Category Archives: Historical Fiction

River God by Wilbur Smith – Review

Now, you might wonder why I’m reviewing a book that was 1st released so long ago..Well here’s the thing.. I’ve only been reading properly the past few years..I’ve lots to catch up on and one thing I want my blog to be is a true reflection of my reading journey…old and new books it doesn’t matter to me.. it’s the journey those books take me on that counts.

Genre – Historical Fiction

Taita is a humble slave; an expert in art, poetry, medicine and engineering, as well as keeping important secrets. He is the most treasured possession of Lord Intef. Yet when Intef’s beautiful daughter Lostris is married to the Pharaoh, Taita is commanded to follow her, and swiftly finds himself deeper than he ever could have imagined in a world of deception and treachery.

But outside the palace, the great kingdom of Egypt is divided, and in even greater danger. Enemies threaten on all sides, and only Taita holds the power to save them all . . .

Review

I picked up a bunch of Wilbur Smith books cheap.. I’m late to the party I know but I thought it was about time I gave his work ago.

River God follows Taita, a slave who ends up helping the most important man in Egypt.. The Pharoah.

Taita used to be the property of Lord Intef and Intef is not happy to let him go even if it is to serve his daughter Lostris. Taita know’s Lord Intef’s secrets and Intef wants nothing more than to quieten Taita permanently.

If that wasn’t bad enough Taita’s troubles increase when it’s clear Lostris does not love the Pharoah and never will.. not so bad in itself..the issue is she loves another..Tanus, the fair-haired warrior..most trusted of the Pharoah..ooh it’s getting good isn’t it. Can Taita keep this secret from the Pharoah? and at what cost?

There are bigger problems afoot too as an army approaches.. This army uses tactics unknown to the Egyptians and many will fall in the battle. The survivors flee but vow to return to take back what was once theirs.

The tale was quite graphic at times, dark and disturbing all of which had me hooked.

My only issue is the main character Taita. It’s claimed he is a humble slave but he is anything but humble. He’s the bloody best at everything and seems quite happy to make sure everyone knows that. He’s got so many talents the list goes on – surgeon, tactician, weapons designer, political adviser, lip reader.. he even designs a wheel and learns to ride a horse in the blink of an eye. He simply grated on me at times.

The other thing that didn’t work for me was the style of writing. To start with it felt like 1 chapter of plot, then 2 of detailed description then back to 1 chapter of plot progression then back to 2 chapters of description. It took too long for me to get to the good stuff. Once it did though I was hooked and I plan to continue on with the series to see where things end up..

I have the feeling Taita will never grow on me though.. time will tell… I do hope I’m wrong.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

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Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake #1) by C.J. Sansom – Review

Next up for review on David’s Book Blurg is Dissolution, book 1 in the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom. Here’s the blurb :-

Genre – Historical/Crime
Pages – 464 Pages
My Rating 5/5 Stars

Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved. But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege – a black cockerel sacrificed on the alter, and the disappearance of Scarnsea’s Great Relic. Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake’s investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes . . .

Review

My wife picked this up for my birthday based on the cover alone..she thought it looked like a book I would like, and boy was she right!

Matthew Shardlake a lawyer by trade has been sent by Thomas Cromwell to investigate the death of Robin Singleton. Singleton was also under the employ of Cromwell and it’s Shardlake’s job to find out what happened to the man.

Shardlake was a great character, flawed but smart with it. He’s the Columbo/Quincy, M.E. of his day (Side note..I loved those shows, they don’t make them like that any more!) sent out to talk to witnesses and to dig out the truth no matter what.

The pieces slowly come together to bring you the full picture but there’s a few twists along the way to keep you guessing until the final reveal.

The book is set during the reign of Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries so you get a bit of a history lesson too. You might think you would get overwhelmed with the era but not so, there’s a perfect mix of historical reference mixed with plot.

Shardlake has his health issues which actually works in his favour sometimes as people dismiss him as no one worth bothering about but he’s as sharp as they come.

Great pace and a brilliant plot to match. This is a series I want on my bookshelf for sure!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

 

Blog Tour – Vitellius’ Feast by L. J. Trafford (@TraffordLj) #VitelliusFeast

Vitellius' Feast - Blog Tour Poster.png

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Vitellius’ Feast by L. J. Trafford the final book in the Four Emperors series.

