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 Virgin of the Wind Rose (Christopher Columbus) by Glen Craney

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While investigating the murder of an American missionary in Ethiopia, rookie State Department lawyer Jaqueline Quartermane becomes obsessed with a magical word square found inside an underground church guarding the tomb of the biblical Adam.

Drawn into a web of esoteric intrigue, she and a roguish antiquities thief named Elymas must race an elusive and taunting mastermind to find the one relic needed to resurrect Solomon’s Temple. A trail of cabalistic clues leads them to the catacombs of Rome, the crypt below Chartres Cathedral, a Masonic shaft in Nova Scotia, a Portuguese shipwreck off Sumatra, and the caverns under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Intertwined with this modern mystery-thriller, a parallel duel is waged:

The year is 1452. One of the most secretive societies in history, Portugal’s Order of Christ, is led by a reclusive visionary, Prince Henry the Navigator. He and his medieval version of NASA merged with the CIA scheme to foil their archenemies, the Inquisitor Torquemada and Queen Isabella of Castile, who plan to bring back Christ for the Last Judgment by ridding the world of Jews, heretics, and unbelievers.

Separated by half a millennium, two conspiracies to usher in the Tribulations promised by the Book of Revelation dovetail in this fast-paced thriller to expose the world’s most explosive secret: The true identity of Christopher Columbus and the explorer’s connection to those now trying to spark the End of Days.

REVIEW

A sprawling tale spanning 500 years, The Virgin of the Wind Rose, is about as exciting as it gets. It is also a very erudite tome…the reader will inevitably have to think about what they just read…the word square, the navigational methods, the zealous religion aspect, etc. The story alternates between the late 15th century – the mysterious Portuguese sea going activities, and modern day where Jaq and Boz are pulled into a conspiracy to usher in The Last Days – The Rapture. Meticulously researched, the author creates a plausible scenario for the activities of the Portuguese sea going visionaries, and the cult like evangelicals. The characters are well written; their thoughts and emotions on full display. I enjoyed the inner debate of Jaq’s Christian beliefs versus her mounting doubts…but even she, a talented, well educated person can blurt out ,”Everyone knows Jesus was a Christian.”…cults will do that even to smart minds.

The Virgin of the Wind Rose is an unusual read. A page turner with a caveat – must slow down a bit to understand the arcane nature of the narrative, but once the pieces of this 500 year old puzzle fall into place, it is a good read..a very good read.   5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

City of God (Knights Templar #3) by S.J.A. Turney

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Journey to the heart of an empire: a jaw-dropping historical adventure from master storyteller S.J.A. Turney

Arnau de Vallbona and his fellow Templar Brother Ramon are bound for the Holy Land to take part in the great Crusade when fate intervenes.

Delayed in Cyprus, they learn of a growing rift in Christendom: the crusading army has diverted from its course and threatens Rome’s allies in the Byzantine Empire. Arnau and Ramon, alongside the irascible Preceptor Bochard, race to Constantinople, encountering a grand and crumbling world of alliances and betrayals, emperors and armies.

The fate of the world is at stake. As Christian forces inexorably collide, Arnau is caught in the middle of an epic siege of the greatest city in the world. He will be tested to his limits: follow his vows… or do what’s right?

A novel of awe inspiring scale, battle and story, this is a masterly telling of one of history’s great turning points from S.J.A. Turney, perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Michael Jecks and K. M. Ashman

Praise for SJA Turney

‘Turney masters politics, pace and pursuit in this death-defying twelfth-century story … stunning story-telling’ Prue Batten, author of The Triptych Chronicle Trilogy

REVIEW

When I grow up I want to be able to write historical fiction tales like Mr. Turney. City of God is another example of the author’s prowess at putting words on a page; words that compels the reader, exhorts the reader, to keep turning those pages. In this tale we are taken to the historic fall of Constantinople, where Arnau is caught not only in the Frank/Venetian siege of the city, but also in the horns of a dilemma – the battle of an unwavering obedience to a rigid code versus the moral obligations inherent in the realities of the situation. Richly detailed, thoroughly researched, dramatic action, a plot dripping with irony and surprises, and characters who stand out from the page, City of God has it all.

