads people to underestimate him, often to their cost. I’ve never been drawn to superheroes or very larger-than-life characters, but Castus has a shrewd intelligence, a genuine sense of honour and a deep vein of compassion, and I hope it’s these qualities that make him heroic, besides leading him steadily into conflict with the far more twisted morals of the world around him.

 5)      Where will we go next? As a reader im tempted ito wish for two separate directions, I want to be with Centurion Aurelius Castus, I want to find out what happened to Cunomagla. I also want to follow the rise of Constantine, there is so much story there, so much intrigue for Centurion Aurelius Castus to become embroiled in.

 Castus will always remain at the heart of the story; the successive books in the series follow his rise through the hierarchy of the late Roman army, which parallels the rise of Constantine to supreme power. So the two of them are interlinked; the further he rises, the closer Castus gets to the emperor himself and the inner circles of imperial rule, and the more he gets to see of the realities of power, and the often inglorious ways that empires are maintained. Castus is a traditionalist, loyal to the old gods of Rome, so Constantine’s adoption of Christianity is going to be one of many challenges he has to face, with both his beliefs and his loyalties tested to breaking point. But there’s plenty of adventure along the way too: it’s possible that at some point Castus might find himself in north Britain again, and we’ll see more of Cunomagla, but he’s got a long road to take before he gets there!

6)      If you had the choice of any other Genre to write in, what would it be and why?

I’d think I’d be hard pressed to leave historical fiction behind: the past is just too fascinating, and there’s so much of it… But if I were somehow compelled to stop writing about Romans I’d doubtless start thinking up stories about archaic Greeks, or the Victorian Royal Navy, or 16th century swordsmen – it’s the way my imagination works. I have a couple of other projects in mind, but they’ll still very much in the planning stages…

 7)      What / who do you read for fun?

Besides the extensive research for the Castus books, which I genuinely enjoy – perhaps I enjoy it a bit too much at times – most of my reading lately has been other historical fiction. I’ve just finished Christian Cameron’s brilliant The Ill-Made Knight; his Tyrant novels are superb, and this one was just as impressive. The way he conjures the sense of an entirely convincing past world is both daunting and inspiring. Robert Low does the same, especially in his ‘Kingdom’ series, which was very powerful. There seems to be a lot of good medieval stuff around at the moment actually – next on my list is Toby Clements’ Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims… Probably my favourite contemporary writer, although not one I’d like to try and emulate, is Hilary Mantel: her Thomas Cromwell novels have revolutionised the way people think about historical fiction. There’s a visceral intensity about some of her writing that takes my breath away.

8)      Who are the writers that have influenced you most, from making you want to be a writer, through to style?

I’d say my earliest influences were the classic adventure writers of the 19th century, particularly Joseph Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson. Graham Greene too, from a later era; his stories have a real sense of moral complexity and peril about them. It took me quite a long time, I think, to realise that what I enjoyed most in fiction was powerful and compelling storytelling, combined with strong graphic description and depth of character. Writing War at the Edge of the World, I also found myself recalling some of the fantasy/sf novels I’d enjoyed in my teens; I recently reread Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun and Soldier in the Mist, and I was amazed at how much of it had remained lodged in some corner of my mind. Undoubtedly the things you read at an early age often make the greatest impression.

9)      If you could invite any four people from throughout history or fictional writing to dinner, whom would it be and why?

Inviting interesting historical figures to dinner might be risky; many of them probably wouldn’t get on, and you may not make it through to dessert! In purely practical terms, I’d love to quiz the Roman soldier and writer Ammianus Marcellinus: the first thirteen books of his history of the later empire, including the bits covering the reign of Constantine, are lost, and he could fill me in on the no-doubt scurrilous details. I’d rather invite the emperor Maxentius to dinner than his great rival Constantine: it would be interesting to get the loser’s side of the story for a change, and I could find out exactly what he thought he was doing at the battle of Milvian Bridge… Zenobia of Palmyra would no doubt enliven any party, and Gore Vidal would, I’m sure, have a host of pithy anecdotes to cover any awkward lapses in the conversation.

 10)   Finally, the bit most authors would shy away from. You have a soap box and the publisher has asked you to stand outside Kings cross and sell your books to the passers buy… what would your pitch be to make the public buy this book/ series?

