Tag Archives: intrigue

Christian Cameron Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade (review)

Christian Cameron

chris 1
USA (1962 – )

aka Miles Cameron, Gordon Kent

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, Canada with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice.

Part Three

(2013)
(The third book in the Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade series)

Part Three (2013)

Part nine of a fast-paced serialised novel set in the turbulent Europe of the fifteenth century.

Review

If you’re an author and you want to write a series of short stories, then this is the bench mark, this is how it is done, and done excellently. Anyone who follows this blog will be aware i’m a huge fan of this author. But that never colours my review of his work, if he ever produces a book that falls below the extremely high standards he sets himself then i will be first to call it out.

Tom Swan is the pinnacle of historical fiction writing for me, each episode/ novella a journey into fifteen century europe, a look behind the curtain of so many aspects of that time, a Donat of St John, a spy, a historian/ archaeologist, a lover and a fighter, Our hero Tom Swan is all these things and so much more. He is literally brought to life in book one and from that point onwards i have looked forward to the next tale, the next adventure. Adventures so real, so well researched and coupled with the authors own experience with swords and armour that you really feel like you are adventuring alongside Tom Swan.

This latest book allows yet more growth in Toms character, and all the supporting cast, and thats one of the true talents of Christian Cameron, that he brings all characters to life, there are no 2D characters. As usual there is an intricately woven plot, with plenty of devious machinations and superb visualisation of 15th Century Venice to add to the wonderful ongoing tale.

If ever some one is looking for the next “Perfect TV series” then this is the story to look at, The serial nature of the book gives this series a real HBO feel, but with the added depth and quality only a book can provide.

I say again… it gets no better… Highly recommended

(Parm)

Series
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 Bosporus
Destroyer 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)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRome
RhodesChios
Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Part One (2013)
2. Part Two (2013)
3. Part Three (2013)
Part OnePart TwoPart Three
Novels
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
The Long Sword (2014)
Salamis (2015)
Washington and CaesarGod of WarThe Ill-Made KnightThe Long Sword

 

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Filed under Christian Cameron, Historical Fiction

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

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction, Noble Smith

Harry Sidebottom: Iron and Rust (Throne of the Caesars, Book 1) Review + Interview

Author

HarrySidebottom-jameshawkinsphotography.com

Harry Sidebottom was brought up in racing stables in Newmarket where his father was a trainer. He had a basket saddle on a donkey before he could walk.

He was educated at various schools and universities, including Oxford, where he took his Doctorate in Ancient History at Corpus Christi College. In similar fashion he has taught at various universities including Oxford, where he is now Fellow and Director of Studies in Ancient History at St Benets Hall, and Lecturer in Ancient History at Lincoln College.

His main scholarly research interests are Greek culture under the Roman empire (thinking about the compromises and contradictions involved when an old and sophisticated culture is conquered and ruled by what it considers a younger and less civilised power) and warfare in classical antiquity (looking at how war was both done and thought about by Greeks and Romans). He has published numerous chapters in books, and articles and reviews in scholarly journals becoming an internationally recognised scholar in these fields.

His first book Ancient Warfare: A Very Short Introduction was published by OUP in 2004. It got excellent reviews. The Times Literary Supplement described it as “jam-packed with ideas and insight … a radical and fresh reading of Greek and Roman warfare that is both surprising and stimulating.” For The Guardian it was “a boot camp for the brain – a short, sharp shock to the presumptions.” The Contemporary Review dubbed it “a tour de force.” Robin Lane Fox described it in print as “outstandingly good.” It has been translated into Japanese (2006) and Chinese (2007). Translations into German and Greek are in progress.

Away from classical scholarship his other interests include fiction, travel, sport, booze, and women.
Since 2003 he has been a regular reviewer of fiction, especially historical novels, in the Times Literary Supplement. Here he has enthused about Robert Harris and Alan Massie, and probably made enemies for life of Erica Jong and Colleen McCullough.

Since 2006 he has been working on the Warrior of Rome series of novels featuring the Anglo-Saxon nobleman turned Roman army officer Ballista and his Familia which are set in the Roman Empire during the so-called `Great Crisis of the Third Century AD`.