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Uncovering by Lorelei Brush

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Shahnaz is a liberal but observant Pakistani Muslim, a nurse with a dream that all pregnant women will deliver healthy babies. At her parents’ command she weds Naseer, a gentle man who encourages her work. But marrying Naseer means she must live with his extended family, including his fundamentalist older brother, Raja Haider. When their father dies, Raja Haider becomes head of the family. With this new power, he orders Shahnaz to quit her job and stay at home. Mild Naseer respects his brother’s authority, but Shahnaz rebels with the strength of a courageous warrior.

Brush explores a Muslim society threatened by extremism. The story churns with the struggles of obedience versus self-determination, piety versus zealotry, and tradition versus progress. Some seek peace, and others pursue violence to achieve what’s holy.

REVIEW

This, my fellow readers, is one intense story. A culture driven by centuries old traditions forms the basis for this tale of an amazing woman caught between the restrictions of her religion and the very real need for her work with pregnant Pakistani women. The characters jump off of the page with the reality of the time and place. Uncovering is one of those books that is so emotionally charged that it tugs at the reader’s heart. Repressive, insular, power over the less fortunate is something that we all need to face up to. Despite the obstacles, we can, like Shahnaz, dare to hope, dare to change.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Katharina Fortitude by Margaret Skea

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Eagerly-awaited conclusion to Katharina Deliverance – Runner-up in the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2018.

‘Beautifully written and meticulously researched – historical fiction at its best.’ BooksPlease
Fans of Hilary Mantel, C J Sansom and Winston Graham will love this book.

‘We are none of us perfect, and a streak of stubbornness is what is needed in dealing with a household such as yours, Kat… and with Martin.’

Wittenberg 1525. The unexpected marriage of Martin Luther to Katharina von Bora has no fairytale ending.

A sign of apostasy to their enemies, and a source of consternation to their friends, it sends shock waves throughout Europe.

Yet, as they face persecution, poverty, war, plague and family tragedy, Katharina’s resilience and strength of character shines through.

While this book can be read as a standalone, it is also the powerful conclusion to her story, begun in Katharina: Deliverance.

If you like your historical Fiction to be authentic, immersive and packed with drama, this book is for you.

REVIEW

One of the aspects of historical fiction that I look for in my reading is authenticity where the history is concerned coupled with fiction that could very well be part of the actual history being told.  In Katharina Fortitude, the author has created just such a narrative. The struggles to keep hearth and home together are daunting enough given the obstacles and the emotional toil that Kat faces, and on top of all of that she is married to an unrelenting, firebrand reformation theologian who is prone to irascible outbursts at any perceived deviation to his reformed beliefs. That is the Martin Luther she married, but what I really love about this story is the way Martin is portrayed when not dealing with his ‘calling’. His tenderness, the joy he exhibits with his children, the way he gradually succumbs to Kat’s industriousness, and sharpness of mind. It is a captivating tale that reaches into your heart; an emotional journey of love and loss.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Quest for the Crown of Thorns (The Long-Hair Saga #2) by Cynthia Ripley Miller

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AD 454. Three years after the Roman victory over Attila the Hun at Catalaunum, Arria Felix and Garic the Frank are married and enjoying life on Garic’s farm in northern Gaul (France). Their happy life is interrupted, when a cryptic message arrives from Rome, calling Arria home to her father, the esteemed Senator Felix. At Arria’s insistence, but against Garic’s better judgment, they leave at once.

Upon their arrival at Villa Solis, they are confronted with a brutal murder and the dangerous mission that awaits them. The fate of a profound and sacred object–Christ’s Crown of Thorns–rests in their hands. They must carry the holy relic to the safety of Constantinople, away from a corrupt emperor and old enemies determined to steal it for their own gain.

But an even greater force arises to derail their quest–a secret cult willing to commit any atrocity to capture the Crown of Thorns. And all the while, the gruesome murder and the conspiracy behind it haunt Arria’s thoughts.

Arria and Garic’s marital bonds are tested but forged as they partner together to fulfill one of history’s most challenging missions, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns.

REVIEW

A tantalizing adventure awaits you my fellow fiction aficionados as Arria and Garic take on the perilous mission to deliver a relic so precious that people will kill to possess it. A story line with many strands, believable characters, intense drama, and engaging love story. As the journey progresses, it becomes harder to put the book down as the Crown gets closer to Constantinople. Excitement at every turn of the page including an intriguing teaser at the end. Settle back with your beverage of choice and enjoy an exciting look at the Roman world of the 5th century.  4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

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About the Author

Cynthia Ripley Miller is a first generation Italian-American writer with a love for history, languages and books. She has lived, worked, and travelled in Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean. As a girl, she often wondered what it would be like to journey through time (she still does), yet knew, it could only be through the imagination and words of writers and their stories. Today, she writes to bring the past to life.