I’ve been a big fan of the authors work since reading the first book in the series and I’ve eagerly been awaiting this installment.

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction
Pages- 464
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

AD 69. As this most dramatic year draws to a close, now is the time to choose a definitive side. Whilst Vitellius enjoys the trappings of power around him, machinations are afoot. In the East, Vespasian has his eye on the throne, but he needs help preparing Rome for his plans and, for his teenage son Domitian, protection from Vitellius’ agents. With her characteristic flair, and lashings of skulduggery, sex, brutality, and humour, L. J. Trafford brings her Roman quartet, tracing the Year of the Four Emperors, to a spectacular conclusion.

Now reading the first 3 books in the series is a must! check out my reviews here for more details :-

Book 1 – Palatine

Book 2 – Galba’s Men

Book 3 Otho’s Regret

Review

Vitellius’ Feast is the final installment of the Four Emperors series by L. J. Trafford. 69AD in Rome must have been a tough time with four emperors holding power within the same year after the suicide of the emperor Nero.

After the tragic demise of emperor Otho we now have Vitellius on his way to Rome to take his place of power, but little do the people know how utterly useless this man will be and within a few sort months will find himself in deep trouble.

During 69AD it seemed like anyone with a few men could try to make claim to the throne and after some questionable movements of troops Vitellius quickly loses any support he might have been able to get from the legions in the east who proclaim Vespasian their emperor.

With this in mind you know there will be a plot to remove Vitellius as quickly as possible with minimal bloodshed but planning takes time and it never goes smoothly. During this period we see who Vitellius really is, quite a vile man who is more interested in abusing his workforce than seeing the paperwork done to keep Rome running. He parties the nights away without concern until it’s too late.

What the author manages to do so well is weave a tale of known facts with her own input with the characters based right in the middle of the action. This serves to give you not only a cracking read but also helps you learn something about history that I for one never knew about until I starting reading this series.

My favorite character Philo is back and is caught right in the middle of a plot that could see him hanged for treason. He’s got a family to worry about now but Philo knows what he has to do.

Now if you follow my reviews you’ll know I love Philo the most but Vitellius’s Feast is a tale that belongs to another. Sporus…I’m not going to lie..I  never really took a liking to Sporus until now..but in this book he shines through as you learn more about him and the reason behind his attitude in life. His part in this tale is a tough read and I find myself with a new-found respect for the man, the pain he endures must have been unbearable.

Trafford manages to breathe life to history and gives a voice to those who no longer have one. As much as events in the previous books have been quite brutal I think this one is the darkest and most vivid of all and it really shows you the dark time Rome was facing.

It’s been one hell of a journey which I’m sad has come to an end but this is definitely a series to keep on the book shelf to read again and to rave about to friends and family. Trafford’s style of writing makes the book so easy to read and 400 plus pages goes by in a flash.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

My thanks go to the publishers, The Book Publicist and the author for having me on the blog tour and for the advanced copy of the book for review! 

The Druid by Steven A. Mckay (@SA_McKay)- Review

Today i’m reviewing The Druid by author Steven A. Mckay. Here’s the blurb

Genre : Fantasy/Historical
Pages : 290

Northern Britain, AD430

A land in turmoil. A village ablaze. A king’s daughter abducted.

In the aftermath of a surprise attack Dun Buic lies in smoking ruins and many innocent villagers are dead. As the survivors try to make sense of the night’s events the giant warrior-druid, Bellicus, is tasked with hunting down the raiders and thwarting their dark purpose.

With years of training in the old ways, two war-dogs at his side, and unsurpassed skill with a longsword, Bellicus’s quest will take him on a perilous journey through lands still struggling to cope with the departure of the Roman legions.

Meanwhile, amongst her brutal captors the little princess Catia finds an unlikely ally, but even he may not be able to avert the terrible fate King Hengist has in store for her.

This, the first volume in a stunning new series from the bestselling author of Wolf’s Head, explores the rich folklore and culture of post-Roman Britain, where blood-sacrifice, superstition and warfare were as much a part of everyday life as love, laughter and song.

As Saxon invaders and the new Christian religion seek to mould the country for their own ends one man will change the course of Britain’s history forever. . .

. . . THE DRUID.

