The Shadow of Troy

(Empires of Bronze #5)

by Gordon Doherty

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The war at Troy has raged for ten years. Its final throes will echo through eternity…

1258 BC: Surrounded and outnumbered by the army of Agamemnon, King Priam and his Trojan forces fight desperately to defend their city. In the lulls between battle, all talk inevitably turns to the mighty ally that has not yet arrived to their aid. Agamemnon will weep for mercy, the Trojans say, when the eastern horizons darken with the endless ranks of the Hittite Empire.

King Hattu has endured a miserable time since claiming the Hittite throne. Vassals distance themselves while rival empires circle, mocking him as an illegitimate king. Worst of all, the army of the Hittites is but a memory, destroyed in the civil war that won him the throne. Knowing that he must honour his empire’s oath to protect Troy, he sets off for Priam’s city with almost nothing, praying that the dreams he has endured since his youth – of Troy in ruins – can be thwarted. All the way, an ancient mantra rings in his head: Hittites should always heed their dreams

REVIEW

Now that, my fellow mavens of Hittite tales, is one sprawling, exquisite telling of the last part of the Trojan War. Like Mardukal the Assyrian is a master craftsman of terrifyingly destructive city breaking weapons, Gordon Doherty is a master craftsman bringing the Homeric tale to a deliciously satisfying Hittite point of view. The characters jump off the page as befits these Bronze Age heroes. All the warts and foibles are exposed, all of the internal squabbles are portrayed, all of the frustrations and anger, the agonizing despair of both sides make this story a page turning delight. I’ve been enthralled by this series, the incredible ability to bring the Hittites to life in such a realistic fashion has been eye-opening as well as entertaining. For those of you who might be reading this, but have not read the books in this series, do your heart and mind a big favor, read The Empires of Bronze tales. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Crimson Throne

(Empires of Bronze #4)

by Gordon Doherty

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The King of the Hittites has been slain, and a reign of terror begins…

1272 BC: Prince Hattu returns home from the battlefield of Kadesh to find his nephew on the throne, the old king’s blood dripping from his hands. Under Urhi-Teshub’s reign, the Hittite realm has become a land of fear and violent reprisals. Ancient family lines and old ways are being wiped out as the young tyrant strengthens his bronze-fisted grip on power.

Hattu’s loved ones are spared only in return for his absolute obedience. Yet he knows he must choose between his family and his burning need for restitution. The Goddess Ishtar, ever-present in his dreams, assures him that there is only one future.
A war for the throne is coming… and blood will be let.

REVIEW

Oh my, what a vivid imagination does this author possess. How else to explain the pages and pages that make up this tale, when the historical record is scant enough to fill only a few of those pages. Perhaps he relies on a Muse for inspiration. Might that Muse be Ishtar filling his head with dreams and visions? Whatever it is that spurs his fingers along the keyboard, the result is another thrill ride of a story, though I do believe I see Ishtar’s hand in all of the drama, anguish, pain, and suffering as she goads Hattu with dire prophecies. Actually that is one of the strengths of this tale, the fact that the author made all of those prophecies flesh out exactly as stated, but with results sometimes different than what Hattu imagined. Yes my fellow peeps and fellow travelers along the ancient Anatolian road, this episode highlights the resulting effects of the Thunder at Kadesh, and the changing political landscape from Troy to Hattusa. Old allies are now enemies, old enemies are now allies. The struggle for Hattu to rise above the bleak forecast of the future is a compelling journey, and one that does not end yet. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thunder at Kadesh

(Empires of Bronze #3)

by Gordon Doherty

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It will be the cruellest war ever waged, and the Gods will gather to watch…

1275 BC: Tensions between the Hittite and Egyptian Empires erupt and the two great superpowers mobilise for all-out war. Horns blare across the Hittite northlands and the dunes of Egypt rumble with the din of drums as each gathers an army of unprecedented size. Both set their eyes upon the border between their domains, and the first and most important target: a desert city whose name will toll through history. Kadesh!

Prince Hattu has lived in torment for years, plagued by the memory of his wife’s murder. Thoughts of her poisoner, Volca the Sherden – for so long safe and distant by Pharaoh Ramesses’ side – have sullied his dreams, blackened his waking hours and driven him to commit the darkest of deeds. Now that war is here, he at last has the chance to confront his nemesis and have his vengeance.

But as the ancient world goes to war, Hattu will learn that the cold, sweet kiss of revenge comes at a terrible price. 

REVIEW

I just happened to see someone tweet that they had just finished a book set in ancient times, and while they enjoyed it, they lamented the fact that the author didn’t come close to Gordon Doherty’s creative genius when it comes to describing battles. I just finished a Doherty book, and I can state with unimpeachable certainty that his battle describing prowess is on full display in Thunder at Kadesh. Talk about pulse racing action…yeah, he’s got that down. Had to stop and catch my breath once in a while; give the massive chariots a moment to turn around and plow into their foes again. Now, don’t get the impression that this is a one dimensional tale, far from it my peeps and fellow travelers. The drama, especially involving Hattu and Volca, is page turning stuff as well. Lots of surprises along this tale’s storyline as various factions vie for dominance in the region. I also liked the inclusion of some of the future Trojan War combatants, Priam, Sarpedon, and even the young Hektor. A bit of a history lesson there, as well as some damn fine fiction. And, by the way, the ending is magnificent. 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Empires of Bronze: Dawn of War (Empires of Bronze #2) by Gordon Doherty

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A tale of far-flung desert adventure set in the distant Bronze Age

Two great empires on the brink of war, one last hope for peace…

1294 BC: The fragile accord between the Hittite and Egyptian empires is crumbling. The ancient world braces itself for war on an unprecedented scale. Prince Hattu, the greatest of the Hittite generals, suffers dreams of terrible consequences – conjured by the Goddess Ishtar. But Hattu refuses to accept her prophecies, adamant that there is one last chance for peace.

