Pagan Rites by Sam Taw

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Three headstrong youngsters.
Two worried elders.
One foolish quest.

It’s 700BC and tribal Chieftain, Aebba, has made up his mind.
His sons must hunt a deadly auroch bull to prove themselves worthy warriors.
Wise woman, Meliora, can see the folly in his challenge, but can she stop them falling foul of the giant beast?

Begin your exploration of Tribes of Britain Series and immerse yourself in Late Bronze Age action and adventure.

REVIEW

An entertaining tale of ‘Dark Age’ Britain, Pagan Rites sets the stage for some lovely turmoil in the succeeding book in the series. When you have more than one wife, and one of them is determined that her child will be the next chieftain, and she is imbued by the power and mystery of a fanatic religion…well things could get ugly.  The author has certainly gotten my attention…looking forward to reading the Tribes of Britain series.

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Last of the Romans by Derek Birks

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454 AD.

Northern Italy.
Dux Ambrosius Aurelianus has served the Roman Empire with distinction.
His bucellarii, a small band of irregular soldiers, have helped to bring a fragile peace to the beleaguered empire in the west. But, with the empire now at peace, his master, Flavius Aetius, decides to chain up his dogs of war.
Ambrosius and his men are left to idle away their days in a rural backwater, but Ambrosius’ boredom is brutally swept aside when old rivals seize the opportunity to destroy him.
Pursued as a traitor by the imperial guard, Ambrosius takes his loyal band, along with other dissident soldiers and a Saxon girl, Inga, into the mountains. Since nowhere is safe, Ambrosius travels north, across the crumbling ruins of the empire, to his estranged family in Gaul. But there too, he finds nothing but conflict, for his home town is now besieged by a small army of rebellious Franks. Freedom and peace seem a world away.
Whatever course the soldier takes, Ambrosius and his bucellarii will need to muster all their strength and skill to survive.
At the twilight of the empire, they may be the Last of the Romans…

REVIEW

One of the things I’ve come to expect from Mr. Birks is an adrenaline rush of a tale from start to finish. The Last of the Romans is no exception to that rule; indeed I was gasping for breath in the first chapter. Set in the turbulent time just after the death of Attila, the Western Empire should be stable, but peace is always a fragile thing, and it’s not always beneficial to be aligned to the wrong side in a fractious court. The Last of the Romans is a gripping story of the sheer determination of a very enigmatic leader/ fearsome warrior, to survive some unexpected and dangerous situations.  A wonderful cast of characters, full of the range of emotions that bring life to the narrative as they navigate the many twists, turns, and upsets to their plans that spring from the pages, taunting the readers; daring them to put the book down without knowing what happens next. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wolf of Wessex by Matthew Harffy

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AD 838. Deep in the forests of Wessex, Dunston’s solitary existence is shattered when he stumbles on a mutilated corpse.

Accused of the murder, Dunston must clear his name and keep the dead man’s daughter alive in the face of savage pursuers desperate to prevent a terrible secret from being revealed.

Rushing headlong through Wessex, Dunston will need to use all the skills of survival garnered from a lifetime in the wilderness. And if he has any hope of victory against the implacable enemies on their trail, he must confront his long-buried past – becoming the man he once was and embracing traits he had promised he would never return to. The Wolf of Wessex must hunt again; honour and duty demand it.

REVIEW

By the author’s own admission, this tale was partly inspired by the Charles Portis novel, True Grit. There’s a scene in Wolf of Wessex, where the protagonist, Dunston, an aging warrior of some distinction, is alone facing ten mounted foes…the verbal give and take reminded me of Lucky Ned Pepper and Rooster Cogburn to wit: Lucky Ned – I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.  Rooster – Well fill your hands you son of a bitch. The ensuing battle in Wolf is just one of the many edge of the seat encounters Dunston faces in this gripping tale of remembrance, honor bound fortitude, and yes grit. While this story does have its share of gruesome events, the periods when Dunston and Aedwyn enjoy even a brief peaceful rest, bring a nice counterbalance to the violence they follow; e.g. teaching the young girl how to track and read sign. Reaching into the history of Wessex prior to Alfred, the author has created a convincing tale that is rather hard to put down.  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Sailing Master: Letter of Marque (The Sailing Master Book Series 3) by Lee Henschel Jr.

