Tag Archives: violence

Anthony Riches : Betrayal (The Centurions 1) Review

Anthony Riches UK flag

Anthony Riches's picture

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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Filed under Anthony Riches, Historical Fiction

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?

Buy the book

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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Sebastien De Castell : Knight’s Shadow (Review)

Sebastien De Castell's picture

Sebastien De Castell

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.

Sebastien lives in Vancouver, Canada with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats.

Knight’s Shadow (2015)

(The second book in the Greatcoats series)
A novel by Sebastien De Castell

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Buy the book from Goldsboro Books (signed Limited)

Falcio val Mond is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom and then began fighting among themselves.
The horrifying murder of a duke and his family sends Falcio in a deadly pursuit to capture the killer. But Falcio soon discovers his own life is in mortal danger from a poison administered as a final act of revenge by one of his deadliest enemies. As chaos and civil war begin to overtake the country, Falcio has precious little time left to stop those determined to destroy his homeland.

Greatcoat’s Lament is a dark swashbuckling tale of idealism and betrayal in a country crushed under the weight of its rulers’ corruption. It is the second book in the Greatcoat’s series that began with Traitor’s Blade.

Review

In 1844 Alexandre Dumas wrote the Three Musketeers, in 2014 / 2015 Sebastien de Castell wrote Traitors Blade and Knights Shadow. Never have I wanted to compare any book to The Three Musketeers, one of the stories I attribute to my love of history and my love of heroic fiction too, where I gained that love of seeing flawed heroes win over extreme odds.  I’m not sure even after all these years of reviewing I can adequately express how much I enjoy this series new series. But I will Start with something at the end of the book, the author acknowledges the boost provided to him from his publisher at a time when book two was holding all the terror a second book does, but I personally think also coupled with the success of book one, it must have been a daunting prospect.

I’m a firm believer in talent coming through no matter what it is your skill/ Talent is. In the case of Knights Shadow it comes through in spades, extra spades in the case of this second book, Traitors Blade (in my best of 2014 Blog) was a comfortable and splendid 384 pages, a tidy book for a debut, but book two Knights Shadow is an epic 624 pages, and it needs each and every one, by the end you are exhausted but still wanting more, and whatever Jo Fletcher said, well it worked a treat.

Our group of intrepid, very real and down to earth Greatcoats are once again in it up to their necks, book two continues directly from book one, the relentless pace is still there, but what comes to the fore in book two is the more of the soul of the great coats and what the Kings plan might have been. We have learned so much about Falcio, Kest and Brasti and we will learn more about the depths and drivers of the new arrivals but most of all we get to feel why our key characters are who they are.

Most especially Falcio, his journey in this book is chronicled covering every possible emotion. The author really puts this character to the test, yet as a reviewer who just hates spoilers I cannot give any insight except to say that coupled with the writers talent for writing dialogue, his situational and emotional awareness means that when reading this book you are right there experiencing all the pain , emotion and exhaustion that Falcio does. I was a wreck at the end of this book, and not just because I could not put the book down until the early hours. Sebastien De Castell manages to wring every heart wrenching moment and ounce of anticipation from every scene, his fight scenes contain dark humour, explosive action and a great awareness of the art of sword fighting, all of which has you hanging on the edge of every page. (there are also some truly laugh out loud moments in this book).

This really is an exceptional book and series, and I apologise for any additional pressure added to the author for book three and the very high expectation I have. This is going to be a very very hard book to topple from my number one spot for this year, whatever comes out this year this book is clearly going to be a stand out title.

 Buy the book, buy the series… you will not regret it.

 (Parm)

Series
Greatcoats
1. Traitor’s Blade (2014)
2. Knight’s Shadow (2015)
Traitor's BladeKnight's Shadow

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Sebastien De Castell

Christian Cameron Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade (review)

Christian Cameron

chris 1
USA (1962 – )

aka Miles Cameron, Gordon Kent

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

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice.

Part Three

(2013)
(The third book in the Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade series)

Part Three (2013)

Part nine of a fast-paced serialised novel set in the turbulent Europe of the fifteenth century.

Review

If you’re an author and you want to write a series of short stories, then this is the bench mark, this is how it is done, and done excellently. Anyone who follows this blog will be aware i’m a huge fan of this author. But that never colours my review of his work, if he ever produces a book that falls below the extremely high standards he sets himself then i will be first to call it out.

Tom Swan is the pinnacle of historical fiction writing for me, each episode/ novella a journey into fifteen century europe, a look behind the curtain of so many aspects of that time, a Donat of St John, a spy, a historian/ archaeologist, a lover and a fighter, Our hero Tom Swan is all these things and so much more. He is literally brought to life in book one and from that point onwards i have looked forward to the next tale, the next adventure. Adventures so real, so well researched and coupled with the authors own experience with swords and armour that you really feel like you are adventuring alongside Tom Swan.

This latest book allows yet more growth in Toms character, and all the supporting cast, and thats one of the true talents of Christian Cameron, that he brings all characters to life, there are no 2D characters. As usual there is an intricately woven plot, with plenty of devious machinations and superb visualisation of 15th Century Venice to add to the wonderful ongoing tale.

