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.

 Follow Matthew Harffy:    

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Facebook: @MatthewHarffyAuthor

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

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2INuSlg

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2IQsFWo

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2GEC8i9

iBooks: https://apple.co/2UQcr6Y

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The Raven and the Cross by C.R. May

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The North: 937AD – Three years have passed since the English king Athelstan bribed treacherous jarls to take Erik’s half-brother as king in Norway.

Forced from his kingdom, Erik Bloodaxe returns to the Viking ways of his youth. Warlords are driven from Danish lands, Saxony burns, and Dublin falls to a brutal assault before the prow beasts of Erik’s fleet turn south to stalk the seas off Al-Andalus.

As Erik’s reputation as a battle winner spreads his sons grow to manhood, and together they carve a new kingdom to rule from the islands which gird Britain’s north-west.

But Bloodaxe is not alone in suffering the Imperial ambitions of the southern English, and when a half-remembered figure leads a Northumbrian deputation to the king’s Orkney fastness, events are set in motion which will lure Erik south to face his greatest test.

The Raven and the Cross continues the turbulent story of Erik Haraldsson, a legendary king of the Viking Age.

REVIEW

An exciting sequel to Bloodaxe, Eric is a little older now. A bit more mature, a bit more pragmatic, without dulling the warrior within. The author portrays this formidable son of Harald Fairhair at the height of his battle prowess, and his abilities as a leader, who inspires not just loyalty from his people, but also love as well.  The underlying thread in book 2 is the fulfillment of a prophecy Erik had received as a young man. It was prophesied that Eric would be a king five times. He and his retinue do a fair bit of traveling in this tale, gaining wealth and prestige, as well as getting closer to achieving that prophetic number. Page turning drama, characters who give life to an era shrouded in mystery, and the coming clash of the old religion(s) versus the Cross of Christ, all this and more awaits you my dear readers. 4 stars

 Historical Fiction reviews  has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Fiction Blogs on the web.

The Brotherhood of the Black Flag: A Novel of the Golden Age of Piracy by Ian Nathaniel Cohen

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Michael McNamara has one last chance to fight for king and country.
His once-promising career in tatters, McNamara leaves the newly-United Kingdom behind in search of a new life. With no other skills but the sword, he joins forces with a pirate turned pirate hunter determined to rid the Caribbean of the Brotherhood of the Black Flag once and for all.

Eager for the adventure and a worthy cause to fight for, McNamara pits himself against treacherous seas and battle-hardened buccaneers…and uncovers an international conspiracy that threatens thousands of lives.

The Golden Age of Piracy is about to end…but not without one final reckoning.

REVIEW

A swashbuckling tale with an intriguing plot awaits you my fellow readers. An interesting array of well drawn characters fill the pages from the main protagonists to the bit players giving the story an authenticity that held my interest from page one.  The action, both on land and especially at sea, is well conceived. The author has done his homework on the workings of 18th century ships, and the nuances involved in a well fought sword duel. The plot, the redemption of a notorious pirate and his bid to rid the seas of those who still rain death and destruction flying the Black Flag, is well played, and full of twists and turns which leads to a very exciting conclusion. Yes, a swashbuckling delight indeed. 4 Stars

Mutiny (Mercenary of Rome Book 1) by John Stack

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Blurb – from the author:

I have always been fascinated by the tales of forgotten warriors, those whose names are unknown by the very history they shaped. The names of commanders ring throughout military history, but what of those whose skill, bravery and sacrifice are not recorded as individuals; the English longbow-man at Agincourt, the Russian infantryman at Stalingrad or the Irish rebel in the GPO in the 1916 Easter Rising. In creating Atticus Milonius Perennis I found such a warrior.

The inventor of the Corvus, the boarding ramp that allowed the Romans to deploy their legionnaires at sea, has been lost to time. Yet its introduction in the First Punic War, and its effectiveness in overcoming the Carthaginian navy, paved the way for the Roman Republic to break the boundaries of its shoreline and expand its influence over the length and breath of the Mediterranean. Through Atticus, I have sought to tell the story of that warrior in the Masters of the Sea series, the tale of a man who shaped the course of Roman history and yet whose name is not recorded.

The First Punic War was bitterly contested by both sides. Polybius attests to the ferocity of the conflict, and speaks of those who commanded in the field, and at the centre of power in each city. But it was galley fighting galley in the most pitched battles, with individual captains and centurions struggling for each hard fought victory. Atticus and Septimus were those men, individuals who propelled Rome into a new era of influence, and ultimately conquest.

