Tag Archives: war

Anthony Riches Thunder of the Gods (2015) Review

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Anthony_Riches

About the author

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Description:

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

(Parm)

Series

Empire 

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

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Filed under Anthony Riches, Historical Fiction

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

2 Comments

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

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

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Filed under Christian Cameron, Historical Fiction

Joe Abercrombie: Half the World (Review)

About the Author

Author Web site

Joe Abercrombie was born in Lancaster, England, on the last day of 1974. He was educated at the stiflingly all-boy Lancaster Royal Grammar School, where he spent much of his time playing computer games, rolling dice, and drawing maps of places that don’t exist. He went on to Manchester University to study Psychology. The dice and the maps stopped, but the computer games continued. Having long dreamed of single-handedly redefining the fantasy genre, he started to write an epic trilogy based around the misadventures of thinking man’s barbarian Logen Ninefingers. The result was pompous toss, and swiftly abandoned.

The Author, Joe AbercrombieJoe then moved to London, lived in a stinking slum with two men on the borders of madness, and found work making tea for minimum wage at a TV Post-Production company. Two years later he left to become a freelance film editor, and has worked since on a dazzling selection of documentaries, awards shows, music videos, and concerts for artists ranging from Barry White to Coldplay.

This job gave him a great deal of time off, however, and gradually realising that he needed something more useful to do than playing computer games, in 2002 he sat down once again to write an epic fantasy trilogy based around the misadventures of thinking man’s barbarian Logen Ninefingers. This time, having learned not to take himself too seriously in the six years since the first effort, the results were a great deal more interesting.

With heroic help and support from his family the first volume, The Blade Itself, was completed in 2004. Following a heart-breaking trail of rejection at the hands of several of Britain’s foremost literary agencies, The First Lawtrilogy was snatched up by Gillian Redfearn of Gollancz in 2005 in a seven-figure deal (if you count the pence columns). A year later The Blade Itself was unleashed on an unsuspecting public. It now has publishers in thirteen countries.  The sequels, Before They are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings were published in 2007 and 2008, when Joe was a finalist for the John W. Campbell award for best new writer.  Best Served Cold, a standalone book set in the same world, was published in June 2009, and a second standalone, The Heroes, came in January 2011 and made no. 3 on the Sunday Times Hardcover Bestseller List.  A third standalone, Red Country, was both a Sunday Times and New York Times Hardcover Bestseller in October 2012.

The first part of his Shattered Sea series, Half a King, came out in July 2014, with the other two, Half the World, and Half a War, due to be published January and July 2015.

Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, his daughters Grace and Eve, and his son Teddy.  He spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels…

Half the World (2015) (The second book in the Half a King series)

Buy a signed copy

Half the world UK Half the World US

Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War.
Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named a murderer by the very man who trained her to kill.
Sometimes a woman becomes a warrior.
She finds herself caught up in the schemes of Father Yarvi, Gettland’s deeply cunning minister. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit.
Sometimes a warrior becomes a weapon.
Beside her on the journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill, a failure in his eyes and hers, but with one chance at redemption.
And weapons are made for one purpose.
Will Thorn forever be a pawn in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path?

Review

Book Two in Joe Abercrombie’s Half a World series, set not long after book one, Yarvi is Minister and is trying to work his deep cunning to keep the kingdom of Gettland safe. Yarvi isn’t the main focus of this book. Book two follows the plight of Thorn a female warrior, derided by her peers, daughter of a dead hero and determined to follow in his footsteps, that determination see’s her fall foul of her training master and pulled by oath into the orbit of Minister Yarvi and his cunning plots.

Hard as it seems i think Joe has out done Half a King with this latest book, book two is a similar story type, coming of age, the sudden growth from youth to adulthood, thrust into the forefront of politics and battle. The similarity is even there with the ship voyage providing the ever-changing backdrop for the growth. But it comes into its own with the growth of Thorn as a fighter, with Brand and his struggle with the morality of war. and all of it mixed up in the deep cunning shenanigans of Yarvi. Because of the authors skillful handling of author growth and creativity the similarities are all blended into something unique and mind-blowing. There is always the thought that you know where the plot is leading but not always why, and that there is so much more tantalizing at the edge of the plot, particularly regarding the elves and who they might have been wand what they left behind.

