Tag Archives: Italy

Christian Cameron Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade (Book 2)

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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.

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

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Fifteenth Century Europe. Tom Swan is not a professional soldier. He’s really a merchant and a scholar looking for remnants of Ancient Greece and Rome – temples, graves, pottery, fabulous animals, unicorn horns. But he also has a real talent for ending up in the midst of violence when he didn’t mean to. Having used his wits to escape execution, he begins a series of adventures that take him to street duels in Italy, meetings with remarkable men – from Leonardo Da Vinci to Vlad Dracula – and from the intrigues of the War of the Roses to the fall of Constantinople.

Review:

Once again Christian Cameron nails it with one of his tales. The latest Tom Swan story (8th over all and 2nd in the latest series) has all the usual depth and characterisation, but more than this it shows a true blending of his skill as a writer, his deep passion as a historian and re-enactor and finally it brings to the fore his skill, talent and depth of perception for events gained as an intelligence officer. Reading this story and how Tom Swan navigates the perilous paths of courtesy, pomp, ceremony, whilst hunting for the stolen ring of Alexander and skirting the dangerous advances of demoiselle Iso, all this would be a nightmare for the average man, but add in the touchy scholar and the homicidal and mercurial Wolf, lord of Rimini. I don’t think any of this blending would be possible without every aspect of the authors skill , past and passionate view of history.

Having been involved in many of his conversations in person, on email and in his Forum i have come to recognise truly how we can apply so many aspects from the past to present day, and vice versa. Wars are just new versions of old squabbles and long-standing feuds. a warriors skills have not changed that much, it’s the unskilled that changed (ie any one can fire a gun) , the intelligencer has changed little, if you enjoy these tales and his other books, please join the forum, you will find many other fascinating conversations, and like minded individuals with a deep love of history.

I personally think that this series works best as a serial of short stories, but wow do 96 pages fly past. and they leave you needing the next book. But its a hell of a return for 99p in entertainment.

Buy the e-Book

As ever i can do nothing less than give this 5 stars, im always left in awe when i finish one of this authors books.

Highly recommend

(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 BosporusDestroyer of CitiesForce of Kings
Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King
Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRomeRhodesChios
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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Jonathan Holt: The Abduction (review)

Jonathan Holt

jh
Jonathan Holt read English at Oxford, and is now the creative director of an advertising agency. He has travelled widely in Italy, where he fell in love with its language, food and people. He lives in London.

Book Description

abduction

The Abduction is the heart-pounding, adrenaline-fuelled follow up to Jonathan Holt’s highly acclaimed international thriller The Abomination – a modern tale of mystery, treachery, and intrigue that moves between the physical and virtual worlds of Venice, Italy, blurring the boundary between dark fantasy and terrifying reality.

An unlikely trio must form an alliance to save a kidnapped young girl and untangle a nefarious plot that reaches back decades.

Second Lieutenant Holly Boland is an intelligence analyst trained to look for clues ordinary investigators miss. When a U.S. army officer’s daughter is kidnapped from an American base in Venice, Holly is sure that the mysterious abductors want more than a ransom.

Venetian police captain Kat Tapo has found a webcam feed embedded in the encrypted website Carnivia.com, a virtual Venice. It streams video of a terrified teenage girl, hooded and tied to a chair. A strand of text scrolls across the screen: “Sensory deprivation is not torture.” Is the girl the missing daughter of the American military officer? Who is behind the cryptic message?

Daniele Barbo, the genius webmaster and creator of Carnivia, has never let the government access his servers, and finding the missing girl is not his problem. But then secrets from Italy’s dark wartime past begin to surface – revelations that could put them all in danger. To save his own skin, Daniel must decide how far he’s willing to let them in.

In a race against time, Holly, Kat, and Daniel must find the shocking truth . . . or watch as more than one innocent life is sacrificed.

Review

Book two for any author can almost be harder than book one, can you write it? are you a one hit wonder? how will it be received, can you reach the heady heights of a great book one?

