Leofwine has convinced his king to finally face his enemies in battle and won a great victory, but in the meantime, events have spiralled out of control elsewhere.
With the death of Olaf Tryggvason of Norway, England has lost an ally, and Leofwine has gained an enemy. And not just any enemy. Swein is the king of Denmark, and he has powerful resources at his fingertips.
In a unique position with the king, Leofwine is either honoured or disrespected. Yet, it is to Leofwine that the king turns to when an audacious attack is launched against the king’s mother and his children. But Leofwine’s successes only bring him more under the scrutiny of King Swein of Denmark, and his own enemies at the king’s court.
With an increase in Raider attacks, it is to Leofwine that the king turns once more. However, the king has grown impatient with his ealdorman, blaming him for Swein’s close scrutiny of the whole of England. Can Leofwine win another victory for his king, or does he risk losing all that he’s gained?
The Danish King’s Enemy is the second book in the epic Earls of Mercia series charting the last century of Early England, as seen through the eyes of Ealdorman Leofwine, the father of Earl Leofric, later the Earl of Mercia, and ally of Lady Elfrida, England’s first queen.
The Danish King’s Enemy is only 0.99 for a Limited Time Only.
I’m an author of fantasy (Viking age/dragon-themed) and historical fiction (Early English, Vikings and the British Isles as a whole before the Norman Conquest), born in the old Mercian kingdom at some point since AD1066.
The ground level truth of the most massive and brutal battle of World War II. It begins with: “Sacrifice. Slaughter Stupidity.”
I’ve been a student of history all of my life. From the kitchen table talks with my Dad about WW2 & Korea to majoring in ancient history in college, I’ve always been keen on reading books that buck the trend of the whitewashed, text book, winners write the history ilk. The Mules of Monte Cassino certainly qualifies as trend bucking as the author presents a sardonic look at an unfathomable set of military decisions in southern Italy. Decisions based on ego and distrust of one’s allies resulting in thousands of needless deaths and the destruction of the famous Benedictine monastery. Powerfully descriptive, the author leaves nothing to the imagination as he follows the ‘mules’ across impassable rivers, boot sucking mud, precision artillery & sniper fire from the defenders; not once, but four times. While I don’t enjoy reading about the repeated stupidity of the human race throughout history, it is after all rather hard to avoid, I do enjoy reading creative narratives. Mules certainly has that. Written in a Vonnegut-like fashion, the tongue in cheek attitudes of the narrator and two participants in the battles are an absolutely delightful breath of fresh air. It’s books like this that should be taught; a little irreverent, but certainly more honest than typical text books or the recently released (and subsequently shutdown by a new administration) 1776 Commission Report. So, my fellow seekers of historical truth, The Mules of Monte Cassino is the non-fiction version of Slaughterhouse Five and Catch-22, and is well worth your reading time. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
What makes life worth living for a slave of Rome? The promise of vengeance, no matter how long it takes… At eight years old, Lucia is torn from the life she knew. Her village burned to the ground and parents murdered by Romans, she is kidnapped, sold and shipped abroad to the Villa Tempestatis in Britannia to serve the young Roman army officer Castus. Faced with a bleak future of decades of servitude to her master, as well as sadistic brutality at the hands of his manageress, Paltucca, she finds herself fixated by one thought alone: vengeance. Yet Villa Tempestatis, with its picturesque surroundings in Britannia’s green countryside, offers a life that’s a little easier than elsewhere in the Roman empire. The slaves form strong bonds of love and friendship, enjoy feasts and holiday celebrations together, and are even allowed, sometimes, to start a family. Many of them are happy enough with their lot. Despite that, every moment of Lucia’s life is blighted by her hatred for Castus and Paltucca, and only seeing them both destroyed will bring her a measure of peace, even if it takes decades of work and planning… This standalone novel from the bestselling author of The Druid tells the tale of one woman’s life against a richly woven backdrop of love and hate, revenge and redemption, and is quite unique in modern fiction.
A tale that brings out all that is evil about slavery. A tale that highlights the range of emotions; the defeated acquiescence, the fear of reprisal for any mistake, for some the never relenting urge for revenge. The author presents what life was like on a large Roman estate. One that was totally dependent on slave labor; the need for harsh discipline, and for absolute obedience was a slaves daily existence. It is an emotional journey in the life of Lucia; a journey that twists, a journey with surprises, and setbacks; yet one that she follows with one goal in mind no matter the changes in the pathway. Lucia is a departure from the author’s usual subject matter of Druids and Forest Lords, but he has maintained his story weaving skills producing another page turning tale. 4⭐⭐⭐⭐
Marcus, a slave in the household of Lucius Coelius Felix, enjoys a better life than most slaves (and many free citizens) as the secretary and accountant of a wealthy aristocrat. His master is rising in the civic life of the Roman colony of Antioch-near-Pisidia (central Turkey), and his responsibilities and income are growing as well. If this continues, he could soon earn enough to buy his freedom, set up a small business, and even marry.