The book leads us half way across the world and back again, it leads to the High kings and his minister trying to destroy Gettland, and it leads to old enemies meeting on the battle field.

Once again its a surprise this is a young adult novel, but when you think back you can see that it is toned done , not overt in the death and violence, but the implication more than enough to make this a tense and dramatic tale, the characterisation and world building realistic enough to suck you in from page one and have you rowing at the oars with every page.

I highly recommend this series, and cannot wait for book three

(Parm)

Series

 

First Law
1. The Blade Itself (2006)
2. Before They Are Hanged (2007)
3. Last Argument Of Kings (2008)
The First Law Trilogy Boxed Set: The Blade Itself / Before They Are Hanged / Last Argument of Kings(omnibus) (2012)
The First Law Trilogy (omnibus) (2015)
The Blade ItselfBefore They Are HangedLast Argument Of KingsThe First Law Trilogy Boxed Set: The Blade Itself / Before They Are Hanged / Last Argument of Kings

 

First Law World
1. Best Served Cold (2009)
2. The Heroes (2011)
3. Red Country (2012)
The Great Leveller: Best Served Cold, The Heroes and Red Country, together in one omnibus volume (omnibus)(2015)
Best Served ColdThe HeroesRed Country

 

Half a King
1. Half a King (2014)
2. Half a World (2015)
3. Half a War (2015)
Half a KingHalf a World

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Filed under Fantasy, Joe Abercrombie

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.

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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

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

6 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction, S J A Turney

Simon Scarrow: Brothers in Blood (2014) (Book 13 in the Cato series)

author-photos

Simon Scarrow is a Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author. His bestsellers include his novels featuring Roman soldiers Macro and Cato, most recently THE BLOOD CROWS, PRAETORIAN and THE LEGION, as well as SWORD AND SCIMITAR, about the 1565 Siege of Malta, and four novels about the lives of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte. He is the author with T. J. Andrews of the bestselling ARENA, introducing the gladiator hero Pavo, and the new ebook novella series INVADER.

Simon’s novels have been published in the USA and in translation all around the world.

His latest novel is the 13th Cato and Macro adventure, BROTHERS IN BLOOD.

Author Web Site

Author Blog

Buy a special collectors Edition of the book

Brothers in Blood  (2014) (Book 13 in the Cato series)

A novel by Simon Scarrow

brothers in blood

The Roman Empire’s conquest of Britannia is under threat from within. Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro must uncover a traitor to prevent unthinkable defeat.

A messenger on the streets of Rome has been intercepted and tortured, revealing a plot to sabotage the Roman army’s campaign against Caratacus, commander of Britannia’s native tribes. A treacherous agent’s mission is to open a second front of attack against them and eliminate the two Roman soldiers who could stand in the way.

Unwarned, Cato and Macro are with the Roman army pursuing Caratacus and his men through the mountains of Britannia. Defeating Caratacus finally seems within their grasp. But the plot against the two heroes threatens not only their military goals but also their lives.

Review

I always like my reviews to be upfront and honest, so just for sake of clarity: I have been a fan of Simon Scarrow’s books since his first book 14 years ago. I have been lucky enough to consider Simon a friend and have (Centurion) Parmenion appear as a character in two of the Cato series (Eagle in the Sand and Centurion), that however should no way colour my review, each book on its merit.  As a fan of the series i had started to experience some concern with the Cato series around book 9 (Gladiator), I wasn’t a fan of the introduction of Julia as a character, she works well as a device in the background, a way to improve Cato’s position in Roman Society, but as a participant i always felt she diluted the plot, as such i have enjoyed her not being in the book. (sorry Simon)

I very much enjoyed book 12 and the introduction of the Blood Crows, a return to Britannia and a return to Macro and Cato being soldiers, working with their men within the twisted politics of the Roman world and army. Brothers in Blood is another continuation of that return to classic Macro and Cato. Our dynamic duo set to capture Caratacus, dangerous battles to be fought, The spies of Pallas to contend with and the ever present political shenanigans of the Roman army, the petty politics of the cursus honorum driving the behavior of so many of their peers.  As ever Simon manages to weave a splendid web of intrigue, making us guess at every turn who the Pallas may have put in their path, i like to think that knowing Simon and his books so well is why i guessed right, i think the reveal will come as a surprise to most. All in all the plot for this book is very well constructed, throwing plenty in the path of Macro and Cato, but always something the average good solider could deal with, there is no “Super Hero” here. Simons skill with this series is the down to earth soldier.

