Douglas Jackson’s Sword of Rome

A marvelous review..can’t wait to read it.

S.J.A.Turney's Books & More

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It is criminal that it’s taken me so long to read ‘Sword of Rome’. Particularly given that Doug Jackson’s books are some of the literary highlights of my year. However, events conspired to keep it from me. What that meant was that during that dark and miserable time following New Year, at least I had a book to read which I was confident would be a belter!

I was so right. The Valerius Verrens series is one of the strongest historical series on sale at the moment of ANY era, let alone just the Roman. The first book (Hero of Rome) was one of the best I have ever read, and certainly concerned one of the most tense and memorable scenes of any novel. The sequel (Defender) was a strong contender and surprisingly successful, given the dark content and the controversial subject matter. Then along came book 3 (Avenger) and…

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No Roads Lead to Rome – R.S. Gompertz

Another hilarious jaunt through the garden spot of Hispania, the city of Tarraco. I say another as I read the second book in the series,Aqueduct to Nowhere, first. The governor has been murdered and his replacement has arrived and in trying to impose his style of governing finds to his dismay that he is handcuffed by corporate entities that really run things(sound familiar?). Severus,one of the main characters, is thrown from his home during a fit of proscription and ends up a conscript legionnaire. His commanding officer is Centurion Marcus Valerius a twenty year veteran who only wants to retire and collect his pension. The city is broke and owes Hadrian his tribute; Winus Minem, erstwhile adviser to the governor, hatches a scheme to corner the wine market. They order the city garrison to cross the border into Gaul and acquire oak wood barrels, a task they carry out in shall we say, an over enthusiastic manner. The story is full of the unlikely, the ironic and the just plain funny scenarios. One in particular, Severus is standing post as the legion is camped. He ventures to investigate voices off in the distance. What he finds is his father preaching to a group of outcasts on Moses and the Burning Bush. The conversation and negotiation between God and Moses concerning the Commandments is worth the price of admission.
No Roads Lead to Rome is a madcap tale of intrigue, greed, heroism; all the traits that made Rome great. It is a wonderful satire on what makes a society run, for good or ill. 5 stars.

Marius Mules VI – Caesar’s Vow by SJA Turney

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Those of you who have read the previous volumes in this series may not find it hard to believe but I will say it anyway…they just keep getting better.  The author left himself a considerable task at the end of book 4…to refresh your memory it is there that the main fictional character, Marcus Falerius Fronto, has a major falling out with his friend and commanding general, Gaius Julius Caesar.  A rift so vast that Fronto leaves the army and spends the whole of book 5 dealing with personal issues while Caesar continues his quest without one of his most trusted advisers and tacticians.  Getting them back together did not seem possible but Simon is nothing if he isn’t a resourceful writer.

Their reunion, put forward by none other than Marcus Antonious, is not an easy one and that is one reason why this book is such a great read.  Nothing is easy…Simon could have had them patch up, shake hands and gone forward right from the beginning of the reunion but that would be too easy and a bit of a boring letdown.  I will say no more lest I give away too much.   The main plots are, for Caesar, the death of Ambiorix, the Eburone King who was responsible for the destruction of two legions and for Fronto, the return to the fold and command of a legion.  Of course, those two aspects of the story are intertwined, converging like two tributaries to the Rhenus and becoming one in the end.

The continued development of the main characters is an ever constant need and has become a strength of the author.  I especially enjoyed the progress of some of the main characters such as:
Caesar – much more human/not the above the fray-confident specimen he is often portrayed as…his conversations with Fronto especially are very telling and interesting
Labienus – another example of a differing representation – not a madman bent on outdoing Caesar
Antonius – now, he is larger than life…imagine Richard Burton meets James Purefoy
Fronto – he has been many things in this series and has grown with it…seeing him as commander of a Navy Seal like operation was well done…
On the fringe and just waiting to burst on the scene is that ever popular Gaulish rebel, Vercingetorix…his brief appearances here leaves one with the impression that he could be the most formidable foe yet to take on Caesar and Fronto.
I throw 5 stars at Simon Turney for yet again turning it up a notch.  Now get to work on Alesia.  🙂 
About the author:

I live with my wife, my slightly barmy son and very vocal 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 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, on the cusp of my fortieth year, 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 a third in the fantasy series and the sixth Marius’ Mules now complete, as well as a series set in the 15th century Mediterranean.

