Constitutional Spectacle

Practically Historical

The State of the Union address is a constitutional requirement… Article 1; Section 3- He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient…

The speech varies from executive monotony to… rousing patriotic oratory.  Lincoln declared the Civil War had to be won to preserve the “last, best hope of earth”  and Franklin Roosevelt reminded the free world of its “Four Freedoms.” 

abraham_lincoln_o-77_matte_collodion_printToday, the speech is more spectacle than requisite… the purpose is more political than constitutional.  Bill Clinton is the modern record holder, averaging over 1 hour and 14 minutes per speech.  All but one of Barack Obama’s were over an hour.  (Washington’s first message is acknowledged as the shortest, just over 1,000 words.)  Thomas Jefferson had all eight  of his hand delivered to Congress; Woodrow Wilson was…

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The Raven and the Cross by C.R. May

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The North: 937AD – Three years have passed since the English king Athelstan bribed treacherous jarls to take Erik’s half-brother as king in Norway.

Forced from his kingdom, Erik Bloodaxe returns to the Viking ways of his youth. Warlords are driven from Danish lands, Saxony burns, and Dublin falls to a brutal assault before the prow beasts of Erik’s fleet turn south to stalk the seas off Al-Andalus.

As Erik’s reputation as a battle winner spreads his sons grow to manhood, and together they carve a new kingdom to rule from the islands which gird Britain’s north-west.

But Bloodaxe is not alone in suffering the Imperial ambitions of the southern English, and when a half-remembered figure leads a Northumbrian deputation to the king’s Orkney fastness, events are set in motion which will lure Erik south to face his greatest test.

The Raven and the Cross continues the turbulent story of Erik Haraldsson, a legendary king of the Viking Age.

REVIEW

An exciting sequel to Bloodaxe, Eric is a little older now. A bit more mature, a bit more pragmatic, without dulling the warrior within. The author portrays this formidable son of Harald Fairhair at the height of his battle prowess, and his abilities as a leader, who inspires not just loyalty from his people, but also love as well.  The underlying thread in book 2 is the fulfillment of a prophecy Erik had received as a young man. It was prophesied that Eric would be a king five times. He and his retinue do a fair bit of traveling in this tale, gaining wealth and prestige, as well as getting closer to achieving that prophetic number. Page turning drama, characters who give life to an era shrouded in mystery, and the coming clash of the old religion(s) versus the Cross of Christ, all this and more awaits you my dear readers. 4 stars

 Historical Fiction reviews  has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Fiction Blogs on the web.

The Brotherhood of the Black Flag: A Novel of the Golden Age of Piracy by Ian Nathaniel Cohen

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Michael McNamara has one last chance to fight for king and country.
His once-promising career in tatters, McNamara leaves the newly-United Kingdom behind in search of a new life. With no other skills but the sword, he joins forces with a pirate turned pirate hunter determined to rid the Caribbean of the Brotherhood of the Black Flag once and for all.

Eager for the adventure and a worthy cause to fight for, McNamara pits himself against treacherous seas and battle-hardened buccaneers…and uncovers an international conspiracy that threatens thousands of lives.

The Golden Age of Piracy is about to end…but not without one final reckoning.

REVIEW

A swashbuckling tale with an intriguing plot awaits you my fellow readers. An interesting array of well drawn characters fill the pages from the main protagonists to the bit players giving the story an authenticity that held my interest from page one.  The action, both on land and especially at sea, is well conceived. The author has done his homework on the workings of 18th century ships, and the nuances involved in a well fought sword duel. The plot, the redemption of a notorious pirate and his bid to rid the seas of those who still rain death and destruction flying the Black Flag, is well played, and full of twists and turns which leads to a very exciting conclusion. Yes, a swashbuckling delight indeed. 4 Stars

Lord of the Sea Castle (The Invader Series Book 2) by Ruadh Butler

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It is 1170 – a tumultuous time for the people of Wales, England and Ireland. Raymond de Carew is in love, but the woman he desires is an earl’s daughter and so far above his station that he has no hope of ever winning her.  However, Raymond’s lord has a mission for him: one that if it succeeds will put an Irish king back on his throne and prove Raymond worthy – for in Norman society, a man can rise as high as his skill with a sword can take him.  With only a hundred men at his side, Raymond must cross the ocean to Ireland ahead of his mercenary lord’s invasion. There he will face the full might of the Viking city of Waterford… and either his deeds will become legend or he will be trampled into dust. The second volume in the thrilling Invader series.