I would probably need the help of the late Don laFontaine, of the gravelly movie-trailer voice, to do justice to my soap box. I’ve never been fond of pitches myself, but if pushed I might end up with something like Conflict, adventure and dangerous intrigue on the far northern frontier of a declining Roman empire….

 

So you have heard from man himself… and here is my review again… Click to read

this is one not to miss, and for those of you who collect signed books… get this now, they will go very fast, Ian Ross is a name to watch.

(Parm)

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A Day of Fire: Review (You must read this)

Ben Kane Kate Quinn Sophie Perinot Stephanie Dray Vicky Alvear Shecter

 

A Day of Fire, ABOUT THE AUTHORS

STEPHANIE DRAY is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical women’s fiction and fantasy set in the ancient world. Her critically acclaimed historical Nile series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. Her focus on Ptolemaic Egypt and Augustan Age Rome has given her a unique perspective on the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Learn more at: Author web site

BEN KANE worked as a veterinarian for sixteen years, but his love of ancient history and historical fiction drew him to write fast-paced novels about Roman soldiers, generals and gladiators. Irish by nationality but UK-based, he is the author of seven books, the last five of which have been Sunday Times top ten bestsellers.Ben’s books have been translated into ten languages. In 2013, Ben walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall with two other authors, for charity; he did so in full Roman military kit, including hobnailed boots. He repeated the madness in 2014, over 130 miles in Italy. Over $50,000 has been raised with these two efforts. Learn more at Author Web site

E. KNIGHT is an award-winning, indie national best-selling author historical fiction. Under the name, Eliza Knight she writes historical romance and time-travel. Her debut historical fiction novel, MY LADY VIPER, has received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Historical Novel Society 2015 Annual Indie Award. She regularly presents on writing panels and was named Romance Writer’s of America’s 2013 PRO Mentor of the Year. Eliza lives in Maryland atop a small mountain with a knight, three princesses and a very naughty puppy. For more information, visit Eliza at Author web site

SOPHIE PERINOT is the author of the acclaimed debut, The Sister Queens, which weaves the story of medieval sisters Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence who became queens of France and England respectively. Perinot has both a BA in History and a law degree. A long-time member of the Historical Novel Society, she has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences, serving as a panelist at the most recent. When she is not visiting corners of the past, Sophie lives in Great Falls, VA.  Learn more at: Author Web Site

KATE QUINN is the national bestselling author of the Empress of Rome novels, which have been variously translated into thirteen different languages. She first got hooked on Roman history while watching “I, Claudius” at the age of seven, and wrote her first book during her freshman year in college, retreating from a Boston winter into ancient Rome. She and her husband now live in Maryland with an imperious black dog named Caesar. Learn more at Author Web site

VICKY ALVEAR SHECTER is the award-winning author of the young adult novel, Cleopatra’s Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra’s only daughter. She is also the author of two biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. The LA Times called Cleopatra’s Moon–set in Rome and Egypt–“magical” and “impressive.” Publisher’s Weekly said it was “fascinating” and “highly memorable.” Her young adult novel of Pompeii, Curses and Smoke (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic), released in June 2014. She has two other upcoming books for younger readers, Anubis Speaks! and Hades Speaks! Vicky is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta. Learn more at Author Web site

 

A Day of Fire

DOF

Buy the e-Book £3.15

Release date: 4th November

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . . and these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.

An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.

An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.

A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.

A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.

A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others’ path during Pompeii’s fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

 Review:

When Ben (Kane) asked me to review this new book i was flattered and Intrigued. Ben is one of the most accomplished writers in his genre, so if he says something is worth a read then you sit up and take note. But he clearly has a vested interest. So what else was there to sell this? well there are 6 other very accomplished writers, and a concept that when you stop and think about it… well its pure genius.

Take a group of authors and get them to tell the story of the last day of Pompeii, tell it from the differing perspectives of not only authors and styles but from characters and personalities. Have those characters cross into each others story. Still with me on the genius? it gets better. Each author has a short tale to tell, but those tales form a story arc that takes the reader into the oblivion that is the final conclusion for Pompeii, we follow the differing characters in their decent into that grim dark night. As I read it Dylan Thomas came to mind (I’m not normally one for true literature, but the iconic ones!)