I do feel though that there is a lacking still in the books, we know Macro and Cato cannot die, they never really even suffer an injury to severe.  This is to be expected, many authors protect their Heroes,  But there are no characters surrounding them that grow with them, that you come to invest in and hope for survival, I have come to call all the supporting cast “Red Shirts” because like on a star trek mission you know they are going to get it, they are the cannon fodder, and to be honest, who really cares about them, we know nothing about them and have not grown with them or experienced their pain.  I feel with the introduction of the Blood Crows there is room to develop some supporting cast, some friends for both of the men. Macro and Cato are now set slightly apart in rank, so we could see the development of friendships in their own peer groups. A man who excels at this is Anthony Riches, there is a rich cast of many, and with every book he delights in keeping the reader on tenterhooks as to whom out of the cohort of friends he might kill. Its this that adds an extra depth and element of suspense and drama that is missing at the moment (at least for me) in the Cato books.

That aside this is a splendid 4/5 for me, i enjoyed it and look forward to the next book, Britannia gives Simon a very rich tapestry for Macro and Cato to explore with minimal interjection from the devious politics of Rome. There are so many more fights to come before they need to get back embroiled with Rome…and what will eventually be the Year of the four Emperors.

(Parm)

Series

Cato
1. Under the Eagle (2000)
2. The Eagle’s Conquest (2001)
3. When the Eagle Hunts (2002)
4. The Eagle and the Wolves (2003)
5. The Eagle’s Prey (2004)
6. The Eagle’s Prophecy (2005)
7. The Eagle in the Sand (2006)
aka The Zealot
8. Centurion (2007)
9. The Gladiator (2009)
10. The Legion (2010)
11. Praetorian (2011)
12. The Blood Crows (2013)
13. Brothers in Blood (2014)
Under the EagleThe Eagle's ConquestWhen the Eagle HuntsThe Eagle and the WolvesThe Eagle's PreyThe Eagle's ProphecyThe Eagle in the SandCenturionThe GladiatorThe LegionPraetorianThe Blood CrowsBrothers in Blood
Revolution
1. Young Bloods (2006)
2. The Generals (2007)
3. Fire and Sword (2007)
4. The Fields of Death (2010)
Young BloodsThe GeneralsFire and SwordThe Fields of Death
Gladiator
1. Fight for Freedom (2011)
2. Street Fighter (2012)
3. Son of Spartacus (2013)
4. Vengeance (2014)
Fight for FreedomStreet FighterSon of SpartacusVengeance
Roman Arena
1. Barbarian (2012)
2. Challenger (2012)
3. First Sword (2013)
4. Revenge (2013)
5. Champion (2013)
Arena (omnibus) (2013)
BarbarianChallengerFirst Sword Revenge Champion Arena
Invader
1. Death Beach (2014)
2. Blood Enemy (2014)
3. Dark Blade (2014)
4. Imperial Agent (2015)
5. Sacrifice (2015)
Death BeachBlood EnemyDark Blade
Novels
The Sword and the Scimitar (2012)
The Sword and the Scimitar

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Simon Scarrow

SJ Deas: The Royalist (Review)

Stephen Deas's picture

Stephen Deas

UK (1968 – )

aka Gavin Deas, S J Deas, Nathan Hawke

Stephen Deas is an engineer in the aerospace industry, working on communications and imaging technology in the defence sector. He is married with two children and lives near Writtle in Essex.

 
The Royalist

(2014)
(The first book in the William Falkland series)
A novel by S J Deas

Buy the book

royalist

William Falkland is a dead man.

A Royalist dragoon who fought against Parliament, he is currently awaiting execution at Newgate prison. Yet when he is led away from Newgate with a sack over his head, it is not the gallows to which they take him, but to Oliver Cromwell himself.

Cromwell has heard of Falkland’s reputation as an investigator and now more than ever he needs a man of conscience. His New Model Army are wintering in Devon but mysterious deaths are sweeping the camp and, in return for his freedom, Falkland is despatched to uncover the truth.

