Tag Archives: roman

Anthony Riches : Betrayal (The Centurions 1) Review

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Anthony Riches began his lifelong interest in war and soldiers when he first heard his father’s stories about World War II. This led to a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. He began writing the story that would become Wounds of Honour after a visit to Housesteads in 1996. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three children.

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Betrayal  (2017)
(The first book in the Centurions series)

book cover of Betrayal

Rome, AD 68. Nero has committed suicide. One hundred years of imperial rule by the descendants of Julius Caesar has ended, and chaos rules. His successor, Galba, dismisses the incorruptible Germans of the Imperial Bodyguard for the crime of loyalty to the dead emperor. Ordering them back to their homeland, he releases a Batavi officer from a Roman prison to be their prefect. But Julius Civilis is not the loyal servant of empire that he seems.

Four centurions, two Batavi and two Roman, will be caught up in the intrigues and the battles that follow – as friends, as victims, as leaders and as enemies. Hramn is First Spear of the Bodyguard. Fiercely proud of his men’s honour and furious at their disgrace, he leads them back to the Batavi homeland to face an uncertain future. Alcaeus is a centurion with the tribe’s cohorts serving Rome on the northern frontier – men whose fighting skills prove crucial as Roman vies with Roman for the throne. A wolf-priest of Hercules, he wields the authority of his god and his own fighting prowess. Marius is a Roman, first spear of the Fifth Legion: a self-made man who hates politics but cannot avoid them in a year of murderous intrigue. Aquillius, former first spear of the Eighth Augustan, like Hramn, is in disgrace for refusing to dishonour his oath of loyalty. But their paths will lead them to opposite sides of an unforgiving war.

And Civilis, Kivilaz to his countrymen, heroic leader, Roman citizen and patriotic Batavi, will change both the course of the empire’s destiny and that of the centurions.

Review

Anthony Riches Books are one of those rare treats i look forward to every year, his writing stands out from the crowd with a style that engages you as part of the story not a voyeur. His, unlike the majority of Historical Fiction is told from the common view, the everyday grunt and how he is impacted by the decisions and machinations of power.

Betrayal is different, in that by its nature it has to have some level of focus on those pulling the strings of political power, but also while the arc of this story must keep us close to those movers and shakers the author keeps us close to what matters, the men of the legion, the Centurions and most of all the action.

In this book and new series Anthony Riches takes on not only one of the most action packed and climactic years in Roman history, but also focuses on a people who gain many mentions in historical books, and also in films when they need to pull out a person of exceptional fighting ability. The Batavi, a people who were for many years Romes shock troops used to break the line, or operate behind the line. This first book in the series starts with the expulsion of the Batavi Imperial bodyguard, an honour they had held for a century, Galba has taken power and changes are afoot, not all is right and happy with the empire. before long Vitellius has been acclaimed Emperor by the Legions of the Rhine and Otho has deposed Galba. Among all of this are the seething animosities of the legions and the distrust and they hold for the Batavi and sins of the past, and the Centurions are determined to right what they deem to be the wrongs of Rome, while the Batavi will look to ensure the future of their people and align themselves with another potential Emperor rising in Judea… all this leading eventually to the Batavian Revolt.

Anthony Riches while adopting a slightly different style in this series manages to make this book a deeper plot whilst retaining the true soul of his style, that action packed true storyteller, in with the muck, spears and swords. Always writing where the action is thickest and the intrigue is dirtiest, coupled with impeccable research and attention to detail.

I loved this book, I loved the brilliant graphic novel snippet that the author produced pre release and know that this series has so much more to give, for those who have not read anything by this author start now, he is one of the best in the genre and you will find it very hard to get more bang for your buck elsewhere.

