Pagan King

(Of Gods and Kings #2)

by M.J. Porter

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The year is 641 and the great Oswald of Northumbria, bretwalda (wide-ruler) over England, must battle against an alliance of the old Britons and the Saxons led by Penda of the Hwicce, the victor of Hæ∂feld nine years before, the only Saxon leader seemingly immune to his beguiling talk of the new Christianity spreading through England from both the north and the south.
Alliances will be made and broken, and the victory will go to the man most skilled in war craft and statecraft.
The ebb and flow of battle will once more redraw the lines of the petty kingdoms stretching across the British Isles.
There will be another victor and another bloody loser. 

REVIEW

When I read Pagan Warrior, the first book in the series, I was convinced that I would certainly read the rest. What I’m most disappointed in is that it took me so long to read Pagan King. Regardless of the reasons for the delay, it took only a page for me to rekindle my liking of that irascible, ambition driven, Woden in the flesh, Penda. As befits the tenor of that age, this is a complex story and is told in first person chapters which highlights all that emotion, all of those ambitions, all of that religious fervor… Indeed it allows the reader to walk alongside of Penda, Eowa, and Oswald as they turn things over in their minds. It is a complex story, a lot of treachery, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of pragmatic decisions. The buildup to the climatic battle is page turning at its finest, there be some excellent storytelling in these pages.

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE BLUE BOOK OF VIROCONIUM: PENDRAGONS: BOOK 2

by Kevin Bayton-Wood

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ALL THE AUTHOR’S ROYALTIES FROM THIS BOOK SERIES WILL BE DONATED TO PARKINSON’S DISEASE RESEARCH. The Blue Book of Viroconium is the second novel in the Pendragons book series. Following on from the Pendragon’s victory over the Saxons at Badon, Prince Owain again finds himself fighting a major battle with the Saxons, though this time he must also fight a two-pronged attack from within his own lands. Gwen, with her family threatened by an unseen assassin, sets off alone into the Middleland Forest to find the killer she knows she is unlikely to defeat, and yet she has no choice but to search out and confront the most wicked of creatures. Gal, now a Red Cloak, is set to marry Seren but, lurking in the forest stalks the most dangerous of men, who will stop at nothing to make Seren his own. A less martial novel than The Black Book of Badon, The Blue Book of Viroconium introduces the reader to the most shocking of sorrows, tragedy follows almost all of the major characters but there is hope for the Pendragon and his friends: the arrival in Viroconium of a golden child will change the lives of all who meet her; a cousin of Owain returns to take his rightful place in the heart of Celtic Briton; on the Isle of Mona a man takes the mushroom drink and makes a realization only the Merlin can understand. This book might well be the most turbulent of the five novels in this series, but it is the most compelling, more so because one of the main characters meets the saddest and most horrific of deaths. A love story, a tale of murder and magic and mystery, a tragedy intertwined with triumph, this book plays with the emotions of those willing to read it.

REVIEW

As with the first volume in the Pendragons series, The Blue Book continues the imaginative telling of the Arthurian legend. Overcoming overwhelming odds, and a multitude of problems, this episode is one of perseverance and faith. It is also, as becomes the violent nature of the age, a tale replete with the sadness and grief associated with that violence. Yes my fellow peeps and travelers along this journey, there is much sadness. I will say no more about that other than to highlight one of the many interesting characters in this tale, Rohanna. A more vile, wicked creature, and yet still a somewhat enticing one, is hard to imagine. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Christian priest/warrior Illtud, an immediately likeable sort, a more pure rendition of a Christ follower than many of the ‘my way or it’s hell for you’ priests. The Pendragon has a lot on his plate, most of it not too appetizing. It will take all his courage, fortitude, and a trust in his abilities to survive everything coming at him. And of course, his Red Cloaks.

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

To the Death

(Viking Chronicles #2)

by Martin Lake

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The Viking army is about to face its greatest challenge, the Kingdom of Wessex. King Æthelred and his brother Alfred are determined to wage war to the death.

The Great Viking Army has conquered Northumbria and East Anglia. Two English kingdoms remain independent, Mercia and Wessex. The sons of Ragnar, leaders of the army, must decide which to attack next.

Leif Ormson, once Skald to Ivar the Boneless, has now been made a jarl. He is a reluctant warrior and is grateful and relieved when he is given rich lands in which to live in peace and prosperity.

