The Gates of Troy by Glyn Iliffe

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A little about the author of this masterful series on Odysseus and The Trojan War.

I’d like to say my early years were spent in libraries and book shops, hungry for novels to feed the fires of my youthful imagination.  Instead I spent most of it playing with Action Men in the back garden, knocking a cricket ball around the green in front of my house or exploring the local countryside with my cousins.  I’d always enjoyed writing, though, and dreamed of being an author since primary school.  The dream became an ambition after I read The Lord of the Rings at the age of 12.  I tried my hand at a couple of novels in my teens and early twenties but, after getting nowhere, decided I lacked the experience necessary to write something of worth.  So, with £2,000 and a ticket to Bombay, I set off to explore the world.  India was a shock, but after a couple of weeks of homesickness I began to appreciate the fact I was on an adventure.  Six months and several countries later I returned to England a different man – experienced, confident and broke.

The need for money drove me to a job packing tampons in a factory.  It was quite a low after the highs of trekking the Himalayas and hitch-hiking across North America.  But as luck would have it my neighbour on the production line had recently graduated and persuaded me to get a university education (not that he was a great advert, considering he, too, was packing tampons!)  I’d seen the light, though, and after studying A-level English at night school and adding this to my other lacklustre qualifications managed to secure a place on an English and Classics degree course at Reading University.  Three glorious years followed in which I was sucked into a world of Homer, Hesiod, Euripedes, Ovid, Virgil, Milton, Spencer and a host of others, as well as enjoying all the other benefits life at university can provide.  But when the end came I found myself once more broke – indebted, even – and in another unhappy job (this time working in a call centre).

It was then I decided to return to my youthful ambition to be an author.  The old adage is “write what you know”, so having spent three years studying Greek mythology I decided on a series of books telling the story of Odysseus.  That was 1999, when there weren’t any current novels about the ancient world.  After a long and bumpy journey – see the truth about being an author – I got my lucky break and King of Ithaca hit the bookshelves in 2008.  It’s been a busy time since then, balancing a job, a family with two young (and demanding) daughters, and my love-hate relationship with writing.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

http://www.glyniliffe.com/

My Review

Once again I found myself completely immersed in the lives of the heroes and the machinations of the gods as the story progresses from book 1, King of Ithaca.  It is ten years later and Helen has been taken from Sparta; Odysseus is bound by an oath he suggested and so is obligated to fulfill his promise to Agamemnon.  During those 10 years he has watched Ithaca thrive; has had 10 years of bliss with Penelope; has had a son born; and has no desire to leave.  Eperitus, his friend and champion, on the other hand grows restless as he has an indomitable warrior’s heart and spirit and longs to make an everlasting name for himself on the battlefield.  These are just two of the examples of the turmoil and tension that permeates the pages of this book.

The author’s treatment of Agamemnon and the sacrifice of Iphigenia is masterful and includes some nice plot twists that add to the suspense.  I also enjoyed the ways in which Paris and Hector were portrayed…not the less than flattering Orlando Bloom edition nor the insular thinking Eric Bana version.  Instead we find an accomplished warrior in Paris and a Hector who longs to expand his kingdom at the expense of the Greeks.

This is a most enjoyable take on the events preceding the invasion complete with Olympian interference and prophecies.  My favorite take away from book 2 is that there are books 3 and 4 waiting for me.  I look forward to spending the next ’20 years’ with Odysseus.  4 of 5 stars(well more like 4.5)  🙂

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Guest post from Seumas Gallacher

Welcome to the first ever guest post to this ever growing, educational and enlightening blog.  My guest, the first ever by the way, is noted blogger and author Seumas Gallacher.  Welcome Seumas.

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Seumas Gallacher…Author Background

Seumas Gallacher was born in the cradle of the Govan shipyards in Glasgow in the so-called ‘bad old days’, which were really the greatest of days, where everybody was a true character of note.

An early career as a trainee banker led to a spell in London, where his pretence to be a missionary converting the English fell on deaf ears.

Escape to the Far East in 1980 opened up access to cultures and societies on a global scale, eventually bringing the realisation that the world is simply one large, extended village.

The lifelong desire to write resulted in THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, the first in a planned series. Seumas’ sequel novel, VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK was launched in early July 2012. The third, SAVAGE PAYBACK, was released in late 2013 with at least two other books to follow in the same vein. Ebook downloads on his novels exceed 70,000 to date.

