Rise of a Champion by Stuart Rudge

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Antonio Perez is the son of a knight and a returning war hero, yet he loathes the idea of following in his father’s footsteps. But when his father is executed for alleged treason against Fernando, King of Leon-Castile, he launches a desperate bid to save his life and clear his name. Antonio soon learns that the world is much crueller and darker than he ever could have imagined.

Bereft of hope and condemned to slavery for his sins, he finds himself in the household of a young knight named Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, a man destined for greatness. Together, they must face their demons and put an end to the man responsible for the downfall of the fathers; known as Azarola, renowned for his fox like cunning and malice, and one of the most powerful lords of Leon.

Rise of a Champion is the epic beginning to the Legend of the Cid.

REVIEW

It seems that no matter how many historical fiction books I read, there are always historical events, locales, and personalities that I know little or nothing about. Sometimes these events, important though they are, become overshadowed by concurrent events in other parts of the globe. Rise of a Champion is the first book in a series about Antonio Perez, El Cid…undoubtedly an important person in an important time in what is now Spain. It is a rousing tale of his early life; the tortuous road he takes to salvage his family’s honor. The author has done his homework and has created a very entertaining tale of the clash of Moor versus Christian. The characters are well developed, fitting into the time, place and cultures of the era. I had very little knowledge of this period even though I have read many books that take place at the same time – an example of the overshadowing effect – the year Rise of a Champion ends is 1064 – lots of stuff going on in Normandy and Britain right about then. 😊 But, it is good to branch out, to learn about, and be entertained by history no matter the time or place. I am looking forward to following the rest of El Cid’s tale. 4⭐⭐⭐⭐

Rome’s Lost Son (Vespasian #6) by Robert Fabbri

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Rome, AD 51: Vespasian brings Rome’s greatest enemy before the Emperor. After eight years of resistance, the British warrior Caratacus has been caught. But even Vespasian’s victory cannot remove the newly-made consul from Roman politics: Agrippina, Emperor Claudius’s wife, pardons Caratacus. Claudius is a drunken fool and Narcissus and Pallas, his freedmen, are battling for control of his throne. Separately, they decide to send Vespasian East to Armenia to defend Rome’s interests. But there is more at stake than protecting a client kingdom. Rumors abound that Agrippina is involved in a plot to destabilise the East. Vespasian must find a way to serve two masters—Narcissus is determined to ruin Agrippina, Pallas to save her. Meanwhile, the East is in turmoil. A new Jewish cult is flourishing and its adherents refuse to swear loyalty to the Emperor. In Armenia, Vespasian is captured. Immured in the oldest city on earth, how can he escape? And is a Rome ruled by a woman who despises Vespasian any safer than a prison cell?

REVIEW

A gap in the historical record of Vespasian; a veritable open canvas for the author, a proving ground for a fertile imagination. Once again I was awed by the character building, and the level of political intrigue involved in this brilliant look at Vespasian and the way he is playing the “long game”. His birth prophecy and a sacrificial liver set him on a course to the throne, but a lot has to happen first. And a lot does happen in this intricate, page turning tale.  Claudius is on the way out…Nero is next in line to continue the Julio-Claudian tendency to excess… Rome’s Lost Son, as one would expect given the previous books in the series, is a thrilling tale that keeps the reader coming back for more. 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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Raven Banner (The Whale Road Chronicles #2) by Tim Hodkinson

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‘FAST-PACED, DETAILED AND BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN [FOR] FANS OF BERNARD CORNWELL, GEORGE R.R. MARTIN AND THEODORE BRUN’ HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY.

Einar Unnsson will be a great warrior, whether he wants it or not.

AD 935 – Late Winter, City of Jorvik.

Einar Unnssonis destined to be a great Icelandic warrior. He has already defeated the men sent to kill him by his notorious father, Jarl Thorfinn, the ‘Skull Cleaver’ of Orkney. He has a gift that makes him lethal in battle. Yet he has cast it all off to be a bard.