REVIEW

Raymond de Carew has a lot thrown at him in this rousing tale of love, loyalty, loss, and lots of nasty Gaels. It is a well crafted, complex story line, complete with a host of nationalities all competing for wealth and power – English, Welsh, Irish-Gael, Norse-Gael, and Norman. The author has succeeded in presenting these varied peoples in the wonderfully drawn characters that populate this tale. Raymond is a perfect example of this – a true leader of men, yet the complexities of his duty to Strongbow and the results of the many events he is involved in, cannot help but forge doubts and frustration.

An action filled tale from start to finish, with the final quarter of the book being absolute page turning anticipation as Raymond’s foothold on Irish soil is faced with certain destruction by some of those nasty Gaels.  Yes, my fellow readers, twists and turns abound in this highly entertaining novel, and it will continue in the next volume of this series. There is much yet to be decided.  🙂     4 Stars

The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King: A Novel of Teddy Roosevelt and His Times by Jerome Charyn

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@LiverightPub @jeromecharyn @CowboyKingTR

http://perilousadventuresblogtour.com/

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In this novel, which Kirkus Reviews calls, “colorful, entertaining” in its starred review, Charyn gives new dimension to Roosevelt, revealing Manhattan’s swampy underbelly after the Civil War, TR’s farcical and dangerous expeditions to the Dakota Badlands, and his personal anguish at losing his mother and wife on the same day.  Like the best of E.L. Doctorow, historical detail is supported by a keen grasp of language and marked by a lack of sentimentality about the past.  With a colorful supporting cast—including Buffalo Bill Cody, Eleanor Roosevelt, Leon Czolgosz (President McKinley’s assassin), plus Josephine, the lovable mountain lion who was the mascot of the Rough Riders (seen with Roosevelt on the cover), and the Rough Riders themselves, whom Roosevelt never deserted, THE PERILOUS ADVENTURES OF THE COWBOY KING is historical fiction and Jerome Charyn at their very best.

REVIEW

A captivating tale of the early life, and subsequent rise to the Presidency, of a true American icon. A political maverick from the start, the author gives the reader an intimate look at how and why he became such a pain in the arse to the party powers in New York and D.C. As well as the exciting narrative of TR’s adventures, the author paints a vivid picture of late 19th century politics in America. It is replete with colorfully drawn characters from precinct captains to captains of industry, from Pinkerton’s to down on their luck cowboys. My particular favorite, however, is a cougar named Josephine who forms an amazing bond with TR, and who symbolizes the spirit of The Rough Riders, a ragtag militia formed by TR, and despised by the regular army. That is a prime example of the battles TR had to fight for the little guy against the stranglehold of the wealthy. The Cowboy King is a thoroughly enjoyable look at a fascinating man; his triumphs, his hopes, and the disappointments he endured as a bonafide reformer in a vicious political atmosphere.  4 stars

 

My blog Historical Fiction reviews  has been selected as one of the Top 100 Fiction Blogs on the web.

 

Mutiny (Mercenary of Rome Book 1) by John Stack

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Blurb – from the author:

I have always been fascinated by the tales of forgotten warriors, those whose names are unknown by the very history they shaped. The names of commanders ring throughout military history, but what of those whose skill, bravery and sacrifice are not recorded as individuals; the English longbow-man at Agincourt, the Russian infantryman at Stalingrad or the Irish rebel in the GPO in the 1916 Easter Rising. In creating Atticus Milonius Perennis I found such a warrior.

