Tag Archives: romans

S.J.A Turney The Pasha’s Tale (The Ottoman Cycle Book 4) Review

Author Bio in his own words

Find me on Twitter@SJATurney

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Having written a number of unpublished short stories in my early days, I decided back in 2003 to try and write a full length novel.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

TPT Cover

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Five years have passed since Skiouros left Istanbul with his brother’s remains and a nebulous goal to make the usurper prince Cem pay for Lykaion’s death. Skiouros is older and wiser, and has come to understand the dreadful price that vengeance exacts from its wielders. Saved from the French authorities by Dragi, the Romani crewman of a Turkish galley, he and his friend Parmenio are bound once more for the east.

But Dragi’s aid in desperate times comes with a price: the Romani await Skiouros’ return to the great city of Constantine, bringing about the conclusion of a series of events that has been building since those that first led to his flight five years ago.

In the Ottoman capital, the populace prepares for a great festival, and for the first time in many years the Sultan’s three sons are all present in the same place at the same time. And in the dangerous streets a sect of disenfranchised Romani plot a deadly coup to overthrow the Sultan and place one prince on the throne. Can Skiouros, Dragi, Parmenio and Diego thwart the mysterious Kingbreaker and save the lives of the Sultan’s sons? The sequence of events that shattered Skiouros’ life is coming to an end…

Review

Regular blog readers will be aware of this, but for anyone new, full disclosure, Simon Turney is a good friend as well as some one i enjoy reading. I have been a friend and fan since before book one and have been privileged to have seen, enjoyed and been a small part of his journey. This is a Journey that seems to reach new heights with every book.

While im a big fan of his Marius Mules series, his latest work for me is his best work, both in the roman world with Praetorian and even more so his Ottoman Cycle series. This series following Skiouros the thief, the adventurer, the explorer fighter and spy. A boy who had to quickly grow, and become a man, haunted by his dead brother, hunting retribution. A retribution that takes him across the globe and back.

Pasha’s tale will see him return home, to face up to his past and help guide the future of the world as Islam and Christianity clash over the succession of the Ottoman throne. Aided by his friend Parmenion, and his sword master Diego and guided by the mysterious Dragi the trio bounce from one perilous situation to another as they try to outwit their enemies. As a book it has everything, pace, action, wonderful character and the authors deep empathy for the trade-off between religions , walking the tightrope between christianity and Islam, so fraught with danger and yet so well accomplished while not compromising the plot one bit.

As a series it culminates with a beautifully poetic ending, with shades of butch and Sundance, seeing Parmenio sailing off into the sunset, hopefully his version of Bolivia gives him peace and Skirouros neatly closing off so many of the stories threads. It’s not often a series leave you satisfied and yet still longing for more. I will miss these friends, and yet it only leads me to wonder what Simon can do next outside of the Roman world.

very 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
Novels
Praetorian: The Great Game (2015)
Praetorian: The Great Game
Collections
Tales of Ancient Rome (2011)
Tales of Ancient Rome
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Filed under Historical Fiction, S J A Turney

Anthony Riches Thunder of the Gods (2015) Review

Author website

Anthony_Riches

About the author

Buy a signed copy from Goldsboro Books

Buy a signed Limited edition

Buy from Waterstones

Description:

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

(Parm)

Series

Empire 

1. Wounds of Honour (2009)
2. Arrows of Fury (2010)
3. Fortress of Spears (2011)
4. The Leopard Sword (2012)
5. The Wolf’s Gold (2012)
6. The Eagle’s Vengeance (2013)
7. The Emperor’s Knives (2014)
8. Thunder of the Gods (2015)

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Filed under Anthony Riches, Historical Fiction

John Hornor Jacobs: The Incorruptibles (2014) Review

John Hornor Jacobs

JHJ
John Hornor Jacobs has worked in advertising for the last fifteen years, played in bands, and pursued art in various forms. He is also, in his copious spare time, a novelist, represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. His first novel, Southern Gods, was published by Night Shade Books and shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Award. His second novel, This Dark Earth, will be published in July, 2012, by Gallery/Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. His young adult series, The Incarcerado Trilogy comprised of The Twelve Fingered Boy, Incarcerado, and The End of All Things, will be published by Carolrhoda Labs, an imprint of Lerner Publishing

