The Second English King (Chronicles of the English #3) by M.J. Porter

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The Second English King – Book 3 in the epic Chronicles of the English

Edmund of the English, Anlaf Sihtriccson of York, Ragnall Gothfrithsson of York, the aged Constantin of Scotland, now in retirement, with his successor Mael Coluim in control, Athelstan, Half-King of the English, Hywel of the South Welsh.

The year is 945 and Edmund of the English, finally coming into his own as the second English king now has the power and the ability to push back England’s borders even further; his eye firmly set on not just retaking the Viking kingdom of York but on the lands of Strathclyde and even the land of the Scots, floundering under its new ruler.

Can Edmund better his older half-brother Athelstan with his hopes of treaty and peace and instead use the power of his sword and the might of his warriors to ensure that this time, England stays whole, that the victory so fleetingly won at Brunanburh in 937, comes to mean more than just a passing phase in the changing fortunes of the petty kingdoms that make up the British Isles?

REVIEW

Seems every man wants to retire to a place they can call their own. For some it is York (Jorvik)…for others it is Scotland…for Hywel it is Wales..for Donald it is Strathclyde…for Edmund it is all of them. A fascinating tale that examines the inner workings and the political maneuverings of a tumultuous period in England’s long and tumultuous history. The author tells the tale through the eyes of the principal characters, and in so doing gives the reader an inside to the thinking processes; the hopes and fears, the desires and the need for revenge, the mistakes and the victories. A definite page turning story awaits you my fellow readers. 4⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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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

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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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Brunanburh – A novel of 937 (Chronicles of the English #1) by M.J. Porter

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Athelstan, King of the English; Olaf Guthfrithsson, King of the Dublin Norse; Constantin, King of the Scots; Owain, King of Strathclyde, Hywel of the South Welsh; one ‘great lamentable and horrible battle’.

The year is 937 and Athelstan, King of the English and overlord of the British kingdoms, faces opposition to his rule that will culminate in the great battle of Brunanburh.

Uniquely told from the viewpoints of the main combatants at the battle, Brunanburh tells of a time when the island of Britain was held under the sway of the great King Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, a man with European wide connections, held in awe by many, and foster-father to future monarchs. Charting his reign from 925 to 937 Brunanburh is the story of the petty kingdoms of Britain – England, Scotland, Strathclyde and Wales and the uneasy alliances that could burst asunder at any moment. Switching between the view points of the main Kings on the day of the battle, and events from the previous twelve years, Brunanburh ensures its focus is on the characters and their unique attitudes towards their kingships, the future, and of course, each other.

REVIEW

A riveting look at the attempt by King Athelstan to unify England under his banner. Told through the voices of the main participants, the author has crafted a tale that immerses the reader into the period following Athelstan’s grandfather, Alfred the Great.  Having the protagonists tell their versions of the story is a great way to get into the minds of these formidable characters…a chance to see their hopes, fears, and their indomitable pursuit to control the island of Britain.  In addition to the political machinations, the author gives the reader a brutal look at the eponymous battle…a battle that had been in the making for 10 years…a lot of time for hatred to fester among those that oppose Athelstan. A well paced, page turning book with a plot full of surprises awaits you my fellow readers.  4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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.

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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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

Sign of the White Foal by Chris Thorndycroft

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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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

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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.

 

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Storm of Steel (Bernicia Chronicles #6) by Matthew Harffy

 

 

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AD 643. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical thriller and the sixth installment in the Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Heading south to lands he once considered his home, Beobrand is plunged into a dark world of piracy and slavery when an old friend enlists his help to recover a kidnapped girl.

Embarking onto the wind-tossed seas, Beobrand pursues his quarry with single-minded tenacity. But the Whale Road is never calm and his journey is beset with storms, betrayal and violence.

As the winds of his wyrd blow him ever further from what he knows, will Beobrand find victory on his quest or has his luck finally abandoned him?

REVIEW

While the previous books in this series have shown Beobrand in all sorts of dilemmas, and in a wide range of emotions, Storm of Steel has managed to raise the bar. The opposing forces within this warrior chieftain; anguish, pride, brutal in war and anger, generous and kind, are displayed throughout this absolute page turning episode of Dark Age Britain. As is expected in a time where violence and brutality are seemingly constant companions, the tale is full of action, a storm of steel. But what really makes this part of the saga most appealing to me is the depth of character Beobrand has become. Without giving anything away, the situations, the anguish, angst, frustration, and doubts Beobrand has to deal with make this tale tick. He is long past the inexperienced young warrior in book 1, and with every ordeal he becomes more human, less exalted. The rest of the cast ain’t too shabby either. The author continues his wonderful portrayal of the warrior band of brothers; their camaraderie, their fierce loyalty to their lord, their battle proven worthiness, their grief at the loss of a friend. Their mettle is tested again and again in this tale of rescue and revenge. Surprises aplenty as Beobrand navigates the tortuous path woven for him by The Norns.  5 stars

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About the author

Matthew 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.

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Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

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Website: http://www.matthewharffy.com/

Buy links:

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