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

– Dylan Thomas

These Characters raged against the darkness descending on them, they fought with dignity. They survived or met their end as Romans. And once the book takes you down further and further into the destruction of Pompeii, you hit the emotional peak, or is that trough (well for me) in The Mother, I actually cried reading this one of the tales, I’m not afraid to admit it, this story was just heart breaking, anyone who reads this without putting themselves in the room must have a heart of stone. But its the from this depth that we climb, we still experience loss and death, but the story arc works towards redemption/ rebirth, redemption for some of the survivors and for their new future and Pompeii, the city that allowed them to survive. The city that will never die, forever frozen and immortalised, a reminder of the horror of nature and for these characters the individual spirit held within, ni matter their station, from Slave to Senator.

This truly is the finest book i have read this year, an emotional roller-coaster that educates while it entertains. Its impact will stay with me for quite some time, and has given me other new authors i must read.

(Parm)

 

 

 

 

 

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Christian Cameron: Force of Kings (Review)

Christian Cameron

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 us.

 

Force of Kings (2014)

(The sixth book in the Tyrant series)

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force of kings

Twin monarchs Satyrus and Melitta have worked hard, seen much blood shed and many good friends die to secure their fertile kingdom on the Black Sea. But as the colossal conflict between Alexander the Great’s former generals to inherit his empire rages from one end of the known world to the other, sitting on the sidelines is not an option. If their kingdom is to have a future, Satyrus and Melitta must join forces with one of the contenders, knowing that making the wrong choice could mean disaster. And with Ptolemy, Antigonus-One-Eye and his son Demetrius ‘the Besieger’, Lysimachus and Seleucus all massing their forces for one last battle, the stakes could not be higher. But with the wily Athenian schemer Stratokles, the courtesan-spy Phiale and Satyrus’s lover, the power-hungry Briseis, daughter of the Tyrant of Syracuse, also determined to secure the spoils of victory for themselves, the twins find themselves caught in a deadly web of intrigue that could cost them everything.

Review

I makes no bones about the fact that I’m a Christian Cameron fan, his books top my annual must read list every year, and are often competing for my book of the year award. This latest book Force of Kings is no different, although its a bitter sweet experience, the final book in a series going back to 2008 and the debut book in this series, a series that has helped give me a deeper love of ancient Greek culture, respect for that culture and respect for the author as one of the smartest most driven, nicest guys i know.

None of that tells you about force of Kings, as ever i hate to and wont give away the plot of a book in a review. What i will cover is: the totally immerse history, so well researched and written the reader is sucked back in time to live, breath fight and die hand in hand with Satyrus and his friends and enemies. My favorite underlying part of all Christians books is that there is no real good guy/ bad guy dynamic, he paints the shades of grey, weaving reality into the plot but without losing the wonder of the age.

The history is romantic and idealised, at times poetic, but that comes across as the authors love of the location and the period. None of it corrupts the plot, the woven intricacies of Stratokles, the machinations of “the doctor”, the self assured megalomania of Demetrius ‘the Besieger’ and the quiet self assured nature of Satyrus, always searching to be a better man, and running headlong into any fire going to do the right thing.

I love the way the author plays out his script, and at the same time makes the reader explore their own inner self, own decisions and the reasons behind them. I’m always left with some form of self examination afterwards, both myself and going back over decisions by characters, should they have made that choice, would i have made that choice. For me its the sign of a great book that challenges you to reread, to explore deeper and more thoroughly the plot and the people. A book that educates while it entertains.

This is the second book this year from this prolific author (great king already out and been an outstanding read) The Long Sword the second William Gold book is out in November 2014 and there are 3 more Tom Swan books due out also.

this is in my top 5 for this year, and will be competing for the top spot come the end of the year. A writer who makes you love history the way he loves it, seen through his eyes, and sharing his experiences. (visit his web site and you will see how intimately he will share the privations and wonders of Ancient Greece, and his commitment to learning the martial skills.)

Highly recommended

(Parm)

 

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)
7, 8 & 9 due (2014)
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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James Wilde: Wolves of New Rome (Review)

James Wilde

james w

James  is a Man of Mercia. Raised in a world of books, James studied economic history at university before travelling the world in search of adventure.
He was unable to forget a childhood encounter in the pages of a comic with the great English warrior, Here ward. Wilde returned to the haunted fenlands of Eastern England, Herewards ancestral home, where he became convinced that this legendary hero should be the subject of his first novel. Wilde now indulges his love of history and the high life in the home his family have owned for several generations, in the heart of a Mercian forest.