Then misfortune strikes, and his master falls into a deep depression that is exacerbated by a nagging illness that his physician is unable to cure. The future looks bleak until the physician receives a dream from the healing god Asklepios calling Lucius to travel hundreds of miles across western Asia Minor to his sanctuary at Pergamon for treatment and, he hopes, a cure.
Accompanied by Marcus and his new wife Selena, Lucius embarks on a long and eventful journey in which both master and slave encounter people and ideas that challenge long-held beliefs about themselves, their society, and the world around them. Values are questioned, loyalties tested, and identities transformed in a story that brings to life a corner of the Roman empire that has been neglected by previous storytellers.
After a lengthy and eventful stay at the sanctuary of Asklepios in Pergamon, the time has come for Lucius and Marcus to return to Antioch. Selena had been sent home earlier when Lucius learned that she was pregnant, and the impending arrival of the winter snows could soon make it impossible for them to reach their destination before the child is born.
To Marcus’s surprise, Lucius announces that he plans to stop for a while in Hierapolis to bask in the healing waters of the city’s renowned hot springs. Here Marcus meets a young woman named Miriam who challenges him to embrace his long-hidden Jewish ancestry. Marcus is torn between his budding love for Miriam and the cost of heeding her advice.
A tragic decision by Lucius seals their fate, as their full attention must now be devoted to preserving Lucius’s life. They reach Antioch in time to learn that Lucius’s son Gaius has failed miserably in his management of the household while his father was away. If Lucius should die, Marcus, Selena, and her unborn child will be at the mercy of this tyrant. To fend off this danger, Lucius must tell Marcus the full truth about his past, a truth that will ensure Marcus’s future at the cost of his master’s honor. Can he bring himself to act before his inevitable end?
Praise for A Rooster for Asklepios and A Bull For Pluto
This compelling and enjoyable story offers the reader a superb ‘insider’ view of life in the first-century Greco-Roman world. I enjoyed traipsing around Anatolia with Lucius and Marcus!” -Dr. Terence Donaldson, Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament, Wycliffe College, Canada
“The realism of this story reflects the author’s deep first-hand knowledge of the landscape and culture where the narrative takes place.” -Dr. Mark Wilson, Director, Asia Minor Research Center, Antalya, Turkey
“This well-researched book really brings the Roman world to life!” -Dr. Alanna Nobbs, Professor of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Australia
“The amount of research, imagination, and effort involved in crafting this story earned my admiration, and stirred my curiosity, too.” Dr. Mark Nanos, Lecturer, University of Kansas, USA
Christopher D. Stanley
CHRISTOPHER D. STANLEY is a professor at St. Bonaventure University who studies the social and religious history of the Greco-Roman world, with special attention to early Christianity and Judaism. He has written or edited six books and dozens of professional articles on the subject and presents papers regularly at conferences around the world. The trilogy A Slave’s Story, which grew out of his historical research on first-century Asia Minor, is his first work of fiction. He is currently working on an academic book that explores healing practices in the Greco-Roman world, a subject that plays a vital role in this series.
They sent three hundred warriors to kill one man. It wasn’t enough.
Mercia lies broken but not beaten, her alliance with Wessex in tatters.
Coelwulf, a fierce and bloody warrior, hears whispers that Mercia has been betrayed from his home in the west. He fears no man, especially not the Vikings sent to hunt him down.
To discover the truth of the rumours he hears, Coelwulf must travel to the heart of Mercia, and what he finds there will determine the fate of Mercia, as well as his own.
When I got the request to read and review The Last King, I accepted immediately. I’ve read a few of this author’s prodigious portfolio of early Britain prose, and she has found my weakness, or perhaps my longing, for tales of this time period. The immediacy of my response, however, did have the side effect of being given January 11 as my posting date for the tour, which as it turns out, is the kickoff date. No pressure whatsoever for this humble scribbler of reviews and novels. So, without further ado, or prattling, I welcome one and all to The Last King Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour.
