Tag Archives: murder

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

SD Sykes: Plague Lands (Review)

SD Sykes lives in Kent with her family and various animals. She has done everything from professional dog-walking to co-founding her own successful business. She is a graduate from Manchester University and has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam. She attended the novel writing course at literary agents Curtis Brown where she was inspired to finish her first novel. She has also written for radio and has developed screenplays with Arts Council funding.

plague land

 

Buy a signed copy from Goldsboro Books

Oswald de Lacy was never meant to be the Lord of Somerhill Manor. Despatched to a monastery at the age of seven, sent back at seventeen when his father and two older brothers are killed by thePlague, Oswald has no experience of running an estate.

He finds the years of pestilence and neglect have changed the old place dramatically, not to mention the attitude of the surviving peasants.

Yet some things never change. Oswald’s mother remains the powerful matriarch of the family, and his sister Clemence simmers in the background, dangerous and unmarried.

Before he can do anything, Oswald is confronted by the shocking death of a young woman, Alison Starvecrow. The ambitious village priest claims that Alison was killed by a band of demonic dog-headed men. Oswald is certain this is nonsense, but proving it – by finding the real murderer – is quite a different matter.

Every step he takes seems to lead Oswald deeper into a dark maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violent strife.

And then the body of another girl is found.

SD Sykes brilliantly evokes the landscape and people of medieval Kent in this thrillingly suspenseful debut.

Review:

Even as i write this book im still not 100% sure how i feel about it. The author is clearly talented, the descriptions of post Black Death England (1350) is bleak, filled with the tension of communities at the time, the loss the chaos and the vacuum left behind by so many deaths. The story told from the perspective of Oswald de Lacy , a young man thrust into the forefront of his family, the new Lord of Somerhill Manor, a youngest son never expected to inherit, and destined for the clergy, in fact recalled from his monastery to take the reins.

On returning he struggles with running the estate, an estate that is slowly descending into superstitious bedlam, led there by the local priest Cornwall. Oswald is dragged from his closeted existence worrying about the estate to view a murder, a murder that he is led to investigate and leads him deeper and deeper into the lives of the villagers, the superstitions of the people and the secrets accumulated by the families all twisted into this plot. I’m not going to sugar coat it, some of the mysteries don’t take a genius, but at the same time there are parts that keep you guessing. Like another book i read recently The Royalist the plot isn’t the winner in this book its the characters the descriptive and the language of the time period.

I certainly think you should read this book and decide for yourself, because someone i trust very highly with book recommends Kate gives it a very high recommend,  i may even read it again to see if my mood was off or it landed wrong on the day. Either way the book is a descriptive treat and a time capsule on a part of history where few dare to tread, for a debut its very well executed.

(Parm)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, SD Sykes

Conn Iggulden: Trinity (The second book in the Wars of the Roses series) Review

2014-07-19-ConnIggulden

Author web site

Bio (in the authors own words)

I was born in the normal way in 1971, and vaguely remember half-pennies and sixpences. I have written for as long as I can remember: poetry, short stories and novels. It’s what I always wanted to do and read English at London University with writing in mind. I taught English for seven years and was Head of English at St. Gregory’s RC High School in London by the end of that period. I have enormous respect for those who still labour at the chalk-face. In truth, I can’t find it in me to miss the grind of paperwork and initiatives. I do miss the camaraderie of the smokers’ room, as well as the lessons where their faces lit up as they understood what I was wittering on about.

My mother is Irish and from an early age she told me history as an exciting series of stories – with dates. My great-grandfather was a Seannachie, so I suppose story-telling is in the genes somewhere. My father flew in Bomber Command in WWII, then taught maths and science. Perhaps crucially, he also loved poetry and cracking good tales. Though it seems a dated idea now, I began teaching when boys were told only girls were good at English, despite the great names that must spring to mind after that statement. My father loved working with wood and equations, but he also recited ‘Vitai Lampada’ with a gleam in his eye and that matters, frankly.

I’ve always loved historical fiction as a genre and cut my teeth on Hornblower and Tai-Pan, Flashman, Sharpe and Jack Aubrey. I still remember the sheer joy of reading my first Patrick O’Brian book and discovering there were nineteen more in the series. I love just about anything by David Gemmell, or Peter F. Hamilton or Wilbur Smith. I suppose the one thing that links all those is the love of a good tale.