But the Vikings’ relentless lust for conquest sweeps him and his family into peril and war. As the army marches towards Wessex he wonders if he will again have dealings with Prince Alfred and his dangerous friends.

He wonders if he will even survive.

An epic tale of the great war for England.

REVIEW

A captivating tale of the Saxon versus Dane battle for control of Wessex. Intriguing characters drive this page turning episode, the action is relentless and brutal, the landscape is described in such a way that the reader is drawn into the tale. I especially enjoyed the portrayal of a young Alfred, so unsure of his abilities, yet becomes a force to contend with. Looking forward to the next book in this…Alfred isn’t quite The Great yet. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

For Lord and Land (The Bernicia Chronicles Book 8)

by Matthew Harffy

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Greed and ambition threaten to tear the north apart
War rages between the two kingdoms of Northumbria. Kin is pitted against kin and friend becomes foe as
ambitious kings vie for supremacy.
When Beobrand travels south into East Angeln to rescue a friend, he unwittingly tilts the balance of power
in the north, setting in motion events that will lead to a climactic confrontation between Oswiu of
Bernicia and Oswine of Deira.
While the lord of Ubbanford is entangled in the clash of kings, his most trusted warrior, Cynan, finds
himself on his own quest, called to the aid of someone he thought never to see again. Riding into the
mountainous region of Rheged, Cynan faces implacable enemies who would do anything to further their
own ends.
Forced to confront their pasts, and with death and betrayal at every turn, both Beobrand and Cynan have
their loyalties tested to breaking point.
Who will survive the battle for a united Northumbria, and who will pay the ultimate price for lord and
land?

REVIEW

Life is certainly not getting any easier for Beobrand. In fact, irony, bad luck, and jumbled emotions have made our hero’s life a bit of a mess. There’s a line from singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn’s tune The Whole Night Sky – ‘hanging from this high wire by the tatters of my faith.’ Substitute ‘oath’ for ‘faith’ and that sort of encapsulates the mindset of Beobrand in the 8th installment of this most excellent series. Everything he does, even if it’s for the right reasons, comes back to add to his mounting confusion, and frustration. There were times, if I was Beobrand, where my control over my rage would not have been contained. Yes, my fellow followers of this warrior/leader of Bernicia, the author has done another remarkable job in keeping the lid on Beobrand’s fiery temper while providing us with another action-packed, emotionally charged tale of the chaotic Northumbrian battles for supremacy. And even better, the series isn’t finished yet. 😎 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Author:
Matthew Harffy grew up in Northumberland where the rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky
coastline had a huge impact on him. He now lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their
two daughters. @MatthewHarffy http://www.matthewharffy.com

Retail links

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3e45G97

Follow Matthew

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Website: www.matthewharffy.com

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Apprentice Spy

by Martin Lake

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When young actor Thomas Mapperley faces dire punishment for seducing the daughter of an aristocrat he is saved by an unlikely champion, Francis Walsingham, spymaster to Queen Elizabeth.

Mapperley is soon dispatched to the Low Countries where William, Prince of Orange is engaged in a deadly struggle against the powerful forces of the Spanish Crown. If he loses the war, the Low Countries will remain part of the Spanish Empire. If he wins, the Low Countries may become a new nation.

Mapperley finds he is both pawn and player in the turbulent times ahead, captured by the Spaniards, used as an agent by William and finally witnessing the terrible sack of Antwerp, the wealthiest city in Europe. And every moment, his life hangs in the balance.

Perhaps being a spy was a bad move. Perhaps he should have remained an actor.

REVIEW

A thoroughly enjoyable tale of a period/topic of history that was unfamiliar to me. The Dutch versus The Spanish for control of the low countries of Europe. Thomas is an actor, but once he’s ‘drafted’ into the realm of Walsingham’s spy network, he develops the skills necessary to survive what I feel is the real villain in this tale – The Spanish Inquisition. During the course of this page turning tale, Thomas and his companions (wonderful characters in themselves especially Angel) are faced with many challenges – another of the author’s strengths are the details of the places and events in this well-researched piece of European history. Emotionally charged, entertaining dialogue, and an edge of the seat drama make Apprentice Spy a pleasure to read…something I’ve come to expect from this author and I have yet to be disappointed. 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Guardians at the Wall by Tim Walker – an excerpt for Coffee Pot Book Club