He has travelled widely, especially around the Mediterranean. These trips have varied from the luxury of travelling as a guest speaker on a Cunard liner to a memorable solo journey into Albania not long after the fall of the dictator Enver Hoxha.

All his life he has gone racing, and played and watched rugby and cricket. He was a founder member of Woodstock Rugby Football Club. Recently he has discovered the pleasures of real tennis.

 Author Web site

Interview

When  and  why  did  you  begin  writing?

Like  all  children, I  wrote  stories. Somehow  I  never  grew  out  of  it. Eventually  I  faced  up  to  the  fact  that  if  I  did  not  try  to  get  some  fiction  published  I  would  end  up  an  embittered  old  man  always  beating  myself  up  with  `if  only  I  had  tried`.

What  inspired  you  to  write  your  first  Ballista  book?

I  had  tried  all  sorts  of  types  of  fiction, sub-Martin  Amis/Jay  Mcinerney/Bret  Easton  Ellis  literary  comedies, fantasy  novels, thrillers, but  one  of  my  enduring  loves  has  always  been  historical  fiction. Researching  a  big  history  book, Fields  of  Mars: A  Cultural  History  of  Ancient  Battle, I  reached  the  chapter  on  siege  warfare, and  realised  a  besieged  town  provided  an  ideal  setting  for  a  novel; a  unity  of  action  and  place, and  individuals  and  society  stretched  far  beyond  their  norms.

Fields  of  Mars  remains  about  one  third  written. One  day  it  will  get  finished. Meanwhile  a  version  of  the  siege  chapter  is  coming  out  in  a  book  I  am  editing  with  Michael  Whitby, The  Encyclopaedia  of  Ancient  Battles (Blackwell), and I  published  the  chapter  on  naval  battle  in  a  collection  of  scholarly  articles (in  Portuguese!).

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

One  thing  that  depresses  me  about  bad  historical  fiction, and  bad  history  books, is  the  ahistorical  insistence  that  `people  have  always  been  the  same/they  were  just  like  us`. Instead  Mary  Renault  was  right  when  she  said  something  on  the  lines  of  the  pleasure  of  reading  and  writing  historical  fiction  comes  from  the  tension  between  what  is  universal  to  humanity  and  what  is  specific  to  a  time  and  place. In  some  ways  the  Romans  were  much  like  us, but  in  others  completely  alien.

What  books  have  influenced  your  life  most?

When  I  was  at  school  my  godfather  gave  me  Alexander  the  Great  by  Robin  Lane  Fox. It  converted  me  to  Classical  history, made  me  want  to  spend  my  life  reading  and  hopefully  writing  similar  books.

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

For  historical  fiction  it  would  have  to  be  Patrick  O`Brian. Few  writers  have  taken  the  genre  to  such  heights, and  seldom  over  such  a  sustained  series. Over  the  last  few  years  I  have  read  and  reread  Hemingway  and  Cormac  McCarthy. Both  their, very  different, styles  show  what  can  be  done  with  the  English  language  in  a  novel.

Do  you  have  to  travel  much  concerning  your  books?

Yes, but  not  as  much  as  I  would  like. At  first  I  was  limited  by  lack  of  money, now  by  lack  of  time. Having  said  which, I  try  to  get  to  all  the  major  locations  in  the  novels. I  like  to  walk  the  routes  taken  by  characters. It  gives  you  a  secure  grasp  of  how  the  buildings  and  landscape  fit  together; history  through  the  soles  of  your  boots, as  a  review  in  the  TLS  was  kind  enough  to  say. This  year  for  Throne  of  the  Caesars  I  am  going  back  to  Rome, and  hopefully  to  Carthage. No  idea  why  my  wife  refers  to  them  as  holidays.

 Did  you  learn  anything  from  writing  your  books, and  what  was  it?

Just  how  little  I  knew  about  the  Classical  world. Despite  having  taught  the  subject  at  five  universities, and  published  lots  of  articles  and  one  book, there  were  huge  areas  where  my  ignorance  was  almost  total.

What  was  the  inspiration  for  the  new  series?