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Resolute and genuine, Letter of Marque is a lively tale, sure to entertain and enlighten.The Treaty of Amiens did not start well for Owen Harriet. It’s spring of 1802. The treaty has idled the British navy. Owen’s been sent ashore in London where he soon learns that his inheritance has been stolen and he must survive on half-pay. Owen returns to his childhood home in Newbury. He reunites with his dear brother, Albert, and learns that Becca, his childhood sweetheart, is still in love with him.Letter of Marque, the third book of The Sailing Master saga begins where Owen’s first three years at sea ends. Owen, however, has outgrown Newbury. He sets out in pursuit of his true purpose¬—to become a Sailing Master—unaware of the many surprises that await him, not least of which is a covert mission. His ship, the HMS Eleanor must disguise herself as a West African slaver in a ruse of war. Owen is there when two warring factions forge an armistice on a sandbar in Mesurado River in Monrovia. Later, he must deal with the unexpected return of Theophilé Oignon, his nemesis.

REVIEW

When I began reading this series, I did not know what to expect. I had read the Patrick O’Brian series on the British Navy, so the bar was set pretty high regarding any book written about the same subject and time frame. When I finished the first book, I knew The Sailing Master was in the same league. Letter of Marque is a fitting end to the trilogy; an entertaining read for sure, but also, and this is an important element(IMHO) of good historical-fiction, it is educational. The reader is treated to a geography/navigation/life of a sailor on half-pay, etc., lesson throughout the narrative, but in such a way that the flow of the narrative is undisturbed.

As in the the first two books, the focus is on Owen Harriet. It has been a pleasure to watch his character develop over the years. Now on his own, without his mentor Mr. Lau, he faces a host of problems, not the least of which is the appearance of that nasty piece of work, ‘The Onion’. An exciting tale of the perils of the sea, even in a time of peace. So, my fellow readers, if you enjoyed Patrick O’Brian, you will enjoy The Sailing Master.  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Legionary: Dark Eagle (Legionary 8) by Gordon Doherty – Review

A sterling review…can’t wait to read this one. 🙂

David's Book Blurg

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Dark Eagle book in in the Legionary series by Gordon Doherty!

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction

Winter, 382 AD. The Gothic War is over. After years of bloodshed, the Eastern Roman Empire and the Goths have struck a deal for peace. Imperial heralds crow about the treaty as if it were a triumph. Feasts and celebrations take place across the Eastern provinces. Every hero of the war is honoured and acclaimed… except one.

Tribunus Pavo languishes in exile, haunted by a dark truth: that it was Gratian, Emperor of the West – the most powerful man alive – who caused the war and manipulated its every turn. Tormented by memories of loved ones lost during the great conflict, one word tolls endlessly through Pavo’s mind: Justice!

But in this great game of empire, justice rarely comes without a grave cost…

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City of God (Knights Templar #3) by S.J.A. Turney

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Journey to the heart of an empire: a jaw-dropping historical adventure from master storyteller S.J.A. Turney

Arnau de Vallbona and his fellow Templar Brother Ramon are bound for the Holy Land to take part in the great Crusade when fate intervenes.

Delayed in Cyprus, they learn of a growing rift in Christendom: the crusading army has diverted from its course and threatens Rome’s allies in the Byzantine Empire. Arnau and Ramon, alongside the irascible Preceptor Bochard, race to Constantinople, encountering a grand and crumbling world of alliances and betrayals, emperors and armies.

The fate of the world is at stake. As Christian forces inexorably collide, Arnau is caught in the middle of an epic siege of the greatest city in the world. He will be tested to his limits: follow his vows… or do what’s right?

A novel of awe inspiring scale, battle and story, this is a masterly telling of one of history’s great turning points from S.J.A. Turney, perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Michael Jecks and K. M. Ashman

Praise for SJA Turney

‘Turney masters politics, pace and pursuit in this death-defying twelfth-century story … stunning story-telling’ Prue Batten, author of The Triptych Chronicle Trilogy

REVIEW

When I grow up I want to be able to write historical fiction tales like Mr. Turney. City of God is another example of the author’s prowess at putting words on a page; words that compels the reader, exhorts the reader, to keep turning those pages. In this tale we are taken to the historic fall of Constantinople, where Arnau is caught not only in the Frank/Venetian siege of the city, but also in the horns of a dilemma – the battle of an unwavering obedience to a rigid code versus the moral obligations inherent in the realities of the situation. Richly detailed, thoroughly researched, dramatic action, a plot dripping with irony and surprises, and characters who stand out from the page, City of God has it all.

