Lancelot by Giles Kristian

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A stunning retelling of the Arthurian legend of
Lancelot, a warrior’s story full of battles and bloodshed,
friendship, betrayal and doomed love.

‘What elevates Kristian above the many pretenders to Cornwell’s crown
is the style and swagger of the prose. He is a modern skald, borrowing the old rhythms to create a brutal, absorbing tale’ Antonia Senior, The Times
In his epic new novel, the acclaimed and bestselling author of Raven and God of Vengeance re-imagines and retells the story of one of the great figures of British myth and legends – the warrior who fought at King Arthur’s side: Lancelot.
The legions of Rome are a fading memory. Enemies stalk the fringes of Britain. And Uther Pendragon is dying. Into this fractured and uncertain world a boy is cast, a refugee from fire, murder and betrayal. An outsider whose only companions are a hateful hawk and memories of the lost. Yet he is gifted, and under the watchful eyes of Merlin and the Lady Nimue he will hone his talents and begin his journey to manhood. He will meet Guinevere, a wild, proud and beautiful girl, herself outcast because of her gift. And he will be dazzled by Arthur, a warrior who carries the hopes of a people like
fire in the dark. But these are times of struggle and blood, when even friendship and love seem doomed to fail. The gods are vanishing beyond the reach of dreams. Treachery and jealousy rule men’s hearts and the fate of Britain itself rests on a sword’s edge.
But the young renegade who left his home in Benoic with just a hunting bird and dreams of revenge is now a lord of war. He is a man loved and hated, admired and feared. A man forsaken but not forgotten. He is Lancelot.
Set in a 5th century Britain besieged by invading bands of Saxons and Franks, Irish and Picts, Giles Kristian’s epic new novel tells – through the warrior’s own words – the story of Lancelot, that most celebrated of all King Arthur’s knights. It is a story ready to be re-imagined for our times.

My review

Let me start this review with a resounding ‘Wow’. It has been a while since I have read any of the author’s previous books but am certainly glad I read Lancelot. It is a brilliant telling of that beautiful, and poignant tale. The man who betrayed Arthur is given a fresh start by Mr. Kristian as we follow Lancelot’s early life and, in this story, meets Guinevere  (in a most startling fashion, but I won’t say anything about that- spoilers, you know).  I will say this, the sheer agony, and turmoil that Lancelot experiences is exquisitely portrayed; the pain reaches through the pages and draws the reader in. In fact, the descriptive talent of the author is continually on display: examples –

‘Merlin remarked one day that from the flat land to the north, Camelot resembled a great dragon sleeping under the snow-veiled earth, its foul, smoky breath rising to the wintry sky as proof that it was alive and well and just waiting.’

‘Arthur would fight for Britain.  I would fight for Arthur. And Guinevere would always own my soul. The gods are cruel.’

In addition to his descriptive talent, the author has also crafted an amazing set of characters, from the mysterious Merlin, the indomitable Bors, the charismatic Arthur, and of course, the beautiful, beguiling Guinevere. I felt a part of all of them, even the enmity and hatred that exudes from Mordred (though I still wanted to kill the bastard.) 🙂

Of course, this is also a tale of war and as such there are many battles, skirmishes, one on one combat, and the like as Arthur seeks to send the Saxons packing. Again I was in awe of the author’s prowess in bringing me into the action. The sound of Arthur’s armored cavalry while charging an enemy force; the sound of the horsemen as they sing their battle songs can be heard and then replaced by the sounds of screaming, the crunch of bones, the clang of weapons.

I was entranced by the whole re-working of the legend and while we may never know the truth of the Arthur story, this telling is certainly one we can really enjoy.  5 Stars

GILES KRISTIAN’S bestselling trilogies ‘Raven’ and ‘The Rise of Sigurd’ have been acclaimed by his peers, reviewers and readers alike. The novels The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury tell the story of a family torn apart by the English Civil War and he co-wrote Wilbur Smith’s No.1 bestseller, Golden Lion.
In his new novel, Lancelot, Giles plunges into the rich and swirling waters of our greatest island For more information please contact: Sophie Christopher
0208 231 6615 | schristopher@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk | @sophiechristoph

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Breaking the Foals by Maximilian Hawker