Well now, that is one badass group of warriors. The raiders sent 300 to get him, hah, even Leonidas and his 300 Spartans would have succumbed to Coelwulf and his warband. An intense series of encounters with Raider bands are the highlights of this action packed saga. A warrior without equal, a man with fierce loyalties to his men, a leader reluctant to assume the title king; Coelwulf is dedicated to one thing – protecting Mercia, no matter the overwhelming odds against his success. The Raiders, no longer content with hit and run tactics are, under the leadership of Halfdan and Guthrum, looking to stay, and only Coelwulf stands in their way. The process of Coelwulf coming to terms with this savior role, and the prospect of being chosen King of Mercia, is deftly portrayed by the author, as are the men of his warband. All of them deadly killers, but each with their own personalities, though it will become apparent that they all share the same all purpose expletive. If you are familiar with The Big Lebowski, there is a scene where The Stranger asks The Dude, “Do you have to use so many cuss words?” The Dude’s response is undoubtedly the same one that would be uttered by Coelwulf, or any of his men for that matter, “What the fuck are you talking about?” 😊 Yes, my fellow readers, this is a tale of cunning, bravery, loyalty, and of a man finding his destiny, however reluctantly. A page turning, thrilling delight awaits. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the Author
I’m an author of fantasy (Viking age/dragon-themed) and historical fiction (Early English, Vikings and the British Isles as a whole before the Norman Conquest). I was born in the old Mercian kingdom at some point since 1066. Raised in the shadow of a strange little building, told from a very young age that it housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia and that our garden was littered with old pieces of pottery from a long-ago battle, it’s little wonder that my curiosity in Early England ran riot. I can only blame my parents!
I write A LOT. You’ve been warned!
Not sure where to start your journey through Early England? Here are some pointers.
If you like action-adventure, with a heavy dose of violence, foul language and good old camaraderie – The Ninth Century series is for you, starting with The Last King, or The Seventh Century, starting with Pagan Warrior, has a little more politics to go with the set-piece battles.
If you like stories about the forgotten women of history, then the Tenth Century series, starting with The Lady of Mercia’s Daughter, is a good place to begin. Or, The First Queen of England, with a little more romance.
If you’re interested in the last century of Early England (before 1066) then The Earls of Mercia series is for you.
If you want to read it all, then you can read in chronological order, or mix it up. The series weren’t written in chronological order.
AD 58: Rome is in turmoil once more. Emperor Nero has set his heart on a new wife but to clear a path for her, he must first assassinate his Empress, Claudia Octavia. Vespasian needs to tread carefully here—Nero’s new lover, Poppaea Sabina, is no friend of his and her ascent to power spells danger. Meanwhile, Nero’s extravagance has reached new heights, triggering a growing financial crisis in Britannia. Vespasian is sent to Londinium to rescue the situation, only to become embroiled in a deadly rebellion, one that threatens to destroy Britannia and de-stabilize the empire.
As this book has been out for a while, and has garnered enough reviews that it’s safe to assume all angles have been covered. Thus I will keep this short…damnation, what a tale. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Treachery amid the dark menace and magic of the German wilderness. SPRING, 38 AD. Far from the intrigues of Caligula’s Rome, the legion fortress of Carnuntum stands alone against the forested wilderness across the Danube River.
Ex-Army tribune Marcus Carinna waits nearby for his beloved, the Germanic priestess Aurima. Stunned by treason in his family, he sees one hope of earning back his honor: to recover a lost legion’s sacred Eagle captured by rebels. He needs Aurima’s help to succeed — but after promising months ago to win the support of her chieftain father, a brutal enemy of Rome, she still hasn’t returned.
When an imperial spymaster recruits him for a secret mission among the hostile German tribes, Marcus jumps at the excuse to search for her. But as his troops slog along the rutted track of the Amber Road, he will discover that he is not out of reach of his enemies’ vengeance — and that saving the woman he loves is going to demand more heart and will than he knew he possessed.
If you enjoy good historical fiction — rich, meaty novels that immerse you in another time, peopled with characters you truly care about — you’re the kind of reader likely to love AMBER ROAD, the second installment in the epic saga of Roma Amor.
An emotionally charged tale to say the least, my fellow readers. While there are many characters involved in this tale of honor, loyalty, and above all; love, the range and depth of feelings, and passions of Aquilo (Marcus) and Aurima are what makes this sequel to Roma Amor such a pleasure to read. Mind you, that’s not the only reason, the underlying plot to reunite Aquilo and Aurima is chock full of excitement. Excitement in the sense that occasional pauses are required to take a breath, or to exclaim, “I didn’t see that coming!” Like the forest encased, and unnerving Amber Road, the pathway of this story is shrouded in surprises, urging the reader to tread further into the shadowy confines. A tale of personal anguish, trials, and fleeting joy, but also a tale of the ongoing dance of tension between Rome and the Germanic tribes who call that forest their home.