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Wolves of the North (Warrior of Rome #5) by Harry Sidebottom

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“Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North” by Harry Sidebottom marks the start of a new trilogy within the “Warrior of Rome” series. AD263 – barbarian invasions and violent uprisings threaten to tear apart the Imperium of Rome. In the north, the tribes are increasingly bold in their raids on the Imperium – their savagery unlike anything Rome has known before. Ballista must undertake his most treacherous journey yet – a covert attempt to turn the barbarians of the steppe against each other. He must face the Heruli – the most bizarre and brutal of all the nomad tribes – the Eaters of Flesh, the Wolves of the North. As Ballista and his retinue make their journey, someone – or something – is hunting them, picking them off one by one, and leaving a trail of terror and mutilated corpses. Ballista is in a strange land, among strange people, but is it possible that the greatest threat may come from within his own familia?

REVIEW

It seems that donning The Purple, even for a very short time, and for very good reasons, has it’s drawbacks. Still under some suspicion, Ballista and his familia are sent on a perilous, almost hopeless mission to the tribes on the vast Steppe… a region Ballista has a few enemies just itching to get revenge…couple that with a psychopathic killer among the retinue, and oh yeah a wicked curse to boot. A page turner for certain, the tale is replete with the descriptive talent of the author, and his subtle(?) way of introducing his audience to the varied philosophical treatises of the time. The repartee between the members of the familia, the bonds forged over decades, these are the bits that drive the narrative. The unknown madman among them seeks to destroy those bonds. A masterful tale in a masterful series of tales, and there is more to come.  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sorcery in Alpara by Judith Starkston

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A curse that consumes armies, a court full of traitors, a clutch of angry concubines and fantastical creatures who offer help but hate mankind.

Tesha’s about to become queen of a kingdom under assault from all sides, but she has powerful allies: her strategist husband, his crafty second-in-command, and her brilliant blind sister.

Then betrayal strips her of them all. To save her marriage and her world, she will have to grapple with the serpentine plot against her and unleash the goddess Ishana’s uncontrollable magic—without destroying herself.

“Based on historical events in the Bronze Age, Starkston wraps history and magic together in an unforgettable package.”

If you like unique world building, ancient sorcery, and mythical beasts, with richly portrayed characters and enthrallingly complex plots, then immerse yourself in Sorcery in Alpara, the second in this award-winning epic historical fantasy series. See why readers call the Tesha series “fast-paced,” “psychologically riveting” and “not to be missed.”

REVIEW

A startling sequel, Sorcery in Alpara, is one intense tale. Tesha, in a series of events becomes an outcast even in the eyes of Hattu. Time and again, situations are twisted to make her situation worse. Powerful magic, sorcery, and a coterie of people who want to see her fall make this story a joy to read.  Time and again, I would wonder how much Tesha could take. Masterful characters, a multi-faceted plot that keeps the reader in suspense…a good read indeed.  4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

The Last Battle (Agent of Rome #7) by Nick Brown

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Aurelian, Emperor of Rome, has one last enemy left to conquer: in Gaul, the usurper Tetricus holds sway, and Aurelian will need every last man if he is to unify his domain and bring peace to the Empire.

One of those men is Cassius Corbulo, now seconded to the legion of Prefect Venator in southern Gaul. When a leading general is abducted on the eve of battle, Cassius is ordered to find and rescue him before the enemy gain crucial intelligence. As ever he is accompanied by attendant Simo and Indavara, the ex-gladiator bodyguard. After a punishing few years, both Cassius and Indavara doubt themselves: do they still have the strength and courage to survive this deadly mission behind enemy lines?

Their foe is Volosus: a veteran agent as resourceful as Cassius but far more ruthless. If he is victorious, Tetricus will gain a crucial advantage that might turn the tide of the coming war.

Who will survive the Last Battle?

REVIEW

The finale of The Agent of Rome series, The Last Battle, is one emotional read, not only because of the content of the story, but also because it is the last of one of my favorite collection of books. The author, throughout the various missions Corbulo, Indavara and Simo are sent on has given me hours of enjoyment. Each tale in a different locale, each one with different enemies, and certainly different dangers. Book seven is no different in those respects, a rousing tale of rescue, a battle between two Roman armies to see who will rule, however, in this tale there are loose ends to tie up. The future of the main characters is dealt with in a superb, yet heart string tugging manner (I will not say more about that.) I will say that I am going to miss all of them. So my peeps and fellow readers, if you have not ventured into the Agent of Rome series, I highly recommend it. As Corbulo says to one of his companions, ‘Ah, well, glad you asked – prepare to be impressed!’  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