If ever some one is looking for the next “Perfect TV series” then this is the story to look at, The serial nature of the book gives this series a real HBO feel, but with the added depth and quality only a book can provide.

I say again… it gets no better… Highly recommended

(Parm)

Series
Tyrant
1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
TyrantStorm of ArrowsFuneral GamesKing of the Bosporus
Destroyer of CitiesForce of Kings
Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King
Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRome
RhodesChios
Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Part One (2013)
2. Part Two (2013)
3. Part Three (2013)
Part OnePart TwoPart Three
Novels
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
The Long Sword (2014)
Salamis (2015)
Washington and CaesarGod of WarThe Ill-Made KnightThe Long Sword

 

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Filed under Christian Cameron, Historical Fiction

Giles Kristian: The Terror (Review)

About the author:

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Family history (he is half Norwegian) and his storytelling hero, Bernard Cornwell, inspired Giles Kristian to write his first historical novels, the acclaimed and bestselling Raven Viking trilogy – Blood Eye, Sons of Thunder and Odin’s Wolves. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War.The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury follow the fortunes of a divided family against the complex and brutal backcloth of the conflict that tore this country apart and ended with the killing of a king. In his new novel – God of Vengeance – Giles returns to the world of the Vikings to tell of the origins of Sigurd and his celebrated fictional fellowship.

Giles lives in Leicestershire. To find out more, visit http://www.gileskristian.com

“I loved this. It’s for people who like their historical fiction high-octane . . .a superb, brutal story that pulls no punches” (ROBERT FABBRI)

 

The Terror:

terror

BUY THE BOOK  only 99p

An exclusive straight to digital short story which also includes the first chapter of Giles Kristian’s God of Vengeance

AD768, Avaldsnes, Norway

Jarl Harald’s mead hall thrums with life. His people have gathered to feast on meat and mead and listen to the old tales. But the village skald, with all his talk of heroes and kings, will have to wait his turn. It is Harald himself who will hold them all spellbound this night. For the jarl has his own story to tell: a tale of adventure and courage. Of honour and of how friendship can be forged in fire and quenched in blood.

It is a story of love, too.

And of The Terror.

Praise for Giles Kristian’s most recent novel, GOD OF VENGEANCE:

“Action-packed storytelling which stirs the blood and thrills the soul” (WILBUR SMITH)

“Unrelenting pace, brilliant action and characters. A masterwork.” (CONN IGGULDEN)

“A glorious, bloody, perfect Viking saga, rich with the poetry of the skald, ripe with blood and glory, vengeance and heartbreak. The characters stride from the page, alive, hungry, real . . . this is Viking writing at its very best” (MANDA SCOTT)

“This is the best kind of storytelling – a saga full of blood and thunder that grabs you and doesn’t let go until long after the final page is turned” (STEVEN PRESSFIELD)

Review

The Terror is a short story set in Giles Kristians fantastic retelling of 8th Century Norway, following the early exploits of our later (in the series) hero Sigurds, father Harald. A retelling of a tale from his youth, the rush or youthful desire and exuberance to win the ultimate prize, the woman he loves.

Giles is a master storyteller, in my other reivews, EG: God of Vengeance i have waxed lyrical about his skill with words and his deep knowledge and love of history. He is at heart a viking, longing to pull at the oars and stand in the shield wall, but more than that, i feel he would always have been a skáld.

The Terror while slotting nicely into the world of Sigurd and his farther, is a lot lighter than other work by Giles Kristian, and it should be, its a small book, a short story. In that story you need pack in a complete tale, start, middle and end and from what i have seen with short stories this is often harder to achieve than writing a full novel, brevity is also a skill. The beauty of this book is in how its just an everyday tale of young men doing daft things, but in the harsh world of the Norse 8th century, that can lead to deaths and injuries, also there is a real light hearted fun element to the story, bare arsed naked swimming, bits dangling in the chill laden breeze. Giles has fun with this story and yet delivers some more background to his Viking defining series.

I cannot in comparison give this 5 stars, because id be comparing it to GOD of Vengeance which deserves 10 / 5 its that good. but i can give it a good 4/5 and say go buy it. if you’re a fan then enjoy the return to the Norse saga, if you’re new, well use this to dip your toe, and then dive into the series.

Highly recommend

Parm

Watch a trailer for God of Vengeance

Look behind the scenes for God of Vengeance trailer

Series
Raven
1. Blood Eye (2009)
2. Sons of Thunder (2010)
3. Odin’s Wolves (2011)
Blood EyeSons of ThunderOdin's Wolves
Bleeding Land
1. The Bleeding Land (2012)
2. Brothers Fury (2013)
The Bleeding LandBrothers Fury
Novels
God of Vengeance (2014)
Wings of the Storm (2015)
God of Vengeance
Novellas
The Terror (2014)
The Terror

 

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Filed under Giles Kristian, Historical Fiction

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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Filed under Historical Fiction, S J A Turney

James Wilde: Wolves of New Rome (Review)

James Wilde

james w

James  is a Man of Mercia. Raised in a world of books, James studied economic history at university before travelling the world in search of adventure.
He was unable to forget a childhood encounter in the pages of a comic with the great English warrior, Here ward. Wilde returned to the haunted fenlands of Eastern England, Herewards ancestral home, where he became convinced that this legendary hero should be the subject of his first novel. Wilde now indulges his love of history and the high life in the home his family have owned for several generations, in the heart of a Mercian forest.