The Incorruptibles (2014)
(The first book in the Incorruptibles series)

Buy a Signed Copy

Buy from WH Smiths

 

 

 

The Incorruptables

 

 

In the contested and unexplored territories at the edge of the Empire, a boat is making its laborious way up stream. Riding along the banks are the mercenaries hired to protect it – from raiders, bandits and, most of all, the stretchers, elf-like natives who kill any intruders into their territory. The mercenaries know this is dangerous, deadly work. But it is what they do. In the boat the drunk governor of the territories and his sons and daughters make merry. They believe that their status makes them untouchable. They are wrong. And with them is a mysterious, beautiful young woman, who is the key to peace between warring nations and survival for the Empire. When a callow mercenary saves the life of the Governor on an ill-fated hunting party, the two groups are thrown together. For Fisk and Shoe – two tough, honourable mercenaries surrounded by corruption, who know they can always and only rely on each other – their young companion appears to be playing with fire. The nobles have the power, and crossing them is always risky. And although love is a wonderful thing, sometimes the best decision is to walk away. Because no matter how untouchable or deadly you may be, the stretchers have other plans.

“One part ancient Rome, two parts wild west, one part Faust. A pinch of Tolkien, of Lovecraft, of Dante. This is strange alchemy, a recipe I’ve never seen before. I wish more books were as fresh and brave as this.”
Patrick Rothfuss

“An exceptionally well written book.”
Mark Lawrence

Review

This book was dangled in front of me at just the right time (thank you sophie), something different but with hints of my staple reading genre (historical fiction)  i fully expected a decent read, but after the anticipation i had for Red Country, which ended in (for the first time ever with a Joe Abercrombie) disappointment, i was concerned that another fantasy western would equal a book i would struggle to finish.

I’m so happy to say that my concern could not have been further from the reality of the book. The author has taken a western, added an alternate world built on a Rome that has survived to become a global empire, added in demons, magic, and other beings. With these elements he has built an exceptional world, that given the magic (used very lightly) is very believable  and easy to become swept into, even into the exceptionally well thought out detail of the guns, the ammunition, the magic, the society, all of this is brought to the fore in the flow or narrative. Allowing the reader to be submerged in the land and absorbed by the characters at the same time. For such a dark tale (at times) its very easy to find many moments of enjoyment in the characters and the situation. The interplay between Shoe, Fisk and the Ruman nobility is at times incredibly funny, especially when dealing with Gnaeus the eldest son.

This for me reminded me of the first time i read a Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie, that sense of WOW, this is fresh and new and exciting. That i need to read more from this author very soon. (it certainly made me go Buy a signed copy )

So all you fans of Fantasy, and historical fiction (who like a cross over), please do read this, its a great new world to live in and explore.

(Parm)

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Filed under Fantasy, Historical Fiction, John Hornor Jacobs

Nick Brown: The Black Stone (Review and Q&A)

Nick Brown

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

The Black Stone (2014)
(The fourth book in the Agent of Rome series)
A novel by Nick Brown

black stone

AD 273. Obsessed by the solar religions of the east, the emperor Aurelian sets out to obtain every sacred object within his realm. But one – a conical rock said to channel the very voices of the gods – lies beyond his reach. Arabian king Amir Adi has captured the stone and intends to use its fabled power to raise an army against Rome. For imperial agent Cassius Corbulo and his bodyguard Indavara, recovering the stone will constitute their toughest mission yet.

Review

Since book one of this series i have been a fan, I don’t normally find myself gravitating towards mixed genres and this series with its Roman Spies, investigations all mixed in with classic blood and sandals Roman battles is as mixed as you can find.

BUT…it works and works well. I think for me its because it doesn’t really have the big muscle-bound hero, on one person who is just amazingly good at fighting or intelligent beyond his peers etc.. Cassius Corbulo is young, too young, and scared, he never wanted to be part of the Frumentarii, he wanted to be an Orator, to belong to the cerebral arts, to enjoy his status at the top of society. At the beginning he would never have survived without his bodyguard Indavara a man with his own troubled past. The series is set against varying locations of the empire, but always at a time when the Roman world was still struggling with all the varied religions and revolts, as much as it wanted to absorb other cultures, it struggled with the Christ Cult and to add to Cassius’s problems his slave Simo is a member.

