The All Father Paradox (Vikingverse #1) by Ian Stuart Sharpe

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What if an ancient god escaped his fate and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the 1,000-year-old Viking memorial there. But when things start changing and outright disappearing, Michaels realizes there is more to this old man than meets the eye. Now, Michaels finds himself swept up in an ancient god’s quest to escape his destiny by reworking reality, putting history—and to Michaels’s dismay, Christianity itself—to the Viking sword. In this new Vikingverse novel, storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas: A young Norse prince plots to shatter empires and claim the heavens; a scholar exiled to the frontier braves the dangers of the New World, only to find those “new worlds” are greater than he imagined; a captured Jötunn plants the dreams of freedom during a worlds-spanning war; a bold empress discovers there is a price for immortality, one her ancestors have come to collect. With the timelines stretched to breaking point, it’s up to Churchwarden Michaels to save reality as we know it.

REVIEW

Every once in a while I encounter a book that is so densely packed with subject matter, that it requires a second reading…not that that is a bad thing, on the contrary when the book is as exciting and thought provoking as The All Father Paradox. The tale is part alternative history, part fantasy, part science fiction…  Intriguing is an understatement…in some ways it reminds me of the Dan Simmons’ Ilium & Olympus duo. The author presents parallel universes, one of which sees the pantheon of Norse gods and Norse culture prevailing over Christianity; a well crafted and interesting concept. Indeed the author has given us a most entertaining, well written creative endeavor. As I mentioned earlier, I will certainly be giving it reread to insure that I’ve gotten everything that this amazing book has to offer. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spear Havoc: 1066 – Alternative Histories by C.R. May

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The year 1066 is arguably the most famous in English history. Assailed on all sides, King Harold and his doughty army finally fall to a last gasp Norman assault.

It is perhaps the very first of those fights against the odds which have entered the national psyche, of which Agincourt, Rorke’s Drift and Dunkirk are but a few.

But what if Harold Godwinson had prevailed on that blood soaked ridge? Or the invasions of Harald of Norway and William of Normandy had never taken place at all?

Here, bestselling author C.R.May presents twelve short stories, each outlining widely differing ways which could easily — and in some cases should have — produced an entirely different timeline, alternative futures which would have had a dramatic effect on the world in which we live today.

REVIEW

What ifs in history are fascinating topics to bandy about; the sheer magnitude of possible change to the course of human history is mind blowing. What if Lee had listened to Longstreet at Gettysburg, what if the 300 never made it to Thermopylae, etc, etc. In Spear Havoc 1066, the author has crafted a series of what if tales relating to that monumental year of William the Conqueror (or Bastard if you prefer 😁), 1066. Each one has that element that, yeah, this could have happened this way…and oh my what a difference that would have made. What I really enjoyed was the way the author included subtle history lessons in the stories…always a plus in my astute, yet humble opinion. So, my fellow readers, a thought provoking, page turning read awaits you.

5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Nexus (Roma Nova #4.5) by Alison Morton

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Mid 1970s. Ex-Praetorian Aurelia Mitela is serving as Roma Nova’s interim ambassador in London. Asked by a British colleague to find his missing son, Aurelia thinks it will only be a case of a young man temporarily rebelling. He’s bound to turn up only a little worse for wear.

But a spate of high-level killings pulls Aurelia away into a dangerous pan-European investigation. Badly beaten in Rome as a warning, she discovers the killers have kidnapped her life companion, Miklós, and sent an ultimatum: Back off or he’ll die.

But Aurelia is a Roma Novan and they never give up…

Set between AURELIA and INSURRECTIO in the Aurelia Mitela Roma Nova adventures

REVIEW

I have read all of the Roma Nova stories, and have enjoyed them all immensely. It’s one of those series that although it is an alternate history, a made up geo-political world; it rings so true as to seem real. In this backstory novella, the author has not diminished that effect at all.  Nexus gives us another chapter in the life of one of my favorite fictional characters, Aurelia Mitela. An exciting tale that follows Aurelia on what started out as a  search for a missing person and becomes a roller coaster ride of adventure, and danger…two things that are sure to bring out the Praetorian in our heroine. So, my fellow readers of Roma Novan history, prepare to be entertained, and to learn a little more about Aurelia Mitela.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ROMA NOVA EXTRA: A Collection of Short Stories (Roma Nova Thriller Series Book 8) by Alison Morton

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As a disclaimer, I must issue this warning. After reading Roma Nova Extra, you may experience some side effects; such as, the overriding compulsion to reread the Roma Nova series. Oh yes, my peeps and fellow travelers, this collection of short stories is that compelling.