(Parm)

Series
Empire
1. Wounds of Honour (2009)
2. Arrows of Fury (2010)
3. Fortress of Spears (2011)
4. The Leopard Sword (2012)
5. The Wolf’s Gold (2012)
6. The Eagle’s Vengeance (2013)
7. The Emperor’s Knives (2014)
8. Thunder of the Gods (2015)
9. Altar of Blood (2016)
The Empire Collection Books I-3 (omnibus) (2017)
The Empire Collection Books 4-6 (omnibus) (2017)
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Centurions
1. Betrayal (2017)
2. Onslaught (2017)
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Matthew Harffy The Serpent Sword (Bernicia Chronicles Book 1) Review

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

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

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

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

The Serpent Sword (Bernicia Chronicles Book 1)

Author Web site

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BRITAIN 633 A.D.

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

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

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

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Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Parm)

 

 

 

 

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

Ian ross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 7)      What / who do you read for fun?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

(Parm)

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S J A Turney: Marius Mules VII The Great Revolt (Review)

Author Bio: in his own words

I live with my wife, son and daughter, 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 paint ing and decorating sales. I have lived in four counties and travelled as widely as time and budget allowed and find myself finally 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 have inflated my head so that I can no longer comfortably fit through doors, and has spawned sequels to each work, with the fantasy trilogy complete, six volumes in the Marius’ Mules series, and two books of the Ottoman Cycle quadrilogy now out.

I maintain another website detailing the Roman sites I visit and photograph, and write a blog about books. I am an almost terminally chatty person. That’s just a due warning if you feel like contacting me (see above.) I am always happy to speak to people and have put together an FAQ gathered together from things I have been asked previously.

Author Web site

Buy the book Marius Mules 7

Product Description

MM7

The pieces are in place. After many months of clandestine organisation, Vercingetorix, backed by the druids and leading an army of rebellious tribes, is ready to make his first moves towards independence for his people and the annihilation of Rome’s presence in Gaul.

Meanwhile, Caesar tends to business in Aquileia, unaware that he is cut off from the bulk of his army in the north by the rebellion. A desperate message brought to Fronto at Massilia spurs the forces of Rome into movement and Caesar is compelled to act in cunning and unexpected ways in order to recover the initiative.

Fronto and his friends are heading for a clash of armies the likes of which the north has never seen, and the Tenth’s legate is about to face his most trying year yet facing his opposite number – a chieftain of the Arverni – across the fields and hills of Gaul towards the greatest siege he’s ever experienced: Alesia.

Review:
As anyone who follows my blog knows I’m a friend and fan of Simons work, but I like to think I can still be objective in my reviews. The good thing is I don’t have to try that hard, because every book Simon writes at the moment learns from the last, improves on the last and provides powerful exhilarating characters, intricate plotting and as the series has progressed, a breakneck speed.
MM7 is no exception, in fact it is probably that and a lot more. For me the Marius Mules series has always been more about Fronto and what is he doing, what is he going to get himself into this time. But book 7 is so much more, It’s the all-encompassing piece, with Fronto finally allowing Caesar to shine a little. But more than this we get a nemesis for Fronto to match wits with, while Caesar matches wits with Vercingetorix.
As usual there is a supporting cast that has been built patiently over other books, ready for Simon to cut them down in their prime, a heroic or pointless death in battle, often shocking but never gratuitous, I find myself often mentally gasping that he has had the audacity to kill a favoured character (and this book pulls no punches in that dept), neither does he shy from pulling the battles and plot in certain directions, directions that light the book/ plot up.
Simon in MM7 has taken a very confused period of history and run a steam iron of clarity over it, his own clearly painstaking research providing much-needed entertainment, but Simon has clearly launched himself into the role of teacher at the same time. Some of it for me has more reality because I know Simon has gone and walked some of the land this has taken place on (i have seen the family photo’s), so when he says it’s a steep climb, I can feel it, I feel my heart beating a bit faster and the laboured breath coming from the soldiers, that’s because I know he has walked it (usually behind a pushchair…which is almost as much effort as carrying the full Roman Kit…honest), and you can feel his own exhaustion coming across on the page as he describes the legionary formation battling up Hills and through rivers.
He has added to this experience and descriptive prowess by becoming a Roman reenactor, and for me that has shown in the books, the little descriptions of discomfort and tiredness that sneak into the writing, showing how he himself has blistered and cut and felt tired to the point of dropping, to the camaraderie he has clearly developed with his fellow reenactors, this shows more in the fellowship of Froto’s legion and singularise.
 
