Most of the Roman historical fiction that I have read dates from the Late Republic on through the ascendancy of the Eastern Empire so it was a nice change of pace to read this series that takes place before Rome became Rome. In Nemesis,the Gaulish tribe the Senones complete their conquest of Rome and sack the city. The author presents the reader with the opposing mindsets of the combatants; the warrior ethos of the Senones versus the more disciplined Romans. Also evident is the well researched descriptions of both Senone culture and the ways of the Roman Patrician class. Intermingled with the historical event is the continuing story of the three childhood friends, Solemis, Albiomaros and the Druid Catumanda; a story that follows the fate that binds them together. That thread is but one of the sub-plots running through the tale and that makes for many possibilities and surprises which I enjoyed but will not reveal. The Conqueror of Rome series is the first I’ve read by this author and I am looking forward to moving onto his other works Just as Brennus got the Roman’s attention, so to has C.R. May gotten mine. 4.3 stars
The final book in Martin Lake’s series The Lost King continues the story of Edgar Aetheling, the uncrowned King of England and his struggles to survive the machinations of William and his Norman conquest of England. While I enjoyed the first three books, this one I enjoyed the most. The author has superbly crafted a tale that grabs the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go. The characters come to life and in so doing, immerse the reader in the 11th century and the daily struggle to survive the whims and paranoia of England’s new masters. This is especially true in regards to Edgar who throughout the tale is beset with doubt, frustration, and emotional turmoil as he tries to choose the correct path to pursue his destiny. Learning to tread the tightrope walk set before him by William and his nobles without falling, Edgar’s tale is an extreme balancing act that not only threatens his life but also of his friends and loved ones. Martin Lake has produced a series that provides a glimpse of the good and of the evils of human nature; the greed, the betrayals, the lust and the love that marked not only that period but of all human history. 5 stars
There are times when this humble scribe finds it difficult to articulate or to even come close to the right words to use. This is one of those times. Kate Quinn has delivered a masterpiece of a series that culminates in Lady of the Eternal City. There aren’t many books that reduce me to tears or has me screaming in disbelief but Kate has done those things to me repeatedly throughout. On top of the emotions, she also has me believing that this is the way things might have actually happened. That’s what comes out of a fiction so well written; so well researched. I cannot recommend the Empress of Rome series highly enough but you must begin with book one; otherwise you will miss out on the muse inspired character developments, the emotion touching prose, the elegance of language that permeates all four books. I, for one, will have this series on my To Read Again List. 5 Stars
The War is over. The Horse came through. The Skaen Gates have fallen and Priam’s Pride is a smoking ruin. Time to load up the loot and slaves and head on out for a leisurely cruise back to kith, kin and kingdom ruling. Ah, but wasn’t there something about a 10 year waiting period before the kith, kin and kingdom stuff? A tumultuous 10 years and a journey that will test everything in a man; courage, loyalty, faith and friendship. Odysseus, mastermind of the Greek’s long awaited victory, is no longer a favorite of the gods, try as he may to appease them; no longer the confident King as he is threatened by those he has lead all those years; no longer does his vaunted intellect and cunning prove effective or wise. This journey back home to Penelope, a wife under siege by those who would replace the rule of Laertes son, Odysseus, is brought to luxuriant life in this, part 5 of The Adventures of Odysseus. The author brings the reader into the constant drama surrounding Odysseus, Eperitus and the rest of the Ithacans; bringing to life the horrors faced, the circumstances that threaten to unravel everything they hold dear. I kept thinking, man, how much more can they take? Well, they’ll have to take more as this book covers the first half of the journey…there’s more to come and that’s, methinks, a good thing. 5 stars
I think that one day I am going to have to compile my list of favorite, fictional, evil people. When I do that Alison Morton’s Caius Tellus will certainly be on that list. Insurrectio is a taut drama centering on Tellus’ political ambitions…ambitions that could undo centuries of a stable form of government and supplant it with Tellus as a tyrant. Caught in the crosshairs of his ambition is Aurelia Mitela and hoo-boy does he ever hold a grudge. The story is full of the drama and tension that the author has made a trademark of the Roma Nova series and in spots steps them up even more. So, if you’re looking for a political thriller this is sure to please. Strong characters, a plot with lots of twists and turns, love, betrayal, pain and loss make this a 5 star winner.
Banished takes up the story of Ahl Brightsword and his friends as they embark on a mission to rescue a friend they left behind in book 1. The story, told by Ahl who is now an old man, reads easy with enough action and drama to keep the reader entertained; even educated about Vikings and their way of life. This is especially true when aboard the ship and have to learn how to navigate in all sorts of conditions…weather and pirates among them. It is not any easy quest and is filled with dangers and some dire consequences but throughout, the author keeps hope kindled. 4 stars.
Meet Mr. Turney one day, I will, and will beg him, “Please Simon wan Kenobi, teach me to write.” The prolific creator of books for old farts like me, such as, Marius Mules, Praetorian, and The Ottoman Cycle has now produced a tale for children. And an excellent one I might add. The story revolves around a quest for riches to help pay for the rebuilding of Alexandria. It is full of excitement, adventure, danger and mystery and is sure to entertain the age group it is intended for. In addition, the illustrations by Dave Slaney are just delightful. I especially liked the roving eyes and expressions of the leopard pelt worn by Uncle Scriptor and the portraits of the diminutive heroes, Marcus and Callie. Better even still…there are more of these tales to come. 5 stars
In my review of Killer of Men I stated that I wouldn’t take too long before reading Marathon. Where does the time go? Three months? My only excuse is that I have read some really good books in the interval. 🙂 Now that I’ve finished Marathon, I make the same prediction regarding the next book in the series, Poseidon’s Spear…well, we’ll see how that pans out. Anyway, Marathon…is just another example of the author’s remarkable storytelling. I was continually amazed with his knowledge of the era and the way that knowledge was used to not only enhance the story but to also teach the history of that time and place; much of which I already knew but it never hurts to relearn things that have lain dormant for decades. This is not only played out in the events of the war but also in the everyday lives of the peasants, farmers, craftsmen and aristocrats who make this story come alive. One example that stands out for me is Arimnestos’ forge and the work of the smiths as they turn bronze sheets into household items as well as armor and weapons. The lead up to the battle and the battle itself are both told with an incisive vividness that kept me turning the pages until the end. Well done Mr.Cameron…well done. 5 stars
I’ve read some books that are slow out of the gate but build momentum as the pages turn…this is not one of those…this one starts fast and never lets up. The action is relentless, whether it’s Jack one on one (or 2 or 3) with an adversary or whether it’s a full blown battle scene, the author keeps you riveted. Now, that’s not to say that this the only reason for reading this book…not at all. Mr. Collard incorporates some nifty plot twists and surprises to keep the reader guessing. Briefly, Jack, through circumstances I won’t divulge for spoiler reasons becomes seconded to an army spymaster affectionately known as The Devil. There is a spy or spies in the camp of the British force in their conflict with Persia and it is Jack’s job to ferret the spy or spies out before a major battle. I thought I had it figured out, indeed I did have it figured out…oh but wait; no I didn’t…that’s what I loved about this book, the way the author plays out the final scenario. In addition we get a further glimpse into what makes Jack tick and I suspect that will continue as the series progresses. Kudos to the author for another sterling effort. 5 stars