Seumas lives in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

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…Authors…why bother doing a Blog?…

…yeez can slice and dice umpteen different approaches to maintaining a Blog… as a writer, the conventional wisdom tell yeez it helps to get yeez ‘presence’… well, I think there’s also as many definitions of ‘presence’ as yeez can think of… this ol’ Jurassic’s been scribbling away at this Blog thing for a coupla years now, and must confess the driving force for maintaining it has gradually changed… initially I knew as much about blogging as I did about Mexican knitting patterns or Persian Hieroglyphics… in pursuit of extending readership reach, the Blog was an addendum to the other SOSYAL NETWURKIN channels I dabble with… Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and LinkedIn… I laptop-tapped maybe twice a week, with no rhythm or purpose, no base, no direction… then a few things started to click, mentally, not just on the Mac… the content, which the cognoscenti will tell yeez is paramount, began to take shape… a regularity of style evolved… the crime thrillers lived in the novels, and that can be pretty heavy-duty violent stuff… and any quill-scraper knows it’s vital to have your ‘Author’s Voice’ in the books… I found the Blog forming into an intrinsically different kind of writing… much like cartoons cater to short-term attention from readers, so also, most Blogs attract the same probable eyeball time… ideally for me, anything between 300 and 400 WURDS is plenty, but that’s not set in stone… the Blog becomes the ‘Author’s Brand’… a brand is by definition recognizable… mine attempts to be the tongue-in-cheek, humorous, reflective flow of consciousness of a comparative newbie… an independent, self-publishing plume-pusher… an old f*rt from a separate career, stumbling through the maze that is the new-fangled reality called the Internet… and somehow coming out the other side, still bewildered, but surviving, hopefully successfully… populating the Blog occasionally are a couple of characters, Mabel, and Matron… Mabel is best described as an almost imaginary presence, somewhat akin to the invisible rabbit, Harvey, that the great actor James Stewart conversed with in the movie of the same name… that allows for ‘asides’ and commentary to flow… Matron is the character who keeps the writer in check occasionally by the administering of a huge syringe loaded with no-one quite knows what, and it’s impossible to tell whether or not she’s also a figment of the writer’s addled brain… the biggest change in the impact the Blog has on me is that it permits me to indulge another kind of writing from the novels, and doing it almost daily dictates a discipline I welcome… it now also connects automatically with all my other SOSYAL NETWURK linkages, hitting a possible 14,000+ readers for every Blog Post… and most importantly… IT’S FUN and I’m LUVVIN IT!

Blog                : seumasgallacher.com

Twitter                        : @seumasgallacher

Facebook         : http://www.facebook.com/seumasgallacher

Email               : seumasgallacher@yahoo.com

Amazon Links for SAVAGE PAYBACK

UK   http://amzn.to/1gTgJh0

US   http://amzn.to/16hKHci

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Hero of Rome by Douglas Jackson

When I mentioned on social networks that I was reading Hero of Rome by Douglas Jackson I was informed that I was going to love this book.  Well between the time I started it and finished it I had begun writing my own novel(my first)…the main reason it took me so long to finish Hero.  Normally I would have read a book this intriguing in a much shorter time frame but I needed to take time to get my efforts off the ground.  The biggest problem I have encountered while having both balls in the air is this; Douglas Jackson is masterful.  If I can be one-quarter as descriptive…if I can be one-tenth the character developer that he is, I will be a happy author.  He has written a book that draws you right into the hearts and minds of his characters, most especially the main character, Gaius Valerius Verrens.

The place is Britain prior to and then during Boudicca’s revolt.  Valerius is a Tribune assigned to Colonia, the town where the temple to Claudius was built.  He is due to return to Rome to begin his climb up the political ladder but finds himself instead in an impossible situation having to defend the town against a force of really ticked off British tribes that is at least ten times larger than what he has at his disposal.  The first part of the book deals with the politics and policies used by Rome to bring Britain into “civilization”.  Naturally some Roman officials are overly dismissive of these barbarians in their charge and that is the fuel that ignites the tinderbox that Boudicca fans into a full fledged bloody revolt.  The last part of the book, the revolt itself, is an edge of the seat, page turning brilliant example of great historical fiction writing.  When I finished I knew I would be reading the rest of the books in this series which I am told by my social network friends are even better than the first.  Oh my!

Future Confronted…

I know both Louise and Prue through ‘social networking’ and have enjoyed their company and conversations.

Prue Batten's Blog

I first met Louise Rule amongst a host of Roman fiction aficionados through my friend, writer SJA Turney. We had a shared interest in history and Louise was about to take a step into my world, the world of the indie writer. I didn’t know what she had been writing, what she planned to release and when I found out, it took my breath away.

Louise for book

Louise has written an account of her journey through the one thing we never want to experience as parents – the loss of a child. What makes this story even more poignant is that Louise, her family and her then 20 year old son, had exactly 49 days from the moment her son found out he was ill until the day he died.

I asked Louise if she would talk with me on the blog and she kindly agreed. Louise, welcome…

Thank you Prue, for…

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