WAR AND BLOODFEUD 1056…England lurches towards war as the rebellious Lord Alfgar plots against the indolent King Edward. Sussex thegn, Wulfhere, must defy both his lord, Harold Godwinson, and his bitter enemy, Helghi, to protect his beloved daughter. As the shadow of war stretches across the land, a more personal battle rages at home, and when it follows him into battle, he knows he must keep his wits about him more than ever, and COURAGE AND FEAR MUST BECOME HIS ARMOUR…
It seems that just about everyone wanted to rule England…the French, the Godwins, Edward and his heirs, the Danes. It also seems that anything that could go wrong for Wulfhere does go wrong. In the revised sequel to Sons of the Wolf, the author pulls out all the stops, and delivers a scintillating run up to the cataclysmic events coming in 1066. Wulfhere is a prime example of the range of emotions the author uses to bring the reader into the mindsets of the main, and bit players in this chaotic, uncertain time. A champion fighter, respected thegn and loyal servant to the King, Wulfhere endures much turmoil and suffering, and has to dig deep to survive everything thrown at him. The author also gives the reader a penetrating glimpse of the dance between the parties vying for power; be it the throne of England or the Earldom of Mercia. Duplicity, underhanded dealings, and the pragmatic approach to the politics of the day are dealt with in an informative and entertaining fashion. A page turning delight awaits, dear reader. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
A life and death struggle for control of the skies
Claire Lamb believes she is as good as any man and being a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force gives her the opportunity to prove it. Harry Smith joins the Royal Air Force because he wants to fly. Frank Trent, an American pilot, risks prison to join the fight against Nazi Germany.
When Hitler invades Poland, he begins a conflict which eventually engulfs the whole world. Within eight months his army and air force conquer most of Europe.
Only one adversary remains. Great Britain, led by Winston Churchill, refuses to surrender. Yet people fear that, in the coming weeks, the German Luftwaffe will bomb British cities to rubble and strew the country with poison gas.
Worse yet. A huge German army prepares to cross the English Channel to conquer its last remaining enemy. One foe stands in their way. The Royal Air Force remains defiant. Hitler is reluctant to attempt an invasion while the RAF controls the skies above England. He unleashes the hitherto all-conquering Luftwaffe against it.
Throughout the summer and autumn of 1940, three thousand RAF pilots, the men Churchill called the Few, fight a grim life and death struggle for command of the skies. They are supported by the courageous and unstinting effort of thousands of others, many of them women.
The Battle of Britain will decide the fate of the world.
A thoroughly enjoyable tale that brings to life the phenomenal effort by the British RAF to deny Hitler the chance to even try an invasion. The lives of the men and women who met the challenge is the focus of the story, and the author has brought to life an amazing group of characters. The full gamut of emotions on display make them all the more believable, all the more down to earth, as they deal with the stress, the fears, the loss of friends and loved ones. It is an amazing display of courage and determination, a never wavering faith in their abilities. One incident that made me chuckle, despite the seriousness of the situation, was Officer Claire Lamb chastising Winston Churchill when he was about to light up a cigar in the bunker/plotting room. It seemed like a classic Churchill moment, flustered and amazed at the temerity of this person ordering him about, and his meek acquiescence. That’s just one example of the wonderful byplay between these courageous defenders of Britain’s skies. Tis an excellent read, a page turner for certain, and a glimpse at a historical event that changed the course of the war. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Lindisfarne, AD793. The life of a novice monk will be changed forever when the Vikings attack in a new historical adventure from Matthew Harffy.
There had been portents – famine, whirlwinds, lightning from clear skies, serpents seen flying through the air. But when the raiders came, no one was prepared.
They came from the North, their dragon-prowed longships gliding out of the dawn mist as they descended on the kingdom’s most sacred site.
It is 8th June AD793, and with the pillage of the monastery on Lindisfarne, the Viking Age has begun.
While his fellow monks flee before the Norse onslaught, one young novice stands his ground. He has been taught to turn the other cheek, but faced with the slaughter of his brothers and the pagan desecration of his church, forgiveness is impossible.
Hunlaf soon learns that there is a time for faith and prayer… and there is a time for swords.
A riveting tale of coming to grips with life altering changes. A life of contemplation and learning suddenly rendered moot with the thrust of a seax. In yet another startling story of the brutal 8th century, the author has given this new cast of characters the same diligent attention to detail and development. An amalgamation of unlikely allies bonding together; an emotionally charged internal battle as Hunlaf moves farther from his life as a monk and closer to becoming a warrior, a storyline that leaves the reader guessing as to what’s going to happen next. And extra points for getting in a mention of Beobrand. 😊 And even more extra points because this tale is just a beginning. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Matthew Harffy grew up in Northumberland where the rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline had a huge impact on him. He now lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.