Since  I  did  my  Masters  thesis  on  the  Greek  historian  Herodian, I  have  been  fascinated  by  the  years  AD235-8. So  many  wars  and  revolts, plots  and  emperors, all  compressed  into  just  four  years, the  start  of  the  crisis  of  the  third  century; it  was  crying  out  for  a  series  like  Throne  of  the  Caesars.

And  I  wanted  to  write  a  slightly  different  type  of  novel  from  the  Warrior  of  Rome, which  was  focused  on  the  one  central  character  of  Ballista. The  new  series  is  constructed  as  a  multiple  point  of  view  story. The  first  result  is  Iron  and  Rust.

So: free  platform, you`ve  been  given  a  pitch  at  Oxford  Market…  sell  your  book  to  the  crowd.

There  are  few  things  I  would  less  like  to  do. Although  I  have  done  loads  of  lecturing  and  public  speaking, I  still  get  stage  fright. But, if  I  went  through  with  it, I  might  say  something  like:- “Iron  and  Rust: creates  a  world  both  sophisticated  and  brutal, yet  firmly  rooted  in  history; a  world  of  intrigue, murder, passion  and  war; a  world  where  men  will  kill  to  sit  in  the  Throne  of  the  Caesars”

(Yes, I  know  the  line  is  from  the  publicity, but  I  wrote  it, and  can’t  think  of  anything  better).

Finally  after  all  the  hard  work  and  skill  you  have  put  in  do  you  have  any  advice  for  other  writers?

Read  lots  of  authors, but  don’t  copy  them  slavishly. Write  lots  of  different  things  in  different  styles  until  you  find  what  suits  you. Persevere – it  is  hard  work – treat  it  as  a  job. Get  a  good  agent. Hope  for  a  lucky  break.

 Iron and Rust: 

Date Available: 22 May 2014

Buy a signed copy

Iron and Rust

From the bestselling author of WARRIOR OF ROME comes the first book in a new series set in third century Rome; a dramatic era of murder, coup, counter-rebellions and civil war.

In a single year six Emperors will lay claim to the Throne of the Caesars…

SPRING AD235

Dawn on the Rhine. A surprise attack and the brutal murder of the Emperor Alexander and his mother ends the Severan dynasty and shatters four decades of Roman certainty.

Military hero Maximinus Thrax is the first Caesar risen from the barracks. A simple man of steel and violence, he will fight for Rome.

The Senators praise the new Emperor with elaborate oratory, but will any of them accept a Caesar who was once a shepherd boy? And in the streets of the eternal city, others merely pray to escape imperial notice.

In the north, as the merciless war against the barbarians consumes men and treasure, rebellion and personal tragedy drive Maximinus to desperate extremes, bloody revenge and the borders of sanity.

Iron & Rust, the first book in a major new series, creates a world both sophisticated and brutal, yet firmly rooted in history; a world of intrigue, murder, passion and war, a world where men will kill to sit on the Throne of the Caesars.

Review

As a fan of historical fiction I’d be a bit remiss if I had not heard of or read Harry Sidebottom, I have to admit to being a bit of a fan of his writing (Warrior of Rome series). When I read the first book Fire in the East I did so with no preconceptions, I read a review copy before most readers of the genre so could do so without any opinions colouring my view. My immediate view at the time was that here was someone a bit different, the writing style skewed more to the educational than the entertainment side of a read, but it has plenty of both. Since that date I have read many opinions of other readers about the writing being “a lecture”, “a bit too Dry” etc.. and each person should be able to form their own view. Mine was always that Ballista was a highly complex and entertaining character, and the books taxed my knowledge of the Roman world, they taught me something. It meant I had to make sure I read them at the right time, to ensure my mood suited that read. Doing it this way led me to give each and every book between 4 and 5 stars, and to read knowing that Harry had done the research, that what I was reading was educational as well as blooming good fun.

Iron and Rust is a departure from the time of Ballista, and a bit to my surprise a departure in style. If this had been my first experience of Harry I  might have been a bit more concerned, I might be leaning a bit more towards those people who use the term “Lecture”. The book is highly informative, packed with detail of the Roman world of AD235, it brings to life (piece by piece) many of the major players in the Roman hierarchy of the time. It’s when you persevere with the detail that Iron and Rust starts to pay dividends, the complexity and the detail resolves itself into a detailed plot with many players and many shifting alliances, like a complex multi-layered game of chess. Nasty back stabbing politics, rumour and denouncements and the old evil of greed and gold.