That’s about it for the moment. If you’d like to get in touch with me leave a comment in the forum or you can tweet me @Conn_Iggulden. I’ll leave it there for the moment. If you’ve read my books, you know an awful lot about the way I think already. There’s no point overdoing it.

Conn Iggulden

Trinity

trinity

(2014)
(The second book in the Wars of the Roses series)
A novel by Conn Iggulden

The brilliant retelling of the Wars of the Roses continues with Trinity, the second gripping novel in the new series from historical fiction master, Conn Iggulden.

1454: King Henry VI has remained all but exiled in Windsor Castle, struck down by his illness for over a year, his eyes vacant, his mind a blank.

His fiercely loyal wife and Queen, Margaret of Anjou, safeguards her husband’s interests, hoping that her son Edward will one day know the love of his father.

Richard Duke of York, Protector of the Realm, extends his influence throughout the kingdom with each month that Henry slumbers. The Earls of Salisbury and Warwick make up a formidable trinity with Richard, and together they seek to break the support of those who would raise their colours in the name of Henry and his Queen.

But when the King unexpectedly recovers his senses and returns to London to reclaim his throne, the balance of power is once again thrown into turmoil.

The clash of the Houses of Lancaster and York will surely mean a war to tear England apart . . .

Following on from Stormbird, Trinity is the second epic instalment in master storyteller Conn Iggulden’s new Wars of the Roses series. Fans of Game of Thrones and The Tudors will be gripped from the word go.

Praise for Stormbird:

‘Pacey and juicy, and packed with action’ Sunday Times

‘Energetic, competent stuff; Iggulden knows his material and his audience’ Independent

‘A novel that seamlessly combines narrative, historical credence and great knowledge of the period’ Daily Express

‘A page-turning thriller’ Mail on Sunday

‘Superbly plotted and paced’ The Times

Conn Iggulden is one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today. Following on fromStormbird, the Sunday Times best-seller, Trinity is the second book in his superb new series set during the Wars of the Roses, a remarkable period of British history. His previous two series, on Julius Caesar and on the Mongol Khans of Central Asia, describe the founding of the greatest empires of their day and were number one bestsellers. Conn Iggulden lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and children.

Review

I often find that if you ask an Iggulden fan what their favorite book is, there is a clear divide between those who love the Emperor series and those who love the Conqueror series. You can be a fan of all the books, but that draw to preference usually goes to one series.  As a fan of his books since the very first, back in 2002, i have put some thought into this before and think its to do with the restriction of history.

Conn is a brilliantly natural story teller, of the type that if born before the modern age would have made his way in life travelling from town to town, city to city telling tales, or even as a master story teller in a royal palace. Anyone who has met him will have experienced the presence he brings to a room, one i find he brings to the fore in the conqueror series more than the emperor one. Why? Because he can let free reign to his imagination, and his experiences from travelling the Mongolian steppes. The emperor series, and now the War of the Roses constrains that imagination with the wealth of history that exists, the sheer volume of detail and information that the author has to be bound to or be crucified by the reading history buffs.

Despite that, I think Conn tackles the story in a brilliant fashion, while i enjoyed book one immensely, Trinity feels more mature, rounded. For a while i almost had to check that it was really was written by Conn Iggulden, the style felt different, older, more mature. The cast of players from history are expanded on, filling our idea of who they are and why, who the good guy is and who the bad guy is in the war of the roses, and then WHAM! in the very next chapter the preconceptions he has let you build, he tears down, and you mentally shift allegiance over and over again, until your head is spinning, and you realise the sheer complexity and scale of the conflict. That there were no simple bad guys, just people caught up in the events of history, their inadequacies, old feuds and building/ retaining family titles and lands.

I savored this book over a whole week, it wanted me to power through it in a couple of sittings, but i deliberately drew it out, teasing out the enjoyment, the pain, the betrayals, the reversal of fortune, the ecstasy of victory, the bitter pill of defeat, the horror of war, the stress of battle, the knowledge of defeat and the heroism of surrender rather than dogged resistance ending with the ultimate and futile death of thousands. This truly is an epic book in whats shaping up to be an epic series showing why Conn Iggulden holds the title as “one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today”.