When three men attack him, Einar’s poetry provides little protection. Luckily, the skilled archer and Norse-Irish princess Affreca saves him. She’d assumed Einar had left to raise an army, challenge Thorfinn and seize the Jarldom of Orkney. Now she’s determined to set him back onto his rightful path.

Einar soon finds himself entangled on Affreca’s own mission. She’s seeking the Raven Banner for King Eirik. Legend has it that the banner is imbued with powerful magic. That it was a gift from the Norse God Odin and any army that marches behind it will be victorious. The quest sets events in motion that are beyond Einar’s control.

Einar has no choice but to face his fate and swing his sword once more…

Praise for Tim Hodkinson:

‘An excellently writtenpage-turner, with a feel for the period which invites you into the era and keeps you there’ Historical Writers Association.

‘A gripping action adventurelike the sagas of old; and once finished, you just want to go back and read it all over again’ Melisende’s Library.

REVIEW

Einar would rather sing about the adventures, not be a participant in them, but such is not his wyrd; his fate. A captivating sequel to Odin’s Game, The Raven Banner is a roller coaster ride of a tale. Einar and his companions are put through some pretty hair-raising events (not the least to Affreca  🙂 ).  An adrenaline rushing, page turning, tale of the turbulent times of Aethelstan – Hakon –  Eirik Blood Axe. The characters are full of the times, the experiences, the lore and legends of the many peoples looking to call Britain their home. I am looking forward to the next installment – this is indeed a series to lose oneself in. 4⭐⭐⭐⭐

Man of War: Book #4 The Rebels and Redcoats Saga Prequel (The Rebels and Redcoats Saga #4) by T.J. London

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July 1755

War is brewing between England and France. Impressed into the Royal Navy, Lieutenant Merrick, against all odds, advanced through the ranks to become an officer–but he is not a gentleman. A man with a tainted past from a traitorous family, cast down by King George–a stain no man can remove.

Merrick’s thrust into the role of captain, when the HMS Boudica is attacked by pirates off the coast of Nova Scotia. On a captured enemy vessel he discovers a King’s ransom in treasure and a woman chained in the hold from passenger ship that mysteriously disappeared at sea.

Beautiful, defiant, and hell bent on revenge, India makes a deal with Merrick to uncover the pirates’ scheme, promising him everything he desires: fortune, glory, and the chance to bring honor back to the McKesson name.

Now, they race against time to uncover a plot that links those in the highest ranks of the British aristocracy, to a failed rebellion that is once again trying to topple the monarchy and place an old pretender on the throne. But all that glitters is not gold as passions stir and an impossible love blooms, threatening to undermine all Merrick and India have done to protect their King and a country on the brink of war.

***This book contains violence and graphic depictions of war***

REVIEW

What we have here, my fellow readers, is a shining example of what a prequel should be. All the bits mentioned in the first three books of the series that hinted at the recent past, are brought forth with all guns firing, striking a mizzen mast hit on the reader’s heart. If I were to describe the book in one word – passion. The passion of a crew’s loyalty to their ship and captain…the passion of a man’s political leanings…the passion of brothers torn asunder by hatred…the passion of brothers torn asunder by war…the passion of lust and love. Yes, my peeps and fellow travelers, the author has created some very passionate people and events, none more so than the mysterious India/Caroline. Headstrong, and determined, she had me, on the one hand, rooting for her cunning, while on the other hand, yelling at her to listen to Merrick for once. Enjoyable, entertaining, and enlightening on all things McKesson/Carlisle….and the emergence of the future evils of DeLancie, and Celeste….step aboard Merrick’s Queen, The HMS Boudica; adventure awaits.  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Author

T.J. London is a rebel, liberal, lover, fighter, diehard punk, and pharmacist-turned-author who loves history. As an author her goal is to fill in the gaps, writing stories about missing history, those little places that are so interesting yet sadly forgotten. Her favorite time periods to write in are first and foremost the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, the French and Indian War, the Russian Revolution and the Victorian Era. Her passions are traveling, writing, reading, barre, and sharing a glass of wine with her friends, while she collects experiences in this drama called life. She is a native of Metropolitan Detroit (but secretly dreams of being a Londoner) and resides there with her husband Fred and her beloved cat and writing partner Mickey.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 27
Guest Post at A Darn Good Read