Books 4 The Black Stone: unlike books two and three which (were excellent books) showed incremental improvements, the improvements I look for in authors as a series progresses. Book four however goes to a whole new level, the plot is woven with multiple layers of religious intrigue and intolerance, political intrigue, fighting, comradeship and the ever growing relationship and maturity of our band of hero’s. Cassius learns more about his limits, his courage, and his friends. Indavara starts to learn and over come his past. The relationship between these two has matured to a whole new level in this book.

The story the black Stone is well thought out and put together, and has the layers to keep you galloping along at a decent pace. But its the characters that make it a winner, the development of the characters in the book alone is excellent (let alone the series). There are many teasing glimpses of Indavara and his past which i feel will become the focus if a future book in the series. There is very real wear and tear on the team and their personalities and the dynamic as a group. Its this frailty this real humanity that shines out from the page and makes this such a good book. Its so easy to make a near invincible hero or villain, but Nick creates shades of grey. Good guys do bad things for the sake of others or politics, or just that its expedient. Bad guys do good things on a whim, or because they just want to walk away.  All of it means that when reading it you can empathise with the characters, to think..”Yeah..I get that”. The introduction of Gutha was a master-stroke, the perfect bad guy foil to Indavara, you spend so much of the book waiting for them to face off. Also the mystery of a Germanic warrior in the far east, adds such an element of difference to the tale, also bad guy is probably the wrong term, he is a mercenary, he fights for money and his master, so good guy / bad guy in this time period is a matter of perspective, His side pays him, and while they do, they are the good guys! I found this sort of thinking refreshing in a book of this type, rather than the standard good v evil. (im going to stop now before i give something away)

At almost 500 pages you get your moneys worth and a whole lot more, not once did this book feel like it should have been trimmed, despite the length the writing is sparse where it needs to keep the pace flowing and descriptive where you need to feel the heat and desolation of the desert. By the end of the book i guarantee you will be wanting more!

This book is Highly recommended

(Parm)

Q&A

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s a good question; it’s probably only recently that I’d say I was if someone asked what I do. Of course anyone who writes is a writer but I think most people – possibly unfairly – would expect you to have had something published. In creative terms, I’m a big believer in just putting in the hours. Stephen King said it takes a million words to really get to grips with writing and I think there’s a lot of truth to that.

What led you to write Roman fiction?

Even though there are so many books covering the period, the Empire was so long-lasting and vast that the story opportunities are almost endless. Also, the sources allow us to picture the Roman world yet we remain in the dark about so many aspects. That is a compelling and attractive blend for creative minds.

 How much of the character behaviour in the series is based on people you know?

Not a huge amount though I do occasionally use real people for little details like speech patterns or physical behaviour. While I was on holiday in Croatia a couple of years back I saw a striking fellow and started making notes describing his appearance. My girlfriend was a bit bemused at the time but he turned out to be Captain Asdribar from ‘The Far Shore’!

 Where did the inspiration for Cassius come from?

I think it’s quite interesting to focus on a character from the patrician class because it provides a window on the ruling ‘elite’ – both the good and the bad. I appreciate that some of his antics can occasionally put readers off but I have always tried to stay true to how I believe someone like him would behave. At heart he is a good person but very much a product of his class and with all the accompanying traits of a young man with considerable status and power.

 Your Roman books are a mix of investigation (crime) and classic swords and sandals is this deliberate and why?

Absolutely. I think readers are very well served elsewhere if they want huge battles and political machinations so if I had to use one word to describe what I’m aiming for I would say ‘adventure’. There have been military and mystery elements in all four so far but I am always on the lookout for new story ideas.

Where next for our very mixed trio of (mis) adventurers?

Without being too specific, they are returning to a province where they’ve seen plenty of action before. Cassius thinks he’s found himself a nice and easy assignment but you won’t be surprised to hear that things soon go awry.

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

I wouldn’t say I’ve studied anyone’s work to that degree but I am aware of certain aspects of my stuff being influenced by Tolkien, Fleming and Macdonald Fraser.

 Just for Fun: All time fav book?

Easy. ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Story and character tremendous, not to mention the fact that Tolkien pretty much invented a genre.

Dinner…any 4 people from history, who would you invite and why?

