Tag Archives: sword

Christian Cameron: Long Sword (Review)

Chris 1Chris 2

*Photos courtesy of Ian LaSpina* (with much appreciation)

Christian Cameron was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1962. He grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, Iowa City, Iowa, and Rochester, New York, where he attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in history.

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice, currently age seven. He attends the University of Toronto when the gods move him and may eventually have a Masters in Classics, but right now he’s a full time historical novelist, and it is the best job in the world.

Christian is a dedicated reenactor and you can follow some of his recreated projects on the Agora. He’s always recruiting, so if you’d like to try the ancient world, the medieval world, or the late 18th century, follow the link to contact us.

Book Description

long sword

Pisa, May 1364. Sir William Gold – newly knighted on the battlefield outside the gates of Florence – can look forward to a lucrative career as a sword for hire in the endless warring between Italy’s wealthy city states. But when a message comes from Father Pierre de Thomas, Grand Master of the Order of St John – better known as the Hospitallers – Sir William knows he has no choice but to leave his dreams of fame and fortune behind him.

Father Pierre is gathering men across Europe for a crusade, and as a donat of the order, Sir William is pledged to serve him. But before setting out for the Holy Land, Sir William and his companions face deadly adversaries closer to home. In the labyrinthine politics of Italy, not only would some cities rather side with the Saracen than their fellow Christians, but there are powerful princes of the church whose ambitions would be better served if the crusade failed – not to mention two of Sir William’s bitterest enemies – the maniacal Bourc le Camus, now in the pay of the ruthless Cardinal Robert of Geneva, and the Count D’Herblay, husband of the woman who still holds Sir William’s heart.

With assassins and conspirators on all sides, Sir William and his band of knights must overcome overwhelming odds – but if they survive, can the crusade be anything more than a suicide mission?

Long Sword: Review

I’m sure many of my regulars are expecting my usual litany of effusive comments about the remarkable writing that Christian produces. I do feel a bit like his English fan boy some days when I write the review, but I love the writing.

That said I struggled with the start of this one, be it my state of mind coming into my 10th book in January, or back to back to back historical fiction? I don’t know, but it felt a bit mired in detail, detail that Christian releases normally so effortlessly, it seemed to come out a little like a manual… I even think that I may have had a Tom Swan hangover, Tom Swan is one of the great unsung heroes of the Historical Fiction genre, an e-Book only serial, but so brilliant I miss it every day.

But William Gold didn’t/ couldn’t let me down, and neither did Christian, almost without noticing I went from the mire to brightness and solid ground.

As ever with Christians books this isn’t a light tome, its 448 pages long, but if you are like me, it will only be a 48 -72 hour read, after my initial struggle, which TBH was really only about a chapter when I checked back, I was fully caught up, I could not put it down. Christians research is amazing, he packs in such detail, but effortlessly, you feel the weight of armour, and you feel the maneuverability, and the exhaustion of wearing it, and I know this comes from the fact that he does wear it, and he does fight in it .

chris 3

Christian was also a warrior in his own right, and an intelligencer, so he knows how battles are fought, he knows the nuances, the thought process used by commanders, subordinates etc and dare I say by those who have to go and gather the intelligence in the most dangerous of circumstances.

What isn’t written down in history book (and even things that are) he checks. If how to swing a sword doesn’t sound right he will practice, if the clothing doesn’t sound authentic he will check with someone who knows, or even try to make it. I don’t think I have ever met someone so full of and yet still desperate for knowledge, and we the reader benefit from all of this.

Long sword isn’t Christians best book, but it is still an excellent book and I desperately want the next book in the series… as I seem to for every next book in every one of his series.

I highly recommend this, this isn’t just a book about fighting and the crusades, this is a book about chivalry, about love, and abstinence and its difficulty and temptations and about the glory of true friendship and a man striving to be better than he was yesterday.

(Parm)

 

Series
Tyrant
1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
TyrantStorm of ArrowsFuneral GamesKing of the BosporusDestroyer of CitiesForce of Kings
Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King
Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRomeRhodesChios
Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part One (2014)
2. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Two (2014)
3. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Three (2014)
Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part OneTom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part TwoTom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part 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
Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Cameron, Historical Fiction

Ian Ross: War at the Edge of the World (Twilight of Empire) Review

About the author

Ian Ross has been researching and writing about the later Roman world and its army for over a decade. He spent a year in Italy teaching English, but now lives in Bath.

BUY THE BOOK

BUY A SIGNED COPY

BUY A SIGNED LIMITED EDITION COPY

Ian ross

The epic first instalment in a sequence of novels set at the end of the Roman Empire, during the reign of the Emperor Constantine.