Book Title: Guardians at the Wall

Author: Tim Walker

Publication Date: 1st June 2021

Publisher: Independently published

Page Length: 310 Pages

Genre: Historical dual timeline (Contemporary/Roman)

Twitter Handles: @timwalker1666 @maryanneyarde

Instagram Handles: @timwalker1666 @coffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #HadriansWall #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

Book Title and Author Name:

Guardians at the Wall

By Tim Walker

Blurb:

Archaeology student Noah scrapes the soil near Hadrian’s Wall, once a barrier that divided Roman Britannia from wild Caledonian tribes, in the hope of uncovering an ancient artefact around which he can build a project-defining story.

He makes an intriguing find, but hasn’t anticipated the distraction of becoming the object of desire in a developing love triangle in the isolated academic community at Vindolanda. He’s living his best life, but must learn to prioritise in a race against time to solve an astounding 2,000-year-old riddle, and an artefact theft, as he comes to realise his future career prospects depend on it.

In the same place, almost 2,000 years earlier, Centurion Gaius Atticianus, hungover and unaware of the bloody conflicts that will soon challenge him, is rattled by the hoot of an owl, a bad omen.

These are the protagonists whose lives will brush together in the alternating strands of this dual timeline historical novel, one commencing his journey and trying to get noticed, the other trying to stay intact as he approaches retirement.

How will the breathless battles fought by a Roman officer influence the fortunes of a twenty-first century archaeology mud rat? Can naive Noah, distracted by the attentions of two very different women, navigate his way to a winning presentation?

Find out in Tim Walker’s thrilling historical dual timeline novel, Guardians at the Wall.

Buy Links:

Kindle: http://mybook.to/guardiansatthewall

Paperback: http://mybook.to/guardianspaperback Available on Kindle Unlimited

EXCERPT

Guardians at the Wall by Tim Walker

Extract 1 – Archaeology in Action

[POV – Noah Jessop, archaeology student on a dig at Hadrian’s Wall]

I turned at the sound of Mike’s approach, his gum boots bouncing on the wooden boards preserving the moorland grass around the outer edge of the dig. Beyond him, white woolly blobs ripped at the tough turf with teeth and jaws suited to the harsh environment.

“Once you’ve photographed it, make an entry in the day log,” he said, before leaving me to check on the four volunteers who were sieving soil for hidden fragments of pots or small coins in a long wooden box outside the marquee.

It was the site of a settlement of wood and mud-daubed huts and their adjacent animal pens built by the Brigante people, next to what had once been the stone walls of the Roman fortress at Vindolanda. The Romans would have referred to the cluster of buildings as a ‘vicus’. Every fort had one. The fortress site had been excavated almost continuously since the 1930s, and had yielded a wealth of finds that revealed a detailed picture of how successive Roman garrisons had lived their lives – including written records and correspondence that had miraculously survived for almost two thousand years entombed in layers of peat and soft clay. Now a number of archaeology undergraduates had come together to excavate and map the vicus that had once serviced the needs of the Roman occupiers.

I returned to my trench and resumed scraping the earth beside the street. After ten minutes, I stopped abruptly as my trowel blade made contact with a solid object. “Another stone,” I muttered. I dug around it, slowly scraping the dark, loamy soil and patches of sticky clay, then I burrowed gently with my fingers to get underneath the object. It was no ordinary stone. I picked up my paint brush and swept away the clinging soil to reveal a carved face on a smooth, rounded stone, its form and facial features exposed to the sun and air for the first time in almost two millennia. And my eyes were the first to behold it. Time froze. The excavation didn’t exist, just my breathless awe at the face that had last been touched by the hands of someone from the Roman era. I embraced our private moment and then my excitement erupted.

“Mike! I’ve found something!” I yelled in the direction of my crouching supervisor.

Mike stood up and strode purposefully towards me, springing on the boards like a March lamb, calling, “I’m coming!” He knelt down and stared at the stone face peering out of the soil. “Yes, you’ve found something alright, young Noah. Brush away the surface and then photograph in situ before easing it out.”