This fragile hope lies in the borderlands of the east, where the two rival empires touch. Hattu gathers a chosen band and sets out for this distant, blistering desert land, determined and defiant. Yet the further he ventures, the darker and more twisted his mission becomes. Old ghosts rise around him and Ishtar haunts his every move.

The Goddess’ divination’s cannot be avoided, men say. Hattu will walk through fire to prove them wrong.

REVIEW

All of the new research and discoveries regarding the early history of mankind’s penchant for building empires, and especially in the area of Anatolia, could provide a creative author enough fodder for an excellent series on a Bronze Age/pre-Trojan War empire – say maybe the Hittites. Wait, what’s that? Empires of Bronze by Gordon Doherty is just the ticket? By dream-inducing Ishtar, I do believe you are correct. A master at putting his protagonists through seven shades of suffering and turmoil, the author has once again crafted a tale that keeps the readers on the edge of their seats, as Prince Hattu must survive not only the cruel elements of geography and weather, but the immensely talented, long reaching evil of Pharaoh Seti’s pet villain, Volca.

Another thing I enjoy about Mr. Doherty’s creative prowess is his ability to transport me back to that ancient time and place- a time of tin and copper – a time of bronze tipped spears – a time of chariots – a place destined to be one of the most fought over throughout our history. Looking forward to the next episode – The Army of Ra is on the way.

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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Priestess of Ishana (Tesha #1) by Judith Starkston

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A curse, a conspiracy and the clash of kingdoms. A defiant priestess confronts her foes, armed only with ingenuity and forbidden magic.

A malignant curse from the Underworld threatens Tesha’s city with fiery devastation. The young priestess of Ishana, goddess of love and war, must overcome this demonic darkness. Charred remains of an enemy of the Hitolian Empire reveal both treason and evil magic. Into this crisis, King Hattu, the younger brother of the Great King, arrives to make offerings to the goddess Ishana, but he conceals his true mission in the city. As a connection sparks between King Hattu and Tesha, the Grand Votary accuses Hattu of murderous sorcery and jails him under penalty of death. Isolated in prison, Hattu’s only hope lies in Tesha to uncover the conspiracy against him. Unfortunately, the Grand Votary is Tesha’s father, a rash, unyielding man, and now her worst enemy. To help Hattu, she must risk destroying her own father.

Step into this exotic world of historical fantasy, with its richly imagined details of the Bronze Age, evocative of the Near East. In a whirlpool of magic, politics, family crisis and love, Tesha pursues justice over the dark forces arrayed against her.

REVIEW

An entertaining tale – historical fiction mixed with magic and sorcery in an alternate Hittite world prior to the Achaean Invasion (Trojan War).  Priestess of Ishana is not only a captivating look at that ancient empire, it is also the story of a young woman and her struggle to serve her goddess while in the middle of an investigation that could see her father and family destroyed. It is a complex plot, a conspiracy of hate and revenge, that had me engaged from the start. Characters that fit the time and place, giving the tale a realism. Even the magical element feels right; the sorcery believable and real, the demons full of power, the invocations full of danger to the user, the goddess a demanding one. It is also a tale of intense emotions, stressful situations. One in which Tesha must find strength she never knew she had, steadfastly clinging to her faith in Ishana in order to come to the truth whatever the outcome. 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Empires of Bronze: Son of Ishtar (Empires of Bronze #1) by Gordon Doherty

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Four sons. One throne. A world on the precipice. 

1315 BC: Tensions soar between the great powers of the Late Bronze Age. The Hittites stand toe-to-toe with Egypt, Assyria and Mycenaean Ahhiyawa, and war seems inevitable. More, the fierce Kaskan tribes – age-old enemies of the Hittites – amass at the northern borders.

When Prince Hattu is born, it should be a rare joyous moment for all the Hittite people. But when the Goddess Ishtar comes to King Mursili in a dream, she warns that the boy is no blessing, telling of a dark future where he will stain Mursili’s throne with blood and bring destruction upon the world.

Thus, Hattu endures a solitary boyhood in the shadow of his siblings, spurned by his father and shunned by the Hittite people. But when the Kaskans invade, Hattu is drawn into the fray. It is a savage journey in which he strives to show his worth and valour. Yet with his every step, the shadow of Ishtar’s prophecy darkens…

REVIEW

Okay, my peeps and fellow readers of Mr. Doherty, we already know the dude can write, but this is the start of a new series…has his heretofore exemplary writing skills carried over? Let’s have a look at the Hoover Book Review checklist – intriguing subject matter/check – characters the reader can embrace/check – a story line with twists and turns/check – obstacles overcome/check – engaging dialogue/check – tense drama/check – descriptions that invite the reader to the very walls of Hattusa…that leave the scent of battle on the pages/check. It’s apparent that the author has ticked all of the boxes which I guess isn’t too much of a surprise. He’s taken on a period, area, and a people not well known, but who were certainly the boss of Asia Minor, and has crafted a wonderful tale of the Hittite world, a tale of overcoming the odds stacked high against success, a tale of two brothers and the growing divide between them…a tale of an empire being tested to the brink of destruction. A well done story that has me looking expectantly for the next one. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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