THE BLUE BOOK OF VIROCONIUM: PENDRAGONS: BOOK 2

by Kevin Bayton-Wood

59458161. sy475

BLURB

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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE BLACK BOOK OF BADON: PENDRAGONS

by KEVIN BAYTON-WOOD

BLURB

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Du Lac Curse

(The Du Lac Chronicles #5)

by Mary Anne Yarde

53189706. sy475

BLURB

God against Gods. King against King. Brother against Brother.

Mordred Pendragon had once said that the sons of Lancelot would eventually destroy each other, it seemed he was right all along.

Garren du Lac knew what the burning pyres meant in his brother’s kingdom — invasion. But who would dare to challenge King Alden of Cerniw for his throne? Only one man was daring enough, arrogant enough, to attempt such a feat — Budic du Lac, their eldest half-brother.

While Merton du Lac struggles to come to terms with the magnitude of Budic’s crime, there is another threat, one that is as ancient as it is powerful. But with the death toll rising and his men deserting who will take up the banner and fight in his name?

Please note: The Du Lac Curse contains Adult Content and scenes that some readers may find very upsetting.
The Du Lac Curse is not a standalone novel.

REVIEW

In the last 7 years I have written close to 500 book reviews, so it is difficult at times to keep from repeating myself. In this case because of the sheer magnitude of the sorrows experienced in the 5th book of the Du Lac story, I have no choice but to repeat something I wrote in the review of a previous Du Lac episode, “the build up is a nerve wracking stroll down a path strewn with surprises…the sort of plot that keeps the reader guessing, and turning the pages.” I kept waiting (am still waiting) for a reprieve for the scions of Lancelot…a little peace, perhaps one that lasts for a bit. But as the following snippet shows, the Du Lacs are just not destined for a peaceful existence, “Why?” he asked again, not expecting an answer, for God never answered the du Lacs.

This is probably the darkest book in the series, (well so far, anyway) 😊 a bit more sorrow than there is any joy…and what joy there is, is short lived. Yes my fellow peeps and followers of the Du Lacs, the author has once again written a tale that kept this reader in awe, and in some anxiety over the ordeals faced, knowing that there are more to come. 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Northern Throne (Warrior Druid of Britain Chronicles, #3)

by Steven A. McKay

54374063. sy475

BLURB

AD431, Spring
Bellicus the Druid and his friend Duro, a former Roman centurion, have suffered a great deal in recent years but, for them, things are about to get much worse.

Britain is changing. The Romans have gone and warriors from many different places seek to fill the void the legions left behind. In the south, the Saxons’ expansion seems unstoppable despite the efforts of the warlord Arthur, while north of Hadrian’s Wall various kings and chieftains are always looking to extend their borders.
In Dun Breatann, capital of Alt Clota, Bellicus believes the disparate tribes must put aside their differences, become allies, and face the Saxon threat together, under one High King. Or High Queen…
Small-minded men do not always look at the bigger picture though, and when Bellicus and Duro seek to form a pact with an old enemy events take a shocking and terrible turn that will leave the companions changed forever.
This third volume in the Warrior Druid of Britain Chronicles is packed with adventure, battles, triumph, and tears, and at the end of it a new course will be set for Bellicus.
But at what cost?

REVIEW

One thing you can say for certain about post-Roman Britain – there’s a whole lot of conflict, and a choice of enemies to face. The Picts, the Dalriadans, the Saxons, they all want control – Bellicus and Duro have their hands full in this emotionally charged tale. Amidst the turmoil of those conflicts, the author has also included some mental challenges – even the imposing Bellicus is not immune to doubts – his vulnerabilities are a nice touch, makes the giant Druid a bit more human. Trust, loyalty, friendship, failure…all of these things plus physical pain are some of the issues confronting him and Duro.

Another thing you can say for certain is that the author has produced another page turning episode. Plenty of action, believable characters, and a story line full of surprises, this series just keeps getting better…. and there’s more on the horizon. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Du Lac Prophecy

(The Du Lac Chronicles #4)

by Mary Anne Yarde

41140570. sy475

BLURB

Two Prophesies. Two Noble Households. One Throne.

Distrust and greed threaten to destroy the House of du Lac. Mordred Pendragon strengthens his hold on Brittany and the surrounding kingdoms while Alan, Mordred’s cousin, embarks on a desperate quest to find Arthur’s lost knights. Without the knights and the relics they hold in trust, they cannot defeat Arthur’s only son – but finding the knights is only half of the battle. Convincing them to fight on the side of the Du Lac’s, their sworn enemy, will not be easy.

