Legionary – Empire of Shades by Gordon Doherty

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The Legionary series, has become one of my favorites over the years, and am happy to report that Empire of Shades carries on the tradition of crafty storytelling that we’ve grown to expect from Mr. Doherty.  The masterful interweaving of the multiple plot lines throughout the tale are sure to keep the reader engaged and turning pages.  Pavo and the rest of his gang are really put to the test in many ways and many times in this many layered thriller.  Pavo reaches a new depth of character as he pursues a promise made to his friend and mentor, Gallus.  He also finds love again and that experience leaves it’s mark.  Set against the backdrop of Theodosius taking the mantle of Emperor of the East and the unsettling shenanigans of Gratian, the Emperor of the West, Mr. Doherty leads us on a brutal adventure during a time of great migrations and a changing world.  4.7 stars

Caesar’s Sword II Siege of Rome by David Pilling

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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.

Enjoy!

http://www.davidpillingauthor.com

Links for the humble scribe who did the review:

On Twitter @hooverbkreview

On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clash-of-Empires/1115407281808508

Tobias by Prue Batten

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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

On Twitter @hooverbkreview

On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clash-of-Empires/1115407281808508

Strategos 3 Island in the Storm by Gordon Doherty

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First off let me say that I have a major beef with Mr. Doherty and I am sure that all of you who read the words of this humble scribe will agree once you finish Island in the Storm.  This series has been among the best I’ve read and now it is over and that my friends is the cause of my discontent.  However, the sheer brilliance in this third volume does tend to soften the blow.  This is storytelling at it’s finest, the drama, the emotion, the horrors of war, the loss of friends; in all these and more the author is at the top of his game.  Throughout the book we are part of the struggle not only between Byzantium-Diogenes Romanus and the Seljuk Turk Alp Arslan but also to the powers seeking to supplant Romanus and too, Alp Arslan.  The plots and twists are the ever present backdrop to the building climatic battle at Manzikert on August 26, 1071.  As a describer of battle scenes Mr. Doherty has always brought the sights, sounds and smells to the readers senses but in this battle, one that covers so much time and space and has so many ebbs and flows coupled with the ferocity and emotional trauma, the author delivers a coup de grace.  As expected Apion, The Haga, has a destiny to fulfill and is faced with making choices that will determine not only his future but the future of much more.  The characters be they likable(Sha, Blastares, et. al.) or be they repulsive(Psellos, John Doukas, et. al.) are done beautifully and imbue the story with the realities of the time and situation.  In short, this series may be over but it is certainly going out on a very high note.  5 stars

Strategos: Rise of the Golden Heart by Gordon Doherty

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I have read three of Mr. Doherty’s books and liked them a lot.  Given that his track record is superb I expected nothing less than that same excellence from Strategos: Rise of the Golden Heart.  If I was previously enthralled with his work, and not just a little jealous, I am even more so now.

It has been twelve years since the end of book 1 and Apion is now a Strategos and his reputation as The Haga grows after every battle or skirmish with his Seljuk enemies.  His development as a strong, decisive leader of men is countered somewhat by the soul sickening events of his past.  We find him not only having to cope with his turmoil on an emotional level but physically as well given that his most obdurate foe, once his best friend, has sworn vengeance and death to The Haga.  Mr. Doherty plays this sub-plot beautifully and adds some unforeseen results…(no spoilers  J ).

Once again, the author has put together a story line with abundant twists, turns and surprises.  One in particular had my mind screaming OMG or was it WTF when, no wait, no spoilers here boys and girls, suffice to know that the author has not lost his touch for mystery and intrigue.  Neither has the author neglected to do his homework.  The battles are first rate, the geography is well described and the everyday events of 11th century Byzantium are evidence of the research.

Relentless action, political intrigue, betrayal, bitter foes and steadfast friends – the list goes on and on and I’m pretty sure will carry over to book 3.  Well done Mr. Doherty.   I rate this book at 4.8.