Legionary – Empire of Shades by Gordon Doherty

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The Legionary series, has become one of my favorites over the years, and am happy to report that Empire of Shades carries on the tradition of crafty storytelling that we’ve grown to expect from Mr. Doherty.  The masterful interweaving of the multiple plot lines throughout the tale are sure to keep the reader engaged and turning pages.  Pavo and the rest of his gang are really put to the test in many ways and many times in this many layered thriller.  Pavo reaches a new depth of character as he pursues a promise made to his friend and mentor, Gallus.  He also finds love again and that experience leaves it’s mark.  Set against the backdrop of Theodosius taking the mantle of Emperor of the East and the unsettling shenanigans of Gratian, the Emperor of the West, Mr. Doherty leads us on a brutal adventure during a time of great migrations and a changing world.  4.7 stars

The Bear and the Wolf by Ruth Downie & S.J.A. Turney

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Life north of Hadrian’s Wall was tough enough for the tribes who lived there without having to deal with the cruelties of the Emperor’s son and his equally cruel Numidian cavalry.  In this short, what if tale, a Roman auxiliary, from a tribe that is loyal to Rome and his wife, whose tribe is on the brink of rebellion come face to face with Caracalla and his prized cavalry unit.  It is an exciting story of divided loyalties stretched to their limits in the pursuit of peace with Rome.  The duo of Downie and Turney combine their talents and their expertise in things Briton and Roman and give us a glimpse of life on that tumultuous frontier and though the story is fictional, it is one that is totally believable, and that is testament to the authors’ creative abilities.  4.2 stars

The Reaper’s Breath by Robert Southworth

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Stepping outside my usual reading habits I decided to take on a mystery-thriller story.  I was pretty confident that the author would have penned an entertaining piece as I have read his Spartacus series and enjoyed that.  Not only a different genre, but also a quite different subject awaited me as I read The Reaper’s Breath, as I know next to nothing about the nightmarish exploits of Jack the Ripper.  What I found was a nerve-wrangling, page turning tale that was not only entertaining but a delight to read.  The author shows his creative side as he takes the reader on a roller coaster ride through the teeming underbelly of London.  Wonderfully crafted with great characters, plot twists, and descriptive enough to have the sights and smells of an industrial city come oozing out of the pages.  I enjoyed the way the author took a well known tale and was able to concoct a different telling; one that kept me guessing throughout.  4.7 stars

 

I was able to sit down and with and interview the author – well sort of as he’s on one side of The Pond and I’m on  the other.  Thanks Robert for taking the time for a few questions.

Interview with Robert Southworth

  1. Reaper’s Breath is a bit of a departure from your series on Spartacus. Was it difficult to make such a drastic switch in time and place?

Answer =Not really I have always had an interest in the Ripper murders, and the impact the crimes had on the populace of London.  I am fortunate that when it comes to things historical I am not restricted to one or two eras. The important thing for me was to be able to take the story in another direction. I didn’t want to produce another standard Ripper novel.

  1. What drew you to write about “The Ripper”?

Answer = I love to find subjects that are well known but actual facts are scarce. I believe it allows the author to be wonderfully creative and gives the readers something a little different.

  1. How is book two of The Ripper Legacies coming along?

Answer = The first draft is complete and is currently with the editor, after that I will make changes and it will go for its final edit.

  1. What does Robert Southworth do when he’s not writing?

Answer = I have a young family and I also care for a disabled parent. That aside, I market my books where possible but that is a part of the business that I do not enjoy. It is also very expensive in terms of money and time.