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Wolves of New Rome (2014)
(The fourth book in the Hereward series)

Hereward WONR

1072 – The great battle has been lost. King William stands victorious. And for the betrayed and abandoned English rebels, the price of their crushing defeat is cruel: exile.
Cut adrift from family, friends, home, their hopes of survival lie with one man, their leader Hereward. But can even that now-legendary hero navigate a safe course across a world torn by war? Their ultimate destination is the jewelled heart of the Christian emperor in the East, the New Rome – Byzantium. Here the English hope to find gold and glory by joining those pledged to protect the emperor, the elite and savage Varangian Guard. But this once-mighty empire is slipping into shadow. Beyond the vast walls, the endless Turkish hordes plan for an attack that could come at any moment. And within the sprawling city, rival factions threaten bloody mayhem as they scheme to seize the crown.

Here begins a new chapter in the stirring tale of England’s forgotten hero. But now the enemies are hidden, their methods bloodier, the battlefield and weapons unfamiliar and to stay alive in this cauldron of plot, betrayal and murder, Hereward and the English must fight as never before.

Review

Its that time of year again, Hereward is back and every year he gets better and better, the book and the writing at least, Poor Hereward himself seems to find himself in bigger and bigger sh!t every book. This book is no exception, its also not glorious trouble, its just the mad bad and crazy world of 1072, its a hard bitter world, life is cheap and its truly rules by those with power and money and the strength to hold it. Hereward and his crew have the will and the skill, but they don’t seem to have the luck to hold on, they have been battered by the winds of fate, by the sweeping plague that is the Norman conquest, a group of singularly nasty, single minded tough, uncompromising nation hell bent on conquest.

This the fourth book in the series see’s our group away from England and travelling to Constantinople, to join the fames Varangian Guard, somewhere they can be lauded for their prowess , gain wealth and start to mend the wounds or their lost home of England. Only fate has other plans, the grass isn’t greener, and their are worse people out there than Normans.

James Wilde is one of the nicest people i have met since i started going to reading events, signing etc, a truly generous chap, always willing to spend time and energy having a conversation and boosting confidence to “have a go” myself at writing, always appreciative of a nice comment about his books, and accepting of any criticism. With this book i have nothing but nice things to say. To say i was lost in the book, doesn’t do it justice. From first page to the last i was member of Herewards crew, i suffered every mile , every mishap and every setback, I was rewarded with the camaraderie of his men and belonged with them fighting my way to and in Constantinople. Thats the joy and experience of his books and writing, that you become part of the book. The only thing wrong is its an experience that ends too soon and then there is a year to wait for the next one.

So thank you James for one again giving me a unique, immersive truly historic experience.

(Parm)

 

Hereward
1. Hereward (2011)
aka The Time of the Wolf
2. The Devil’s Army (2012)
aka The Winter Warrior
3. End of Days (2013)
4. Wolves of New Rome (2014)
HerewardThe Devil's ArmyEnd of DaysWolves of New Rome
Also writes under the name  Mark Chadbourn

Novels

  • Underground (1992)
  • Nocturne (1994)
  • The Eternal (1996)
  • Scissorman (1997)

The Age of Misrule

  • World’s End (1999)
  • Darkest Hour (2000)
  • Always Forever (2001)

The Dark Age

  • The Devil in Green (2002)
  • The Queen of Sinister (2004)
  • The Hounds Of Avalon (2005)

Kingdom of the Serpent

  • Jack of Ravens (2006)
  • The Burning Man (2008)
  • Destroyer of Worlds (July 2009)

The Ghost Warrior

  • Lord of Silence (July 2009)

Swords of Albion

  • The Silver Skull (November 2009, UK (Title: “The Sword of Albion”: April 2010)
  • “The Scar-Crow Men” (February 2011, UK: April 2011)
  • The Devil’s Looking Glass (UK: April 2012, US: tbc)

Novellas

  • The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke(2002)
  • Dr Who: Wonderland (2003

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Filed under Historical Fiction, James Wilde

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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Filed under Historical Fiction, Michael Arnold