With few friends and a slew of enemies, Falkland soon learns there is a dark demon at work, one who won’t go down without a fight. But how can he protect the troops from such a monster and, more importantly, will he be able to protect himself?

Review

The Royalist is a historical mystery, but for me that is almost incidental to the reading of the book, i’m sure for some it may be detrimental, but the real talent of this book is something that the author excels at, in his Guise as Stephen Deas and Nathan Hawke.

Just like the Gallow series the author takes us on a tour of the darker side of war, rather than the Fog of war we get the Grime of War, all the much and horror, the cold and disease that many leave out of a tale. The tale its self is told (narrated) by William Falkland, a Royalist in the enemy camp, recruited by non other than Cromwell himself, taken from the hangman’s noose, to investigate a spate of suicides in his newly formed and trained New Model army, the hope of the parliamentary cause. There are no rose-tinted glasses in this tale, and for me that’s its brilliance, war isn’t pretty it isn’t clean and it doesn’t have absolutes its all shades of dirty grey. Why would a royalist agree to do this? well why would any man want to live? In the winter of the Civil War just existing and surviving is damn hard, let alone in the midst of a nation riven by war.

I take my hat off to the author for his ability and desire to portray all of this horror and dirt, but i echo my friend Kate in my view that the scale of the detail took from the mystery, but i honestly don’t know how you can give that much detail and darkness without consuming the attention of the reader from other parts of the tale.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Other Series

 

Memory of Flames
1. The Adamantine Palace (2009)
2. The King of the Crags (2010)
3. The Order of the Scales (2011)
The Adamantine PalaceThe King of the CragsThe Order of the Scales

 

Thief-Taker’s Apprentice
1. The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice (2010)
2. The Warlock’s Shadow (2011)
3. The King’s Assassin (2012)
The Thief-Taker's ApprenticeThe Warlock's ShadowThe King's Assassin

 

Silver Kings
1. The Black Mausoleum (2012)
2. Dragon Queen (2013)
3. The Splintered Gods (2014)
4. The Silver Kings (2015)
The Black MausoleumDragon QueenThe Splintered Gods
Series
Empires
Empires: Extraction (2014)
Empires: Infiltration (2014)
Empires: The First Battle (2014)
Empires: ExtractionEmpires: InfiltrationEmpires: The First Battle
 Series contributed to
Elite: Dangerous
1. Wanted (2014)
Wanted
Fateguard Trilogy
1. The Crimson Shield (2013)
2. Cold Redemption (2013)
3. The Last Bastion (2013)
Gallow (omnibus) (2014)
The Crimson ShieldCold RedemptionThe Last BastionGallow
Gallow
1. The Anvil (2015)
The Anvil

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Filed under Historical Fiction, SJ Deas

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

2014-07-19-ConnIggulden

Author web site

Bio (in the authors own words)

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

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

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

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

Conn Iggulden

Trinity

trinity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Praise for Stormbird:

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

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

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

‘A page-turning thriller’ Mail on Sunday

‘Superbly plotted and paced’ The Times

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

BUY A SIGNED COPY

Very Highly recommend this one

(Parm)

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

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Filed under Conn Iggulden, Historical Fiction

Douglas Jackson: Enemy of Rome (Review)

Doug

 

Biography of Douglas Jackson

Author web site

Douglas Jackson was born in Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders in the summer of 1956. Educated at Parkside Primary School and Jedburgh Grammar School, he left three weeks before his 16th birthday with six O levels and no idea what he was going to do with the rest of his life.

Fortunately, a friend worked in the local employment office and got him a place on a Youth Opportunities Scheme. It turned out to be restoring a Roman marching camp at Pennymuir in the Cheviot Hills and he had a wonderful summer turning turf and dreaming of Romans.

Obviously, he couldn’t do that for the rest of his life. He was good at English and had a voracious reading habit, and his dad pointed him towards an advert for a junior reporter with the local paper – and changed his life. The next 30-odd years were spent working in local and national newspapers before he sat down in 2005 to work on a ‘project’. After a year of writing on the train and whistling the theme to the Great Escape he finally reached The End, and the project became a book. That book was The Emperor’s Elephant, which, with a bit of help from Youwriteon.com, eventually became Caligula and Claudius. which were bought by Transworld for a ‘six figure sum’. When the publishers offered him a second deal to write three more books, he decided with the support of his family to try writing full time. He has now published five historical novels and two thrillers (as James Douglas), with a further five books in the pipeline

Doug now lives in Bridge of Allan, a lovely village on the doorstep of the Trossachs and is married to wife Alison. They have three children who never fail to make him terribly proud.