There is no need to be concerned with Jonathan Holt and The Abduction, if anything, its better than The Abomination. The author does walk a fine line with the conspiracy theory and the church, but aren’t all the best books the ones that make you think….could it be? would they? And in the case of the church make you wince just a little.

As per book one the writing is excellent, with well balanced and carefully constructed characters. A plot that is skilfully woven, full of intrigue, mystery, tense drama and the wonderful history of ancient Venice and unlike another famous author, his tour of Venice didn’t come across like a bad tour guide…although Mr Holt does have a habit of making you Hungry with his culinary descriptions.

This latest book is conspiracy thriller as it should be written, powerful and energetic, ancient and modern worlds colliding, at the same time as we tour the real and the virtual world of Venice. This is truly the type of crime fiction I need to read and I cant wait for book three.

(Parm)

Carnivia Trilogy
1. The Abomination (2013)
2. The Abduction (2014)
The AbominationThe Abduction

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

Author Biography

SJA

(In his own words)
I live with my wife, my son and two (close approximations of) dogs in rural North Yorkshire, where my wife and I both grew up, surrounded by friends and family. A born and bred Yorkshireman with a love of the country, I cannot envisage spending my life anywhere else, though my anchor is sometimes tested as the wanderlust hits and we travel wherever I can find the breathtaking remains of the classical world. I have a love of travel and history, architecture and writing and those four interact well enough to keep me almost permanently busy.Since leaving school and University, I have tried a great number of careers, including car sales, insurance, software engineering, computer network management, civil service and even painting and decorating sales. I have lived in four counties and traveled as widely as time and budget allowed and find myself, on the cusp of my fortieth year, back where I began and finally doing something I love.

Having written a number of unpublished short stories in my early days, I decided back in 2003 to try and write a full length novel. That was the start of Marius’ Mules. Being a lover of Roman history, I decided to combine my love of writing and my love of classical history. Marius’ Mules was followed two years later by Interregnum, my attempt to create a new fantasy story still with a heavy flavour of Rome. Since then, the success and popularity of both has spawned sequels to each work, with three tales in each series so far and more planned.

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

Buy Kindle copy

Product Description

HiResAssassin'sTaleCoverFront

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

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

Review
I know Simon prefers transparency in the case of reviews, so to be totally upfront: I would always struggle to dislike this book. Simon is about as good a friend as i have, add to that he did me the huge honour of adding a character to this series (Parmenio). Its those things that put a huge smile on my face and give a wonderful gloss to this reviewing lark.
All that aside; This is a wonderful book, even without being predisposed to want to love the book. Simon has a true talent for story telling, and a prodigious output (see below for his full book list). This series (Ottoman Cycle) is my personal favorite from Simon. Filled with a deep sense of connection for every location, i know Simon has meticulously researched each and every one, but research only takes you so far, its the passion for history in general that makes this a winner add to that the writing, the locations and telling talent a story that shines through on every page and you get a little bit of magic.
Assassins Tale see’s our main character Skiouros return from an unexpected trip to the new world, he returns to a Europe divided and held together at the same time by religion, its wars, its politics and its superstitions. Skiouros returns older, wiser, stronger; ready to take on the rest of his mission. He has to find his friends and return to his pledge to rid the world of the man responsible for his brothers death.
A journey that will place him at the heart of Roman politics, in direct harms way of a warrior king hell bent on expanding his empire, and smack in the middle of Borgia politics.
There is so much in this book i was riveted, i remember emailing Simon at midnight to go “What the F…” on at least one occasion.
A book that can elicit emotions like that is for me a winner.
So this is highly recommended.
(Parm)
Marius’ Mules
1. The Conquest of Gaul (2009)
aka The Invasion of Gaul
2. The Belgae (2010)
3. Gallia Invicta (2011)
4. Conspiracy of Eagles (2012)
5. Hades’ Gate (2013)
6. Caesar’s Vow (2014)
Prelude to War (2014)
The Conquest of GaulThe BelgaeGallia InvictaConspiracy of EaglesHades' GateCaesar's VowPrelude to War
Tales of the Empire
1. Interregnum (2009)
2. Ironroot (2010)
3. Dark Empress (2011)
InterregnumIronrootDark Empress
Ottoman Cycle
1. The Thief’s Tale (2013)
2. The Priest’s Tale (2013)
3. The Assassin’s Tale (2014)
The Thief's Tale The Priest's TaleThe Assassin's Tale

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Christian Cameron: The Ill Made Knight (Review)

Christian Cameron

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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.