If Alden, King of Cerniw, cannot bring unity there will be no need for Arthur’s knights. With Budic threatening to invade Alden’s Kingdom, Merton putting love before duty, and Garren disappearing to goodness knows where, what hope does Alden have? If Alden cannot get his House in order, Mordred will destroy them all.

The Du Lac Prophecy has a recommended reading age of 16+.

REVIEW

Oh the evil mankind will adopt to justify their greed for power. From the opening scene of a brutal reprisal to the shocking ending, Mordred, with the backing of the Church, continues to build an impressive resume of evil deeds done…and the author continues to build a remarkable tale. Time is drawing near for the inevitable confrontation between Mordred and Alden Du Lac…the build up is a nerve wracking stroll down a path strewn with surprises…the sort of plot that keeps the reader guessing, and turning the pages. The fates of Merton/Galahad/The Devil, Amandine, Alden, Alan and Bernice, et al hang in the balance. A cliff hanger of an ending to this episode has me chomping at the bit to get to the next installment. 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Du Lac Princess (The Du Lac Chronicles #3) by Mary Anne Yarde

36307275. sy475

BLURB

The multi award-winning series The Du Lac Chronicles continues:

War is coming…

The ink has dried on Amandine’s death warrant. Her crime? She is a du Lac.

All that stands in the way of a grisly death on a pyre is the King of Brittany. However, King Philippe is a fickle friend, and if her death is profitable to him, then she has no doubt that he would light the pyre himself.

Alan, the only man Amandine trusts, has a secret and must make an impossible choice, which could have far-reaching consequences — not only for Amandine, but for the whole of Briton.

REVIEW

Heart pumping action, eye opening surprises, edge of the seat drama, The Du Lac Princess continues the excellence of this mesmerizing series featuring the startlingly troubled scions of Lancelot. And, my fellow readers, there is a lot of trouble for them to endure making it rather difficult to put the book down. The author has crafted a beguiling tale full of the unexpected, full of emotion, full of the tenor of the time – in short – an exhilarating page turner. Imaginative, exciting…so many superlatives could be used… once again in short – if you haven’t read The Du Lac Chronicles, you are indeed missing out on historical fiction at its finest. And there is more to come.  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Camelot by Giles Kristian

51820795. sx318 sy475

BLURB

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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sign of the White Foal by Chris Thorndycroft

46058574. sy475

#SignoftheWhiteFoal #ChrisThorndycroft #HFVBTBlogTours
 
Twitter tags: @cthorndycroft @hfvbt  
 
Facebook tags: @ChrisThorndycroftAuthor @hfvbt 

BLURB

A generation after Hengest and Horsa carved out a kingdom in the east, a hero of the Britons rises in the west…

North Wales, 480 A.D. The sons of Cunedag have ruled Venedotia for fifty years but the chief of them – the Pendraig – is now dying. His sons Cadwallon and Owain must fight to retain their birthright from their envious cousins. As civil war consumes Venedotia, Arthur – a young warrior and bastard son of the Pendraig – is sent on a perilous quest that will determine the fate of the kingdom.

The Morgens; nine priestesses of the Mother Goddess have found the cauldron of rebirth – a symbol of otherworldly power – and have allied themselves with the enemy. Arthur and six companions are dispatched to the mysterious island of Ynys Mon to steal the cauldron and break the power of the Morgens. Along the way they run into the formidable Guenhuifar whose family have been stewards of Ynys Mon for generations. They need her help. The trouble is, Guenhuifar despises Arthur’s family and all they stand for…

Based on the earliest Arthurian legends, Sign of the White Foal is a rip-roaring adventure of Celtic myth and real history set in the ruins of post-Roman Britain.

REVIEW

You know what I love about Arthurian fiction? This – no matter what version of Arthur is being told – no matter the situation, or the time and place, a believable tale can be spun. In this intriguing tale, Arthur is the foster son of the Pendraig, the High King in Cmry, and has trained as a warrior, but as the story evolves it becomes evident that he is also a natural leader of men. In Sign of the White Foal the author has taken one of the oldest Arthurian texts and given us an exciting look at the harsh existence in post-Roman Briton. The seeming constant petty rivalries, the increasing threat from Gaelic invaders, and the conflict to claim the title of Pendraig. The story flows easily back and forth from Cadwallon’s battle to keep his crown, and the special mission undertaken by Arthur and his companions. The characters are real, their strengths, weaknesses, doubts and fears are all on display as the two story-lines gradually meld together. An enjoyable look at the beginnings of what promises to be a must read Arthurian series. 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

03_Author Chris Thorndycroft.jpg

About the Author

Chris Thorndycroft is a British writer of historical fiction, horror and fantasy. His early short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies such as Dark Moon Digest and American Nightmare. His first novel under his own name was A Brother’s Oath; the first book in the Hengest and Horsa Trilogy. He also writes under the pseudonym P. J. Thorndyke.