So put aside the thought that this is a self-published title, Simon has moved himself right up on a par with the real giants of this genre. I would happily and honestly say that when I go to my TBR and see the authors: Giles Kristian, Conn Iggulden, Douglas Jackson, Anthony Riches etc.. Simon Turney sits right alongside them and makes a choice just as powerful and difficult, over which blooming book to read next. In fact Simon’s ability to self publish is a bonus for you and me the reader, because he is also so prolific. There are not many people who can turn out several high quality books every year, year in year out, and the fact that he does is a clear sign that he is one of the best out there.
 
Marius Mules 7: The Great revolt is Simons most fiendishly clever books so far, with a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat for every single page and action that any HBO series would envy… Bring on book 8!!
 
Highly recommended
(Parm)
Series
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)
7. The Great Revolt (2014)
Prelude to War (2014)
The Conquest of GaulThe BelgaeGallia InvictaConspiracy of Eagles
Hades' GateCaesar's VowThe Great RevoltPrelude 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
Collections
Tales of Ancient Rome (2011)
Tales of Ancient Rome

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Ben Kane : Clouds of War (Review)

Author: Ben Kane

kane

Author Bio

Click above for author bio info: (and visit his wonderful web site)

Book description

Clouds of War

Buy a Signed copy from Goldsboro Books

As Rome’s war with Carthage continues, two friends – now on opposing sides – confront each other in one of the most brutal sieges of all time. A new Hannibal novel by the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Forgotten Legion series.

213 BC. Syracuse. Under the merciless Sicilian sun, a city is at war.

Outside the walls, a vast Roman army waits. Yet the city’s incredible defences, designed by Archimedes, mean that Syracuse will not be taken easily.

A veteran of the bitter war since its beginning, Quintus is ready to give his life in the service of the Republic. But dangers face him from within his own ranks as well as from the enemy – who include his former friend, the Carthaginian, Hanno.

Hanno has been sent by his general Hannibal to aid Syracuse in its fight against Rome. Pledged to bring death to all Romans, he is diverted from his mission by the discovery of Quintus’ sister Aurelia, a captive within the city.

Two friends on opposing sides. A woman caught between them. They are about to meet in one of the most brutal sieges of all time.

Who will survive?

Review:

Its very easy for a lot of historical fiction to get classed as swords and sandals. Most peoples who dont read the genre have the impression thats its a bit of a dry, wordy style book with a lot of stabby stabby blood, war death maybe some sex and then the end. Firstly Swords and Sandals is so much more than that, there is humor, comradeship, tactics, fighting skills, characters and more, so never judge a book by its label.

That said Clouds of War is not swords and sandals in my opinion, so if you read the genre or not this book is something different, something much more personal, its a history lesson, its a life lesson, its a story of love, life, grief, both personal and national and romance. Its a book filled on a very personal level, it has an energy, a pace and a deep love of history you don’t find in many books, and not many authors have the skill to carry off.

As usual with my look at a book, i’m not going to risk spoilers, or try and pull apart the plot, too much chance of spoiling the book for others. The book blurb tells you all about this stage of the story of Hanno, Quintus and Aurelia. What i will talk about is once again is Ben’s amazing writing. There are a few authors who can leave me thinking about a book for more than an hour or so after i finish the review, There are even fewer who can elicit a real emotional response. Maybe i’m a sentimental old Granddad these days, but some of the familia led plot was just heartrending. I guarantee that this book will reduce some readers to absolute tears. Where with Anthony Riches you know that at some point someone is going to get a yard of steel through the guts, its almost part of the boys own action of it. With Ben it again is no surprise to see death, but it could be murder, famine, thirst, disease or war and it might not be just a family member it could be a whole village, a legion anyone. The man is so much more brutal when it comes to mortality, but only in terms of relaying the brutality of life and war in the ancient world.

Ben probably more than any writer shows you life in the ancient world, warts and all. And none of that should put a reader off, just the opposite, you MUST buy this book. This is the culmination of years of writing lessons learned, adding all the feedback, adding every nuance and experience to his writing skill.