I don’t know that this will replace my favorite book by Conn Iggulden, because Wolf of the Plains is a truly special story. What i do know is that its a very very close second, and an absolute must buy.

BUY A SIGNED COPY

Very Highly recommend this one

(Parm)

Series
Emperor
1. The Gates of Rome (2002)
2. The Death of Kings (2004)
3. The Field of Swords (2004)
4. The Gods of War (2006)
5. The Blood of Gods (2013)
Gates of Rome / Death of Kings (omnibus) (2009)
Emperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of War (omnibus) (2012)
The Emperor Series Books 1-5 (omnibus) (2013)
The Gates of RomeThe Death of KingsThe Field of SwordsThe Gods of WarThe Blood of GodsGates of Rome / Death of KingsEmperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of WarThe Emperor Series Books 1-5
Conqueror
1. Wolf of the Plains (2007)
aka Genghis: Birth of an Empire
2. Lords of the Bow (2008)
aka Genghis: Lords of the Bow
3. Bones of the Hills (2008)
4. Empire of Silver (2010)
aka Khan: Empire of Silver
5. Conqueror (2011)
Conqueror and Lords of the Bow (omnibus) (2009)
The Khan Series (omnibus) (2012)
Conqueror Series 5-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Wolf of the PlainsLords of the BowBones of the HillsEmpire of SilverConquerorThe Khan SeriesConqueror Series 5-Book Bundle
Tollins
1. Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children (2009)
2. Dynamite Tales (2011) (with Lizzy Duncan)
Tollins: Explosive Tales for ChildrenDynamite Tales
Wars of the Roses
1. Stormbird (2013)
2. Trinity (2014)
StormbirdTrinity
Novellas
Blackwater (2006)
Fig Tree (2014)
BlackwaterFig Tree
Series contributed to
Quick Reads 2012
Quantum of Tweed (2012)
Quantum of Tweed: The Man with the Nissan Micra
Non fiction
The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Yearbook (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do (2007)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get There(2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature Fun (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day Calendar (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and Fun (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Know(2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the World (2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar (2009) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book of Heroes (2009) (with David Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for BoysThe Dangerous Book for Boys YearbookThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to DoThe Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get ThereThe Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature FunThe Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day CalendarThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and FunThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to KnowThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the WorldThe Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day CalendarThe Dangerous Book of Heroes

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Filed under Conn Iggulden, Historical Fiction

John Carter: Last Judgement (Review)

John Carter

mystery

John Carter is an author who writes books for Penguin. Officially, John Carter is the pseudonym of a bestselling novelist and academic who lives in the US.

Unofficially, he is an unapologetic addict of toast, mildly obsessed with hiking, and when pressed will admit to not having written The Hunt for Red October.

You can follow him on Twitter @JohnCarterAuth

You can also find him on Facebook at facebook.com/johncarterauthor

Web site Click Here

Book Description

Last Judgement

Last Judgement is a rip-roaring conspiracy thriller debut from John Carter.

In a hidden chamber off the coast of Nova Scotia an ancient tablet has been unearthed. Under layers of dirt is a series of symbols that will lead to one of the greatest treasures the world has ever known. For over 650 years it had remained undiscovered.

Angela Derby, the woman behind the discovery, enlists the help of ex-army Captain, Jack Shepherd and together they decipher the runes and begin a journey across the world. But they are not the only ones seeking the treasure and their quest soon becomes a race to stay alive.

Review

It you love action thrillers, conspiracy thrillers and books which take the unsolved and give you a reasoned (if fantastic) scenario to fill in the blanks, then whats not to like in this book. Its got the mystery of the Templar Knights, a group that has filled hundreds of thousands of pages of thrillers and still in every new one manages to capture the imagination. John Carter (or whom ever he really is….man that’s going to bug me) has utilised Time-slip style to tell the story, jumping from the death of the last Grand Master in 1314 to modern day america and state of the art archaeology with out treasure hunters. We follow the journey of one of the last Knights Templar, escaping the purge of his order, but also on his road to revenge , whilst at the same time we follow that journey in modern times using the clues this Knight left behind and a small group of well funded professionals all with their own reasons for tracking him.