As the book progressed and I adapted to this style I found myself enjoying the story more, and the characters depths and idiosyncrasies became more and more apparent, I found myself finally sinking into the roman world rather than being swept along by the events of history. Ultimately this book and many more this year will suffer in comparison to Giles Kristian and God of Vengeance, which is my 2014 bench mark, and has reset my use of 5 star read. That said this is still an entertaining read, and highly educational, what I think made me struggle is the lack of a central character, a hero… and as soon as that thought popped into my head…so did bonnie tyler…(sorry Harry)

I need a hero
I’m holding on for a hero ‘til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding on for a hero ‘til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life (larger than life)

 

Deep down I’m a simple man, I need my battles, I need the fighting, the blood and a little gore, I need the anticipation of battle more than I need politics, I need that larger than life character who will carry me through the world of the book and the events swirling around him/her. But that said this is a book you should read, If I apply the Amazon review model:

1 Star: I hate it

2 Stars: I don’t like it

3 Stars: Its okay

4 Stars: I like it

5 Stars: I love it.

By the end of the book I was firmly in the 4 stars, Harry as ever had won me around, mainly with Maximinus, the Roman Emperor, with his blunt heroic hard charging ways, I just wish he had been a bigger player in the book, or we could have seen the story through the eyes of a consistent character. Harry remains on my must read list and I am looking forward to his next book, I feel the next one will start stronger and faster, first books in a series have to set the scene and the character base, that’s now been done… bring on the battles Harry, but also keep your amazing eye for detail, intrigue and authenticity.

 (Parm)

 Other books

Warrior of Rome
1. Fire in the East (2008)
2. King of Kings (2009)
3. Lion of the Sun (2010)
4. The Caspian Gates (2011)
5. The Wolves of the North (2012)
6. The Amber Road (2013)

Fire in the EastKing of KingsLion of the SunThe Caspian GatesThe Wolves of the NorthThe Amber Road

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Filed under Harry Sidebottom, Historical Fiction

Nick Brown: The Far Shore (review)

Author

Nick Brown

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

Book Description

Buy from Amazon

Buy Signed Copy

far shore

When the deputy commander of Rome’s Imperial Security Service is assassinated on the island of Rhodes, Cassius Corbulo swiftly finds himself embroiled in the investigation. Assisted once more by ex-gladiator bodyguard Indavara and servant Simo, his search for the truth is complicated by the involvement of the dead man’s headstrong daughter, Annia. Braving hostile seas, Cassius and his allies follow the assassin’s trail south aboard a ship captained by a roguish Carthaginian smuggler and manned by his disparate, dangerous crew. Their journey leads them to the farthest reaches of the empire; to a ruined city where the rules of Roman civilization have long been abandoned, and a deadly battle of wits with a brutal, relentless foe.

Review:

It becomes, after a while very easy to say a book is the best yet, his finest work etc. to be honest I think that this should be the case, a person should grow in their job, should strive for improvement, if they don’t do that they stagnate and come to see it as a wage not thing to be enjoyed and improved.
There are some fine authors who have fallen into this downward spiral (not always a neglect, sometimes just life getting in the way). The good news is that Nick is at the start of what is a very steep upward curve. Every book leaps and bounds above the last with improvements in style, prose, characterisation and intricacy to the plot.