Centurion Aurelius Castus – once a soldier in the elite legions of the Danube – believes his glory days are over, as he finds himself in the cold, grey wastes of northern Britain, battling to protect an empire in decline.

When the king of the Picts dies in mysterious circumstances, Castus is selected to guard the Roman envoy sent to negotiate with the barbarians beyond Hadrian’s Wall. Here he will face the supreme challenge of command, in a mission riven with bloodshed and treachery, that tests his honour to the limit. As he struggles to avert disaster and keep his promise to a woman he has sworn to protect, Castus discovers that nothing about this doomed enterprise was ever what it seemed.

Review

Ian Ross and Twilight of Empire: War at the edge of the World has all the hallmarks of the next great Roman series. The author has chosen a period that few have written in, a time when Rome and its empire is very different to the one we see portrayed in films and the HBO TV series, gone is the segmented armour, the Scutum etc, in its place, Mail or scale armour oval shields and these guys wore tunics and breeches, a clear sign of the blending of other nations into the empire . It was a time when the Empire was so large its power and leadership was shared, its politics even murkier. The book follows the exploits of Centurion Aurelius Castus, his journey north into the lands of the Picts, the inevitable betrayals, escape and eventual revenge.

The book is delivered in an interesting style, i would suspect that the author is very well read in the genre, or by some quirk of writing styles he has endeavored to produce 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 (that’s not an Insult, i think Macro is very multi faceted). Castus is a non nonsense hard fighting centurion, a man who looks out for his men, he is also a man with a tactical brain, very much like Macro. Add in Nigrinus the notary (who takes the place of Narcissus) and you can see the comparison… but don’t be swayed by it, this is only a facet of the characters and plot, Ian Ross brings plenty of originality.

The Journey of  Centurion Aurelius Castus is a refreshing change for the Roman fiction genre, across a very much changed Romano Britain landscape, the power of the empire has dimmed at its edges, but thinking its failed is a mistake the Picts will rue.  In the same way that the conquest of Britain was for politician ends rather than expansion, this political backwater of the empire is once again at the forefront of a changing an empire, Instead of Claudius solidifying his hold on power, we are to witness the rise of Constantine, a name to shape an empire. In many ways this book feels like a taste of what’s to come from a clearly talented author.

I hope to follow more of the journeys and battles of Centurion Aurelius Castus, and also the rise of Constantine.

Highly recommend this one

(Parm)

 

3 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction, Ian Ross

Michael Arnold: Warlords Gold (Review)

Michael Arnold

Mike

UK
Michael lives in Hampshire with his wife and young son. His childhood holidays were spent visiting castles and battlefields, but his fascination with the civil wars was piqued partly by the fact that his hometown and region of Hampshire are steeped in Civil War history.

Book Description

warlords gold

3 July 2014 The Civil War Chronicles

Autumn,1643. As an increasingly bitter war rages across England, Captain Innocent Stryker leaves Oxford with orders to recover a lost treasure, vital to the success of the Royalist cause. But a seemingly simple mission to the remote Scilly Isles is soon jeopardised, for enemies lie in wait. A formidable Parliamentarian agent has been sent ahead of Stryker’s force, intent on defeating Royalist plans. Feared by ally and enemy alike, he is a man whose determination is only matched by his hatred for Stryker.

The quest for the gold takes Stryker across storm-ravaged seas, through enemy territory and finally to the Royalist stronghold of Basing House. And it is there that Stryker will face his most dangerous challenge yet.

Review

Reading Innocent Stryker is always a pleasure, I’m not even going to try and lead up to is this book any good, It is, its Bloody good. I had one more day left on my holiday, i got up took the little one to nursery, came home made a cuppa and sat in my sunny conservatory. The next eight hours were a trip back in time, a dark revenge fueled mission for a man from Strykers past. Can Stryker survive the violent world of Civil War England? will his past catch up and kill him? will his weaknesses and hidden compassion’s cause his ruination.

From dark Scilly isles shrouded in storm and misery, through to the wild rides and action of Basing House, a story jammed with every type of action and emotion, the book is a truly exhausting roller-coaster of emotion and action.

There are very few authors and subjects I can read for 464 pages and Michael Arnold is very much one of them, When you get an writer with the skill and ability to blend sublime and realistic characterization with superbly researched plot and that fictional flair to make the story race along and fire the imagination, that’s when you have a winner and a book and writer that not only should be on the best seller list, but very much has earned the right to be there.

This book as you might have guessed will be competing come December for the Parmenionbooks book of the year, what ever happens its easily going to be Top 5.

I don’t think i need to say anything else, because if you’re not convinced to buy this by now you never will be… go buy it and read for your self.