I maintain another website detailing the Roman sites I visit and photograph, and write a blog about books. Find me on twitter as @sjaturney. 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.   http://sjaturney.co.uk/      http://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/7641919/

Aqueduct to Nowhere by R.S. Gompertz

A bit about the author:

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R.S. Gompertz grew up in a suburb of Disneyland. Since then, he has lived and worked in the USA, France and Spain.

He writes historical fiction served up in a thick broth of humor and adventure.

The inspiration for his first novel “No Roads Lead to Rome” came while hiking in the hills above Barcelona, Spain when he stumbled over an ancient wagon rut and realized things hadn’t changed all that much in 2000 years. The story came to him in a blinding flash that took the next 5 years to extract.

The action takes place in A.D. 123, a time not unlike the present, and chronicles the decline and fall of damn near everything.

“No Roads” was a semi-finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. The book has been very popular on political humor and historical fiction lists.

The saga continues in “Aqueduct to Nowhere,” the standalone sequel to “No Roads Lead to Rome.”

While working on “No Roads,” he published a series of articles about travel and expat life, the first volume of which is now available as “The Expat’s Pajamas: Barcelona” on Kindle.

Aqueduct to Nowhere – Review

Two of my favorite genres collide in this entertaining  look see at a Saturnalia Festival in Tarraco, Roman historical fiction and humor.    Quirky characters and hilarious situations abound as the main character, Severus, tries to solve the many issues that crop up.  One corrupt governor has died and his successor is on the lam.  Severus is thrust into the position of head of Tarraco security and is faced with, among other things, finding the missing governor so he can be on hand for The Trial of the Century, solving the murder of the preceding governor, dealing with a band of Amazonian-like pirates led by the wife of the missing governor(and who is also the prosecutor of her husband), a Jewish zealot of a brother who turns everything into a diatribe against Rome, an angry crowd of fire displaced plebeians and a new set of rapacious government officials.  Oh and let us not forget the set of Praetorian assassins,a fortune telling would be girlfriend, and a pair of rumor mongering news anchors.  This story pokes fun at everything as it threads it’s way through every strata of society.  I think my favorite scene takes place on a doomed ship caught in a storm; on this ship you have four differing views on what god to pray to for help.  The sailor is a Christian, the brother is a Judean whose goal is to restore the Temple in Jerusalem, the Praetorian is a follower of Mithras and Severus talks to Neptune.  I won’t say anymore so as to not spoil anything or to influence anyone’s belief system.

Suffice to say that now that I have read Aqueduct I will be reading the prequel No Roads Lead to Rome.  5  stars given; Io Saturnalia.

Savage Payback by Seumas Gallacher

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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. wall copy 2 …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 Savage03-1

Savage Payback – Review

I must confess to the fact that I have not read many crime/thrillers in a while and have never reviewed one.  This is not to say I don’t enjoy the genre, I do, but find most of my reading is taken up by historical-fiction.  I am pleased to report that Savage Payback has rekindled my interest.  The story revolves around a huge explosion/robbery in London’s jewelry district and the subsequent involvement of Jack Calder and the ISP team as they are hired by the insurance companies to investigate.  From the very first page the reader is immersed in a never ending cycle of action that spans the globe and involves multiple intelligence agencies, drug lords and a mysterious shadowy bomber.  The story also contains some very nice twists and turns as the major player’s attempt to solve the various problems that crop up.  Vengeance and retribution are prime motivators in this Jack Higgins like write up, not only from the point of view of the ‘good guys’ but also from the ‘baddies’ as well.  A thoroughly enjoyable page turning read.  4 stars and an excuse to visit more of Seumas Gallachers’ writing.