One careful centimetre at a time, I freed the object, and I held it in my calloused hands, gently brushing away the top layer of clinging soil. I raised the carving and saw grooved swirls and inscriptions that would be revealed when it was clean, and the delicate features of the statuette. It was carved from light grey marble, had a flat base, and stood about ten inches tall. I estimated the weight to be about two pounds – a bag of sugar.

The other students and volunteers had stopped what they were doing and now gathered around, making cooing noises or remarking ‘nice’ and ‘lovely’. I brushed some more, exposing details of the impassive face and shrouded body that suggested it was a female form, its hands cradling the mound of its belly. After admiring her for a few seconds, I handed her over to Mike, grinning like a bridegroom.

“Hmmm, it looks like a deity of the Brigante tribe, perhaps a goddess of fertility or one to ward off evil spirits. Could be carved from a lump of marble found in the quarry pits that produced the blocks used to build the fortress walls. There’s a vein of quartz running through it that perhaps influenced its selection. I’ll take it to Professor Wilde to get her opinion. Well done, lad. Now everyone, back to work. Noah’s shown us that there are riches still to be discovered!”

I beamed with pride as if I’d uncovered the tomb of a pharaoh, and as Mike continued the process of recording and tucked up my beautiful goddess nice and safe, my eyes followed his every move, and I nodded as he talked me through it. 

*****

[In the year 180 CE at the same location, Centurion Gaius Atticianus returns to Vindolanda fort after a successful patrol. Kerwyn is his native scout.]

As his unit gathered and men dismounted to clasp each other’s forearms with relief, Kerwyn and his family came to Gaius’s side.

“Sir, I am indebted to you for coming to our aid, although I did not ask for it. I will await your punishment for my disobedience.”

“That punishment will come, Kerwyn, but not today. Be with your family and be thankful to the gods, and your brave wife.”

The scout nodded and pulled his wife forward by her hand. “This is Morwen, who put the mother of our gods to good use in my defence.”

Morwen, still holding her woollen garment that was torn at the shoulder, held out a rounded stone in her other hand, and looked up sheepishly at the officer from behind an uneven fringe. In response to Gaius’s puzzled expression, she lifted the rock and showed him the carved face and body on its smooth, sculptured side.

Kerwyn explained. “Brigantia is the mother of our people; she is like your goddess, Minerva, and is the great protector of our children.”

“Well, she certainly protected you today!” Gaius laughed.

Kerwyn nodded. “The gods were with us today.” He looked shaken and ill at ease, rotating his felt riding hat through his hands.

Morwen said, “Please take the goddess to watch over your wife and family, sir.” She held the stone carving out, and Gaius hesitated before accepting it.

Gaius noticed that his men had assembled and Paulinus was organising them into two ranks, whilst still holding the reins of their horses. He nodded to Kerwyn and Morwen, then turned away and went to Paulinus. “How many have we lost?”

“I make it twelve Gauls and two Sarmatians,” Paulinus replied with a sigh.

Gaius flinched and took his gold coin from his pouch, burying it in his big fist. He hated the loss of any of his men, and now felt the heavy weight of his responsibility. He knew all the Gauls by name and much of their backgrounds. It was a hard loss to bear – the biggest loss in any single action since he had become cent commander.

Just then, two Gauls came into the square, leading their horses, to tired cheers from the men. It was the whipped troublemaker, Vetonrix, and another younger man with a bandaged head and bloody tunic. The men called out friendly insults in welcome.

“There is a story here,” Gaius whispered to Paulinus. They grinned their shared relief that two more had survived.

“There’s a story in your hand, sir,” Paulinus said, nodding at the stone carving.

Author Bio:

Tim Walker is an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. He grew up in Liverpool where he began his working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper. After studying for a degree in Communication studies he moved to London where he worked in the newspaper publishing industry for ten years before relocating to Zambia where, following a period of voluntary work with VSO, he set up his own marketing and publishing business. He returned to the UK in 2009.

His creative writing journey began in earnest in 2013, as a therapeutic activity whilst recovering from cancer treatment. He began writing an historical fiction series, A Light in the Dark Ages, in 2014, inspired by a visit to the part-excavated site of a former Roman town. The series connects the end of Roman Britain to elements of the Arthurian legend and is inspired by historical source material, presenting an imagined history of Britain in the fifth and early sixth centuries.