When book one The Siege (Agent of Rome)came out I grabbed it because I love Roman Historical Fiction, it was during that first read that I had a momentary worry, I’m not normally a fan of Historical Crime fiction. (No idea why, I like crime thrillers , I love Hist Fic, should be a marriage made in heaven) It’s my failing, I suppose I’m looking for the CSI type resolution rather than the cerebral Holmes type resolution? I have tried some of the really great writers of this genre and been left feeling …Meh!
But not so with Nick Brown, Corbulo is not the average detective type, especially in this book, there is a total humanity to him, a depth that so many writers fail to get to. He is on the page warts and all, his innate snobbery, something he clearly doesn’t see because that’s the way he was raised. His view of women, and their status in the order of the roman world and his utter surprise when a strong woman gets peeved at him for being a chauvinist prig. His casual demeaning of Indavara (who is my favourite character in the book, not just your average thug, a man of depth and complexity, but also who provides great humour in the book, one of my fav sidekicks at the moment across many series.) these traits are all part of the make-up of a very complex man, driven, and brave, afraid of not doing his duty, striving to be better, but also built from the sum of his experiences, and as he is still a young man he has many more experiences and lessons to learn.
The other thing that keeps bringing me back to Nick Browns books is his USP (unique selling point), the fact that his character is set in his own career, he is and isn’t a soldier, he is a Grain Man , a spy, a fixer, a detective he is what ever the Roman secret service (the Frumentarii) require of him. This sets the whole series apart. And I think its this that gives the added extra for me personally and lifts it beyond a Hist Fic Crime novel. Its part crime, part detective, part spy, part hist fic. It basically is an absorbing tale set against the back drop of one of the greatest empires in the world, but exposed to its core of corruption.

The Plot… well read the book description,
“When the deputy commander of Rome’s Imperial Security Service is assassinated on the island of Rhodes, Cassius Corbulo swiftly finds himself embroiled in the investigation. Assisted once more by ex-gladiator bodyguard Indavara and servant Simo, his search for the truth is complicated by the involvement of the dead man’s headstrong daughter, Annia.

Braving hostile seas, Cassius and his allies follow the assassin’s trail south aboard a ship captained by a roguish Carthaginian smuggler and manned by his disparate, dangerous crew. Their journey leads them to the farthest reaches of the empire; to a ruined city where the rules of Roman civilization have long been abandoned, and a deadly battle of wits with a brutal, relentless foe.”

That was written by an expert, you don’t need me to add to that… and I miss spoilers by avoiding it…. I will say Corbulo has my sympathy on the sea voyage, I felt green just reading about it.

Reading geek points also to anyone who spots the Star Wars reference in the book (I’m not spoiling it…. Sorry, meant I didn’t see it because I’m not a geek…honest)

Highly Recommended
(Parm)

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

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Filed under Historical Fiction

Kings Deception: Steve Berry (Now with author Q&A)

The Author
steve
Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor’s Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with more than 15 million printed copies in 51 countries.  They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York Times, USA Today, and Indie bestseller lists.
History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel.  It’s his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers’ workshops.  To date, nearly 2,000 students have attended those workshops. In 2012 Steve’s devotion to historic preservation was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve the first spokesman for National Preservation Week.  Among his other honors is the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award.
Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years.  He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of more than 2,000 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president.
kings-hardcover
Synopsis
Cotton Malone is back!
A behind-the-scenes political fight between the United States and England has the unintended result of landing Cotton Malone’s son, Gary, in the hands of a man with a dangerous personal agenda. It also forces Malone to come face-to-face with a baffling historical mystery: a long-buried secret that throws into question the legitimacy of the entire reign of Elizabeth I – a revelation with explosive modern-day consequences.
Review
In the past I have usually found it very easy to review a Cotton Malone book, but this time I have to be honest, I’m struggling.
At times I found it hard to get into, at others I found it took off and the pages almost read themselves. But something kept bringing the story to a clunky halt. I’m not sure if its my innate Englishness that took offence at the different portrayal of one of our finest monarchs, or my equality vibe and the view that to have achieved as much this monarch did she had to have been a man. Even looking up the myth behind the book (the Bisley Boy) it just didn’t gel for me all the way through.
Steve’s writing as ever is well tuned, has that pace that draws a reader in and with just the right level of history to intrigue a reader. As usual his research is impeccable, but for me it was the wrong conspiracy. Even with making an allowance for that, this book is no Amber Room, probably his finest work.
This will make a very decent poolside thriller for this summer.
4/5 Stars despite my personal quibbles with the conspiracy. Steve Berry is still one of the true masters of this genre and i will be pre-ordering his next book.
(Parm)
Q&A

How does a Lawyer become one of the leading thriller writers in the world?

 Just a lot of hard work.  I wrote my first word 23 years ago in 1990 and I’ve been writing constantly ever since.  Currently I have 11 novels in print.  The King’s Deception is book 12, the 8th on the Cotton Malone series. I’ve been fortunate that my choice of stories and characters have proven popular.  Each book has built on the one before it.