This type of book is very easy to say “yeah right, as if” , but its also very easy to suspend disbelief, to let yourself go and be subsumed by the fantastical and be pulled into a well told story, especially when its told so well and filled with great research into the history being used to drive the plot. The main thrust of the journey rips across the world, taking our heroes from America all the way across the world, the pace is addictive and stops you putting the book down at, even at 1am, stealing sleep at every opportunity. Its that fantastic pace that is used to hide the purpose of the plot, and that you need to read the book to find out, but be warned this book is not just a treasure hunt, there is much more to it, and well worth the time spent on it.

If you are still due to go on holiday, then this is the pool side book you must take with you, if you need a book to eclipse a wet autumn / winter weekend, then look no further, Although this seems to be a debut book by John Carter but Carter is the pseudonym of a successful thriller writer and it shows in this book.

If i had to be slightly critical (and this is purely my own person observation.. i know others who share my enjoyment of this type of book think differently) i found myself wondering why Jack Joined the group, he didn’t provide a stunning difference to the group in terms of skills and he also felt a bit wooden at times. I found the Blackburn’s very well written and also Angela Derby, and also all past characters, Jack felt like the linchpin to pull it together and follow the story, and as such more of a plot leader than a real person… i hope in book 2 he will gain some depth (i’m sure he will, given the writing skill of the author).

I certainly recommend this thriller, but that doesn’t mean i wont be looking for improvement in book 2 (sorry have to push)

(Parm)

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, John Carter

Alex Connor: The Bosch Deception (Review)

Alex Connor

Alex C

UK

Alex Connor is also known as Alexandra Connor and she has written a number of historical novels. This is her first crime thriller. She is an artist, and has worked in the art world for many years. Alex is also a motivational speaker and is regularly featured on television and BBC radio. She lives in Sussex.

Description

Buy from Amazon

Bosch D

A TRUTH CONCEALED. Brabant, 1473. A clandestine brotherhood hides a secret that could bring down the Catholic Church. Their chosen hiding place – the art of Hieronymus Bosch. A TERRIBLE CONSPIRACY. London, 2014. An excommunicated priest approaches both the Church and the art world, claiming to possess an artefact that will destroy their reputations. A TICKING CLOCK. This man, Nicholas Laverne, is poised to end over 500 years of silence and injustice. Yet, unknown to Nicholas, he has just summoned a killer intent on silencing him.

Review

After the high that was the Caravaggio Conspiracy i had some very high expectations for this new book, possibly too high. The story as ever with an Alex Connor book is a little dark, very twisty and packed full of unexpected surprises. What i felt it lacked was a clear central character chasing down the clues, it needed Gil Eckhart. Don’t get me wrong it has characters that peck away at the clues, who try to unravel the plot, who search for the meaning and the answer, but me personally i like to have that single character pulling it together, Nicholas Laverne could not do that because he had another role to fill. It does though still have the great characters that Alex Connor is known for and the powerfully twisting plots she is known for.

A major bonus with this authors crime thrill rides is the education, there are not many thriller writers who leave me feeling i have learned something, before this book i knew nothing about Hieronymus Bosch, the book has led to finding out more, just as the last book led to learning more about Caravaggio. Any books that inspire that response is a winner in my book (pun intended).

As an avid reader of Historical Fiction and Fantasy i always need my secret (or not anymore) pleasure on hand, and that’s a great thriller. Alex Connor as ever falls into that category, based on my rating of the last book this one is a 4/5 but that’s probably because she knocked it out of the park with  The Caravaggio Conspiracy, once again a winner for the author and for Quercus, i look forward to the next book.