(Parm)

Series
Civil War Chronicles
1. Traitor’s Blood (2010)
2. Devil’s Charge (2011)
3. Hunter’s Rage (2012)
4. Assassin’s Reign (2013)
5. Warlord’s Gold (2014)
Stryker and the Angels of Death (2013)
Traitor's BloodDevil's ChargeHunter's RageAssassin's Reign
Warlord's GoldStryker and the Angels of Death
Novellas
Highwayman: Ironside (2013)
Highwayman: Ironside

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Fiction, Michael Arnold

Miles Cameron: Fell Sword (review)

563435_530846180293552_1267469454_n

Author:

Miles Cameron….AKA… Christian Cameron

Christian Cameron was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1962. He grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, Iowa City, Iowa, and Rochester, New York, where he attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in history.

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice, currently age seven. He attends the University of Toronto when the gods move him and may eventually have a Masters in Classics, but right now he’s a full time historical novelist, and it is the best job in the world.

Christian is a dedicated reenactor and you can follow some of his recreated projects on the Agora. He’s always recruiting, so if you’d like to try the ancient world, the medieval world, or the late 18th century, follow the Link to contact him.

Fell Sword

Fell Sword

 

THE RED KNIGHT was one of the most acclaimed fantasy debuts of 2012 – and now he rides again. Prepare for one epic battle . . .

Loyalty costs money.

Betrayal, on the other hand, is free

When the Emperor is taken hostage, the Red Knight and his men find their services in high demand – and themselves surrounded by enemies. The country is in revolt, the capital city is besieged and any victory will be hard won. But The Red Knight has a plan.

The question is, can he negotiate the political, magical, real and romantic battlefields at the same time – especially when intends to be victorious on them all?

Review

This is a book that has taken me longer than any other to read this year so far, not because its a bad book, very much the opposite. This book contains some of the most involved, imaginative and impressive world building i have seen, right up there with the depth and passion of lords of the rings.

This is book two in the series following on directly from the fabulous debut that was the Red Knight, once again following the mercenary band headed by the Red Knight, the Captain. A man who is both a fighting Knight at the peak of his prowess, but also a magister (a sorcerer) very powerful and growing in skill all the time. Unlike many books we don’t just live the story from the point of view of the hero (the Red Knight) we get a Multi POV, we see the opinion and perspective of all, and as such get to see what the individual see’s, themselves a hero, or in the right. This multi POV is very encompassing, so  much so that there are times it becomes hard to keep all the threads and all the names straight, hence the length of time needed to read the book.

The world of the Red Knight is HUGE, made more so by the depth of detail, history and politics. This world encompasses much of the real world just with a twist. Outwallers that are native Americans for example, countries that resemble Canada, Great Britain, France, an empire that bears a striking resemblance to a decaying Byzantine empire, the fantastic Nordikans, who more than resemble the Varangian guard. All of these people and places imbued with the authors rich depth of historical knowledge. Miles Cameron being the highly renowned Historical Author Christian Cameron, a writer who imbues all of his work with not just literary research, but with physical research, hours spent in armour and training with weapons. Walking the wilds of Canada wearing the garb of a true knight, all of this detail is powered into his books to stunning effect.

Does Fell sword bring a better book with more satisfaction than Red Knight? yes and no, i found the ending more satisfying than Red Knight, but i think that may be because Red Knight had so much hard work to do with regard to world building, it was only the latter quarter of book one that truly showed the excellence of his writing talent. Fell Sword was a much more immersive encompassing tale, one that carries the reader into the depth of the wilds to learn more of the creatures who dwell there, more of Thorn and what drives him, or more importantly who. Most important of all it takes the reader into the depths of the politics of the world, a truly dark murky, back stabbing politics, politics fueled by ambition and magic. Most interesting is that Fell Sword reveals the true darkness from the wild, we now know what is coming, we just don’t really know why. Its exactly what a middle book should be, if not more, many middle books are a pause, this is anything but. Next year 2015 will see the third book in the series The Tournament of Fools, i highly recommend getting a Pre-Order in, i feel its going to sell fast.

Its a book i highly recommend you read in large bites, not small. But most of all its a book i Highly recommend to all readers, not just fantasy of Historical fiction.

(Parm)

Other books by this author

Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2014)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2015)
The Red KnightThe Fell Sword
Tyrant
1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
TyrantStorm of ArrowsFuneral GamesKing of the BosporusDestroyer of CitiesForce of Kings
Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King
Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRomeRhodesChios
 Novels
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
The Long Sword (2014)
Washington and CaesarGod of WarThe Ill-Made KnightThe Long Sword

2 Comments

Filed under Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Miles Cameron

Giles Kristian: God of Vengeance trailer film shoot (Behind the scenes)

God of Vengeance: Trailer shoot, Day 2

GoV

 

Sunday morning 6am alarm clock wake up, not so bad…except when you got to sleep at 1am.

