The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

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Let me just state from the get-go…I fancy myself as an author given that I have written and published a novel (with more to come) but when I read someone like Guy Gavriel Kay, I ache to have just a little of his talent; just a little more ability to draw word pictures in his manner.  Lions is a complex story of love, loyalty, and devotion during a period of great upheaval; a period reminiscent of the Moorish-Christian competition to see whose God is best(sadly, still going on.)  If I get anything out of reading this tale it is this, that the genocidal insanity of religious domination in political affairs is quite possibly the saddest concept in human history.

Another aspect of Lions is the almost impossible situations some of the characters find themselves in; especially when it comes to love and loyalty…so many lines are crossed and in such a way that the differences between Jaddite-Asharite-Kindath pale in significance to the individuals involved.  The Kindath physician Jehane, the poet/warrior Ammar, the Jaddite warrior Rodrigo and many others, provide the reader with characters so fully developed as to make the story seem historical rather than a fantasy account.

So, my peeps and fellow travelers, prepare for an emotion filled, heart tugging tale from a master at his craft.  5 stars…or maybe two moons…or maybe just the Sun..read the book, you’ll get what I mean.  🙂

 

 

Retalio by Alison Morton

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A vile almost inhuman character; a combination of Augustus’s intelligence and the brutal madness of Caligula has overthrown the legal government of Roma Nova and replaced it with a distinctly male dominated presence.  Forced to flee for their lives, many of the Roma Novans; including the indomitable Aurelia and the young Imperatrix, Silvia, begin the long, slow process of reclaiming their homeland.  Throughout this alternative history series I have been fascinated by the author’s ability to conjure up a world that is recognizable and totally believable, and she has done so once again.  Not only are the political, and logistical nuances covered in a thorough, convincing manner, the portrayal of the internal conflicts and emotions of the characters had this humble scribe stopping occasionally to catch his breath.  It is safe to say that Retalio is an excellent addition to this remarkable history of Roma Nova.  The villain, Caius Tellus, as well as ranking high on my favorite fictional bad guys list, bears a certain resemblance to the current occupant of the White House, at least to me.  An unintentional resemblance, I’m sure, but prescient nonetheless.  A page turning delight (with the above mentioned pauses for breath taking), a heart racing tale of intrigue and courage.  5 stars

Insurrectio Roma Nova V by Alison Morton

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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.

 

Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan

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When I am offered the chance to read and review a book it is usually of a different historical-fiction genre than this particular work.  I read mostly ancient Greek, Roman, etc and also a fair smattering of medieval works dealing with The Crusades or post-Roman Britain.  All of those categories are stories that do not take place anywhere near the U.S. where I live, so when given an opportunity to latch onto a work of historical-fiction pertaining to the history of my country, I gleefully grab on, even if, as in this case, it is an alternate history.  The year is 1839, the American Revolution had ended in the defeat of the rebels and the landscape is vastly different.  Britain, the victors now claim the entire eastern seaboard out to the Mississippi.  From the Mississippi to the Rockies is French; from the Rockies to the Pacific is Spanish.  This story involves three young friends, Claire, Phileas and Sam who grew up together in New France and who undertake a dangerous journey to track down some vicious killers.  The culture they grow up in includes many facets of the unexplainable, paranormal world and one of the friends harbors a terrible family curse and survives a brutal murder attempt on his life by a group of fanatics bent on ridding the world of any who have the same affliction.

The world the author creates is imaginative and is one that it is a believable consequence of Britain defeating the colonial rebellion. It is also imaginative in it’s use of the paranormal.  Claire’s ability to influence people plays an important part in the adventure the three friends embark on.  The characters, both the good guys and the bad guys, are wonderfully portrayed, the descriptions of the cultures, the landscape, the towns and countryside are delivered in a way that puts the reader in the midst of them.  There is plenty of drama, plot twists, and action.  I found it to be a refreshing look at a time in history that might have been and I look forward to more from the author.  4 stars and a hearty Hoover Book Reviews recommendation.

About the author:

Born and raised in Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan has a BS in Anthropology and an MFA in Creative Writing. She lives, writes and paints in Los Angeles with her husband and their many imaginary friends.

AshleyRose has moved 35 times. She’s been the oldest, the youngest, the middle and the only child. She has worked as a taxidermist’s assistant, a milkmaid, and a story time lady. She’s a power-lifter, a left-handed artist, and a right-handed knitter. Her library is organized by color.

Aurelia: Roma Nova IV by Alison Morton

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I can pinpoint when my fascination with ancient Rome began to the viewing of two movies, Ben Hur and Spartacus (yes dear readers, I am that old.)  Nowadays I get my Roman fix through the medium of historical fiction, and there is a lot of that to choose from.  However, the idea that there could still be a remnant of that ancient favorite still extant and thriving is the basis for this wonderful series by Alison Morton, Roma Nova.  A modern nation still bound by many of the old traditions and thriving in the 20th century is what she has not only crafted but done so in such a way as to make you think it was possible.  The fourth book, Aurelia, is a prequel to the first three and centers on the matriarch of the Mitella family and like her namesake, the mother of Gaius Julius Caesar, she is a formidable character.  In the first three books, she is an older woman but still full of wisdom and strength; in the fourth she is a young woman coming into her own as she finds herself thrust into an international plot to undermine the economic stability of the nation and a plot to undermine the matriarchal society that Roma Nova has become.  All of that plus the threat to her life and of that of her family makes for an intense drama built upon the imaginative characters the author has created.  The action and drama is relentless; the climatic conclusion is heart-stopping stuff – in other words; I enjoyed the first three books tremendously; the fourth even more so.  Kudos to the author and a well deserved 5 stars.

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Successio by Alison Morton

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In this the third volume in the Roma-Nova series the author has done her best work to date giving the reader a taut thriller from start to finish.  Carina and Conrad are driven to the edge and beyond as a piece of Conrad’s history in the form of a daughter he did not know about shows up in full time revenge mode.  Revenge not only directed at the father who she feels abandoned her but also against anyone who he is close to including Carina, the Imperatrix and their children.  Nicola, the prodigal daughter from Hades, is an example of how the bad guy/girl should be written in any good novel.  Her perseverance, resourcefulness and the downright ruthlessness of her character are what good stories are made of.  By the same token, those same qualities are imbued once again in the heroine making her once again occasionally act outside the purview of law and order to safeguard her family. This is definitely a page turner of the highest order and while I really enjoyed the first two books, this one captivated me even more.  5 stars and a hearty recommendation.

Perfiditas by Alison Morton

The sequel to Inceptio continues the tale of Carina Mitela and the alternative history country of Roma-Nova.  Once again , the author has given us a fast paced page turner filled with wonderful characters and intriguing plots.  The main story line in the first half of Perfiditas concerns an attempted coup against the Matriarchal government of Roma-Nova and what Carina has to go through to thwart the treason.  Her development continues from Inceptio as she hones her skills and abilities as a member of an elite government para-military unit.

I must confess that I was concerned about the second half of the book as I couldn’t see how the author could maintain interest after the first half treason plot.  However, my concerns turned out to go for naught as plots and sub-plots emerge around the legal and political fallout of Carina’s activities in bringing the traitors to justice.  One bombshell of a plot twist had me stop reading for a moment so I could exhale and exclaim, ‘Oh my, I didn’t see that one coming.’    Kudos to the author and 4 stars for Perfiditas