First off, the Roman emperor Aurelian, who ruled at the time my series is set. Mind you, there’s then a danger I would ignore the rest of my dining companions so they need to be just as intriguing. Hammurabi would be another – the ruler of ancient Babylon lived in a fascinating time and led his people for about forty years. Then perhaps Boudicca, though I’d have to remember to seat her well away from Aurelian.  Lastly, I would go for the Roman gladiator Asteropaeus, who was said to have won 107 victories in the arena. Now that guy would have some stories to tell!

Series

Agent of Rome
1. The Siege (2011)
2. The Imperial Banner (2012)
3. The Far Shore (2013)
4. The Black Stone (2014)
The SiegeThe Imperial BannerThe Far ShoreThe Black Stone
Novellas
Death This Day (2012)
The Eleventh Hour (2013)
Death This DayThe Eleventh Hour

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Nick Brown, Uncategorized

Simon Scarrow: Blood Crows (Review)

The author (in his own words)

Simon

I was born in Nigeria and was raised in a number of countries before settling in Britain. Like my brothers I have always been interested in writing and started on my first novel once I had finished my degree and started working in the civil service. After two years of working in London I decided that I was better suited to a more academic career and returned to university to do a research degree. Once that was over I became a teacher. It was a great job. I have worked alongside some fine colleagues and great students. I would truly recommend teaching as a profession since the rewards are so diverse and real.

After I secured my first book deal I continued teaching full-time for as long as possible, before I was forced to scale back on my hours to focus on the writing.  Finally, at the start of 2005, I realised that I could not teach well while devoting so much time to writing and reluctantly decided to give up on teaching until I had more time to devote to it.

At the moment I am committed to writing one book a year in the EAGLE series as well as one book for other projects.

For now, I live in Norfolk with my wife, Carolyn, who runs her own copywriting business,  and two sons.

Blood Crows (Book Description)

blood crows

Macro and Cato are back in town, and bring with them their usual amount of mayhem, intrigue and collateral damage.

They just don’t seem able to sit idle and enjoy some down time, or lady fortuna has a sick sense of humour. Once again they are back in the legions, and once again its not a nice comfortable billet. But I don’t think either of these boys would want or expect one, honours are earned at end end of a sword, and these boys still have medals and higher rank in mind.
In this book we are back where we began, in Britain, there is an unfinished conquest, a guerilla war being waged by the locals, and it needs to end. Tactics on both sides have got bloody and nasty. Cato has command of an auxiliary Unit called the blood crows led by a somewhat sadistic and nasty centurion, and someone that Cato and Macro need to work with, or work around.
Its a book that see’s the need fr Cato to really grow into his new rank as prefect, and get over any fears he may have, to get past his concerns regarding his friend and having to command him, its time to grow up.
Will they survive… probably… it wouldn’t be the time to end the series would it… but how they get there is a hell of a ride and really is a trip back to the early days of Macro and Cato.. (Julia hardly gets a mention… thank you simon).
A word of caution though, i do echo another reviewer, Simon has shown huge writing skill with his other series and stand alone books, and some times i do wonder if its not time to push Macro and Cato to their conclusion, before they become a stagnant parody of themselves. This book was a great trip back to where we began… can that be sustained forever? or should Simon drive towards the year of the 4 emperors with greater speed?
(everyone will have their own opinion).
But for now… bloody and excellent book.

(Parm)

Other Books

Series
Cato
1. Under the Eagle (2000)
2. The Eagle’s Conquest (2001)
3. When the Eagle Hunts (2002)
4. The Eagle and the Wolves (2003)
5. The Eagle’s Prey (2004)
6. The Eagle’s Prophecy (2005)
7. The Eagle in the Sand (2006)
8. Centurion (2007)
9. The Gladiator (2009)
10. The Legion (2010)
11. Praetorian (2011)
12. The Blood Crows (2013)
13. The Zealot (2014)
Under the EagleThe Eagle's ConquestWhen the Eagle HuntsThe Eagle and the Wolves
The Eagle's PreyThe Eagle's ProphecyThe Eagle in the SandCenturion
The GladiatorThe LegionPraetorianThe Blood Crows
The Zealot
Revolution
1. Young Bloods (2006)
2. The Generals (2007)
3. Fire and Sword (2007)
4. The Fields of Death (2010)
Young BloodsThe GeneralsFire and SwordThe Fields of Death
Gladiator 
1. Fight for Freedom (2011)
2. Street Fighter (2012)
3. Son of Spartacus (2013)
4. Vengeance (2014)
Fight for FreedomStreet FighterSon of SpartacusVengeance
Roman Arena
1. Barbarian (2012)
2. Challenger (2012)
3. First Sword (2013)
4. Revenge (2013)
5. Champion (2013)
Arena (omnibus) (2013)
BarbarianChallengerFirst Sword Revenge
Champion Arena
Novels
The Sword and the Scimitar (2012)
The Sword and the Scimitar

