Invasion – Tales of the Empire by SJA Turney


If there’s one thing I’ve learned after reading so many of Mr. Turney’s works, it is that to expect the unexpected.  In this the fifth volume in Tales of the Empire we find the Empire invading the isle of Alba; it is reminiscent of Rome in Britain but with enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing as this invasion is fraught with much more than just battles between 3 legions and tribal warriors.  As in the previous four volumes in this series, we are introduced to a whole new set of characters and with the action mostly on Alba, a new location.  Once again, the author shines as he creates his characters with a wide range of personalities.  The three tribunes are a good example of that as each one has something different about him to bring to the table.  Of nasty specimens be assured that there are plenty and they are wonderful additions indeed. The reader also gets to enjoy the imaginative descriptive prowess of the author as he paints a vivid picture of the surroundings and the hill forts; especially the fortress of the Queen.  Another winner for Mr. Turney; that’s also to be expected.  🙂

4.4 stars

Insurgency – Tales of the Empire IV by S.J.A.Turney


The fourth installment of this historical fantasy of a Roman like world finds the Empire flourishing under the guiding hands of the Emperor Kiva and his brother Quintillian who is his principle adviser and military strategist. However, there are others who have designs on this empire and will go to great lengths to see it come under new ownership.  Thus, we the readers are treated to a story replete with intricate plots and machinations as the Empire is threatened from numerous enemies, some of whom were thought to be friends and allies.  The author has done a superb job in fleshing out this insurgency with some remarkable characters and exciting story lines.  The atmosphere is tense, the action is page turning and the world created by the author is recognizable to a student of Roman history yet different enough to make the readers use their imaginations as the action flits back and forth between regions.  To summarize (without spoilers), the dude can spin a yarn and I hope he spins more in this highly entertaining series.  5 stars

The Voyage of Odysseus by Glyn Iliffe


The War is over.  The Horse came through.  The Skaen Gates have fallen and Priam’s Pride is a smoking ruin.  Time to load up the loot and slaves and head on out for a leisurely cruise back to kith, kin and kingdom ruling.  Ah, but wasn’t there something about a 10 year waiting period before the kith, kin and kingdom stuff?  A tumultuous 10 years and a journey that will test everything in a man; courage, loyalty, faith and friendship.  Odysseus, mastermind of the Greek’s long awaited victory, is no longer a favorite of the gods, try as he may to appease them; no longer the confident King as he is threatened by those he has lead all those years; no longer does his vaunted intellect and cunning prove effective or wise.  This journey back home to Penelope, a wife under siege by those who would replace the rule of Laertes son, Odysseus, is brought to luxuriant life in this, part 5 of The Adventures of Odysseus.  The author brings the reader into the constant drama surrounding Odysseus, Eperitus and the rest of the Ithacans; bringing to life the horrors faced, the circumstances that threaten to unravel everything they hold dear.  I kept thinking, man, how much more can they take?  Well, they’ll have to take more as this book covers the first half of the journey…there’s more to come and that’s, methinks, a good thing.  5 stars


The Dead Gods: Flint & Steel, Fire & Shadow 2 by Robert Bayliss


When I read The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien I was both fascinated and somewhat frightened by the creature Ungoliant.  In The Dead Gods, we meet an Ungoliant on steroids.  We met this god of shadows briefly at the end of book 1, The Sun Shard and in book 2 we get to know this powerful and evil being on a more intimate level as well as it’s minions and children.  It is a story filled with interwoven plots as empires prepare for war, ancient beings fight to survive and old civilizations seek to reclaim what was once theirs.  All of that and a battle for the control of the souls of mankind.  Now, all of that is well and good but of no use, entertainmentwise, without some heroic bravery; some action that defies the odds and results in victories…I am happy to report that the author has accomplished that with an amazing set of circumstances and characters.  Oh, and romance too…can’t forget the romance, the longing for and the physical manifestation of it, even if some of that is, well, let’s just say, mentally challenging.  The first two books have set the scene for world and religious conquest…I can’t wait for book 3.  5 stars

The Sun Shard by Robert Bayliss


Took a delightful journey through a fantasy world where mammoths still roam and Neanderthals are imbued with a magic that a human ruler will kill for to unlock it’s secrets. There is a power struggle between civilizations in this world and an ancient evil desires blood. I don’t read a lot of fantasy nowadays… not sure why because I used to love stories/series like Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara or David Eddings’ tales. Well, Mr. Bayliss did a fine job rekindling my interest. I was hooked from page one of The Sun Shard and the author kept me enthralled throughout with a plot full of surprises and wonderful characters, both human and Flint Fathers.  A captivating tale of intrigue, action and the realm of other worldly magic and mystery.  5 stars  Am looking forward to book 2.