Author Web site

Author Forum

Product Description

Ill made Knight

William Gold comes into the world as his family slides down the social ladder. His head filled with tales of chivalry, instead he is branded a thief, and must make do with being squire to his childhood friend Sir Robert, a knight determined to make a name for himself as a man at arms in France. While William himself slowly acquires the skills of knightly combat, he remains an outsider – until the Battle of Poitiers when Sir Robert is cut down by the greatest knight of the age, Sir Geoffry de Charny, and William, his lowly squire, revenges him. But with his own knight dead, no honour acrrues to William for this feat of arms, and he is forced to become a mercenary. Scavenging a mis-matched set of armour from the knightly corpses, he joins one of the mercenary companies now set to pillage a defenceless France, and so begins a bloody career that sees William joining forces with the infamous Sir John Hawkwood and immersing himself in a treacherous clandestine war among the Italian city states. But paradoxically it is there, among the spies, assassins and hired killers serving their ruthless masters, that William finally discovers the true meaning of chivalry – and his destiny as a knight.

Review:

In this book, this oh so wonderful book, Christian Cameron proves yet again no matter what era he writes in, he does it with style, skill and panache. For me he is the finest writer of historical fiction currently writing. As a writer he ticks every box, deep research, deep personal knowledge from his re-enactment, a deep abiding passion for the subject matter and for the world of writing, and a natural skill of the storyteller, a skald, a minstrel a chronicler a man who can lift his audience to another time and place, transporting them to sit at the shoulder of his characters through pain, happiness , passion, victory and defeat. Every single book gets better and is a bigger triumph than the last, and that astounds me, because every book just takes my breath away in its scope and skill.

Ill Made Knight is a whole new world for me, I know nothing about this period, 1356 England and France is a blank slate, and yet in every page I felt at home with William Gold, I felt every one of his losses and every one of his victories, his betrayals hurt me as much as William, his losses cut me to the core, his loves reminded me of the highs a person can reach just being in the presence of that special person in your life and his anger at the Bourc burned as hotly for me as it did for him. The book arouses all those passions in the reader and more.

As much as I was entertained, I feel I was also educated, knowing that the author, has invested so much time, patience, blood sweat and energy into understanding the period, the arms and armour, the clothing, the fighting (he took part in a tournament recently in full armour). All of this brings the story to life, it brings a reality a realism, add to that the authors military background and understanding of soldiers and war and you really do get a sense that you are experiencing a true accounting rather than fiction.

This will absolutely be one of the best books you read this year.

(Parm)

Other books by this author

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 BosporusDestroyer of Cities
Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2013)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King
Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRomeRhodesChios
Novels
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
Alexander: God of War (2013)
The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
The Long Sword (2014)
Washington and CaesarGod of WarAlexander: God of WarThe Ill-Made Knight

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Tom Harper: Orpheus Descent (Review)

The Author

harper

Tom Harper (real name Edwin Thomas) won the CWA debut award in 2001 for The Blighted Cliffs. He also wrote The Mosaic of ShadowsKnights of the Cross, and Siege of Heaven, published by Random House

Edwin Thomas grew up in West Germany, Belgium and America before returning to England to study history at Lincoln College, Oxford. His conclusion to the short story ‘Death by the Invisible Hand’ was published in The Economist in 1997, and the first chapter of The Blighted Cliffs was runner-up in the 2001 Crime Writers’ Association Début Dagger Award for new fiction. The first two installments of the adventures of Martin Jerrold, The Blighted Cliffs and The Chains of Albion, are available in Bantam paperback.