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Simon Scarrow

Anthony Riches: Eagles Vengeance (Review + Q&A)

About the Author

tony

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.

Visit the authors web site

Buy a signed copy of Eagles Vengeance

Anthony Riches Q&A

 Tony congratulations on the release of Eagles Vengeance (book 6 of the Empire series)

The series with some of the most real soldiers in it I have read in Historical Fiction.

 Thanks Robin!

Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions:

                                                                                                                   

1) Where did the inspiration for the main characters come from? Marcus, Dubnus etc (are they all imagination or do they contain some real people?)

 Marcus is based on the son of a family that was liquidated by Commodus, the Quintili. These two famous brothers of the senatorial class were rich and cultured men who had done their bit for the empire, both serving with distinction as consuls in the 150s, and who ended being murdered for their considerable wealth and property (in particular the Villa Quintilii which was coveted by the new emperor.  They provided the perfect exemplar for my protagonist’s back story, although an attempt to name him Quintili foundered on the need for something a little sexier – hence the switch to Aquila.

As to the rest, they are indeed sometimes people I’ve met. Dubnus is in reality the brother of a friend of mine, a senior NCO in the TA who once started a sentence towards an abusive supervisor ‘If you speak to me again in that tone I’ll put you on your arse…’ and ended it ‘…and that’s why you’re on your arse.’ A sentence I think I may have used in my turn, albeit on the page. I usually ask permission – unless the individual is unpleasant enough to merit an appearance without their knowledge!

 

2) This is book six in the series, do you have an end in sight? (or are there too many tales to tell?)

 I have my sights set on about 25 books. Any more might be excessive. We’re heading for York, in AD211 and the death of the emperor Septimius Severus. Perhaps Marcus will take the Long Walk (if you know your Dredd) after that…and perhaps he won’t!

 3) Who is your favourite character? and why?

 I’m not telling you, because you’ll make the mistake of thinking that person is safe from being killed off. Which they are most certainly not. No-one is safe…

 4) Do you have a writing process? plot it out? story board?

 Yes, my process is finely honed, albeit very simple – I sit down and write whatever comes into my head, once I know where the boys are going next. It means I have to do a good number of re-writes and edits to make it all seamless, but on the upside I don’t get much editing post version one. I wish I could plot it all out before hand, but either I can’t or (ask my work colleagues) I’m too lazy and prefer just to wing it (reader: even I it’s the latter!).

 5) Of the six books which is your favourite  (mine is still book one, Wounds of Honour)?

 Good question. And the answer is…book seven, The Emperor’s Knives! Once you’ve read book six (The Eagle’s Vengeance) you’ll know that the next one’s going to be very different. And terrific fun…well it terrific fun was to write, at any rate.

 6) What are your top 5 favourite reads?

 Bugger me Robin, that’s a tough one. I’ll tell you my five favourite writers – in no order at all:

Richard Morgan, for his fantastic Takashi Kovacs series. Altered Carbon is an absolute cracker of a sci-fi debut. I’m not quite so hot for his fantasy output, but it’s still good.

Lee Child – who apparently writes with a spliff on the go, I read the other day, and genuinely does seem to have a drug dealer on speed dial which I for one never saw coming – for the indestructible Jack Reacher. I suspect the old guy’s probably running towards the end of his fictional lifespan, but what great escapist fiction!

Iain M Banks – please note the M! The moment I discovered his Culture novels was a moment of revelation, and I mourn his passing every time I look at my bookshelves. Sci-fi of the very highest order.

Christian Cameron – if I wrote that well I’d be insufferably smug. The Long War series has to be the best sustained historical fiction series I’ve ever read.

And…turns to scan shelves…Patrick O’Brian, for his fabulous characterisation in the Aubrey/Maturin series.