The last book in the series, Arthur, Rex Brittonum, was published in June 2020. This is a re-imagining of the story of King Arthur and follows on from 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum. Both titles are Coffee Pot Book Club recommended reads. The series starts with Abandoned (second edition, 2018); followed by Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (2017); and book three, Uther’s Destiny (2018). Series book covers are designed by Canadian graphic artist, Cathy Walker.

Tim has also written three books of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (2015), Postcards from London (2017) and Perverse (2020); a dystopian thriller, Devil Gate Dawn (2016); and three children’s books, co-authored with his daughter, Cathy – The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2017), Charly & the Superheroes (2018) and Charly in Space (2020).

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.timwalkerwrites.co.uk

Goodreads: https://goodreads.com/author/show/678710.Tim_Walker

Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/TimWalkerWrites

Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/TimWalkerWrites

Twitter: http://twitter.com/timwalker1666

Instagram: https://instagram.com/timwalker1666

Newsletter sign-up and free short story: https://eepurl.com/diqexz

THE BLACK BOOK OF BADON: PENDRAGONS

by KEVIN BAYTON-WOOD

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King Arthur is a man smothered in myth and legend, and rightly so because we need diversion, stimulation and an extension to our imaginations and, it is because of the myths and legends that his name has survived and become a part of the collective British consciousness. But hidden within the mists of legend a real man once looked across the meadows, hills and valleys of Britain and, determined not to cede once piece of Celtic Britain to the Angles, Saxons, Frisians and Jutes, he was prepared to put his life on the line to protect those who could not protect themselves. Many novels have been written about the man who became known as King Arthur, and I’ve read most of them. So why did I choose to write a book series, and what makes my book different? The truth is that I wrote the first book in the series because I didn’t have any choice; I had been challenged to try and write by a friend, and once I began I could not stop, I loved creating the narrative and now that I have completed all 5 books in the series, I am so glad that I accepted my friend’s challenge. My book is different because after researching the subject for decades, I believe I know who King Arthur really was, where he lived and how his life might have played out. But this book is not about just one man, in my opinion the true hero of this book is Arthur’s lover, Gwen; she is the heart of the story, as well as being its soul, which at times is ethereal and ghostly, and also glorious because she is as much a warrior as any of the male characters are, and the balance to the story that she provides is essential to the massive climax of this first novel. This book is set at the cusp of the fifth and sixth centuries, when the ambitions of King Aelle of the South Saxons led him and his massive army to Badon, where he would fight the Pendragon for control of Britain. Many of the usual characters in the Arthurian Pantheon take their rightful places alongside the Pendragon, because some of the people in the myths and legends were real people so I felt I could not leave them out. I also created two or three new characters, purely for the fun of taking the story in different directions to make the read even more enjoyable. I hope that you enjoy these new characters, and also the novel way in which I have illuminated the so-called Dark Ages. What I can promise you if you read this book, is a fast paced thriller, a love story with a hint of Otherworldly magic, as well as the expected triumphs and tragedies you’d find in a novel about King Arthur and his lover, Gwenwyfar. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. Kevin Bayton-Wood.

REVIEW

Whatever your thoughts are about the mythic Arthur, one thing you can admit, and admire, is the sheer number of versions of his story brought forth by creative minds. This book, and if it is any indication of the others, this series, is most certainly that – a creative version of the iconic Bear of Britain. It is also a compelling tale, drawing the reader in with superbly crafted characters; a virtual pantheon of the Arthur saga, friends and foes alike. It is also a tale of a love that evokes the gamut of human emotion; a point of contention within Owain’s mind; does he choose to fill his life with peace and tranquility with Gwen, or will the weight of his responsibility to his people threaten to keep them apart? I really enjoyed the ebb and flow of Owain’s predicament; the reluctant hero versus the joys of life with Gwenwyfar. Now it may seem a bit strange, but I kind of felt bad for the Saxon leader, Aelle. Here he is all convinced that he will soon be waist deep in Celtic blood, the Pendragon’s head on a spike, and be wearing a crown as King of all Briton. That is another box ticked off in the list of things I look for in a book; the action that takes place is exciting, visceral without being overly gory, and full of surprises. Yes my fellow readers, Aelle is in for a lot of disappointment. The question is, what will Owain do next? Responsibility or Gwenwyfar? Fortunately, the rest of the series is already written…won’t have to wait too long to find out how the author continues this very creative version of Arthur. 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

One Must Tell The Bees

by J. Lawrence Matthews

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“President Lincoln is assassinated in his private box at Ford’s!”

