Daughter of War by S.J.A. Turney

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Blurb

An extraordinary story of the Knights Templar, seen from the bloody inside
Europe is aflame. On the Iberian Peninsula the wars of the Reconquista rage across Aragon and Castile. Once again, the Moors are gaining the upper hand. Christendom is divided.
Amidst the chaos comes a young knight: Arnau of Valbona. After his Lord is killed in an act of treachery, Arnau pledges to look after his daughter, whose life is now at risk. But in protecting her Arnau will face terrible challenges, and enter a world of Templars, steely knights and visceral combat he could never have imagined.
She in turn will find a new destiny with the Knights as a daughter of war… Can she survive? And can Arnau find his destiny?
An explosive novel of greed and lust, God and blood, Daughter of War marks the beginning of an epic new series from bestseller S.J.A. Turney. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Matt Harffy.

My Review

Since I do a lot of reading & reviewing, and my ‘to be read’ pile keeps growing, I usually read three books concurrently. To avoid confusion the three reads are typically of different eras, subjects, etc, etc. While reading Daughter of War, I was also involved in a book about pre-Norman invasion England, and one about the American Revolution.  All excellent reads, all intense page turning dramas demanding my attention. Usually I split my reading time evenly through the current books, finishing them more or less at the same time. Well, my peeps and fellow travelers, Daughter of War ruined my plan. I found myself unable to switch books despite the fact that I was enjoying the other two, and could not stop turning to the next chapter, finishing this one way ahead of the others. The author has taken a portion of history that is not well known, or recorded, and has fashioned a well crafted tale replete with wonderful characters, and his typical methodical research. Emotionally charged, detail filled, and a splendid look at a time and place in history that kept me enthralled and entertained. I am certainly looking forward to more of Arnau of Valbona.  5 stars

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A Year of Ravens

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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

 

The Assassin’s Tale by S.J.A.Turney

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It’s a simple arrangement really, Mr. Turney writes and then I revel in the reading.  This is the third book in The Ottoman Cycle which takes place in the late 15th century and has taken the protagonist from his home of Istanbul in his quest to avenge the death of his brother.  At the end of book two, Skiouros in  a mad dash from certain death finds himself aboard The Pinta and winds up in The New World.  His time there, though brief, has imbued him with a strengthened resolve and a new sense of patience.  This is the main plot, can Skiouros see the deed through to completion, does he have the will and fortitude to assassinate the man responsible for his brother’s death?  Finding his enemy is the easy part as Cem has been the guest/hostage of The Pope, well that is until he becomes the guest/hostage of King Charles of France.  Getting to him is the challenge and proves to be an arduous one for Skiouros and his friends.  Through the expediency of forming a mercenary outfit, they gradually make their way into the Vatican only to have Cem traded away in peace negotiations and is now being guarded by the French army.  A daunting task filled with adventures and danger and death.  The author has never been shy about killing off strong/major characters but those deaths are part of the fabric of the story and as such can be forgiven despite the pain inflicted upon the poor reader when another favorite bites the dust.  A truly exceptional tale that was well researched and well developed.  5-stars

 

 

 

Marius Mules: Prelude to War by SJA Turney

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In this 3 story gap filler, the author is setting the stage for the big confrontation between Caesar and Vercingetorix.  It is a very nice appetite whetting segue and includes some (to be expected) twists as well as tying up a loose end in the Milo/Clodius situation.  I read this in one sitting and while that points to the author’s ability to grab my attention, it also means I have to wait longer for the next full volume in this most excellent series.  Next up – Winner Takes Gaul.