A Year of Ravens


A collaborative effort of seven authors, A Year of Ravens tells the tale of the Iceni Queen, Boudica and her rebellion against Rome.  While the cause and effects of the war are admirably presented, it is the characters that drive this emotion packed, soul searching, heartstring tugging story(or rather stories).  From the beginning the readers are treated to a seamless transition from author to author and the way each of them puts their own marks on the growth of each character.  Time and time again I was drawn into a character’s mindset and felt the pain, the remorse, the confusion, and even the occasional joy being experienced.  One, of the many examples I could choose, of a character’s journey through the book is the fictional wife of the Roman Procurator.  Valeria as introduced in the first chapter is a cold as ice Roman matron whose only ambition is to promote her rather timid husband’s career.  What she experiences in subsequent events is so beautifully written as to elicit some tearing up even to this old curmudgeon.  Also on display are the realities of war and the cruelties inflicted by men(and women) madly entrenched in the rightness of their cause.  Whether it’s shield wall action or the rampant, wanton destruction of a town or village, the battle scenes are bloodlust filled events punctuated with the sounds of sword on sword and the screams of the dying.

By way of summation, let me say, from the very beginning with the Intro by Ben Kane to the very, very end with an afterword from each author, this book is a testament to the creative genius of seven wordsmiths.  5 stars


Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield


Well it took a while, nearly two years, from the time I decided I wanted to read this series to the actual reading thereof.  My only regret in waiting so long is that by now I probably would have finished all three books but that is tempered by the fact that I still have two more to go.  The author has created a very entertaining tale, one that grabs you on page one and doesn’t let go.  The subject concerns a gladiatorial school that specializes in female arena fighters, Gladiatrices, and the struggle to survive in a harsh environment, one in which there is very little hope for a long and prosperous life.  Enter the protagonist, Lysandra, a Spartan Priestess of Athene and a trained warrior.  She is arrogant and is condescending to anyone not from Hellas, to her they are all barbarians.  The tension and drama that emanates from her abilities and her mindset fuels this tale of survival, hate, revenge and even love.  I like the way she is characterized, from the depths of her despondent moods to the heights of her triumphs.  A wonderful tale indeed.  5 stars.

About the author:
I’ve had an (almost) life long fascination with ancient Greece and Rome, sparked by seeing the The Three Hundred Spartans on ITV in the seventies.

I was educated to A-Level, but did not complete college, preferring instead to seek fame and fortune in a heavy metal band.

Sadly, fame and fortune were not forthcoming and a career in telesales beckoned. A series of jobs followed culminating in the heady heights of ‘content editor’ for a large multi-national. Its not brilliant, but it’ll pay the bills until I get that call from Angelina Jolie demanding to option my books.

Gladiatrix is my first novel, but the sequel, Roma Victrix is due out in March 2011 and at the time of writing, I’m at work on a threequel.

I’m a bit of a geek (all right, a lot of a geek), I love watching DVD’s, reading comic books and historical fiction novels. And I used to play Traveller and Dungeons & Dragons…but that was a very long time ago.

In an attempt to stave off an ever increasing beer-gut, I’ve taken up Silat – a Malaysian martial art, but in all honesty, I’m rubbish.

Still, in a strange quirk of fate, I’m actually training with the person who inspired me to write the Gladiatrix novel! A few years ago, I saw a documentary on the telly called “Gladiator Girl” which was about “Great Dover Street Woman” – purportedly the only physical remains of gladiator uncovered at the time, a “fact” (its contended) made more unusual because the fighter was a woman. Anyway, the lead actress in that is also a Silat Guru – Cecily Fay is her name – and now, years later, I’m training with the Gladiatrix herself.

I love Heavy Metal. As a child of the 80s, I’m into all the old stuff, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Manowar, Judas Priest et al. However, these days my favourite band are called Hysterica – Gladiatrix Metal, believe it or not (I didn’t till I went to their website, but the proof in in the pictures.An all-female five piece, they sound great, look great…And they have swords – what’s not to love).

Thanks for looking at my page – I should add that its a privilege to be in a position to have one of these sections on Amazon. If you’re reader AND a writer, don’t give up! Believe me when I say that despite all the knocks and rejection letters, if you keep at it you’ll get there in the end

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