I’ve missed out the man who wrote possibly the best military historical fiction story ever. Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire pips Cameron’s Killer of Men to that honour (in my opinion) by a short head, quite the most riveting tale of ancient warfare I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading (time after time) – but I’ve never had quite the same buzz from his stuff again, which is a shame.

And one more – this one a guilty pleasure – I love the Black Library’s Warhammer 40k inspired novels, especially Dan Abnett’s work. In space, no-one can hear the screaming roar of your assault cannon…

 7) What next for (the remaining) Roman warriors? (and yes that is a dig… character killer)

 Pain, blood, misery, death, blood, more blood and the occasional death of characters when I decide their time has come. Although now you’re moaning about it – again – I might speed up the process. Are there any characters with whom you feel especially connected? Dubnus, perhaps…?

 8) Have you thought about writing in another time period? if so when?

 Are you and Kate collaborating on these questions? The short answer is ‘not yet’ – I think. I think the secret of series writing is to keep the episodes flowing, and I don’t want to  risk falling between two stools at a time when Empire is gathering readers rather than losing them (fingers crossed for book six!). There is another series in me, but now, while I never say ‘never’ unless the proposal is the consumption of rice pudding, is probably not the time.

9) If you could have written any book in history which one and why?

 Now that’s a good one. Ignoring contemporaries whose work makes me envious, I’d like to have written the complete history of the Roman legions in the early 5th century, before the sources we know existed but do not have today were lost. What a story that would have made…

thank you for taking the time with these questions….now crack on with book seven and eight.

cheers

(Parm)

Book Description 

eagles 6

The Tungrian auxiliary cohorts return to Hadrian’s Wall after their successful Dacian campaign, only to find Britannia in chaos. The legions are overstretched, struggling to man the forts of the northern frontier in the face of increasing barbarian resistance.

The Tungrians are the only soldiers who can be sent into the northern wastes, far beyond the long abandoned wall built by Antoninus, where a lost symbol of imperial power of the Sixth Victorious Legion is reputed to await them. Protected by an impassable swamp and hidden in a fortress atop a high mountain, the eagle of the Sixth legion must be recovered if the legion is to survive.

Marcus and his men must penetrate the heart of the enemy’s strength, ghosting through a deadly wilderness patrolled by vicious huntresses before breaching the walls of the Fang, an all-but-impregnable fort, if they are to rescue the legion’s venerated standard. If successful their escape will be twice as perilous, with the might of a barbarian tribe at their heels.

 Eagles Vengeance Review

Our heroically dangerous Tungrians are back in Britain. Returning from their exploits in Dacia, triumphant, but with the knowledge of loss. (Tony does love to bump off a character or two).

Eagles vengeance is no different, In this latest book, Book six in the Empire series, Tony Riches send the reader on a thrill ride of dangerous exploits, daring action, Violent barbarian encounters and political manoeuvring, that will see the deaths of so many men and women we meet for the first time and some we have known for a while.

Tony’s writing is for me subtly different from many others in the genre. Take for example  Douglas Jackson (insert review ink) who writes with such passion and detail, while retaining a narrow cast. Tony Riches gives us the broad canvas of the Tungrian Cohorts, delving into the lives of so many of his men, and exploring who the Centurions and Chosen men of this group are. He brings the camaraderie of the squaddie to life in the ancient world. Many authors bring life to their characters, but miss this feeling of the group, the passion of the legion or men. Tony always hits this square on, and it’s not just his unique colourful turn of phrase, it’s something of the man himself, someone who comes alive in a group, a man built to entertain and be larger than life. That’s the passion he brings to people like Marcus and Dubnus and the men of the Tungrian Cohorts.

I enjoyed this book, but I don’t think I can say too much about itnot without giving away what happens to whom and why and where, and those are spoilers I would not want. I can say that while it’s not my favourite book in the series, (that’s still reserved for Wounds of Honour), it’s an excellent read that can stand alone and provide hours of entertainment. But my personal advice would be go buy all the books if you have never read the series, follow the life and exploits, the ups and downs of the hardest b@stards in the Roman Legion.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

 Other books

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)
Wounds of HonourArrows of FuryFortress of SpearsThe Leopard SwordThe Wolf's GoldThe Eagle's Vengeance

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