Visit author web site

Buy From Amazon

Buy From Goldsboro Books (signed)

Wolves of New Rome (2014)
(The fourth book in the Hereward series)

Hereward WONR

1072 – The great battle has been lost. King William stands victorious. And for the betrayed and abandoned English rebels, the price of their crushing defeat is cruel: exile.
Cut adrift from family, friends, home, their hopes of survival lie with one man, their leader Hereward. But can even that now-legendary hero navigate a safe course across a world torn by war? Their ultimate destination is the jewelled heart of the Christian emperor in the East, the New Rome – Byzantium. Here the English hope to find gold and glory by joining those pledged to protect the emperor, the elite and savage Varangian Guard. But this once-mighty empire is slipping into shadow. Beyond the vast walls, the endless Turkish hordes plan for an attack that could come at any moment. And within the sprawling city, rival factions threaten bloody mayhem as they scheme to seize the crown.

Here begins a new chapter in the stirring tale of England’s forgotten hero. But now the enemies are hidden, their methods bloodier, the battlefield and weapons unfamiliar and to stay alive in this cauldron of plot, betrayal and murder, Hereward and the English must fight as never before.

Review

Its that time of year again, Hereward is back and every year he gets better and better, the book and the writing at least, Poor Hereward himself seems to find himself in bigger and bigger sh!t every book. This book is no exception, its also not glorious trouble, its just the mad bad and crazy world of 1072, its a hard bitter world, life is cheap and its truly rules by those with power and money and the strength to hold it. Hereward and his crew have the will and the skill, but they don’t seem to have the luck to hold on, they have been battered by the winds of fate, by the sweeping plague that is the Norman conquest, a group of singularly nasty, single minded tough, uncompromising nation hell bent on conquest.

This the fourth book in the series see’s our group away from England and travelling to Constantinople, to join the fames Varangian Guard, somewhere they can be lauded for their prowess , gain wealth and start to mend the wounds or their lost home of England. Only fate has other plans, the grass isn’t greener, and their are worse people out there than Normans.

James Wilde is one of the nicest people i have met since i started going to reading events, signing etc, a truly generous chap, always willing to spend time and energy having a conversation and boosting confidence to “have a go” myself at writing, always appreciative of a nice comment about his books, and accepting of any criticism. With this book i have nothing but nice things to say. To say i was lost in the book, doesn’t do it justice. From first page to the last i was member of Herewards crew, i suffered every mile , every mishap and every setback, I was rewarded with the camaraderie of his men and belonged with them fighting my way to and in Constantinople. Thats the joy and experience of his books and writing, that you become part of the book. The only thing wrong is its an experience that ends too soon and then there is a year to wait for the next one.

So thank you James for one again giving me a unique, immersive truly historic experience.

(Parm)

 

Hereward
1. Hereward (2011)
aka The Time of the Wolf
2. The Devil’s Army (2012)
aka The Winter Warrior
3. End of Days (2013)
4. Wolves of New Rome (2014)
HerewardThe Devil's ArmyEnd of DaysWolves of New Rome
Also writes under the name  Mark Chadbourn

Novels

  • Underground (1992)
  • Nocturne (1994)
  • The Eternal (1996)
  • Scissorman (1997)

The Age of Misrule

  • World’s End (1999)
  • Darkest Hour (2000)
  • Always Forever (2001)

The Dark Age

  • The Devil in Green (2002)
  • The Queen of Sinister (2004)
  • The Hounds Of Avalon (2005)

Kingdom of the Serpent

  • Jack of Ravens (2006)
  • The Burning Man (2008)
  • Destroyer of Worlds (July 2009)

The Ghost Warrior

  • Lord of Silence (July 2009)

Swords of Albion

  • The Silver Skull (November 2009, UK (Title: “The Sword of Albion”: April 2010)
  • “The Scar-Crow Men” (February 2011, UK: April 2011)
  • The Devil’s Looking Glass (UK: April 2012, US: tbc)

Novellas

  • The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke(2002)
  • Dr Who: Wonderland (2003

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Filed under Historical Fiction, James Wilde

C C Humphreys: Plague (Review)

C C Humphreys

CC H

aka Chris Humphreys

Author Bio (and web site)

Book Description

Buy from Amazon

Buy from WH Smiths

Buy from Waterstones

Plague

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

(Parm)

Other Books

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

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

Miles Cameron: Fell Sword (review)

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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

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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?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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…… 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)

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Filed under Giles Kristian, Historical Fiction