I have always found history to be more than just interesting, even if it’s the history of an alternative/fictional world, and in this volume of stories, the author fills in some gaps, provides insight as to how Roma Nova came into being. One such story, Victory, is a perfect example of the Roma Nova adherence to their past; to their beliefs – their passion for keeping the old ways alive and to not succumb or submit to those who would see their downfall.

The stories, a mixture of historical perspective with some more personal tales give the reader a further glimpse into this amazing fictional country – it’s past, and it’s future. An enjoyable collection that is sure to delight the faithful readers of the Roma Nova series.

5 stars

Triumph of a Tsar – by Tamar Anolic

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Triumph of a Tsar is an alternate historical rendering of the Russian Revolution in which the Romanovs survive and remain in power.  The young Prince Alexei becomes Tsar and faces many challenges as he cements his control over Russia against seeming impossible odds.  Not only does he have to prove he is capable of ruling, he has to survive assassination attempts, and his inherited hemophilia.  The author seamlessly weaves the history of post-WW1 into the fabric of her fictional what if. The reader is taken on a roller coaster ride through the turmoil of the times, the economic collapse of the late 20’s; the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party in Germany; the continuing threat from the determined Communists. It is a heady mix of true history and a very plausible alternative. The author also provides the reader with an in depth look at the intricate and widespread influence of family among the Romanovs and their relatives. This proves to be a great source of strength to the young Alexei and a troublesome burden come WW2. An entertaining, and very enjoyable example of history looked at from the ‘what if’ perspective. 4 Stars

Note: Historical Fiction Reviews received a copy of Triumph of a Tsar in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

“Triumph of a Tsar” is Tamar’s second novel. She has a history of writing about the Romanovs. Her first book, the nonfiction biography entitled “The Russian Riddle,” was the first biography of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. In addition, two of her short stories about the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and his sons have been published: “Rumors of War” was published in The Copperfield Review in 2017 and “Before the Fire” was published in The Helix in 2018.

Tamar’s other works are not about the Romanovs. Her first novel, “The Last Battle,” was published in 2017. Her short story “Dark Night, Bright Sky,” was published in The Sandy River Review in 2018.

http://www.tamaranolic.com

 

 

Sailing to Sarantium – The Sarantine Mosaic Book 1 by Guy Gavriel Kay

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I read a lot of fiction, mostly historical-fiction, but also some fantasy/historical-fiction; fiction that takes on the feel of history, events that could have happened, cultures and people that could have existed.  Such is Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay; a work that has the look and feel of a Roman/Byzantine world, but that also carries a look at contemporary issues such as religion and it’s hold on humanity through the ages.  An excellent example of this can be found in a discussion between an architect and the Patriarch concerning the proposed ideas for the dome of a new sanctuary, “Deference becomes you,” said Artibasos, mildly enough. “It might be worth cultivating.  It is customary – except perhaps among clerics – to have opinions preceded by knowledge.” I don’t know about you, my peeps and fellow travelers, but that speaks volumes to current affairs in 2018 America, if not the world.

I read a lot of different authors; a lot of different writing styles and strengths, some who move me with their descriptive abilities, others with the depth of their characters, or their grasp of fine dialogue.  What I have found in my reading of Mr. Kay is an author who moves me with all of those things, but especially the beauty of his narrative; his “way with words”.  I cannot begin to count the number of times I would read a passage, pause, reread, and then pause again to allow the flow of words to both fill me with wonder, and with just a smidgen of jealousy (I too, fancy myself as an author).

Sailing to Sarantium is a complex tale, filled with surprises; with the full range of human emotion, and human experiences – emotions and experiences that can be carried over to modern times – a time of wonder, but also a time of uncertainty. I can hardly wait to read the sequel.  5 Stars  – BTW the chariot race chapter is worth the price of admission.  🙂

Carina by Alison Morton

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Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the entire Roma Nova series, I eagerly opened up the new installment, Carina.  This installment takes place between the first two books of the series and finds Carina tasked to apprehend an alleged traitor in Quebec and return her to Roma Nova.  A straightforward task for a member of the elite Praetorian officer corps.  However, things turn out to be a bit more complicated and she is  plunged into a web of deception and intrigue.  The author has given the reader another gem of a tale with her usual fast paced style, believable scenarios and the real sensation that Roma Nova could exist in the modern world.  When I started reading Carina, it was with the thought that I would take my time with this novella, as I was also reading a couple of other books that had review deadlines looming.  Hah! I was so engrossed and taken in by Alison’s skillful creative abilities, that I finished Carina in two sittings.  So, dear readers, help yourself to another 5 Star entry to the Roma Novan catalog.

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.