She holds two degrees and has taught history and teaches English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press Mysteries.com and The Scriptor. A Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist for her novel, On the Edge of Sunrise, she has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus

Cynthia has four children and lives with her husband, twin cats, Romulus and Remus, and Jessie, a German Shepherd, in a suburb of Chicago.

On the Edge of Sunrise is the first in the Long-Hair Saga; a series set in late ancient Rome and France and published by Knox Robinson Publishing. The second book in the series, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, was released in June 2017.

For more information please visit Cynthia Ripley Miller’s website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

 

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The Last Emir (Knights Templar #2) by S.J.A. Turney

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Risk everything; fight to the last: a taut and intense historical thriller from master author S.J.A. Turney

The relics of Christendom have been plundered during the long Moorish conquest of the Iberian peninsula. Newly minted Templar Sergeant Arnau de Vallbona must recover one of the most elusive to save his priory at Rourell in Spain.

Travelling to Majorca on a stealth mission to retrieve the bones of St Stephen, Arnau soon discovers the raid is more complex than it first appears: the mighty Almohad dynasty has laid claim to the island, and will fight them every step of the way.

Along with his companion, the aged warrior Balthesar, Arnau is in desperate straits. Surrounded on all sides by hostile forces, it will take all their cunning and strength to escape with their prize – and their lives….

A thrilling and unexplored account of the Knights Templar, grounded in extraordinary research, The Last Emir is perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, K.M. Ashman and C.F. Iggulden.

REVIEW

Arnau is not a very complex man…steadfast, loyal, unerring in his devotion to the Order and to God. However, in The Last Emir, complexities are the name of the game, and Arnau will either adapt or he will die. While the story line revolves around the search for a long lost relic, the plot soon encompasses the fight of good versus evil, the age old story of revenge, and the irony of one’s faith being tested and used in a much broader understanding of God and men. The author has given the reader a heart pounding tale with his usual flair for drama making it hard to put the book down. Meticulously researched, the reader is drawn into a time and place of religious turmoil, and the seeking of power and dominion over heathens and infidels. The story, entertaining as it is, also has the quality to make one think about how things in the world could be without the religious intolerance we have been subjected to for millennia. As a reader, The Last Emir, is a pleasure to enjoy. As a member of the human race, The Last Emir, is a hopeful glance at how Christian, Muslim, and Jew can coexist. 5 Stars

The Sugar Merchant by James Hutson-Wiley

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When Thomas’s family is annihilated in a raid, his life changes forever. Wandering for days, starving and hopeless, he is rescued by a monk and is taken to live at the abbey of Eynsham. There he receives a curious education, training to be a scholar, a merchant and a spy. His mission: to develop commerce in Muslim lands and dispatch vital information to the Holy See.
His perilous adventures during the 11th century’s commercial revolution will take him far from his cloistered life to the great trading cities of Almeria, Amalfi, Alexandria and Cairo.

But the world in which he lives is chaotic. Struggling with love and loss, faith and fortune, can Thomas carry out his secret mission before conflict overtakes him?

Spanning the tumultuous medieval worlds of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, The Sugar Merchant is a tale of clashing cultures, massive economic change and one man’s determination to fulfill his destiny.

The 11th century world through which Thomas Woodward travels is changing; marked by the emergence of a disruptive commercial revolution. In the Mediterranean, the great Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam meet, often in cooperation and peace but, at times, in bloody conflict. It is an era of migration, globalism and multiculturalism leading to a robust interchange of technology, ideas and the basic tools of international trade. But, the interests of the Christian west are on a collision course with those of the Muslim world. War is coming. The Church is rallying the nobles of Europe to embark on an ‘armed pilgrimage’ to reclaim the Holy Land. Now, Thomas and his Muslim and Jewish partners’ lucrative sugar trade is in jeopardy. Thomas’s own secret and dangerous mission, directed from Rome, will become filled with even greater peril.