So with much yawning and sneaking around the house to avoid waking the wife and Granddaughter, I finally got my bad ready, weapons stacked, food and drink ready and filled the boot. Leaving the house to a now awake family…The Granddaughter doesn’t like to sleep much past dawn. (double yawn).

A quick easy ride to Lincoln, I approached the point where I’m thankful for a SatNav, coming up the ring road towards Lincoln, The Cathedral and Castle rose out of the morning mist in the early morning sun. I was so lost in the power of the scene and how, apart from the houses cluttering the foreground, that iconic misty scene had been seen by people for hundreds of years, that i missed the turning and then had a quick play in Lincoln’s one way system.

Finally back on track i followed the directions to their conclusion, pulled up at a farm house, and decided the damn thing had got me lost again.

So a quick potter back up the road, and a call the Phil Stevens director extraordinaire from Urban Apache Films .

Change of meeting point, to the offices of Urban Apache in the center on Lincoln, and I’m a little pleased, who doesn’t want to see where some of the magic happens?

Another quick fight with the satnav, trying to make me drive through central reservations and up one way streets, and I’m there. Phil arrives soon after…looking….well, lets say worn around the edges. Most of the cast and crew only got to sleep after 3am, so coffee, McDonalds and what ever they can get to wake up is on the cards. All of this makes me shut up about my lack of sleep very fast.

The next hour is filled with some very tired people being made up by the happiest, nicest people of the day, makeup and wardrobe, the ladies organising and creating with quiet competence and humour despite their lack of sleep.

My first chance of the day to be useful came in the form of finding a hand dryer in the gents, The outfit for Floki (William Clayton) was still wet and muddy from the previous day, so to save Floki from a very damp arse and and uncomfortable morning on set, I spend the next 20 plus minutes blasting as much hot air as possible through the material (thank god for asbestos hands). (wonder if Phil will get told off for the state of the muddy toilet)?

Running about an hour behind the call sheet, which was pretty good going considering the walking dead that had arrived at 7.30am. A short 40 min drive, once again at the whim of the SatNav gods, who actually found the set, a quarry in the middle on who the hell knows where in Lincolnshire, I admit… I was impressed.

There must be something about Film shoots with Giles Kristian, this is the second one i have been lucky enough to go on, the last one Bleeding Land Shoot was also a beautiful sunny day. Even at 9am the sun was warm enough to ditch jumpers.

The first action of the day was a walk up to the film site, following a long winding path through the quarry and a decision for everyone, Do you want to drive your car around that winding path up to the site of the shoot?

DSC06012

Immediately I heard the wife’s voice in the back of my head…NO… so that saved me worrying about that.

DSC06013

Time to suit up…Not me, one day if there is a HUGE crown scene they might be daft enough to let me the wrong side of the lens, but for now I’m happy enough snapping away behind me little camera and pretending I know what I’m doing.

Time for the weapons to come out, cue Giles pulling out his huge chopper…. ok so I had to get that line in there…. His axe will feature in the filming.

DSC06023DSC06020 

Having enjoyed this process before I was more prepared for the walk through, scene setting, practice and generally trying to get everything right before the camera rolls.

DSC06034DSC06033 DSC06032DSC06031    DSC06027DSC06026DSC06025DSC06028

One thing from the day that I wasn’t expecting was a second camera crew, a group of young lads doing a “making of” film for the God of Vengeance shoot. …. I think that meant i was doing the making of the making of GoV,,,well at least according to Giles.

DSC06035

Another reason for not being in the shoot (aside from not being an actor, too old etc..)…. Look at the flipping size of these guys! (of course im way more toned that that…. Honest)

DSC06045

The main thrust of Day 2’s filming, is the scene from the book where Floki is chained at the weeping stone, and must fight all comers.

DSC06038

This is where the skill of the make up and wardrobe ladies really started to show, the amazing attention to detail that’s so easy to miss, the way the drape and texture of something is delivered to the camera if left at just the right angle. I even got roped into helping build a Viking bivouac/ lean to.

DSC06174

That thing would still be there now we built it that well. (spot who was overly pleased to have contributed something that will be on film.)

Finally after several hours of prep work and camera set up its time to actually film something, and to some this may seem a bit tedious, but for me the time flew past. I’d have happily started building a cabin if we had needed too.

DSC06061DSC06060  DSC06058DSC06057DSC06056DSC06055DSC06054DSC06053DSC06052DSC06051DSC06048DSC06047  DSC06043DSC06059

Giles is everywhere now, making sure people are happy, included, that the scene matches his writing.