About the author:

Hello, my name is Rob Bayliss. I’m married to my lovely wife, Clare, and we live in the gorgeous county of Somerset with our two wonderful kids and our adopted Patterdale Terrier.

I’ve always had a love of history (and Anglo Saxon history in particular) and through the wonder of social media I found mutual aficionados of the subject. Always ravenous of books of historical fiction, I found myself guided by Facebook friends to The Review. Here, as the name suggests, books are reviewed, discussed and word of them spread far and wide amongst a supportive network of readers and writers. Through the Review I have been made aware of, and subsequently read , a wide variety of books outside my usual comfort zone of historical fiction and fantasy.

Speaking of which, inspired by writers I met in this virtual reading room, and at a loose end one day, I started writing myself. I find writing now one of the most enjoyable hobbies possible and when people enjoy what you have written, well, there are few feelings that compare to it. I self published The Sun Shard, a fantasy set in an alternative renaissance world and I am currently working on the sequel; The Dead Gods. Just for fun I’ve also started a blog where I can reminisce, shoot the wind or perhaps indulge in a short story or two.

My fantasy Author Page can be found at:


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Caesar’s Sword II Siege of Rome by David Pilling


The grandson of Arthur, Coel, is put through the wringer by the author in this the second volume in the Caesar’s Sword series.  If it isn’t vengeful people in Justinian’s court, it’s Vandals in Africa, if it isn’t them it’s the Goths in Italy, if it isn’t them, it’s people in Belisarius own household, all of them want him dead  Make no mistake, Coel has a lot of enemies.  David Pilling as wrought an exciting tale that follows the famous General Belisarius who is given the task of retaking Rome from the Ostrogoths who have held it for decades but a Vandal rebellion in Africa must be dealt with first.  Taking Rome from the Goths is accomplished but now the trick is to keep it as the city is under siege by 120,000 Goths.  The author is once again in top form as he gives us a scintillating story of the genius of Belisarius while intertwining the trial and tribulations of Coel who is not immune to outside forces despite being an officer on Belisarius staff.  Descriptive, imaginative and replete with the glory of war and the machinations of behind the scene shenanigans of those who would bring Coel down, Siege of Rome is a worthy successor to The Red Death and will continue in book 3, Flame of the West. 5 stars.

About the author:

I’m an English writer and researcher, addicted to history for as long as I can remember. I spent much of my childhood dragging my long-suffering parents up and down the misted ruins of castles in Wales, and the medieval period has always held a particular fascination for me. I am also interested in the Roman period, the Dark Ages and the British Civil Wars of the 17th century.

My first published novel, Folville’s Law, followed the adventures of Sir John Swale during the dying days of Edward II’s catastrophic reign. It was followed by twelve mini-sequels.

My stand-alone novel, The Half-Hanged Man, was told from the perspective of three characters and focused on the mercenary Free Companies that plagued Christendom in the latter half of the 14th century.

The White Hawk (I) and (II) form part of a planned 4-part series set during The Wars of the Roses, and chronicle the trials and adventures of the Boltons, a family of minor Staffordshire gentry, as they attempt to survive this particularly bloody period of English history.

Caesar’s Sword tells the story of Coel ap Amhar, King Arthur’s bastard grandson, and his adventures in the glittering, lethal environment of Constantinople and the Late Roman Empire.

Fireship Press have just released Nowhere Was There Peace, a tale of espionage and power politics set during The Second Baron’s War, just after the Battle of Evesham.

I have also written a series of fantasy novels with my friend and co-writer, Martin Bolton.

All my novels are available as ebooks and paperbacks.


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Tobias by Prue Batten


Once again I was asked to preview the newest release by Prue Batten.  Once again I was pleased to do so.  Once again I was thrilled with the result.  Tobias and his twin, Tomas, are dispatched on a perilous mission by their employer, Guy of Gisborne, one that could ruin the Gisborne family if the mission fails.  Amidst the drama that unfolds considering the mission is the painful drama of the falling out between Tobias and Tomas.  The lifelong bond shared by the twins is taxed to the limit and leads to reconciliation, retribution and finally revenge.  The story exudes in excitement as the mission is beset by problems right from the start and only culminates after much opposition and suffering.  The characters are painted in such a way as to enable the reader to soak up the texture of their feelings, their fears, their joys.  As evidenced in other works by the author, her descriptive flair is in top form whether you are shipboard in a storm or just marvelling at Constantinople’s majestic architecture.  One illustration should suffice : “The biggest church in Christendom stood above him, the staircase could have been the one that led to Heaven for all he knew, so beautiful, so perfectly cut from marble, the basilica walls stuccoed and the colour of faded Judas blossom, windows underlying the gold leafed cupola like an imperial diadem. It sat almost in silhouette as the late afternoon sun sought to bed behind it.”   It is my humble opinion that Prue Batten has another winner on her hands and am certainly looking forward to book 2.   5 stars

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