(Parm)

Novels
The Rembrandt Secret (2011)
aka The Other Rembrandt
The Hogarth Conspiracy (2011)
aka Legacy of Blood
The Memory of Bones (2012)
Isle of the Dead (2013)
The Caravaggio Conspiracy (2013)
The Bosch Deception (2014)
The Rembrandt SecretThe Hogarth ConspiracyThe Memory of BonesIsle of the DeadThe Caravaggio ConspiracyThe Bosch Deception
Novellas
Unearthing the Bones (2012)
Blood on the Water (2013)
The Forger, the Killer, the Painter and the Whore (2013)
The Garden of Unearthly Delights (2014)
Unearthing the BonesBlood on the WaterThe Forger, the Killer, the Painter and the WhoreThe Garden of Unearthly Delights

 

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Filed under Alex Connor, Crime, Historical Fiction

C C Humphreys: Plague (Review)

C C Humphreys

CC H

aka Chris Humphreys

Author Bio (and web site)

Book Description

Buy from Amazon

Buy from WH Smiths

Buy from Waterstones

Plague

London, 1665. A serial killer stalks his prey, scalpel in his hand and God’s vengeance in his heart.

Five years after his restoration to the throne, Charles II leads his citizens by example, enjoying every excess. Londoners have slipped the shackles of puritanism and now flock to the cockpits, brothels and, especially, the theatres, where for the first time women are allowed to perform alongside the men.
But not everyone is swept up in the excitement. Some see this liberated age as the new Babylon, and murder victims pile up in the streets, making no distinction in class between a royalist member of parliament and a Cheapside whore. But they have a few things in common: the victims are found with gemstones in their mouths. And they have not just been murdered; they’ve been . . . sacrificed.
Now, with the plague is returning to the city with full force, attacking indiscriminately . . . and murder has found a new friend.

Review

Plague for me was always going to be a difficult book by this exceptional author. His last title Shakespear’s Rebel was just so amazingly well written, researched and composed, it became my book of the year last year, a book that had more than just writing passion, but I felt a little of the authors soul poured onto the pages. How can you follow that? Can you follow that?

Plague isn’t in the same league as Shakespear’s Rebel, but once again C C Humphreys has served up a real reading treat. The book very patiently paints a vivid and real London of 1665 (the dirt and squalor, but also the families who live there), adding in the authors usual realistic and dramatic main characters, developing the plot introducing each character carefully and fully. Moving carefully from a Highwayman, to a dangerous killer who is every bit as nasty as Jack the ripper, to a thief catcher of one of the boroughs of London. It doesn’t end there, some big great players walk upon this stage, including the King, I really enjoyed seeing the king portrayed in the book, his love of theater giving the impression of a frivolous king, but clearly hidden under that a sharp and keen mind. As ever I enjoyed the introduction of one of the Absolute Clan, the link that ties the authors books together.

Writing a book about the Plague is also a tough ask, its a seriously dark period of time, and a dark subject matter. Chris manages to imbue it with something different, the plague is happening, but it isn’t the key driver for the plot. There is instead a Psychotic and dangerous killer loose in London, a dangerous plot brewing,  families struggling to survive the danger that is daily life, let alone the plague. All of this we see though the eyes of Captain Coke and Pitman the thief and the thief catcher. So while this isn’t a new Shakespeare Rebel, it is a plot with many many levels with characters real, but for me having a hint of the stage about them, not that i mind that, in fact i enjoy it in this author books because its coupled with such vivid portrayal of the time, place and circumstances (the many sub plots).

So as ever I highly recommend this book, this time to fans of Historical Fiction, Crime, and books that are just brilliantly written.

(Parm)

Other Books

Series
French Executioner
1. The French Executioner (2002)
2. Blood Ties (2002)
The French ExecutionerBlood Ties
Jack Absolute
1. Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770s (2003)
2. The Blooding of Jack Absolute (2004)
3. Absolute Honour (2006)
Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770sThe Blooding of Jack AbsoluteAbsolute Honour
Novels
Vlad: The Last Confession (2008)
The Hunt of the Unicorn (2011)
A Place Called Armageddon (2011)
Shakespeare’s Rebel (2013)
Plague (2014)
Vlad: The Last ConfessionThe Hunt of the UnicornA Place Called ArmageddonShakespeare's RebelPlague

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Filed under C C Humphreys, Crime, Historical Fiction, Thrillers

Noble Smith: Spartans at the Gates (review)

Author Bio (Noble Smith)

Noble-Smith_homepage

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

Book Description (Spartan at the gates)

Spartans_NSmith_cover-197x300

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

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

Review:

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

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

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

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

(Parm)

 

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

 

 

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Noble Smith