This truly is a must buy Highly recommended book

(Parm)

Forgotten Legion Chronicles

1. The Forgotten Legion (2008)
2. The Silver Eagle (2009)
3. The Road to Rome (2010)
The Forgotten LegionThe Silver EagleThe Road to Rome
Hannibal
1. Enemy of Rome (2011)
2. Fields of Blood (2013)
3. Clouds of War (2014)
The Patrol (2013)
Enemy of RomeFields of BloodClouds of WarThe Patrol
 Spartacus
1. The Gladiator (2012)
2. Rebellion (2012)
The GladiatorRebellion
For those not aware authors Ben Kane, Anthony Riches & Russ Whitfield will be doing another fantastic charity walk in 2014

They are walking from Capua to the Forum in Rome in late April 2014, raising money for: MSF – Médecins Sans Frontières & Combat Stress. Last Year over £18,000 was raised, lets see if we can help them top that this year. (there is also a film crew this year, so i fully expect some fun, interesting and crazy footage in the near future)

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John Henry Clay: THE LION AND THE LAMB (Review)

John Henry Clay

JHC

Dr John Henry Clay is a Lecturer in History at the University of Durham, from where he has built up an international academic and research reputation in Anglo-Saxon and Frankish history and archaeology, particularly concerning themes of conversion and religious identity, landscape perception and the transition from the late-Roman to the early-medieval period both in Britain and on the Continent. He completed his PhD at the University of York in 2008 and spent time as a visiting researcher at the Institute for Medieval Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, before taking up his post in Durham in 2010.

THE LION AND THE LAMB is his first novel.

Buy Signed Hardback

lion lamb

Book Description

Condemned to a hovel, beaten by a merciless commander, crushed by the weather and forced to survive on starvation rations: no one looking at Paul would ever guess that he is heir to one of Roman Britain’s wealthiest families. But Paul had his reasons for joining the army and fleeing the family he loves.

But when rumours of a barbarian uprising from beyond the Wall begin to circulate, Paul realises that his family is in grave danger.

With only the former slave-girl Eachna for company, Paul deserts the army, for which the penalty is death, and undertakes a hazardous journey across Britain where danger lurks round every corner.

Epic in scope, rich with historical detail, THE LION AND THE LAMB is a novel of Roman Britain on the cusp of the Dark Ages, when all that stands between her citizens and oblivion is one family.

Review

On the surface this book has a nice looking cover, intriguing title and interesting blurb. The book is well written and i’m not even going to pretend to know if the history is right or wrong. Given that John Henry Clay is a highly respected Lecturer in History at the University of Durham particularly on this period, I feel he might be streets ahead of me there.

I know by now you are all sat waiting for the BUT!

…..But!
The book has its own style, a good thing for some and not for others, and to be honest I’m not sure where i fall even now. I’m struggling to articulate all of my perceptions of the book. So I came up with a comparison for you. If Anthony Riches is Die Hard then John Henry Clay is EastEnders. The story is more family intimate, and so tragic, its like several Christmas episodes rolled into one. I’m not an EastEnders fan, but at the same time I was compelled to finish this book.

Every night i read the book until gone midnight, I finished it and at no time got bored, felt bogged down by the style or the language.
The author writes in a clear sparse engaging style, if he could provide the battles and the anticipation, and couple that with a bit more life to his characters then i think he would have an all around winner. It was the lack of anything but normality and everyday personality or lack at times lack of depth to the characters that hindered my all around enjoyment. Up until the last 80 pages I wasn’t bothered if Paul died, but still at the same time felt compelled to watch the whole plot unravel towards its conclusion. It’s at the conclusion that it delivers, where it seems that a progressive build up culminates in life for all the characters especially Paul, Paul’s father and Rufus, who feel more real at the end.

Would I Recommend?

Yes oddly i would, its a book I think you should read and make up your own mind, I think there is a lot of potential for the future, as débuts go the man can write, it just for me needs more action , more personality, inject some humour, even if its dark to back up the emotion and atmospherics he is clearly capable of writing.

(Parm)

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