The Far Shore by Nick Brown

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This is the third entry in The Agent of Rome series featuring Cassius Corbulo and his servant Simo and bodyguard Indavara.  A seemingly simple mission to the island of Rhodes quickly turns into one helluva test for survival. A grisly murder, an overbearing daughter of the deceased, a sea voyage during the stormy season, a Roman town in Africa being ruthlessly run by one nasty, villainous centurion…these things and more await you in yet another tour de force by author Nick Brown.  The book goes along in fine fettle, as has been the case in the first two books in the series, and then, BAM, the quarry chapter.  I can’t say much as to not do the spoiler thing but I will say that the author does some magic as he teases the reader with clues as to who the mysterious third conspirator  is.  I was sure I had it figured out and then I thought it was someone else, and then …well I can only say, well done Nick.  From that point on the book is a roller coaster of excitement, brutality and bravery.  I had to put the book down occasionally to catch my breath as it were before diving back into the maelstrom of events. The character development of Corbulo as he deals with his bouts of introspection and the growing relationship between Corbulo and his companions, particularly that of the enigmatic Indavara are stand out features of the book.

5 stars – lucky for me I already have the next two books in hand  🙂

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The Holy Lance by Andrew Latham

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When going through my “to be read” list of books to choose which one to read next, I often allow myself to be swayed by the chatter on various social media outlets.  The Holy Lance was one of those where the chatter almost compelled me to read it.  One of the things that drew me in was the fact that the author is an acclaimed historian; something that I have found to enhance any historical-fiction they write.  Besides, I like to support those who have taken up the profession of Historian as I am a self acclaimed amateur one (was my major in college back in the early 70’s).  Now, when you couple all of that with the history of the region and the current climate of terror and hatred, it became a no brainer to read a book about the Crusade under Richard the Lionheart.

Rumor has it that the spear that pierced the side of Jesus was hidden away in a remote Lazar House deep in Saracen held territory.  Richard wants it; his rivals want to keep it from him; Saladin wants to keep it from any Crusader.  This sets up a remarkable tale of a troop of Templars led by Michael Fitz Alan who infiltrate Saracen territory in order to claim the relic for Richard.  The main protagonist, Fitz Alan, is a mighty warrior of Christ, fearless in his pursuit of and in the killing of the unbelievers.  He is also possessed of a troubled mind and soul who struggles each day with his past.  This is one of the strong points in the book, the author’s portrayal of these Templar Knights as men who hold firmly to the belief that their very souls depend on strict adherence to their Rule.  The story is replete with exciting action, dramatic turns of events and in my opinion gives a brief on why we continue to war in that area of the world to this day.  A 5 star effort for this, the first book in the series.  Hooverbookreviews says, ‘get ready to read, you may learn something.’  🙂

About the author:

Knox Robinson author Andrew A. Latham is an award-winning professor of International Relations who regularly teaches courses in medieval political thought, international relations, and war.  Trained as a Political Scientist, Latham has spent the last decade-and-a-half researching political violence in the Middle Ages.  He has written scholarly articles on medieval war, the crusades, jihad, and the political thought of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas.  His most recent book is a work of non-fiction entitled Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades.
Latham was born in England, raised in Canada and currently lives in the United States.  He graduated from York University in Toronto with a BA (Honours) in Political Science; later he earned an MA from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario; and later yet, he earned a PhD from his alma mater, York.
Latham is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Historical Writers’ Association and De Re Militari: The Society For Medieval Military History.
Since 1997 Latham has been a member of the Political Science Department at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he where he lives with his wife Wendy, daughter Bernadette and son Michael.

King’s Assassin

from the eminent SJA Turney

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

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The seventh book in Angus Donald’s superb Outlaw chronicles is out today. Well, you know how I feel about the Outlaw books, don’t you? Just in case anyone’s still unaware of them, these books represent a whole new and very realistic treatment of Robin Hood, seen through the eyes of the minstrel (and so much more) Alan Dale.

Some series of historical fiction find a winning formula and stick to it. I would say, in fact, that most of those series do that. An author finds the sweet spot where his readers are happiest and continues to write in it. Some manage to continue with great success, though others start to feel stale some time around book five or six, I find. Other authors – rarer, braver ones – allow their series to grow and change like a living thing, which runs the risk of annoying those readers who enjoy…

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Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn

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Okay, I am now convinced beyond all doubt.  I have read Mistress of Rome, The Three Fates and Kate Quinn’s contribution to Day of Fire and through reading these books I noticed that a certain amount of talent lie within her pen and keyboard.  What put me over the edge in my nascent admiration, is chapter 17 in Daughters of Rome, the chariot race chapter.  What Judah Ben-Hur and Messala did for chariot racing on the big screen, Kate does in chapter 17.for the written word.  Now that’s not meant to take away from the rest of the book; oh no, not by any means.  The author has portrayed four Cornelian noble women and their seeming ever changing fortunes during the infamous Year of the Four Emperors.  With each new emperor a new level of growth for our four heroines from the loosening of Cornelia’s stubborn resolve to the change from the ‘oh woe is me’ Marcella to the ‘instrument of change’ Marcella.  Lollias’ coming to grips with love and the sheer number of emotions experienced by Diana in chapter 17, well that alone is worth the price of admission, dear reader. Yes, I am convinced, Kate Quinn can write pretty good.  5 stars

Rome’s Fallen Eagle by Robert Fabbri

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Caligula lies dead by the hands of assassins.  Claudius, the drooling fool is proclaimed Emperor but his rule will be a short one unless he wins over the legions.  To do that his three conniving freedmen, Narcissus, Pallas and Callistus, concoct a scheme of breath taking magnitude.  Thus we find Vespasian and his brother Sabinus on a seemingly impossible mission to find and return the lost Eagle of the 17th Legion; lost 30 years prior in the Teutoburg Forest massacre.  What follows is a masterful story of danger, excitement and unrelenting action coupled with the snake-oil, behind the scenes plotting of the powers behind Claudius; not only of his freedmen but of his devious wife Messalina.  Mr. Fabbri has created a compelling tale of Vespasian and his ever increasing belief in himself and his destiny.  His leadership qualities and his abilities as a warrior come to the fore in this volume of what is a great series of books.  From the vast and dark forests of Germania to the savage battles fought for Claudius’ benefit in Britain, Rome’s Fallen Eagle takes the reader on a splendid ride indeed.  5 stars