For more information, please visit Chris Thorndycroft’s website. You can also find him on Twitter and Goodreads.

 

03_Sign of the White Foal Poster.jpg

Uther’s Destiny by Tim Walker

38925269

BLURB

Late fifth century Britannia recoils in shock at the murder of charismatic High King, Ambrosius Aurelianus, and looks to his brother and successor, Uther, to continue his work in leading the resistance to barbarian invaders. Uther’s destiny as a warrior king seems set until his world is turned on its head when his burning desire to possess the beautiful Ygerne leads to conflict. Could the fate of his kingdom hang in the balance as a consequence?

Court healer and schemer, Merlyn, sees an opportunity in Uther’s lustful obsession to fulfil the prophetic visions that guide him. He is encouraged on his mission by druids who align their desire for a return to ancient ways with his urge to protect the one destined to save the Britons from invaders and lead them to a time of peace and prosperity. Merlyn must use his wisdom and guile to thwart the machinations of an enemy intent on foiling his plans.

Meanwhile, Saxon chiefs Octa and Ælla have their own plans for seizing the island of Britannia and forging a new colony of Germanic tribes. Can Uther rise above his family problems and raise an army to oppose them?

Book three in A Light in the Dark Ages series, Uther’s Destiny is an historical fiction novel set in the Fifth Century – a time of myths and legends that builds to the greatest legend of all – King Arthur and his knights.

This book is preceded in the series by Abandoned (book one) and Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (book two).

REVIEW

Most of the Arthurian tales I read when I was younger, such as The Crystal Cave series by Mary Stewart (which I thought was magnificent), or saw via movies or TV (Richard Harris’ Camelot), dwelt on the mythical for the most part. Uther’s Destiny while it is certainly comprised of those mythical bits, it is also a stark look at post-Roman Britain; the vacuum left with the departure of the legions, and the very real danger of being overrun by the Angles/Saxons/Jutes etc who rushed in to fill that vacuum.  The author’s portrayal of Uther; a complicated man firmly rooted in the 5th century, a king weighed down with the prospect of losing Britain to the invaders, but also a king with the smarts and tenacity to succeed. Indeed, the characters in this tale from Merlyn, to the proud knights, the scheming Morganna, and the treacherous Pascent all do their part to make this an enjoyable read. Also woven into the plot is the inevitable clash of the old religion with Christianity and Uther’s juggling of the two as needed. So, dear reader, immerse yourself in The Dark Ages, and prepare for the enlightenment to come in the person of Artorious.  4 stars

The Druid by Steven A. McKay

42190260

BLURB

Northern Britain, AD430

A land in turmoil. A village ablaze. A king’s daughter abducted.

In the aftermath of a surprise attack Dun Buic lies in smoking ruins and many innocent villagers are dead. As the survivors try to make sense of the night’s events the giant warrior-druid, Bellicus, is tasked with hunting down the raiders and thwarting their dark purpose.

With years of training in the old ways, two war-dogs at his side, and unsurpassed skill with a longsword, Bellicus’s quest will take him on a perilous journey through lands still struggling to cope with the departure of the Roman legions.

Meanwhile, amongst her brutal captors the little princess Catia finds an unlikely ally, but even he may not be able to avert the terrible fate King Hengist has in store for her.

This, the first volume in a stunning new series from the bestselling author of Wolf’s Head, explores the rich folklore and culture of post-Roman Britain, where blood-sacrifice, superstition and warfare were as much a part of everyday life as love, laughter and song.

As Saxon invaders and the new Christian religion seek to mould the country for their own ends one man will change the course of Britain’s history forever. . .

. . . THE DRUID.

REVIEW

When an author embarks on a new journey, a new set of stories and characters, it is a somewhat risky proposition. Can the author carry over the same creativity, the same character development, the same blend of historical authenticity and believable fiction. In The Druid, Mr. McKay has successfully ticked all of those boxes. It is at once a thrilling adventure, a romp through a volatile period of Britain’s history, but it is also a character driven tale. Bellicus is a complex man; a warrior, a healer, a teacher, a bard, a spiritual leader in an age where his kind are on the decline. The task awaiting him tests all of his abilities and his emotions as events unfold. One of the features I enjoyed was the inclusion of Merlin (or, more correctly The Merlin), and Arthur as important bit characters. Stripped of the more mythical renderings, they are more down to earth, so to speak.

So, my dear readers, if you were wondering if The Druid would be a continuation of the excellence in McKay’s Forest Lord series, wonder no more. 5 stars