When those harrowing words ring out during a children’s entertainment in Washington, D.C. the evening of Friday, April 14, 1865, a quick-thinking young English chemist named Holmes grabs Tad Lincoln, the 12 year-old son of the dying President and races the boy out the theater and into a city convulsed by the shooting of the man known as the Great Emancipator—and soon finds himself on the hunt for John Wilkes Booth.

This is the extraordinary untold story of how that young chemist and a freed slave boy named Abraham tracked Booth through backwoods Maryland and across the Potomac River to the tobacco barn where Booth died.

It is the very first case of the detective we now know as Sherlock Holmes.

And as we learn in One Must Tell the Bees, it is nothing like his last…

REVIEW

I cannot claim to be any kind of expert on Sherlock Holmes. I’ve never read any of the Arthur Conan Doyle novels; indeed my only real exposure to Holmes has been on television. I remember watching old Basil Rathbone movies as a kid, loved the Disney film, The Great Mouse Detective; saw a few of the Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock episodes, and that’s about it. As for the American Civil War, I am not a ‘professional’ historian, but I have been reading and studying American history all of my life – indeed my major in college was History, and it is a pursuit I have kept active for 60+ years. So when I received a request to read and review One Must Tell the Bees, it was the Civil War/Lincoln aspect that convinced me to accept it. However, it was clear early on, in this scintillating tale, that the Holmesian twist, and the subsequent telling of the last days of Sherlock Holmes, had me totally in thrall. This powerful imagining by the author not only entertains with the story, but it is chock full of superbly written characters. The historical figures loom large in this tale, and are portrayed in a realistic manner, but the thing that I find most impressive (and something I look for in every historical-fiction book I read) is that the fictional characters are crafted in such a way as to make them appear to be historical as well…and that, my fellow readers, is the mark of excellent storytelling where the line between history and fiction has vanished into the realm of believability.

Not being an aficionado of the Sherlock Holmes genre, I am at least acquainted enough with his demeanor/mannerisms/his familiar attire, etc., to recognize that One Must Tell the Bees brings Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes to life as surely as the new garden varietals brings Holmes’ bees back to the hives. Like pollen laden bees, and the hives bursting with honeycomb, the pages are redolent with superb storytelling that kept this reader more than entertained, it was nourishment for the soul. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Canterbury Murders

(Stanton & Barling #3)

by E.M. Powell

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#TheCanterburyMurders #EMPowell #HFVBTBlogTours
Twitter tags: @empowellauthor @hfvbt  
Facebook tags: @empowellauthor @hfvbt 

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A fire-ravaged cathedral. An ungodly murder.

Easter, 1177. Canterbury Cathedral, home to the tomb of martyr Saint Thomas Becket, bears the wounds of a terrible fire. Benedict, prior of the great church, leads its rebuilding. But horror interrupts the work. One of the stonemasons is found viciously murdered, the dead man’s face disfigured by a shocking wound.

When King’s clerk Aelred Barling and his assistant, Hugo Stanton, arrive on pilgrimage to the tomb, the prior orders them to investigate the unholy crime.

But the killer soon claims another victim–and another. As turmoil embroils the congregation, the pair of sleuths face urgent pressure to find a connection between the killings.

With panic on the rise, can Barling and Stanton catch the culprit before evil prevails again—and stop it before it comes for them?

THE CANTERBURY MURDERS is the third book in E.M. Powell’s Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. Combining intricate plots, shocking twists and a winning–if unlikely–pair of investigators, this series is perfect for fans of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael or C. J. Sansom’s Shardlake.

REVIEW

Part of the charm of reading murder mysteries is the exhilaration the reader feels when they know who the culprit is…and then to have that feeling replaced by another bout of exhilaration when they realize they were wrong, but now they know for sure who the culprit is. Repeat this cycle until the very end and then exclaim, ‘I knew it‘. A thoroughly enjoyable tale as Barling and Stanton tackle a series of brutal murders – a formidable task in and of itself. Let’s add a few impediments to the investigation…an incompetent Prior, the rebuilding of the Canterbury Cathedral, an ambitious recorder of the miracles at the tomb of St. Thomas Becket, and just a tad of pressure with the imminent arrival of King Henry. Oh, let’s add some more drama – a serious rift in the relationship between Aelred and Hugo. Yes my fellow readers, the author has created a masterful whodunit; a page turning race to resolve another seemingly impossible set of crimes. Suspects – many…mistakes made – many…tormented souls – many…a shocking discovery – one. Stars – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Author

E.M. Powell’s historical thriller and medieval mystery Fifth Knight and Stanton & Barling novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers.

