Camelot by Giles Kristian

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Britain is a land riven by anarchy, slaughter, famine, filth and darkness. Its armies are destroyed, its heroes dead, or missing. Arthur and Lancelot fell in the last great battle and Merlin has not been these past ten years. But in a small, isolated monastery in the west of England, a young boy is suddenly plucked from his simple existence by the ageing warrior, Gawain. It seems he must come to terms with his legacy and fate as the son of the most celebrated yet most infamous of Arthur’s warriors: Lancelot. For this is the story of Galahad, Lancelot’s son – the reluctant warrior who dared to keep the dream of Camelot alive

REVIEW

In this emotionally taut follow up to Lancelot, the author has taken the Arthurian saga/epic/myth a step further; a certified page turning tale that immerses the reader into that darkest of dark periods in Britain’s history. Wonderfully crafted characters, imaginative plot lines full of surprises, a drama played out in heartrending, and visceral fashion…The Horse Lords of Arthur reemerge from fen and forest, proud, loyal to the death…Merlin rediscovers the gods…the lament of Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere rekindled in Galahad and Iselle…yes my fellow readers, the follow up is an excellent continuation of Lancelot. Take the advice from this humble scribe as sung by The Moody Blues: Are you sitting comfortably? Let Merlin cast his spell.  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Cold Hearth (The Atheling Chronicles #3) by Garth Pettersen

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“The sons of Cnute are dead men.” The dying words of his brother’s assailant travel across the North Sea to the English Midlands.

Harald, the king’s second son, receives the warning while rebuilding a hall where he hopes to farm and lead a peaceful life with Selia, his Frisian wife. But as the hall nears completion, they learn the family who lived there before them all perished in a single night of bloodshed. Could the grounds be cursed?

Now the threat of unknown enemies casts a long shadow. Should they distrust the brooding Saxon neighbor or the two weapon-bearers they hired for protection? Should they suspect either of the two women they have taken on with the other hirelings? Only their Jewish warrior friend, Ravya ben Naaman, seems to be the only one above suspicion.

REVIEW

It’s not easy being the son of the King. While you might have started a new peaceful existence, and are the sort who gets along with the common folk, your family is another matter. Ever present in just about any monarchy is the issue of succession, and Harald Harefoot and his brothers aren’t the only contenders. The Cold Hearth is an engaging tale of an unsettled period in English history….the House of Wessex seeks to regain the throne from the House of Cnute, and one way to make that happen is to eliminate the Danish contenders to the throne. Wonderfully crafted characters fill the pages of this multi-threaded story; plot lines with twists and turns that leave the reader gasping at the turn of events. I was drawn into the emotional turmoil and stress resulting not only of the planned removal of Harald, but also from a brutal event in the past that threatens the tranquility of Harald’s friends and family. So, while Harald may have wanted a peaceful existence away from the turmoil, that isn’t what he gets in this rousing tale. Now I’m only guessing, but methinks that the turmoil will continue in the next episode of The Atheling Chronicles.   5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Saxon Spears: an epic of the Dark Age (Song of Ash, #1) by James Calbraith

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Thirty years have passed since Britannia voted to throw off the Roman yoke. Now, the old world crumbles. 

Pirates roam the seas, bandits threaten the highways, and barbarian refugees land at Britannia’s shores, uninvited. The rich profit from the chaos, while the poor suffer. A new Dark Age is approaching – but all is not lost.

Ash is a Seaborn, a Saxon child found on the beach with nothing but a precious stone at his neck and a memory of a distant war from which his people have fled. Raised on the estate of a Briton nobleman, trained in warfare and ancient knowledge, he soon becomes embroiled in the machinations and intrigues at the court of Wortigern, the Dux of Londinium, a struggle that is about to determine the future of all Britannia.

A child of Saxon blood, an heir to Roman family, his is a destiny like no other: to join the two races and forge a new world from the ruins of the old.

The Saxon Spears is the first volume of the Song of Ash saga, perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell’s “The Last Kingdom” series, Simon Scarrow and Conn Iggulden.

REVIEW

A truly unsettled time with so many groups trying to establish themselves in Dark Age Britain, the author has created an intriguing tale of a young man’s struggle to find out who he is. Steeped in richly detailed descriptions of life in a post-Roman world, the story takes many twists and turns keeping the reader entertained, and in the way of all good historical-fiction, the reader may even learn a little about the trials, tribulations. innovations, and survival in a time and place shrouded in mystery.  A fine beginning indeed to what promises to be an exciting series.  4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

About the Author

James Calbraith is a Poland-born British writer, foodie and traveller.