Tuesday, April 28
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Wednesday, April 29
Excerpt at Donna’s Book Blog

Thursday, April 30
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, May 1
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Saturday, May 2
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Monday, May 4
Review at History + Fiction + Adirondack Spirit

Tuesday, May 5
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, May 6
Feature at I’m All About Books

Thursday, May 7
Guest Post at Curling up by the Fire

Friday, May 8
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Saturday, May 9
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, May 11
Review at andreajanel_reads

Wednesday, May 13
Feature at What Is That Book About

Thursday, May 14
Excerpt at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Friday, May 15
Review at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

To enter to win an amazing prize pack from T.J. London, please complete the Gleam form below!

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

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The King’s Beast: A Mystery of the American Revolution (Duncan McCallum #6) by Eliot Pattison

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When Duncan McCallum is asked by Benjamin Franklin to retrieve an astonishing cache of fossils from the Kentucky wilderness, his excitement as a naturalist blinds him to his treacherous path. But as murderers stalk him Duncan discovers that the fossils of this American incognitum are not nearly as mysterious as the political intrigue driving his mission. The Sons of Liberty insist, without explaining why, that the only way to keep the king from pursuing a bloody war with America is for Duncan to secretly deliver the fossils to Franklin in London.  His journey becomes a nightmare of deceit and violence as he seeks the cryptic link between the bones and the king. Every layer that Duncan peels away invites new treachery by those obsessed with crushing American dissent. With each attempt on his life, Duncan
questions the meaning of the liberty he and the Sons seek. His last desperate hope for survival, and the rescue of his aged native friend Conawago—imprisoned in Bedlam—requires the help of freed slaves, an aristocratic maiden, a band of street urchins, and the gods of his tribal allies.

REVIEW

A rousing tale of that politically turbulent period between The French & Indian War, and The Revolutionary War. Replete with characters who draw the reader into the drama; finely honed to reflect the time and place, full of the respective cultures they portray. The temerity of the British aristocracy; their seeming never ending condescending attitude to any colonial, even transplanted Englishmen, is on full display in this quest for dominance over anything that happens in the colonies. A secret mission for Ben Franklin sets Duncan on a emotionally charged road to unravel the mysteries thrust at him in often violent fashion. Loaded with the spiritual beliefs of the Native tribes, The King’s Beast is also a detailed and well researched lesson on the cultures which had survived centuries before being “discovered”, and the insurmountable odds against their continued existence.  Among the historical characters given life by the author, Franklin shines as a somewhat absent-minded, eccentric genius. His naivete is a refreshing look at a complicated man, though it does create more problems for Duncan to sort out. One of the main plots is the locating and rescuing the aged Nipmuc elder, Conawago. The difference in spiritual beliefs is highlighted in this quote from a young frontiersman, Daniel Boone, “”The tribes talk about the spirits in the trees and the gods in the forest.” Boone looked upward as he spoke, into the limbs of the aged tree. “I heard a preacher once tell a warrior friend of mine that such talk is sacrilege, that there’s no room in the Bible for such things. My friend said that’s because the men who wrote his Bible lived in the desert” It is this spiritual void that Conawago has become entrapped and provides a most thrilling escape – a fitting example of the page turning effect this book has on the reader. This was my first venture into the Duncan McCallum tales, it won’t be my last.

5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hunting Ground by Meghan Holloway

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Fifteen years ago, Hector Lewis’s wife and young daughter vanished without a trace. People have long thought he was responsible, but the man he knows is behind their disappearance still walks free. As a police officer, he is sworn to uphold the law. But he has seen how little justice there is in the world. And when a newcomer’s arrival sparks a harrowing series of crimes, Hector finds himself in a race to catch a man he is convinced is a killer.