The story of these warriors continues in my new series Mercenary of Rome. The Mercenary War was a direct consequence of the First Punic War and at a time of dire need, Carthage reached out to its former enemy, Rome for assistance. At first Rome was supportive, as was the city of Syracuse, recognising the value of a coherent Carthaginian state on their flank, and so Atticus and Septimus are once more drawn into war. The conflict that unfolded was fought with a violence and cruelty that marked the desperation of both sides, the Carthaginians and the Mercenaries, a divide so deep between former allies that Polybius described it as a ‘truceless war’.

It is into this maelstrom that our characters are thrown, and once again I have found in my research for Mercenary of Rome that behind the names of Roman Senators, Carthaginian leaders, and Mercenary commanders, it is the common soldier, the forgotten warrior, who ultimately sacrificed all for victory.

Review

An intriguing tale of one of the more ironic periods in Roman history. Carthage and Rome allied together to fight a mercenary army that threatens the stability of the Mediterranean area. This despite a fierce hatred, and total mistrust that existed between the two nations. This is no more evident than the relationship between the Roman commander Atticus and Hamilcar Barca. The author skillfully blends the history with a entertaining fictional rendering. The characters are vividly drawn, the action is exciting, in other words, it is what good historical-fiction looks like. The battle scenes are of the no holds barred variety; the sounds and smells, the battle lust seep through the pages. I was especially captivated by the naval confrontations; the snapping of the oars, the in rush of water as the ram tears through the hull – just the kind of page turning adventure I enjoy. Looking forward to book 2.      4 stars

War King – Hakon’s Saga Book 3 by Eric Schumacher

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WAR KING BY ERIC SCHUMACHER

Publication Date: October 15, 2018
Creativia Publishing
eBook; 279 Pages
ASIN: B07GT3DB13

Series: Hakon’s Saga, Book 3
Genre: Historical Fiction/Vikings

It is 954 A.D. and a tempest is brewing in the North. Twenty summers before, Hakon Haraldsson wrested Norway’s throne from his murderous brother, Erik Bloodaxe, but he failed to rid himself of Erik’s family. Now the sons of Erik have come to reclaim Erik’s realm and avenge the wrong done to their father and their kin.

They do not come alone. With them marches an army of sword-Danes sent by the Danish King, Harald Bluetooth, whose desire to expand his realm is as powerful as the lust for vengeance that pulses in the veins of Erik’s brood.

Like storm-driven waves, the opposing forces collide in War King, the action-packed sequel to God’s Hammer and Raven’s Feast.

Review

Having read and enjoyed the first two books of this trilogy, I was very much looking forward to the finale.  I was not disappointed. This is a tale full of irony, as well as the full force of life in a brutal, and oft confusing time. Hakon had been warned and counseled to kill the sons of Eric Bloodaxe, but he refused to do it, wanting to end the blood feud. Well, that didn’t work out too well, as they came seeking vengeance and glory.

The historical record of Hakon and his struggles to keep his kingdom is sparse, leaving the author with plenty of room to be creative, which he does in a most entertaining fashion. The battles are full of the bluster, the camaraderie, the smells, the screams, the dying, and the glory of victories. The lives of the people, their struggles to survive, the oaths they have sworn, the harsh conditions one finds in the Northland, as well as it’s beauty are perfect backdrops to the cares, happiness, love, and soul searching which permeate Hakon’s life. All in all, a fitting end to the story of an enigmatic Norse King, a man seeking peace in a world where peace is fleeting, and often short-lived.  5 stars

AVAILABLE AT AMAZON

Praise for the Hakon’s Saga

“I was swept up in the action and enthralled by the descriptions of Hakon’s struggle.” -Roundtable Reviews

“I highly recommend this historical fiction novel, both for its entertaining story and historical information.” -Historical Fiction Review-

“A story of war, family, sacrifice, honor … one that keeps your blood pumping and your fingers turning pages rapidly. I can’t wait to dig into the next.” -Goodreads Review

About the Author

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Eric Schumacher was born in Los Angeles in 1968 and currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife, two children and dog. He is the author of two historical fiction novels, God’s Hammer and its sequel, Raven’s Feast. Both tell the story of the first Christian king of Viking Norway, Hakon Haraldsson, and his struggles to gain and hold the High Seat of his realm.

More information on Eric and his Hakon Sagas can be found on his website. You can also connect with Eric on TwitterFacebookGoodreads, and AuthorsDB.

 

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Marik’s Way by Nick Brown

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I have really enjoyed the author’s previous works. His series Agent of Rome is top notch Roman historical fiction, and I wasn’t too concerned that he switched to a more fantasy like tale especially since this fantasy tale isn’t heavy on the fantasy, but more focused on telling a believable tale of a man and the world in which he lives. Marik is a warrior who, due to circumstances he is wary of discussing, finds himself adrift in an unfamiliar land, broke and without weapons. In a series of episodes/adventures, the author gives us a character who is many faceted; diligent, brave, caring, but also prey to his past and to the uncertainty of his future. This depth of character is found in many of the supporting cast, my favorite being Nasreen, a fierce warrior in her own right burdened by a gruesome physical affliction, and the revenge she seeks for having it.