 

 

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Breaking The Foals by Maximilian Hawker

  • Paperback:272 pages
  • Publisher:Unbound Digital (26 April 2018)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1911586726
  • ISBN-13:978-1911586722 

Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Breaking-Foals-Maximilian-Hawker/dp/1911586726/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1523387592&sr=1-1  

BLURB: The Troy of myth was a real city and it was called Wilusa. This is its story… Hektor’s life of privilege is forever changed when a man, allegedly possessed by the sun god, inspires revolution among the oppressed people of Wilusa. For Hektor, son of the city’s despotic ruler, social equality contradicts every principle he has been taught. And his obsession with duty is alienating him from his own young son, Hapi, with whom he has a fractured relationship. But when Hapi’s life is threatened, Hektor is compelled to question his every belief as he rebuilds his relationship with his child through the breaking of a foal. As Wilusa collapses into political violence and the commoners rise up, Hektor must finally decide whether to defend the people and lose his identity, or remain loyal to his irrational, dangerous father.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maximilian Hawker is a 30-year-old writer who lives in Croydon, South London, with his wife and two daughters. He is author of the novel Breaking the Foals, due to be published with Unbound in March 2018. An alumnus of Kingston University, he has a postgraduate degree in English Literature and has worked in education, editorial and design. Currently, he works in frontline children’s social care for Croydon Council, providing a service for care leavers and also runs a YouTube channel for looked after children and care leavers called formeR Relevant, which he aims to eventually promote at a national level. He has had poetry and short stories – occasionally nominated for awards – appear in publications run by Dog Horn Publishing, Kingston University Press, Arachne Press and Rebel Poetry, among others. He also aims to see the word ‘asparagi’ added to the English Dictionary, as its absence troubles him

 

Twitter @MaxHawker

Website:  http://www.maximilianhawker.com/

Facebook Author Page

My Review:

I don’t remember exactly what triggered my interest as a teenager about Troy, but I do remember checking Schliemann’s book on his Trojan excavations out of the Monteith Branch of the Detroit Public Library.  Thus began my lifelong affair with ancient times. When I entered Wayne State University a few years later, I chose Classical Civilization as my area of study and immersed myself in the mythologies and histories of ancient Greece and Rome, including Homer’s Iliad. Since then I’ve read more than a few historical fiction tales of The Trojan War, e.g. Hand of Fire by Judith Starkson, the Odysseus series by Glyn Iliffe, the Ilium and Olympos duo by Dan Simmons. The one common factor in all of them is that they all see the tale from different perspectives; a trait they share with Breaking the Foals.  This tale brings to life a Troy that existed prior to the city of Homer. Indeed it is one school of thought that Homer’s Iliad was based on a series of events that happened in this corner of Asia. Wilusa was a Bronze Age vassal to the Hittite Empire at the time of this Priam and Hektor; albeit the more powerful of the various cities in the region. The author has pieced together a marvelous tale integrating the time and tenor of Bronze Age Asia Minor with elements of Homer; elements that are presented in a manner to make them less mythological and more historical.  The plot develops around Hektor, the dutiful son and right hand man of Priam, the representative of the Sun God on Earth, and the growing discontent of the populace of the lower town with the “deserving” in the upper town.  Hektor finds himself torn about his duties especially as his son, Hapi, is not one of the “deserving” being born to a prostitute mother. The tense atmosphere with the lower town subjects, plus a rather unfortunate set of events; earthquake, a rather unhappy neighboring city, and the general feeling that Priam has lost the favor of the gods lead to an exciting climatic conclusion.  The reader is presented with believable characters, wonderful descriptions, and an entertaining telling of a story that is at once familiar yet different enough to rouse the historically curious.

5 stars.

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Owen – Book 1 Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches

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Blurb

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, OWEN is the epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience as he changes the course of English history.

England 1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.

They fall in love, risking Owen’s life and Queen Catherine’s reputation—but how do they found the dynasty which changes British history – the Tudors?

This is the first historical novel to fully explore the amazing life of Owen Tudor, grandfather of King Henry VII and the great-grandfather of King Henry VIII. Set against a background of the conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which develops into what have become known as the Wars of the Roses, Owen’s story deserves to be told.

Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy is a new addition to story of the Tudors in the historical fiction tradition of C J Sansom, Conn Iggulden, Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel.

Review

Over the last few years I have read many historical-fiction novels that deal with the various monarchies throughout Britain’s long history. It’s stunning the amount of turmoil that surrounds whoever occupies the throne. Even such redoubtable rulers like Richard Lionheart, and Henry VIII had to deal with treacherous nobles asserting their claim to the crown. In this tale, the first in The Tudor Trilogy, Owain ap Tudur, a Welsh servant known to the English as Owen Tudor, in an emotionally charged, and fateful twist of fate begets the royal Tudor line.  Now the manner in which that happens is a bit of a spoiler, so, I will not divulge that particular bit of plot. However, that plot line is a good example of how resilient, and resourceful Owen becomes; necessary because of the enmity he causes by his actions.  Owen is a survivor and the author provides ample opportunities for him to succumb to failure or depression.

It is a well researched book with the author gleaning from sparse historical records enough to bring Owen to life in an entertaining and enjoyable fashion. The characters are well rounded, the settings evoke the feeling that the reader is there, and the story is a captivating glimpse at the beginning of the Tudor dynasty. I am certainly going to continue to follow up with Jasper, and Henry; the other books in the series.  4 stars

 

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Wolves of War by Martin Lake

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In Wolves of War, Mr. Lake has once again given us a tale of an intriguing time in Britain’s history.  The Danes, under the leadership of Ivar the Boneless have come to Britain’s shores; this time it’s not a raid and run endeavor, this time they’ve come to stay. The story revolves around the quick witted brother of a renowned blacksmith; not your typical Viking warrior, and his unexpected rise in Ivar’s retinue of advisers.  Buoyed by a host of wonderful characters, both fictional (Leif,Thorvald, Aebbe) and historical (Ivar, Guthrum, the Kings of Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, and East Anglia), the reader is taken on an emotionally charged voyage as Leif embarks on an unexpected journey; one that will see him find love, and happiness, as well as a full slate of unwanted, dangerous troubles. One of the historical aspects I really enjoyed is the appearance of a younger Alfred, before he became ‘The Great’.  The author has written about him in prior books, but this time it provides insight to his character; his piety, his lustful nature, his politically sagacious mind. All in all an enjoyable, entertaining read of a pivotal era in Britain’s long history.  4 stars

Triumph of a Tsar – by Tamar Anolic

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Triumph of a Tsar is an alternate historical rendering of the Russian Revolution in which the Romanovs survive and remain in power.  The young Prince Alexei becomes Tsar and faces many challenges as he cements his control over Russia against seeming impossible odds.  Not only does he have to prove he is capable of ruling, he has to survive assassination attempts, and his inherited hemophilia.  The author seamlessly weaves the history of post-WW1 into the fabric of her fictional what if. The reader is taken on a roller coaster ride through the turmoil of the times, the economic collapse of the late 20’s; the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party in Germany; the continuing threat from the determined Communists. It is a heady mix of true history and a very plausible alternative. The author also provides the reader with an in depth look at the intricate and widespread influence of family among the Romanovs and their relatives. This proves to be a great source of strength to the young Alexei and a troublesome burden come WW2. An entertaining, and very enjoyable example of history looked at from the ‘what if’ perspective. 4 Stars

Note: Historical Fiction Reviews received a copy of Triumph of a Tsar in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

“Triumph of a Tsar” is Tamar’s second novel. She has a history of writing about the Romanovs. Her first book, the nonfiction biography entitled “The Russian Riddle,” was the first biography of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. In addition, two of her short stories about the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and his sons have been published: “Rumors of War” was published in The Copperfield Review in 2017 and “Before the Fire” was published in The Helix in 2018.