What was the inspiration that led to The King’s Deception?

 In 2010 my wife, Elizabeth, and I were north of London in the town of Ely doing some publicity work for Hodder, my British publisher.  A lovely  woman was showing us around the magnificent cathedral and told me about a local legend.   In the village of Bisley, for many centuries, on a day certain, the residents would dress a young boy in Elizabethan costume then parade him through the streets.  I researched the legend and discovered that another writer, Bram Stoker, in the early part of the 20th century likewise heard the tale.  The creator of Dracula was so impressed that he included the Bisley Boy in his non-fiction work, Famous Imposters, published in 1910.  I found that book and read it.  Then I found more books and discovered that much truth lay at the heart of the Bisely Boy legend—all of which centers around Elizabeth I, the last reigning Tudor monarch, who died in 1603¾and the novel was born.

Elizabeth I was a unique individual.  All of her life she wore heavy make-up, wigs, and clothing that sheathed her body.  She refused to allow doctors to physically examine her and left orders that, at her death, no autopsy should be performed.  Her main duty as queen was to produce an heir so the Tudor lineage would continue, yet she refused to marry, refused to birth a child, and proclaimed herself the Virgin Queen.  Most curious of all was that she was buried with her half-sister Mary, in the same grave, their bones allowed to mingle together.  I discovered that all of this happened for a reason, and it’s that reason which my recurring hero, Cotton Malone, becomes entangled with while in England.

Cotton Malone has been a fantastic success for 7 years.  Have you ever been tempted to start a new series with a new hero? (discounting stand alone books)

  I still have many tales to tell for Cotton.  But, you never know, there could be another series one day.

Will Cotton Malone have to leave the bookshop again (how long a wait), or is he retiring?

Cotton is back in The King’s Deception, drawn from his bookshop into another adventure, this one in England.  And he’ll be around for the next 4 novels too. There are no plans for him to retire.

 What is your favourite book:  a.) that you have written;  b.) written by another? (my all time fav Steve Berry is still Amber Room)

I’ve written 4 stand alone novels, 8 Cotton Malone adventures, and 4 e-book original stories  I have to say, I love all of my children equally.  My personal favorite book of all time is Hawaii, by James Michener.  It was the first adult fiction book I ever read (at age 14), so it remains special.

What genre do you read for fun?

 I’m a thriller junkie, so I gravitate toward those.  But I also love pure historical fiction.

Will you and James Rollins ever combine talents?

That could well come to pass sometime in the next 2 years.  Keep a check on my website, www.steveberry.org for more details on this.

I was fascinated to read about History Matters, what can you tell us about why you formed the foundation, what you are working on? and how can people help you?

Money for historic preservation and conservation is one of the first things to be cut from any budget.  So my wife, Elizabeth, and I  thought it was time to come up with an innovative way to raise money, and that’s what History Matters is all about. So far, the most popular thing we’ve done is a 4 hour seminar that we teach where writers, aspiring writers, and readers buy their way in with a contribution. Usually, that’s somewhere between $75 and $150. All of the money raised from the workshop goes to the particular historical project that has invited us to be there. No expenses or appearance fees are charged. In fact, we pay all of those ourselves. History Matters offers a way to raise money from a group of people who might not normally contribute to historical preservation — writers — with me acting as the conduit, providing education and expertise that might not normally be available in their area. So far, we have taught over 2000 students. Other ways History Matters raises money is through meet and greets, speaking engagements, gala events, receptions, luncheons, dinners, club meetings, or a cocktail party.  We have participated in many of these.  To date, we’ve raised $600,000 for various projects.  We have several more scheduled this year, all of which can be found at http://www.steveberry.org under History Matters.  All people have to do to help is drop us an e-mail and let us know if there is a project in their area.  We’d love to do one in England.

  Sell Kings Deception to the readers in your own words…what makes it stand out from the crowd?

 The answer to the second question above lays out the basic premise of the great secret at the novel’s heart.  But it’s also a modern day political thriller with a solid historic hook.  You’re going to learn things about English history you never knew.

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Historical Fiction