Strategos 3 Island in the Storm by Gordon Doherty

strategos 3

First off let me say that I have a major beef with Mr. Doherty and I am sure that all of you who read the words of this humble scribe will agree once you finish Island in the Storm.  This series has been among the best I’ve read and now it is over and that my friends is the cause of my discontent.  However, the sheer brilliance in this third volume does tend to soften the blow.  This is storytelling at it’s finest, the drama, the emotion, the horrors of war, the loss of friends; in all these and more the author is at the top of his game.  Throughout the book we are part of the struggle not only between Byzantium-Diogenes Romanus and the Seljuk Turk Alp Arslan but also to the powers seeking to supplant Romanus and too, Alp Arslan.  The plots and twists are the ever present backdrop to the building climatic battle at Manzikert on August 26, 1071.  As a describer of battle scenes Mr. Doherty has always brought the sights, sounds and smells to the readers senses but in this battle, one that covers so much time and space and has so many ebbs and flows coupled with the ferocity and emotional trauma, the author delivers a coup de grace.  As expected Apion, The Haga, has a destiny to fulfill and is faced with making choices that will determine not only his future but the future of much more.  The characters be they likable(Sha, Blastares, et. al.) or be they repulsive(Psellos, John Doukas, et. al.) are done beautifully and imbue the story with the realities of the time and situation.  In short, this series may be over but it is certainly going out on a very high note.  5 stars

S J A Turney: Marius Mules VII The Great Revolt (Review)

Me and Parmenion agree…a most excellent read.


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…

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Marius Mules VII – The Great Revolt by S.J.A. Turney

1658150_715487928534706_4256521953828207558_o   I have a pretty full plate right now when talking about reading and in my case now, writing.  I have at least three Kindle books to read not including the one I am currently reading and a couple paperbacks as well.  This is now coupled with the writing of my first novel and I would be hesitant to add anything else for the time being.  However when given the chance to beta read a new Marius Mules then hesitancy is forgotten, current read is put on hold and the writing slows for a bit.  Marius Mules VII – The Great Revolt covers the events of 52 BC, the year that Vercingetorix gathers the tribes of Gaul under his banner and wages war against the Roman Pro-Consul Gaius Julius Caesar for the control of Gaul.  Given the many difficult situations Caesar has faced and will face in the future, this revolt I think comes closest to destroying him and in this book the author does a masterful job in portraying the ebb and flow of events.  In a cataclysmic, history defining period such as this it is not enough to hear the story from just the Romans and so in a departure from previous Marius Mules volumes we have an in depth telling of the Gaul point of view as well.  Character development is once again on form; we see and feel the moods, the doubts, the confidence, the emotional toil of both Gaul and Roman.  Fronto our old friend is back to his customary position of fighting in the front ranks but at the same time is beginning to show his age.  We also meet some very interesting new characters especially on the Gaul side.  But to balance out the additions the war takes its toll and we lose some cherished friends…I think there is a point in every one of the Marius Mules series that I start hurling vulgar laden invective at Mr. Turney for killing off various favorites and that trend continues in number 7…but I must state for the record that I really don’t have a problem with it, after all rule number 1 in war is that people die.  Another strong aspect of this book is the amount of research the author did, walking the ancient battlefields and oppidums of Bibracte, Gorgovina and Alesia to name a few.  You get a real feel for the topography, the makeup of the Gaulish oppidum and the circumvalations of Caesar.  Suffice to say that when I finished #7 I knew I had read an excellent retelling of this make it or break it year for Caesar and am already looking forward to #8 – we still have that pesky group of nobles to deal with; you know; Cato, Brutus Cicero and the big man himself, Pompey Magnus.   5 stars and highest recommendation.

Age of Iron by Angus Watson

And another one to add to the to be read pile 🙂

For winter nights - A bookish blog

Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 523
Year: 2014
Buy: Paperback, Kindle
Source: Review copy

Age of Iron by Angus WatsonReview
If you take a look at the banner above this post, you’ll find Maiden Castle looking down at you out of a frosty chilled sky. Always one of my favourite places, I jumped at the chance to read a novel about it, back in its Iron Age glory, populated by fierce warriors, terrifying druids and the finest craftsmen and women of the age. Age of Iron by Angus Watson delivered all that I asked for by the chariot load. Fiction it certainly is, there are no firsthand accounts of Iron Age Britain other than those written by Julius Caesar, the conqueror who couldn’t pull it off, and so Age of Iron is perhaps more fantasy than (pre)historical fiction. But how real it feels! The novel is set in the years immediately…

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