DSC06062

This scene in God of Vengeance is one of the most iconic, a real blood and guts introduction to a key character, in the book its stunningly written so Phil has his  work well and truly cut out trying to reproduce this on camera.

DSC06125DSC06124 DSC06123DSC06083 DSC06079DSC06076  DSC06073DSC06072 DSC06071

Each scene is walked through before the shot is actually taken, the below are shots of initial attack on Floki, where everyone learns…. well… read the book , watch the trailer, you’ll see.

DSC06078DSC06070

What you don’t often see in the final product are the down time moments, the mix of the modern and the ancient

DSC06098

The demand for consistency in a film that’s minutes long but takes a day to shoot. The chasing of the light away from the quarry walls, the reflecting of light with a large piece of polystyrene. All filmed with the skill and technique that means none of that movement will ever been seen by others.

DSC06175DSC06173 DSC06158DSC06157

The skill of many on set in stunning, with Phil and Lewis clearly standing out of the pack. Phil, while the director, is also one of the actors, and also clearly along with Giles the driving passion on the day, he not only understand the shots the angles, the drive and desires of the characters, but he also has a clear confidence in the filming and more importantly the weapons and their use in front of camera. Its no easy thing to swing a sword or axe at some one, or have it swing at you. The trust must be total.

DSC06147DSC06150 DSC06148DSC06147 DSC06142DSC06140 DSC06139DSC06138 DSC06137DSC06136 DSC06134DSC06131 DSC06126

More shots of that pesky fella with the small musculature (cough ….what a wimp)…just for the ladies.

 DSC06165DSC06162 DSC06151DSC06144DSC06167 DSC06045DSC06077

The Star of the day though had to be Floki, not only facing off against all the big fellas, having to kill the boss, but also being the main focus nearly all day, and that chain, i didn’t know until the end of the day just how heavy that thing was. Not once did he complain about it.

DSC06178DSC06141

 DSC06108DSC06107 DSC06103DSC06102  

The close up fighting was where the skill and ingenuity of Lewis came to the fore, every problem that cropped up he could over come with a little idea, always delivered in such a way that it was a group decision to use it. How to fall, how to look like he had received an axe to the guts for the camera. Blood made from (if I remember) corn syrup, and mashed banana for that gory consistency.

DSC06159DSC06157 DSC06156DSC06146DSC06114DSC06116

The light is really starting to chase us across the quarry now, its gone 4pm, we have been here since about 9am.

One of the really amazing parts of the day was being allowed behind camera to watch the playback, to see what it would look like when finally shown. I did this once and having just watched it being shot, the buzz of seeing it on screen still gives me a little thrill.

DSC06168DSC06160

More gratuitous shots of topless Viking holding Giles chopper… (yup there’s that pun again…) Sorry, there are quite a few ladies who read this blog…. target audience.

This is also the scene i got to watch back on camera.

DSC06163DSC06162 DSC06161DSC06158

Sun is now gone from the early shoot site…our camera man and Phil have a “discussion” about this and the need to more again..Phil wins as usual.

Its late in the day, but we are only a couple of scenes from the end of the day now, Floki is now liberally covered in blood. Its time to gets some still of the little bad ass.

DSC06181DSC06179

Now for one of my favorite parts of the day, the death of the big Viking (yes ladies more photos) , the problem is how to get arterial spray, how to project it, and how to time it just right.

It might sound simple, but the more you watch the complexities, the more difficult it gets. The timing being the hardest. Floki pulling the Ax, Phil hidden behind spraying the blood at just the right time.

DSC06183DSC06186DSC06190DSC06188 DSC06191DSC06194DSC06195DSC06196

Final Scene of the day….Catwalk Viking….Check out the camera poses!

DSC06201DSC06200 DSC06199DSC06198

When Floki finally gets his hands on him, well… its how to choke a Viking.

DSC06205

DSC06208

DSC06204

DSC06207

DSC06206

DSC06209 

DSC06210

…… So sorry if this was all a bit of a tour through my holiday snaps, but the only way to do justice to this amazing day is with pictures.

The amazing people i met, and learned new things from (Thank you)

Phil Stevens… you sir are an inspiration, and i honestly enjoy every minute you allow me to experience on set so thank you.

and Giles… one of the most disgustingly talented individuals i know, but he tempers it with being one of the nicest people i know. Thank you for being kind enough to let me come along again.

The reason for all of this… The upcoming God of Vengeance published on the 10th April 2014

Norway 785 AD. It began with the betrayal of a lord by a king . . .

But when King Gorm puts Jarl Harald’s family to the sword, he makes one terrible mistake – he fails to kill Harald’s youngest son, Sigurd.