Since this tale takes place in a fantasy world, it is up to the author to provide the necessary geography, and the lowdown on the people who inhabit this world. This, my fellow readers, is done most admirably by Mr. Brown. The varied landscapes/waterscapes are a prime example; a crashing surf or a region made of reeds, I was drawn into the sites, canoeing the labyrinth of an endless marshland, or surviving a deadly storm on a makeshift raft.

A well told tale of a resourceful wanderer still looking for his future.  5 stars

The Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St.John

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  A fascinating tale of the period when England said goodbye to the Tudors and hello to the Stuarts. The protagonist, Lucy, grows up in a household where she is treated with contempt by her guardian and by her scheming sister Barbara. In a time when women had very little say in their futures and where the intricate, backstabbing antics of the Royal Court, Lucy struggles to survive.  Married to an important member of the King’s retinue of courtiers, she finds herself living in the infamous Tower of London, the wife of the Tower Gaoler.

The author paints a vivid picture of life in the early 17th century. I was drawn in by the descriptive, and indeed the educative nature that arises from the pages. Lucy, a woman, dares to formulate and even more daring, lets her opinions known. It was indeed a world dominated by men of noble birth, not very unlike the world we live in now(substitute rich for noble). In Lucy’s words, “I so tire of these court behaviors, where the men who rule think only of their own affairs and not of those of the citizens of this land.” Words that I utter every day.

I chose to read this book not knowing much of the period, at least not from the perspective of the court of King James and his son Charles. I now know a lot more, and if there is one thing I love to do is to learn history. If I can do that and be entertained along the way, then so much the better. The author has done those things while at the same time preparing the way for a sequel. After all of the pain, anguish, fear, and even the joys of her life, Lucy emerges as one of the more interesting characters I have come across in my historical-fiction reading. 5 stars

Michael – Book 3 of The Triptych Chronicle by Prue Batten

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Astonishing, amazing, creative – fiction that stirs the heartstrings. When I first started writing reviews, and was on the hunt for authors who would feed my passion, Prue Batten came highly recommended – to paraphrase the recommendation – “Prue could write a phone book and make it compelling.” The depth of character that permeates her narratives is certainly on display in Michael. The mental anguish, the sheer trauma, the weight of responsibility, the relentless downward spiral of hatred and revenge – all that and a downright entertaining story to boot. A tale of merchants and the life and death competition for riches and power set against the political maneuverings of the unpopular ruling class in Byzantine Constantinople. Like an exquisite piece of fine needlework, the author has embroidered an intricate tale highlighted by the details of that vast city and the life within it. So, dear reader, if you have not read Prue Batten, then you are denying yourself a literary treat. 5 stars

The Devil’s Wind – A Spider John Mystery by Steve Goble

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A cracking follow up to The Bloody Black Flag, The Devil’s Wind is an entertaining mystery guaranteed to have you scratching your heads, along with Spider John as he tries to unravel a murder on board the merchant vessel, Redemption. Having given up the hazards of piracy, Spider John is heading home to Boston after joining a merchant convoy escorted by the British Navy. What should be a routine voyage turns out to be anything but as the Captain of Redemption is found dead in his cabin seemingly self-inflicted, but nagging circumstances have Spider John looking for a murderer.

The author has crafted an intriguing tale complete with a bevy of interesting characters, plentiful twists and turns, and page turning drama. The list of suspects is long; each with a plausible motive, and it takes all of Spider John’s abilities to finally piece the mystery together…all the while on constant alert for pirates. All in all, a cracking read – one that ends, or rather, doesn’t. Methinks there will be more of Spider John.  🙂  4 stars

Bloodaxe – Erik Haraldsson 1 by C.R. May

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An exhilarating start to a new series, Bloodaxe follows the early life of Eric Haraldsson, the favored son of Harald Fairhair, King of Norway. Favored son or not, the path to true acceptance as rightful heir is strewn with Fairhair’s bastard progeny. Honing his skills as a warrior and a leader of men, and enriching himself and crew by raiding villages and churches, Eric returns to his homeland ready to rule. What follows is a stirring rendition of revenge for wrongs done in the past, and making war on half-brothers who dare to resist. Through the telling of this tale I felt myself relishing in the spray of the sea as Eric’s warship plowed from one adventure to the next. Eric Bloodaxe, as the name implies, is a character true to his time, and is not hesitant to deal out death. however, the author has endowed him with a depth that complements that warrior instinct with a clarity of purpose, and a will to succeed. Looking forward to the next chapter. 4 stars