Alba is Mine by Jen Black

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An entertaining tale that puts the reader in the midst of an attempt to claim the kingship of Alba.  Finlay was once the principal heir of Malcolm II, but was pushed aside for the scheming Duncan. The ensuing struggle is played out on many levels; not just the political angle, but also on cultural and even personal levels. The author has imbued the story with a bounty of great characters who bring out the sense and feel of 11th century Scotland.  Along with the intrigue and chaos there is also the story of two people struggling to reconcile their duties as noble born with their past, and with the love growing between them. Indeed, dear reader, you will be thoroughly engrossed in this tale of Alba.  4 stars

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Caligula – The Damned Emperors 1 by Simon Turney

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I must confess at the outset that the portrayal of Caligula that is permanently etched in my mind is John Hurt’s magnificent, raving lunatic character in I, Claudius.  Having said that, I must also confess that if any author could convince me otherwise, it would be Simon Turney.  As proof of that I submit his Gaius Julius Caesar from the Marius Mules series, his Caesar is much more convincing than say, Colleen McCullough’s, and I loved the way her Caesar turned out.  Told through the person of his sister Livilla, we find a Caligula who was protective, caring and very shrewd; qualities that were necessary while Tiberius and Sejanus ran amok through the descendants of Germanicus.  That’s not to say he didn’t have some issues that gave wings to his destructive behavior later – but I will not divulge much of that aspect except to say that irony plays an important role.  Indeed, the author has done another splendid job in creating a tale full of surprises, even if he does shred my preconceived ideals first encountered in the writing of Robert Graves. 🙂  I have had the pleasure of reading many of Mr. Turney’s books; this new series on some of the more, shall we say colorful emperors, is off to a robust start. 5 stars