He enjoys watching rugby, and finds life at its most relaxing by the river with a fly fishing rod in my hand, although he seldom disturbs many fish.

Enemy of Rome (2014)

(The fifth book in the Gaius Valerius Verrens series)

enemy

Buy a Signed book

In the dry heat of an August morning Gaius Valerius Verrens wakes filthy and bearded and prepares for his last day on earth. Wrongly accused by enemies on his own side, Valerius is destined to die a coward’s death for deserting his legion on the field of Bedriacum. It is the summer of AD 89 and after a year of slaughter and turmoil the Empire remains trapped in the coils of a desperate, destructive civil war. Valerius’ old friend, Aulus Vitellius, victor in the decisive confrontation that left Otho’s armies shattered, sits uneasily on a golden throne in Rome, and his rival is dead by his own hand. But a new challenge arises in the East where Titus Flavius Vespasian has been declared Emperor by his legions. The only way Valerius can survive to reach Rome and be united with his lost love Domitia Longina Corbulo is to ally himself with Vitellius’ enemies. On the way he must battle through a maze of distrust, corruption, bloody conflict and betrayal, with as many perils behind as there are in front. A powerful enemy, a burning temple and divided loyalties all stand in his way, but the prize that awaits has never been more worthwhile.

Review

Doug Jackson, the quiet gentleman of historical fiction. With every book he takes his writing to a new level, the Gaius Valerius Verrens series being an interesting, clever and thrilling mix of story telling, blood and thunder battles, political intrigue and well thought out well written “real” characters.

The main character Verrens, with his almost stiff necked honesty and Roman honour that borders on the suicidal at times, needs a foil, someone to bounce off as a character in the plot, to keep him alive in the reality of the ancient Roman world and to keep the story honest. We get that with Serpentius, who im glad to say in this book is back to being a deadly (but mortal) ex-gladiator, those who read my review of Sword of Rome will remember i was worried that he was becoming a bit super human, but Doug has it perfect in this book, flawed, fallible, but highly skilled, emotional, but tightly wound and highly introspective, one of my favorite characters.

Others that i think Doug writes to perfection in this book; the brief glimpse of Pliny, Marcus Antonius Primus a man who could be an enemy, but is a bigger man. The brilliant emperor Vitellius, corpulent, cowardly, heroic, highly intelligent, and utterly doomed from the start. A character who steals chunks of the book. Given how well he has been written i long to see how Vespasian will grow into the next book.

All of this fantastic characterisation is portrayed in Douglas Jackson uniquely detailed yet fast paced style that lifts the reader from the first page, thrusts a Sword in one hand, a Shield in the other and slams you into the shield wall of Battle. But more than just swords and sandals it has you creeping and spying, exploring the motives and streets of Rome, there is simply no let up in this tale (or the entire series), Book 1 Hero of Rome still holds the best written scene in any book, with Verrens battling Boudicca, that writing skill and talent just grown and grows and will keep me coming back for more.

Highly Recommended (in the do not miss category)

(Parm)

Rufus
1. Caligula: The Tyranny of Rome (2008)
2. Claudius (2009)
Caligula: The Tyranny of RomeClaudius
 Gaius Valerius Verrens
1. Hero of Rome (2010)
2. Defender of Rome (2011)
3. Avenger of Rome (2012)
4. Sword of Rome (2013)
5. Enemy of Rome (2014)
Hero of RomeDefender of RomeAvenger of RomeSword of RomeEnemy of Rome
 Glen Savage mystery
War Games (2014)
War Games

As James Douglas

Jamie Saintclaire
1. The Doomsday Testament (2011)
2. The Isis Covenant (2012)
3. The Excalibur Codex (2013)
4. The Samurai Inheritance (2014)
The Doomsday TestamentThe Isis CovenantThe Excalibur CodexThe Samurai Inheritance

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Filed under Douglas Jackson, Historical Fiction