On the run, unsure who to trust and hunted by powerful men, Sigurd wonders if the gods have forsaken him: his kin are slain or prisoners, his village attacked, its people taken as slaves. Honour is lost.

And yet he has a small band of loyal men at his side and with them he plans his revenge. All know that Ódin – whose name means frenzy – is drawn to chaos and bloodshed, just as a raven is to slaughter. In the hope of catching the All-Father’s eye, the young Viking endures a ritual ordeal and is shown a vision. Wolf, bear, serpent and eagle come to him. Sigurd will need their help if he is to make a king pay in blood for his treachery.

Using cunning and war-craft, he gathers together a band of warriors – including Olaf, his father’s right hand man, Bram who men call Bear, Black Floki who wields death with a blade, and the shield maiden Valgerd, who fears no man – and convinces them to follow him.

For, whether Ódin is with him or not, Sigurd will have his vengeance. And neither men nor gods had best stand in his way . . .

Buy a Signed copy from Goldsboro Books

Is it any good?

Well my review will be up a bit closer to release… but lets just say : This is the book where the bloody legend of Sigurd is born, given voice not just in swathes of blood and violence, but also in the living breathing Norse world that comes to life on every page, as Giles weaves his tale like a master skald from the past. (so yes that means its going to be one of my top 5 reads for 2014 without fail)

8 Comments

Filed under Giles Kristian, Historical Fiction

Nick Brown: (Author of Agent of Rome Series) Q&A

Author

Nick B

Bio

Nick was born in Norwich in 1974. A keen reader from a young age, he graduated from Enid Blyton to Douglas Hill and JRR Tolkien, and from there to Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton. After three years studying in Brighton, he travelled to Nepal where he worked at an orphanage and trekked to Mount Everest. After qualifying as a history teacher in 2000, he worked for five years in England before taking up a post at an international school in Warsaw.

Nick had completed a few screenplays and a futuristic thriller before being inspired to try historical fiction after reading C.J. Sansom’s Dissolution: “Researching the Roman army and life in the third century was a fascinating but time-consuming project and the book went through many drafts before arriving at its final form. I had always intended Cassius to be a somewhat atypical protagonist and when I came across the research about the Roman ‘secret service’, I knew I’d found an ideal vocation  for my reluctant hero.”

Recently, most of Nick’s spare time has been spent on the fourth Agent of Rome novel, but if he’s not writing he might be found at the cinema, in a pub or playing football.

Author web site

3_books_clear_background

Hi Nick, how are you? Thank you for taking some time away from your busy schedule to answer some questions.

Tell us about your series, and its characters?

My pleasure, Robin!

 The Agent of Rome series is set in the 3rd century AD and follows the adventures of reluctant imperial agent Cassius Corbulo, his ex-gladiator bodyguard Indavara and his Christian servant Simo. So far their travels have taken them to Syria, Cilicia, Rhodes and Africa.

Looking back at you as a writer, and why you became one… 

When and why did you begin writing?

I always liked creative writing as a child but my first real crack at it was after university. I was looking for a job and decided to try a screenplay. It was a contemporary thriller about two American assassins sent to kill each other. I got an agent in L.A. but unfortunately never sold it. Around the year 2000 I started a sci-fi project which again didn’t really get anywhere. I began the first Cassius book in 2005 and it took a long, long time to get right! As for why – I have always loved stories and it was probably inevitable that I would eventually try my hand.  

What inspired you to write your first book?

It’s hard to remember, to be honest. I think I just wanted to see if I could do it and I always have loads of ideas popping around in my head. Although the first two didn’t really get anywhere I learned a lot and proved to myself that I could get to the end of something. That’s the first hurdle really.

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

Not really, though I do try my best to capture something of the reality of the times. We can never really know of course but I research as much as I can to understand what life in the third century was like. My main goal is to create convincing, three-dimensional characters and place them in compelling, varied stories.

How much research is there involved in each book?

Quite a bit – I refer back to all the notes I’ve assembled over the past nine years and also get some new texts. Once I know the location I usually start with that – the geography, economy, political situation etc.; then I move on to what might have been going on there in the 270s. But it’s also the case that the books I’ve bought recently suggest story lines to me. For example, I read ‘Corruption and the Decline of Rome’ by Ramsey Macmullen in 2012 and it informed much of the plot of ‘The Far Shore.’

What books have most influenced your life?

I think anything I really rate probably affects my work in some way at some point. The writers who I’m very conscious of having influenced me include Ian Fleming, Tolkien, Tom Clancy and Michael Connelly. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is my favourite book and made me appreciate the importance of intriguing, compelling characters. Clancy I loved as a teenager and although he’s not everyone’s cup of tea I think the way he built his plots was fantastic. My dad introduced me to Bond at a young age and Fleming has ensured that I cannot write about a meal without describing exactly what was eaten!