REVIEW

An intriguing tale of the 11th century, one that takes in bits of history that are not usual fare for this reviewer. The world of commerce, the world of mingling religions, the world of manuscript preservation – all of these story lines blended into the adventures of one remarkable protagonist, Thomas Woodward. The author gives a finely detailed look at not only the intricacies of world trade, but also the climatic clashes of the three “peoples of the book”, and the magnitude of the changes wrought by that clash.  While the main focus is on the trading enterprise, the huge demand for the new sensation, sugar being the ingredient that brings success to Thomas and his partners, it is also a cloak and dagger (or in Thomas’ case, a staff) espionage tale that adds a nice element of entertainment to the narrative. An excellent weaving of history and story telling, the reader is drawn into the inner turmoil Thomas experiences as his business success threatens his mortal soul. I recommend The Sugar Merchant – a delightful, yet thought provoking tale.  4 stars

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The Monastery Murders by E.M. Powell

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Their lives are ones of quiet contemplation—and brutal murder.

Christmas Eve, 1176. Brother Maurice, monk of Fairmore Abbey, awaits the night prayer bell. But there is only silence. Cursing his fellow brother Cuthbert’s idleness, he seeks him out—and in the darkness, finds him brutally murdered.

Summoned from London to the isolated monastery on the Yorkshire Moors, Aelred Barling, clerk to the King’s justices, and his messenger Hugo Stanton, set about investigating the horrific crime. They quickly discover that this is far from a quiet monastic house. Instead, it seethes with bitter feuds, rivalries and resentments. But no sooner do they arrive than the killer strikes again—and again.

When Barling discovers a pattern to these atrocities, it becomes apparent that the murderer’s rampage is far from over. With everyone, including the investigators, now fearing for their lives, can Barling and Stanton unmask the culprit before more blood is spilled?

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | CHAPTERS | INDIEBOUND

REVIEW

As the blurb indicates, our intrepid duo find themselves tasked with solving a murder. This time within the confines of a very secluded, snowed in, Cistercian Monastery. Their task becomes even more grisly – the culprit isn’t finished yet. The tale, as befits a whodunit, is full of suspects, motives, and frustration on the part of Barling and Stanton. The author also paints a vivid picture of the austere, Spartan-like atmosphere of the lives of The White Monks and the harsh existence of the lay laborers. It is certainly a page turning mystery, each new chapter revealing another clue, or in some cases the horrible death of one I thought might be the killer.  🙂 In one of the more poignant moments in the series to date, we are brought face to face with the mysterious past of Aelred Barling, but as Eric Idle said repeatedly, “Say no more.” – no spoilers allowed.   I enjoyed the first book, The King’s Justice, I enjoyed this one even more.  5 stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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E.M. Powell’s historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. The King’s Justice is the first novel in her new Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society.

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 now lives in North-West England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.

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Daughter of War by S.J.A. Turney

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Blurb

An extraordinary story of the Knights Templar, seen from the bloody inside
Europe is aflame. On the Iberian Peninsula the wars of the Reconquista rage across Aragon and Castile. Once again, the Moors are gaining the upper hand. Christendom is divided.
Amidst the chaos comes a young knight: Arnau of Valbona. After his Lord is killed in an act of treachery, Arnau pledges to look after his daughter, whose life is now at risk. But in protecting her Arnau will face terrible challenges, and enter a world of Templars, steely knights and visceral combat he could never have imagined.
She in turn will find a new destiny with the Knights as a daughter of war… Can she survive? And can Arnau find his destiny?
An explosive novel of greed and lust, God and blood, Daughter of War marks the beginning of an epic new series from bestseller S.J.A. Turney. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Matt Harffy.

My Review

Since I do a lot of reading & reviewing, and my ‘to be read’ pile keeps growing, I usually read three books concurrently. To avoid confusion the three reads are typically of different eras, subjects, etc, etc. While reading Daughter of War, I was also involved in a book about pre-Norman invasion England, and one about the American Revolution.  All excellent reads, all intense page turning dramas demanding my attention. Usually I split my reading time evenly through the current books, finishing them more or less at the same time. Well, my peeps and fellow travelers, Daughter of War ruined my plan. I found myself unable to switch books despite the fact that I was enjoying the other two, and could not stop turning to the next chapter, finishing this one way ahead of the others. The author has taken a portion of history that is not well known, or recorded, and has fashioned a well crafted tale replete with wonderful characters, and his typical methodical research. Emotionally charged, detail filled, and a splendid look at a time and place in history that kept me enthralled and entertained. I am certainly looking forward to more of Arnau of Valbona.  5 stars