orpheus cover med

Buy the book from Amazon

Buy a signed copy from Goldsboro Books

Book Description

I have never written down the answers to the deepest mysteries, nor will I ever…The philosopher Plato wrote these words more than two thousand years ago, following a perilous voyage to Italy — an experience about which he never spoke again, but from which he emerged the greatest thinker in all of human history. Today, twelve golden tablets sit in museums around the world, each created by unknown hands and buried in ancient times, and each providing the dead with the route to the afterlife. Archaeologist Lily Barnes, working on a dig in southern Italy, has just found another. But this tablet names the location to the mouth of hell itself. And then Lily vanishes. Has she walked out on her job, her marriage, and her life — or has something more sinister happened? Her husband, Jonah, is desperate to find her. But no one can help him: not the police and not the secretive foundation that sponsored her dig. All Jonah has is belief, and a determination to do whatever it takes to get Lily back. But like Plato before him, Jonah will discover the journey ahead is mysterious and dark and fraught with danger. And not everyone who travels to the hidden place where Lily has gone can return.

Review

I was really not sure what to expect with Orpheus Descent, I have to admit to owning all of Tom Harpers Books and reading none (until now). They languish in my mountainous TBR (to be read) pile.

So this was always going to be a new experience of style and plot. That said I’m a big fan of well written time-slip books, the interplay of differing era’s, attitudes and people if done right can be fantastic.

Add to the above my love of ancient Greece, thrillers and the glowing praise filtering through on Twitter, what choice did I have but to make Orpheus Descent my first Tom Harper read.

Firstly I need to add that I did read the short story “Twelfth Tablet” (Buy the book) that acts as a teaser for this book. For anyone not sure of Tom Harpers writing, go read this, it had me hooked from page one. It is however a teaser for the modern era side of the time-slip tale only but gives a great insight into Greek tycoon who acts as principle antagonist in both stories.

12th tablet cover small

The main thrust of the plot follows the two  distinct and yet gradually blurring timelines. In modern Greece Lilly an archaeologist goes missing, her husband who has utter faith in his relationship and wife knows she has not run out on him and sets out to find her, battling inner demons and the voices of family and friends who all tell him that she has just left him, he knows something isn’t right, and he will stop at nothing to find her again.

In the alternate plot-line Plato leaves Greece for Italy, to search for his friend Agathon. That simple voyage turns into a life and death series of mishaps, misfortune, and calamity that tests the great philosopher’s will, beliefs  and view of the world, making him challenge all he holds dear, his vision of the world and his place in it.

I think there will be some who struggle with Plato’s side of this story, it does get very involved in the differences of philosophical types, eg: sophistry and Plato’s view of it. It covers many myths and the thinking of the classical man. But while for me this slowed the pace of the plot, it also gave it a very very different edge and a much greater depth. It made me think which isn’t the norm for treasure hunter/ thriller plot. I used (online) the description that the book “Thrills and messes with your mind in equal measure”, and it really did. The philosophical elements made you stop and contemplate what was meant, what was hidden, what was the meaning behind it. Writing this review is making me stop and re-examine some of the points of the book and its meaning all over again. I think you could re-read the book and find something new every time. The story is very much a product of you the reader, at the time you read it, in the emotion that you read it in (as much as what was written by the author). As the readers position is a changeable position/ emotion so your view and enjoyment of the book I think will change, and what you take away from it… see …it messed with my head!

 So do I recommend it… Of course. Any book that you can read again and again is right up there on the go read it list. Just go in with an open and inquisitive mind.

(Parm)

Other titles

Demetrios Askiates
1. The Mosaic of Shadows (2004)
2. Knights of the Cross (2005)
3. Siege of Heaven (2006)
The Mosaic of ShadowsKnights of the CrossSiege of Heaven
The Lost Temple (2007)
The Book of Secrets (2009)
The Lazarus Vault (2010)
Secrets of the Dead (2011)
The Lost TempleThe Book of SecretsThe Lazarus VaultSecrets of the Dead

Books as Edwin Thomas

Reluctant Adventures of Lieutenant Martin Jerrold
1. The Blighted Cliffs (2003)
2. Chains of Albion (2004)
3. Treason’s River (2006)
The Blighted CliffsChains of AlbionTreason's River

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Filed under Crime, Historical Fiction, Thrillers