Do you have any advice for budding writers?

I think the main thing is to enjoy the process because making a career out of it is not easy. I always say it’s important to have your story straight before you really commit because you can end up wasting a lot of time otherwise. I would also say try to read the type of thing you want to write and learn from it. What you really need is something you just cannot wait to write – without that type of commitment you’ll struggle to get anything done.  

Finally: Open forum, sell Far Shore to the readers…Why should they buy this book. (oh and what’s next?)

Well I hope it’s a novel that transports you back to the 3rd century and lands you in the middle of a mystery that then leads to a sea voyage and finally a confrontation between my heroes and an exceptionally nasty piece of work! It has been the most well-received of the books so far and there are certainly plenty of twists and turns.

 Next is ‘The Black Stone’ which finds Cassius and Indavara off to Arabia on the trail of a sacred rock. 

Agent of Rome

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Fiction, Nick Brown

Toby Clements: Kingmaker

Kingmaker: Toby Clements

Hardcover: 560 pages

Publisher: Century (10 April 2014)

Language: Unknown

Product Dimensions: 24 x 15.6 x 5.1 cm

KIngmaker

February, 1460: in the bitter dawn of a winter’s morning a young nun is caught outside her priory walls by a corrupt knight and his vicious retinue.

In the fight that follows, she is rescued by a young monk and the knight is defeated. But the consequences are far-reaching, and Thomas and Katherine are expelled from their religious Orders and forced to flee across a land caught in the throes of one of the most savage and bloody civil wars in history: the Wars of the Roses.

Their flight will take them across the NarrowSea to Calais where Thomas picks up his warbow, and trains alongside the Yorkist forces. Katherine, now dressed as a man, hones her talents for observation and healing both on and off the fields of battle. And all around them, friends and enemies fight and die as the future Yorkist monarch, Edward, Earl of March, and his adviser the Earl of Warwick, later to become known as the Kingmaker, prepare to do bloody battle.

Encompassing the battles of Northampton, Mortimer’s Cross and finally the great slaughter of Towton, this is war as experienced not by the highborn nobles of the land but by ordinary men and women who do their best just to stay alive. Filled with strong, sympathetic characters, this is a must-read series for all who like their fiction action-packed, heroic and utterly believable.

Review:

I have Ben Kane to thank for this fantastic read, When an author of his calibre posts about a book “‘Magnificent. An historical tour de force, revealing Clements to be a novelist every bit as good as Cornwell, Gregory or Iggulden. Kingmaker is the best book I’ve read this year ? by some margin.’ Ben Kane” You have to sit up and take notice.

What I didn’t expect was the scope and style of the book. Having just read excellent Stormbird by Conn Iggulden, set in roughly the same period, i had some expectations set for how a War of the Roses book should play out. Toby Clements took those expectations and stood them on their head. Instead of a book driven by the power houses of history, a book lit and led by the great and the powerful, Toby starts in a humble monastery/ nunnery,  and from their takes the reader on one of the most down to earth profound journeys I have been privileged to read in this genre. Thomas is a man living the life of a monk, a man with skills and education, but a man who finds out he has depths he had not explored, skills he didn’t expect to have or use, and that life is more than just the walls of a Monastery, and a people are more than they seem, life isn’t black and white, its many shades of grey.

Katherine, living in a nunnery, but slightly apart, a young woman with a missing past, and an uncertain future, one that isn’t helped by the continual abuse from her superiors.

One day, one event, one action changes both their lives, and slingshots them on a journey of exploration, self examination and adventure. But none of it is glorified, it is set at the coal face of life, and battle and history. Surrounded by the blood and butchery of every class of man, buffeted by the changing politics of the times and changed by the havoc of war, killing and death surrounding them. At 560 pages its not a small read, but I could have read 2060 pages and not been bored, is series has so much to offer and so much promise of more. As its a 2014 title it will not feature in my books of 2013, otherwise it would be winner of the top spot. The established order will need to work very hard to beat this in 2014.

Very highly recommended

(Parm)

Toby, thank you for a wonderful read and for allowing me to review it. Thank you also for agreeing to answer these questions

1: So who is Toby Clements? I am a journalist, I suppose, since that is the job I’ve held the longest – on the books pages of the Daily Telegraph – but it is only one of many that I have given up on because I’ve never really grasped the point of being good – by which I mean the best I can be – at anything other than writing. So I’ve never wanted to become a manager, or get on the board of a company, or become a partner, or run my own business, even if I had the talent to do so, which I probably don’t, since the only thing my heart has ever really been in, is writing. For most areas of my life my motto is “it’ll do” but for some reason I have always tried to write as well as I possibly can.