  1. Who does Robert Southworth enjoy reading?

Answer = Traditional authors such as Terry Pratchett, Simon Scarrow and James McGee but recently my tastes buds have feasted on delicious indy authors such as Paula Lofting, Robert Bayliss, Jeanette Taylor Ford, Kevin Ashman and many more…

  1. We’ve heard rumors of an exciting new project…care to let us in on it?

Answer = In keeping with taking legend, myth or factual personalities clouded in mist, from the past. I am going to be taking the Homeric poems and giving them a gritty update. I will attempt to show the politics of the time and offer differing reasons for war and the consequences of the fall of Troy. Im hoping that this book will show a different side to my writing…but I suppose only the reader will testify to my success.

 

 

Roma Amor by Sherry Christie

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Whenever I think of Caligula, I see John Hurt’s I,Claudius portrayal, one of a madman ruling an empire.  In Roma Amor, we find a different Caligula, one who is still working out how to be Emperor while trying to keep at bay the tormenting demons in his mind.  This story, while it is certainly about Caligula, is more than that.  Marcus Carinna returns to Rome, a successful military campaign completed and hostages in tow and finds himself in a struggle to find the truth about his family and the truth behind Caligula’s rise to power.  It is also a tale of loyalties, mostly misspent loyalties, to the greater good of Rome.  I found it easy to like Carinna and likewise felt the pain and anguish he experiences throughout the book.  Indeed, that is one of the strengths of the story, that the characters, real and fictitious, are believable; no matter their station or role.  The plots and subplots keep the reader guessing as Carinna and Caligula head into a clash of wills; a clash that an emperor usually wins…but I will leave it at that.  3.8 stars

The Blood Crows by Simon Scarrow

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The duo of Cato and Macro once again are in the middle of a mess; this time in Britannia fighting against the formidable leader, Caratacus.  Of course, that isn’t enough for the author as there is also the challenge presented by a rogue centurion and his fellow Thracian auxiliary cohort.  A robust, heart pounding tale of bravery and steadfast loyalty awaits the reader in this 12th episode in the series.   Life was hard at these frontier outposts and the author excels at bringing those hardships to life.  It is also a continued strengthening of the bond between Cato and Macro despite that Cato now outranks his friend and mentor.  4.3 stars

Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage

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With the deposing of Edward II, the ruler over England is now Edward III, though he is ruled by his mother Queen Isabella and her lover, the formidable Lord Mortimer.  Adam now serves the young King, his loyalty is resolute even though he still harbors great affection for Mortimer.  In this, the third tale of Adam and his wife Kit, the author brings to life the increasing tension in the royal court as Edward III comes of an age where he longs to shed his keepers and take up the mantle of kingship on his own.  It is a story filled with twists and turns; the emotional frailties of the human spirit; the battle for control of the crown; the longing for home and loved ones.  It is also a story of love and romance; Isabella and Mortimer, Edward and his young wife Phillipa, and most especially between Adam and Kit.  The author is on her game when it comes to the foibles and joys of the bonds of love.  An eloquent, page turning drama awaits the reader, though I must admit to having to stop turning pages when Kit and Adam are – well you’ll see for yourself.  🙂  I’ve come to appreciate the amazing talent Anna Belfrage has exhibited in drawing me into the stories she writes, and Under the Approaching Dark is another fine example of that talent.  5 stars

Book Review: Clash of Empires – The Mallory Saga by Paul Bennett #RBRT #historical fiction #family saga

A wonderful review..I am chuffed.

SaylingAway

I chose to read this book for Rosie’s book review team because my knowledge of the French and Indian Wars is limited to what I learned reading The Last of the Mohegans by James Fennimore Cooper and Northwest Passage by a Maine author I revere: Kenneth Roberts. I hoped to increase my knowledge with Clash of Empires and the book did not disappoint.

This first book, The Mallory Saga, is modestly described as follow: “In 1750, the Mallory family moved to the western Pennsylvania frontier, seeking a home and a future. Clash of Empires reveals the harrowing experiences of a colonial family drawn into the seven-year conflict between the British and French for control of the continent – the French and Indian War.”

What an understatement this blurb is! The book is so much more, populated by three-dimensional characters, embedded in a story that has you on the edge of…

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