The author has done it again. Tides of War had my attention fully riveted from the start. This is book eleven in one of the more fascinating, entertaining, educating and creative series I have come across, and it has not diminished one iota; indeed it just gets better. When I start reading the newest episode of Marius’ Mules, I feel as though I am getting together with old friends, though even after so many adventures together, they still find ways to surprise me. I guess that’s a testament to the author’s creative ability in that he continually tweaks his characters as they grow older, a little more bone weary, but still forces to be reckoned with. This part of the Caesarian saga is the great chase across the sea to Dyrrachium and beyond, as the Gaius Julius Caesar/Pompey Magnus battle for supremacy comes to a head (literally). 🙂 I know that I am repeating myself, after all this is the 8th Marius’ Mules I have reviewed, but I will say it anyway; to wit, Mr. Turney is a master in describing where the action is taking place, and writes a hell of a battle scene. The most impressive feat, I think, is no matter that the historical events portrayed in Tides of War are well known, the author presents them in a manner that is fresh, detailed, and integrated with his own creative touch. Yes, my peeps and fellow travelers, I will have to repeat another phrase I have used before: 5 stars
The fourth installment of this historical fantasy of a Roman like world finds the Empire flourishing under the guiding hands of the Emperor Kiva and his brother Quintillian who is his principle adviser and military strategist. However, there are others who have designs on this empire and will go to great lengths to see it come under new ownership. Thus, we the readers are treated to a story replete with intricate plots and machinations as the Empire is threatened from numerous enemies, some of whom were thought to be friends and allies. The author has done a superb job in fleshing out this insurgency with some remarkable characters and exciting story lines. The atmosphere is tense, the action is page turning and the world created by the author is recognizable to a student of Roman history yet different enough to make the readers use their imaginations as the action flits back and forth between regions. To summarize (without spoilers), the dude can spin a yarn and I hope he spins more in this highly entertaining series. 5 stars
Despite the fact that I am a couple decades(more or less) older than Mr. Turney, I want to be able to write like him when I grow up. Praetorian – The Price of Treason is a fine example of how an author combines research, history and imagination to produce a book that not only rings true but has that quality that draws the reader into the world he is reading about. Rufinus survived everything thrown at him in book 1 but has paid the price both physically and emotionally. One aspect where Mr. Turney shines is character development and he leads the reader through the agonies Rufinus suffers as he struggles to maintain a grip on reality. Another strong point of the author is his ability as a storyteller and in The Price of Treason, he gives us a great plot full of surprises (I thought I had things figured out a couple of times only to be reduced to thinking, “I didn’t see that coming.”). So, if you are looking for a story steeped in the political intrigue of the Roman world of the Emperor Commodus, filled with all sorts of interesting people and a flawed yet heroic protagonist, then run to your nearest bookstore or wifi connection and get this one; a first class page turner. 5 stars
I have a pretty full plate right now when talking about reading and in my case now, writing. I have at least three Kindle books to read not including the one I am currently reading and a couple paperbacks as well. This is now coupled with the writing of my first novel and I would be hesitant to add anything else for the time being. However when given the chance to beta read a new Marius Mules then hesitancy is forgotten, current read is put on hold and the writing slows for a bit. Marius Mules VII – The Great Revolt covers the events of 52 BC, the year that Vercingetorix gathers the tribes of Gaul under his banner and wages war against the Roman Pro-Consul Gaius Julius Caesar for the control of Gaul. Given the many difficult situations Caesar has faced and will face in the future, this revolt I think comes closest to destroying him and in this book the author does a masterful job in portraying the ebb and flow of events. In a cataclysmic, history defining period such as this it is not enough to hear the story from just the Romans and so in a departure from previous Marius Mules volumes we have an in depth telling of the Gaul point of view as well. Character development is once again on form; we see and feel the moods, the doubts, the confidence, the emotional toil of both Gaul and Roman. Fronto our old friend is back to his customary position of fighting in the front ranks but at the same time is beginning to show his age. We also meet some very interesting new characters especially on the Gaul side. But to balance out the additions the war takes its toll and we lose some cherished friends…I think there is a point in every one of the Marius Mules series that I start hurling vulgar laden invective at Mr. Turney for killing off various favorites and that trend continues in number 7…but I must state for the record that I really don’t have a problem with it, after all rule number 1 in war is that people die. Another strong aspect of this book is the amount of research the author did, walking the ancient battlefields and oppidums of Bibracte, Gorgovina and Alesia to name a few. You get a real feel for the topography, the makeup of the Gaulish oppidum and the circumvalations of Caesar. Suffice to say that when I finished #7 I knew I had read an excellent retelling of this make it or break it year for Caesar and am already looking forward to #8 – we still have that pesky group of nobles to deal with; you know; Cato, Brutus Cicero and the big man himself, Pompey Magnus. 5 stars and highest recommendation.
Dark Empress, the third volume in the Tales of the Empire series is yet another exciting, engaging, entertaining entry from S.J.A. Turney. The story revolves around two brothers, Samir and Ghassan and their childhood friend Asima. A strong bond develops between the three but they soon find themselves torn apart after their home town is invaded and conquered by a sinister Pelasian satrap. How they diverge in their pursuits and the methods they use to try and reach their goals makes for three tense filled story lines. The author does a masterful job in character development and treats the reader to some fascinating scenarios that can only play out within the framework of their individual mindsets. Cunning, deviousness and sometimes downright nastiness fills the pages as the story unfolds to a breath taking finale. Retribution, revenge and redemption are the watchwords in this wonderful tale. I believe this is the best of the three Tales of the Empire and serves as a stepping stone to Mr. Turney’s later works especially his Ottoman Cycle. I heartily recommend this book and give it 5 stars.
I have a slight quirk in my reading habit in which I occasionally have to stop and put the book down just before something harrowing, exciting or pivotal is about to happen. I don’t do it all the time but while I was reading The Priest’s Tale by S.J.A.Turney I found myself doing it often. This, the second volume of The Ottoman Cycle, continues the tale of Skiouros who is now on Crete, leaving Istanbul behind at the end of volume one disguised an Orthodox Christian priest. The year is 1492 and Skiouros has been preparing himself to deal with the one person left responsible for the death of his brother. Deeming the time to be right he leaves Crete and is headed to Rome where his foe is a prisoner/guest of Pope Innocent VIII. The trials and tribulations of what should have been an easy voyage are the focus of this exciting story.
Hassan Ecti, captain of an Ottoman war ship has his own mission, albeit an over zealous one as he is determined to destroy any vestige of Christianity in lands that are now being taken away from the Muslim faithful in the West, lands that they have been settled in for seven centuries are now under control of the hated Pope. The clash between Hassan and Skiouros and his friends is full of the blind bigotry brought on when religions collide, a violent collision that continues today.
Mr. Turney has given us a tale that is full of suspense, full of surprises, full of the turmoil inherent in any good book. Skiouros has grown in character and we are able to see and feel the anguish he encounters in his bid for vengeance. The supporting cast are also well written, good guys and the never ending supply of baddies. I read a lot of historical fiction and it is the baddies that make these tales interesting and hard to put down. Hassan Ecti rates as one of top five baddies I’ve encountered.
Descriptive and full of intrigue and surprises, The Priest’s Tale takes the reader on a wonderful ride with a host of great characters and a most entertaining ending that leads into volume three, The Assassin’s Tale. The author has, in my own humble opinion, created yet another masterful, hard to put down glimpse into the past. Well done, Mr. Turney, keep on writing as I am not yet sated.