Tamar’s other works are not about the Romanovs. Her first novel, “The Last Battle,” was published in 2017. Her short story “Dark Night, Bright Sky,” was published in The Sandy River Review in 2018.

http://www.tamaranolic.com

 

 

Ripples on the Pond by Sebnem E. Sanders

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First, a confession, I cannot remember the last time I read a collection of short stories, Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury somehow sticks in my mind, and while I have enjoyed Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe and the like; I am, and probably will remain, for the most part, a novel reader. It was mere curiosity that found me asking to review this anthology.  Now, having said that I must also confess that Ripples on the Pond just might have me looking at the genre a bit more closely.  What I found, my peeps and fellow travelers, in Ripples on the Pond is a compelling collection of well crafted stories. Stories that evoke the gamut of human emotions and experiences; glimpses of love, joy, loss, and hope permeate the pages and like a pebble dropped into water, the stories leave ripples of humanity seeking truth and fulfillment. A brief example from Mummy’s Torchlight:

Toby bowed, turned around, and left the building, his head bursting with thoughts. His hatred and vengeance had dissolved into sadness and pity, but mostly sadness…a feeling of loss. Something he’d have to live with for the rest of his life. He knew one thing for certain. He’d never return. Before he drove away from the Acacia Retreat, Toby held the torch tight in his hand. “I have confronted him, Mummy. I’ve done it for you and me. Rest in peace.” On the way home, he stopped on an old wooden bridge and threw the torch into the mirror surfaced creek. He waited as the ripples extended outward and disappeared.

Time and again throughout the 71 stories, one comes up against harsh realities,  compassion, and much, much more that make us human. Entertainment and enlightenment are in store for you, dear reader.  5 stars

Blurb

A man infatuated with ivy. A woman pining for lost love. In a Turkish square, ancient buildings lament a devastating explosion. An unlikely friendship struck up with a homeless person. A journey to a magical place that once visited can never be found again. The camaraderie between the patients in a cancer ward. A writer who has lost his muse. A tragedy that leads to dementia. These are just a few of seventy individual tales set in locations straddling continents, which portray war, love, hate, hope, greed, revenge, despair, humour, mystical happenings, fantasy, and so much more. Like ripples expanding on the surface of a pond to reach its banks, they converge in this anthology of flash fiction and short stories by Sebnem E. Sanders in her debut release.

Short Bio

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have been published on the Harper Collins Authonomy BlogThe Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag and Spelk Fiction. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child.  Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, has been published in December 2017. Her stories have also been published in two Anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work: https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/         

 

Swords of the King – Book 3 of Battle Scars by Charlene Newcomb

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Throughout this most entertaining series we have been treated to stories of not only a historical view of King Richard’s reign, but also stories of unrelenting passion, and anguished souls. In Swords of the King the author tackles the question of who will Richard choose as his heir and successor; his brother, the ever loving, faithful – oh wait, Prince John was never those things, or his nephew, the young and arrogant Arthur. Calling upon his favorite knights, Richard uses Lord Henry De Grey, Sir Stephen, and our old friend Sir Robin Hood to help him keep Arthur safe from the not so loving and faithful Prince John. Of all the Prince John characterizations I have come across, this one is certainly the nastiest; a formidable foe bent on revenge for any who dare cross him – something that could mean disaster for Richard’s favorite knights.

Swords of the King is an exciting tale of war and intrigue as Richard confronts his many enemies, such as Phillip Capet of France. And while the battles, sieges, and physical combat are important aspects to the tale, it is human emotion that fuels it. Page after page replete with unbridled passion, the consequent fear of loss or betrayal, and the cruel nightmares inhabiting Henry’s mind are what make this story, and indeed the whole series an excellent read. 5 Stars

Note: I received a review copy of Swords of the King in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Charlene Newcomb lives, works, and writes in Kansas. She is an academic librarian by trade, a former U.S. Navy veteran, and has three grown children. When not working at the library, she is still surrounded by books and trying to fill her head with all things medieval. Books I & II of the Battle Scars series are B.R.A.G. Medallion honorees; Book II was a finalist in the Chaucer Awards for pre-1750 Historical Fiction & recipient of numerous accolades. Char is a huge Star Wars fan and has contributed short stories to the Expanded Universe featuring an underground rebel freedom fighter, http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Alexandra_Winger. Char loves to travel, and enjoys quiet places in the mountains or on rocky coasts. But even in Kansas she can let her imagination soar. Find her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.
Blog: https://charlenenewcomb.com/blog/ Facebook: https://facebook.com/CharleneNewcombAuthor and Twitter https://twitter.com/charnewcomb