Evelyn Hutto knows what it is to be prey. She moved west to start over. But the remote town of Raven’s Gap, Montana, is not as quiet and picturesque as it appears. The wild borderlands of Yellowstone National Park are home to more than one kind of predator. Women are going missing, and Evelyn’s position at the local museum unearths a collection of Native American art steeped in secrets. As she traces the threads of the past and the present, she finds them tied to one man.

Hector is a man obsessed with finding answers. Evelyn is a woman with secrets of her own. As winter whittles the land to bone and ice, the body count rises, and both become locked in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a dangerous man. A man who is as cunning as he is charismatic. A man whose new hunting season is only just beginning.

REVIEW

Psychological thrillers are not my usual choice for reading. Heck, that goes for movies as well…I remember a time when I was in my teens going to a double feature of Premature Burial and The Pit and the Pendulum. I didn’t even make it through the first film before I left the theater. 😱 However, based on how much I loved the author’s previous book, Once More Unto the Breach, I decided to dispense with my idiosyncratic character flaw and read Hunting Ground. It is, as the author mentioned to me, quite different from Breach, but there are similarities nonetheless. The characters are well crafted, realism in their demeanor’s, their responses to events, the motives behind their actions, all lead the reader into an intense, taut drama. Meticulously detailed descriptions, whether it is of a small Montana town, or the sprawling, winter bound wilderness of Yellowstone immerses the readers in the surroundings, in the chilling events. As the story unfolded, and more secrets emerged, more details came to light, the twists and turns of this page turning thriller had this reader/reviewer pausing to remember to breathe. Oh, yes my  peeps and fellow travelers on the reading road, this is a good one for sure. A psychological thriller that even the idiosyncratic flawed, like me, can enjoy.

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Forged By Iron (Olaf’s Saga Book 1) by Eric Schumacher

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From the bestselling author of Hakon’s Saga comes Forged by Iron, the first in a series of thrilling tales about Olaf Tryggvason, one of the most legendary and enigmatic kings of the Viking Age.

Norway, AD 960. The fabric that has held the Northern realm together is tearing. The sons of Erik Bloodaxe have returned and are systematically killing all opposition to the High Seat. Through treachery, Harald Eriksson slays Jarl Trygvi, an heir to the throne, and then comes for Trygvi’s wife, Astrid, and son, Olaf.

Astrid and Olaf flee their home with the help of Astrid’s foster father, Torolv Loose-beard, and his son, Torgil, who are oath-sworn to protect them. The group escapes east, through the dark, forested land of the Swedes and across the treacherous East Sea, all the while evading the clutches of Harald’s brutal henchmen.

But the gods are fickle and the group is torn apart, forcing them to fend for themselves in Forged by Iron, a must-read for all who enjoy action-packed historical fiction.

REVIEW

Good grief, just what I need, another fascinating series to get wrapped up in. My Kindle is overloaded…my to be read pile of paperbacks has exceeded the weight limit of my bookshelf. However, when an author produces a book like Forged By Iron, I welcome it despite the rapidly decreasing space on my Kindle, and the groaning of the pine boards of my bookshelf. I was captivated by this tale, so much so that I abandoned my usual reading habit. I tend to have 3 books going at the same time, and divide my reading time between them, but in the case of Forged By Iron, the other 2 current reads were temporarily shelved. A true page turning experience, Forged is replete with wonderful characters, and scintillating action. I could tell from the first chapter that the relationship between Olaf and his oath bound protector Torgil was not going to be an easy one, and that theme drives the narrative. Without giving away too much, the trials, tribulations, and the agonizing situation they are forced into are as exciting as anything I’ve read in the historical-fiction genre. This is indeed a well-crafted tale…and it is just the beginning.

5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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About the Author

Eric Schumacher (1968 – ) is an American historical novelist who currently resides in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife and two children. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended college at the University of San Diego.

At a very early age, Schumacher discovered his love for writing and medieval European history, as well as authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Those discoveries continue to fuel his imagination and influence the stories he tells. His first novel, God’s Hammer, was published in 2005.

