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⭐⭐⭐⭐

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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Brunanburh – A novel of 937 (Chronicles of the English #1) by M.J. Porter

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Athelstan, King of the English; Olaf Guthfrithsson, King of the Dublin Norse; Constantin, King of the Scots; Owain, King of Strathclyde, Hywel of the South Welsh; one ‘great lamentable and horrible battle’.

The year is 937 and Athelstan, King of the English and overlord of the British kingdoms, faces opposition to his rule that will culminate in the great battle of Brunanburh.

Uniquely told from the viewpoints of the main combatants at the battle, Brunanburh tells of a time when the island of Britain was held under the sway of the great King Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, a man with European wide connections, held in awe by many, and foster-father to future monarchs. Charting his reign from 925 to 937 Brunanburh is the story of the petty kingdoms of Britain – England, Scotland, Strathclyde and Wales and the uneasy alliances that could burst asunder at any moment. Switching between the view points of the main Kings on the day of the battle, and events from the previous twelve years, Brunanburh ensures its focus is on the characters and their unique attitudes towards their kingships, the future, and of course, each other.

REVIEW

A riveting look at the attempt by King Athelstan to unify England under his banner. Told through the voices of the main participants, the author has crafted a tale that immerses the reader into the period following Athelstan’s grandfather, Alfred the Great.  Having the protagonists tell their versions of the story is a great way to get into the minds of these formidable characters…a chance to see their hopes, fears, and their indomitable pursuit to control the island of Britain.  In addition to the political machinations, the author gives the reader a brutal look at the eponymous battle…a battle that had been in the making for 10 years…a lot of time for hatred to fester among those that oppose Athelstan. A well paced, page turning book with a plot full of surprises awaits you my fellow readers.  4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Emperor’s Sword (Imperial Assassin #1) by Alex Gough

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A desolate wasteland. A mission gone wrong. An impossible goal. A gripping new series of Ancient Rome

Roman scout Silus is deep behind enemy lines in Caledonia. As he spies on a raiding party, he is abruptly discovered by an enemy chief and his son.

Mounting a one man ambush, everything quickly goes wrong. Silus must run for his life, the head of the enemy leader in his hands. Little does he know the price he will pay…

As Silus is inducted into the Arcani, an elite faction of assassins and spies, he must return to Caledonia, back into the wilderness, and risk everything in the service of his Caesar. The odds don’t look good.

Failure is not an option.

REVIEW

What we have here is an example of an author using the historical research, or lack thereof, and combining that with a creative flair to produce an exciting story of loss and courage. A no holds barred sweep of competing forces bent on total destruction of their foes, Emperor’s Sword is also a glimpse into the human soul as Silus copes with the guilt ridden hopelessness that underlies his life, and is a driving force in the revenge he seeks. I love Roman fiction, there are so many eras, places, and people to bring to life on a written page, and this one is spot on. Caracalla in Caledonia, oh what fun. A page turning, heart pounding tale awaits you, my fellow readers.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Alba is Mine by Jen Black

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An entertaining tale that puts the reader in the midst of an attempt to claim the kingship of Alba.  Finlay was once the principal heir of Malcolm II, but was pushed aside for the scheming Duncan. The ensuing struggle is played out on many levels; not just the political angle, but also on cultural and even personal levels. The author has imbued the story with a bounty of great characters who bring out the sense and feel of 11th century Scotland.  Along with the intrigue and chaos there is also the story of two people struggling to reconcile their duties as noble born with their past, and with the love growing between them. Indeed, dear reader, you will be thoroughly engrossed in this tale of Alba.  4 stars