The inventor of the Corvus, the boarding ramp that allowed the Romans to deploy their legionnaires at sea, has been lost to time. Yet its introduction in the First Punic War, and its effectiveness in overcoming the Carthaginian navy, paved the way for the Roman Republic to break the boundaries of its shoreline and expand its influence over the length and breath of the Mediterranean. Through Atticus, I have sought to tell the story of that warrior in the Masters of the Sea series, the tale of a man who shaped the course of Roman history and yet whose name is not recorded.

The First Punic War was bitterly contested by both sides. Polybius attests to the ferocity of the conflict, and speaks of those who commanded in the field, and at the centre of power in each city. But it was galley fighting galley in the most pitched battles, with individual captains and centurions struggling for each hard fought victory. Atticus and Septimus were those men, individuals who propelled Rome into a new era of influence, and ultimately conquest.

The story of these warriors continues in my new series Mercenary of Rome. The Mercenary War was a direct consequence of the First Punic War and at a time of dire need, Carthage reached out to its former enemy, Rome for assistance. At first Rome was supportive, as was the city of Syracuse, recognising the value of a coherent Carthaginian state on their flank, and so Atticus and Septimus are once more drawn into war. The conflict that unfolded was fought with a violence and cruelty that marked the desperation of both sides, the Carthaginians and the Mercenaries, a divide so deep between former allies that Polybius described it as a ‘truceless war’.

It is into this maelstrom that our characters are thrown, and once again I have found in my research for Mercenary of Rome that behind the names of Roman Senators, Carthaginian leaders, and Mercenary commanders, it is the common soldier, the forgotten warrior, who ultimately sacrificed all for victory.

Review

An intriguing tale of one of the more ironic periods in Roman history. Carthage and Rome allied together to fight a mercenary army that threatens the stability of the Mediterranean area. This despite a fierce hatred, and total mistrust that existed between the two nations. This is no more evident than the relationship between the Roman commander Atticus and Hamilcar Barca. The author skillfully blends the history with a entertaining fictional rendering. The characters are vividly drawn, the action is exciting, in other words, it is what good historical-fiction looks like. The battle scenes are of the no holds barred variety; the sounds and smells, the battle lust seep through the pages. I was especially captivated by the naval confrontations; the snapping of the oars, the in rush of water as the ram tears through the hull – just the kind of page turning adventure I enjoy. Looking forward to book 2.      4 stars

Vikings to Virgin-Book 1-The Hazards of Being King by Trisha Hughes

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In Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of Being King Trisha Hughes provides the reader with a pacey introduction to the many pitfalls faced by the ambitious as they climbed the dangerous ladders of royalty. It is easy to think that monarchs are all powerful, but throughout the Dark and Middle Ages it was surprisingly easy to unseat one and assume the crown yourself. But if it was easy to gain … it was just as easy to lose.
From the dawn of the Vikings through to Elizabeth I, Trisha Hughes follows the violent struggles for power and the many brutal methods employed to wrest it and keep hold of it. Murder, deceit, treachery, lust and betrayal were just a few of the methods used to try and win the crown. Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of Being King spans fifteen hundred years and is a highly accessible and enjoyable ride through the dark side of early British monarchy.

REVIEW

As a student of history from across The Pond, I’ve always found the line of monarchs in Britain a confusing subject, and no wonder given a. that it’s not a subject given much attention in American history classes, and b. it is a rather confusing subject. So many changes in royal lines, so many with the same name, so many familial connections (I swear that John of Gaunt must have been related to the whole population of the British Isles  🙂  ).  So, it was a pleasure to read a book that not only was informative, shedding light, unraveling the confusion, but did so in a very entertaining fashion. One of my pet peeves is those who present history in a dry, witless fashion. Vikings to Virgin is a far cry from those boring texts as the author does a fine job in bringing this long and complicated history to life with a vibrant narrative. Detailed research is evident throughout the book giving the reader a full picture of the events and the larger than life people who sought for the crown of a kingdom seemingly in constant turmoil and uncertainty. A fascinating tutorial of the period of Cnute to Elizabeth, I’m looking forward to book 2.    5 stars

Historical Fiction reviews  has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Fiction Blogs on the web.