2: With the whole of recorded history at your disposal, why the War of the Roses?

Three things: the first was this book

vintage-ladybird-book-warwick-the-kingmaker-adventures-from-history-series-561-matt-hardback-1969-4902-p

I read it when I was about ten until it fell apart.

The second was this door:

tewkesburysacristy (1)

It is the Sacristy door at Tewkesbury Abbey, reinforced by strips of armour taken from remnants left after the battle there fought in 1471. After the battle the Lancastrian claimants to the throne were killed in the nave of the abbey, despite having claimed sanctuary, and the place had to be reconsecrated afterwards. I do not think you are allowed to touch the door now, but I was taken there on a school trip when I was about 12 and have never forgotten a sort of electric jolt I imagined I got when I touched it.

The third thing was – were? –  two great teachers – Colin Stoupe (English) and Hugh Fairey (History) – who knew what made boys tick, and could fire up weird and wild enthusiasms. It was they who took me to Tewksbury. Perhaps this Great Teacher thing is a bit of cliché, but it remains true, and I owe them a real debt of gratitude.

3.What led you to use the slant of the common man rather than picking one of the great men of history to follow? I am not sure. Possibly I started out reading everything I could about the Great and the Good – witness the Ladybird Book above – and I may have reacted against those early enthusiasms?  And I have come to dislike romantic takes on the period, especially if they involve any misunderstood brooding hero called Dickon who is constantly patting his horse’s muscular neck, which is a Wars of the Roses trope. Or then again the more I looked into the 15th Century, into the facts behind the dates as it were, the more impressed I became with the way in which the common man and woman just got by, against steep odds, and just kept on going.  Or, possibly, it reflects my own taste in life? I like scruffy things and scruffy people without that sense of self entitlement you have to have if you are going to be a proper medieval earl. I genuinely don’t think I would have liked the earl of Warwick if I’d met him as a man, or even William Hastings, whom I paint in a good light in my novel.  

4: What inspired you to write your first book? I had an image of the battle of Towton and how bloody awful it must have been to fight all day in the snow. I wondered what could have brought so many Englishmen from so far afield to come try to kill each other in such horrible ways. And their fathers would have fought shoulder to shoulder in France, remember.

5: What books and authors have most influenced your life most? When the Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith was the first “grown-up” book I read on my own and I remember thinking Woah! This is ace. Really salty. Few books have had such an impact since though I have at various times been an avid reader of Patrick O’Brian, Dorothy Dunnett, Elmore Leonard and Alan Furst. A mixed bag, as you see.

6: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? I like the element of compulsion here! Do you mean mentor as in who influenced me to write as I do? Or whom would I want help from in the future, like Louis on the X factor? If the first, then… Hmmm. I just don’t know. I am a magpie, like most writers I bet, and I know I have borrowed a bit from here and a bit from there, so I suppose it would have to be a very strange looking composite of Hilary Mantel and Bernard Cornwell, each rolling their eyes at the other. Bernard would be telling Hilary no one cares what he – Thomas – thinks and she would be telling him not to start another sentence with “and” or “because”. If you mean the latter, then I’d like my Louis to be Wilbur Smith, I think. Or Harold Robbins! Dead now of course, and a horrible man I’ve read, but he could tell a story, couldn’t he?  

7: What was the hardest part of writing your book? I find telling stories the most difficult thing. I am not a natural at it at all. Early drafts of this book were all “this happened and then that happened”, and though they all seemed plausible enough, I’d look at them and wonder why anyone would ever care if they had happened or not. Hence my call to Harold Robbins above. Though I am sure he would play very fast and loose with historical accuracy.

8: Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? I have many but at the moment I have to say it is Hilary Mantel. I love her sprawling yet meticulous characterisation, the way she gets around into different heads and makes their thoughts and actions totally compelling, totally plausible. Her use of research is fascinating, too. There is one paragraph in Wolf Hall when Thomas Cromwell wonders why Thomas Moore thinks he is evil, and he wonders if Moore thinks the Devil crept in to corrupt Cromwell with the hawthorn branches that were used to resuscitate the fire in the bread oven in the morning, or with the washing or something else I cannot now recall. In that short paragraph she gives you a brief, bright jewel like glimpse of what life must have been like for low status individuals nearly 500 years ago, but it is all about something else. What she does not do very well is huge battles though, involving men with long bows, and others smacking the crap out of one another with blunt instruments, so she still has some things to learn!

Many thanks and I hope the book is the utter success it deserves to be

(Parm)

4 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction, Toby Clements