Growing up in communist Poland on a diet of powdered milk, Lord of the Rings and soviet science-fiction, he had his first story published at the ripe age of eight. After years of bouncing around Polish universities, he moved to London in 2007 and started writing in English. His debut historical fantasy novel, “The Shadow of Black Wings”, has reached ABNA semi-finals. It was published in July 2012 and hit the Historical Fantasy and Alternate History bestseller lists on Amazon US & UK.

TWITTER | GOODREADS

 

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of The Saxon Spears! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on March 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/competitions/Nzjg6-the-saxon-spears

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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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Written in their Stars (The Lydiard Chronicles #3) by Elizabeth St.John

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London, 1649. Horrified eyewitnesses to King Charles’s bloody execution, Royalists Nan Wilmot and Frances Apsley plot to return the king’s exiled son to England’s throne, while their radical cousin Luce, the wife of king-killer John Hutchinson, rejoices in the new republic’s triumph. Nan exploits her high-ranking position as Countess of Rochester to manipulate England’s great divide, flouting Cromwell and establishing a Royalist spy network; while Frances and her husband Allen join the destitute prince in Paris’s Louvre Palace to support his restoration. As the women work from the shadows to topple Cromwell’s regime, their husbands fight openly for the throne on England’s bloody battlefields.
But will the return of the king be a victory, or destroy them all? Separated by loyalty and bound by love, Luce, Nan and Frances hold the fate of England—and their family—in their hands.
A true story based on surviving memoirs of Elizabeth St.John’s family, Written in their Stars is the third novel in the Lydiard Chronicles series.

REVIEW

Another triumph, another fascinating read. The author has retained that emotional tug at her reader’s hearts throughout the series, while at the same time providing a powerful tale of shattered dreams, hopes, and survival in a country torn by civil war, and rife with divisive politics that tear families apart. The trials and tribulations of the family, overwhelming at times, are rendered beautifully through the strength of the characters; characters who pull the reader into the turmoil, the chaos, the victories in an ever changing reality.  Let the pages turn, my fellow readers – Luce, Nan and Frances are calling you.   5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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About the Author

Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An award-winning author, historian and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, to the Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them – in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story…

For more information, please visit Elizabeth St. John’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

 

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two signed copies of Written in their Stars! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on January 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

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Song of the Centurion (Warrior Druid of Britain #2) by Steven A. McKay

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Blurb

It is AD 430. Against all odds Princess Catia has been rescued from her brutal Saxon captors and Bellicus is taking her home at last.

As the giant warrior-druid knows, however, the gods rarely make things easy and, even if he can escort the girl back to the North safely, their troubles will be far from over…
In a land beset by the rivalries of petty warlords, Dun Breatann has stood solid and secure for untold generations. Trouble brews though as King Coroticus has cracked under the pressure and, as well as starting a war with the neighbouring kings, he has become jealous, suspicious, and often blind drunk. When the king’s paranoia finally boils over during a winter feast, Bel finds himself with two choices – accept exile, or complete another seemingly impossible undertaking.
So much for the returning hero…

Accompanied by his massive war-dog, Cai, and the ever-loyal former centurion, Duro – who has his own painful issues to contend with – Bellicus must somehow survive a journey east into enemy-held lands. There, he will need to use his gods-given talents to the full if they are to survive the winter frosts and carry out the mad king’s orders without being captured or killed by the men of Dalriada.

Folklore, superstition, the healing power of song, and even a wondrous white stag will all play a part in the companions’ continuing adventures, but, no matter the outcome of their mission, it will take a miracle to untangle the mess they’ve left behind in Alt Clota. Armies are gathering and, when spring returns, the people of Dun Breatann will be under siege once again.

Will their legendary warrior-druid be there to defend them, or will the new ways sweep away the old once and for all? Find out in Song of the Centurion, the action-packed sequel to 2018’s The Druid!

Review

Well now, my fellow readers, prepare yourself for an exciting, page turning sequel to The Druid. The author has created a suspense filled tale that finds Bellicus, Duro, and Cai in some pretty hairy situations….situations that don’t always turn out the way they expected.  Plot twists, surprises, plus a damn good story, make Song of The Centurion a more than worthy successor to The Druid…now we wait for results of all those twists and surprises. Book 3 can’t get here soon enough.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