To date, Schumacher has published three novels, collectively known as Hakon’s Saga, and one novella. More information about him and his books can be found on his website. You can also connect with Schumacher on TwitterFacebookGoodreads, and AuthorsDB.

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Forged by Iron! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

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

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The Lost Boys of London (Bianca Goddard Mysteries #5) by Mary Lawrence

The Lost Boys of London (Bianca Goddard…

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Set in the final years of King Henry VIII’s reign, an alchemist’s daughter uses her skills to aid the living and helps seek justice for the dead…

While her husband fights the Scots on behalf of King Henry VIII, Bianca Goddard earns her coin by concocting medicines that offer relief to London’s sick. Some unfortunates, however, are beyond any remedies she can provide—like the young boy discovered hanging from a church dripstone. Examining the body, Bianca finds a rosary twined around the child’s neck. A week later, another boy is found dead at a different church. When Bianca’s impish acquaintance, Fisk, goes missing, she fears he may become the third victim…

There are many villains who would prey on wayward, penniless boys. But Bianca suspects the killings are not brutal acts of impulse, but something far more calculated. In her room of Medicinals and Physickes, she examines the sole piece of evidence: a sweet-smelling, stained cloth. If Bianca can unravel its secret, reputations and lives will be saved. The expected hour of the next murder is approaching, and a single misstep may mean another boy is lost forever

REVIEW

A thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery set in London during Henry VIII’s tumultuous reign. Bianca Goddard is one persistent sleuth as she unravels a series of crimes where there are many persons of interest and motives. Tis a plot full of surprises including the fate of her husband, off fighting for Henry in Scotland. The author has once again got me to wondering how people lived in any big city. Her descriptions of the city are wonderful, the markets, the churches, heck the smells alone eke out from the pages; a heady mixture of human waste, rotting garbage, and the ever pleasant aroma of tanneries. The main characters are enlivened with the speech of the streets; the patois of constables and street sellers, making the narrative not only realistic, but page turning as well. So, my fellow readers follow along as Bianca struggles to solve the crimes while emotionally burdened with the loss of her baby, and the unknown fate of her husband. A fitting conclusion to the series awaits you.  4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Winter Knight – The Knights Templar Novels by S.J.A. Turney

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A murder in a far off castle. A deadly struggle to survive… An intense and gripping Medieval thriller.

In the depths of winter at an ancient German castle, high up in the mountains, a noble is found dead under mysterious circumstances.

Back at Rourell, Arnau is taking on the responsibilities of a full Templar Knight. But when he is tasked with returning Brother Lütolf’s papers to settle a legal dispute between his family and the Order, Arnau is unexpectedly drawn into the killing at the castle. Here he enters a dark game of knives and double-crosses.

Trapped in the ice-bound fortress, mastery of the sword is no longer enough. This is a different kind of war: one of shadows and whispered threats. Arnau must use all the guile he possesses, or risk succumbing to an icy tomb.

The latest instalment of S.J.A. Turney’s unputdownable and bestselling Knights Templar series, The Winter Knight is perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Ben Kane and Christian Cameron

REVIEW

A slight deviation from the first three books in The Knights Templar, The Winter Knight is not only a further look into the development of Arnau as a trusted member of the Order, but it is also a masterfully told murder mystery. The author presents a seemingly impossible scenario – a murder with no viable suspects. But like the tapestry that hangs in the schloss where each picture; each section tells a tale, each chapter reveals more clues, more clarity, and more danger for Arnau who is tasked with solving the mystery. Naturally, the author has not made it easy for our sleuth. Stuck in the middle of a blizzard ridden mountain fortress, oft times not exactly dressed for the elements, and surrounded by people who have no love for the Templar Order, Arnau follows a twisting plot line as treacherous as the knee deep snow covered forest trail leading to the castle. Beautifully depicted, the pages practically emit the frost ridden breath of Arnau, or the sound of the snow crunching underfoot, the author has once again taken this reader on another page turning adventure.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