The third Stanton & Barling mystery, THE CANTERBURY MURDERS, will be released in November 2020.

Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she lives in northwest England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.

E.M. Powell is represented by Josh Getzler at HG Literary.

Giveaway

Enter to win a paperback copy of The Canterbury Murders by E.M. Powell! Two copies are up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

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The Last King

(The Ninth Century #1)

by M.J. Porter

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#TheLastKing #MJPorter #HFVBTBlogTours
Twitter tags: @coloursofunison @hfvbt  
Facebook tags: @hfvbt 

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They sent three hundred warriors to kill one man. It wasn’t enough.

Mercia lies broken but not beaten, her alliance with Wessex in tatters.

Coelwulf, a fierce and bloody warrior, hears whispers that Mercia has been betrayed from his home in the west. He fears no man, especially not the Vikings sent to hunt him down.

To discover the truth of the rumours he hears, Coelwulf must travel to the heart of Mercia, and what he finds there will determine the fate of Mercia, as well as his own.

REVIEW

When I got the request to read and review The Last King, I accepted immediately. I’ve read a few of this author’s prodigious portfolio of early Britain prose, and she has found my weakness, or perhaps my longing, for tales of this time period. The immediacy of my response, however, did have the side effect of being given January 11 as my posting date for the tour, which as it turns out, is the kickoff date. No pressure whatsoever for this humble scribbler of reviews and novels. So, without further ado, or prattling, I welcome one and all to The Last King Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour.

Well now, that is one badass group of warriors. The raiders sent 300 to get him, hah, even Leonidas and his 300 Spartans would have succumbed to Coelwulf and his warband. An intense series of encounters with Raider bands are the highlights of this action packed saga. A warrior without equal, a man with fierce loyalties to his men, a leader reluctant to assume the title king; Coelwulf is dedicated to one thing – protecting Mercia, no matter the overwhelming odds against his success. The Raiders, no longer content with hit and run tactics are, under the leadership of Halfdan and Guthrum, looking to stay, and only Coelwulf stands in their way. The process of Coelwulf coming to terms with this savior role, and the prospect of being chosen King of Mercia, is deftly portrayed by the author, as are the men of his warband. All of them deadly killers, but each with their own personalities, though it will become apparent that they all share the same all purpose expletive. If you are familiar with The Big Lebowski, there is a scene where The Stranger asks The Dude, “Do you have to use so many cuss words?” The Dude’s response is undoubtedly the same one that would be uttered by Coelwulf, or any of his men for that matter, “What the fuck are you talking about?” 😊 Yes, my fellow readers, this is a tale of cunning, bravery, loyalty, and of a man finding his destiny, however reluctantly. A page turning, thrilling delight awaits. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Author

I’m an author of fantasy (Viking age/dragon-themed) and historical fiction (Early English, Vikings and the British Isles as a whole before the Norman Conquest). I was born in the old Mercian kingdom at some point since 1066. Raised in the shadow of a strange little building, told from a very young age that it housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia and that our garden was littered with old pieces of pottery from a long-ago battle, it’s little wonder that my curiosity in Early England ran riot. I can only blame my parents!

I write A LOT. You’ve been warned!

Not sure where to start your journey through Early England? Here are some pointers.

If you like action-adventure, with a heavy dose of violence, foul language and good old camaraderie – The Ninth Century series is for you, starting with The Last King, or The Seventh Century, starting with Pagan Warrior, has a little more politics to go with the set-piece battles.

If you like stories about the forgotten women of history, then the Tenth Century series, starting with The Lady of Mercia’s Daughter, is a good place to begin. Or, The First Queen of England, with a little more romance.

If you’re interested in the last century of Early England (before 1066) then The Earls of Mercia series is for you.

If you want to read it all, then you can read in chronological order, or mix it up. The series weren’t written in chronological order.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Last King by M.J. Porter! Two paperbacks are up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on January 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.

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