Review

You should know who Steven A. McKay is..author of the Forest Lord series based around one of the best historical figures ever in my mind Robin Hood..after what seemed like forever the end of the series came hard like a punch to the gut.. I needed more.. but could the author ever live up to the expectations set..well lets see.

The Druid is a brand new tale for the author, this tale follows Bellicus. Religion is changing but Druids still hold some power..and as such when the King’s daughter is taken he sets out to rescue her. What he doesn’t know is that every corner he will be tested to his limits.

There’s twists and turns as Bellicus deals with the changes in the world around him. He’s been closed off abit in his own little bubble so he taken aback when people don’t give him the respect his station once demanded.. it’s doesn’t help that he’s a giant of a man..only his weapon makes him stand out as the Druid and as soon as people see it you seem them quickly decide to help the man out..for the most part.

He’s hot on the trail from the start but there’s numerous challenges ahead but Bellicus can handle everything..well at least that’s what he thinks..he either wins or will go down fighting.

The plot was good but I just know the author has more to give. It just proves McKay has a natural talent for storytelling, that he’s able to change the focus of his tales after such a well-developed series like The Forest Lord series. He still manages to give us a tale where there’s a clear ending but leaves so much open left to develop if he wishes. An ending like that just has me desperate for more.

Overall I thought it was well written, It flowed well and it seemed effortless..at no point did it feel like the story lost its way or that things didn’t make sense..it just worked.

Being such a fast paced action tale where the heat is on from the start it’s a wonder the author managed to develop the characters at all but he managed it perfectly.. at one point I even started to really like one of the kidnappers..that’s how easy McKay manages to control your thoughts.

Cracking read and a nice change from the authors previous work. Plenty of life left in the tale to see this develop further and I’d love to see how it continues.

5* .. I can’t give it any less.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

The Blood Road (Legionary #7) by Gordon Doherty (@GordonDoherty) – Review #HistFic

Today I’m reviewing The Blood Road (Legionary #7) by Gordon Doherty, here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction 
Pages – 345 pages
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

381 AD: The Gothic War draws to a brutal climax, and the victor’s name will be written in blood…

The great struggle between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Gothic Horde rumbles into its fifth year. It seems that there can be no end to the conflict, for although the Goths are masters of the land, they cannot topple the last of the imperial cities. But heralds bring news that might change it all: Emperor Gratian readies to lead his Western legions into the fray, to turn matters on their head, to crush the horde and save the East!

The men of the XI Claudia legion long for their homeland’s salvation, but Tribunus Pavo knows these hopes drip with danger. For he and his soldiers are Gratian’s quarry as much as any Goth. The road ahead will be fraught with broken oaths, enemy blades… and tides of blood.

Review

Usually when I read a book I make a few key notes to help when writing the review. I just wasn’t able to with this book.. because I couldn’t put it down long enough to write even one word. The only way to describe this book is simply tremendous!

It says something about the writer when they are able to keep a series going..and to keep it fresh and interesting.. It just never feels like the end for Pavo will ever come, even though I know one day this great series will draw to an end. That will be a sad day indeed!

But for now at least we have a new book in the series! The Blood Road, book 7 in the series. The situation with the goths is turbulent to say the least but it’s time to draw an end to the war as the western and eastern armies clash with the goths with heavy losses felt on both sides. Emperor Gratian wants to be the saviour but just how much is he willing to sacrifice to ensure glory?

I really enjoyed the warfare in the tale which was easy to immerse myself in and get lost. I’m no historian but I loved the detail of the places, weapons, clothes the author put into the tale. All of which make the story feel real as you can imagine it in your mind’s eye.

Fans of a good battle will love this tale as there’s plenty of detailed battles, and when I say detailed I mean both factual and down right engrossing man vs man to the end type of fights when your heart pumps so hard your chest will burst.

Caught in the middle of everything is Pavo who has made himself quite the enemy in Emperor Gratian and Pavo has to do his very best to stay out of harms way…in doing so he puts everyone he cares about in danger but the only way to stop things is to help end the war! but if you know the author then you’ll already know not everyone will come out of this unscathed.

There’s twists as usual from the author that really do keep you hooked and that ending had me fuming! how could you leave us like that Mr Doherty! ha.

Overall a smash hit of a book that continues to add to an already riveting series! Detailed enough to please fans who enjoy historical details but not so much as to alienate those who prefer the thrill of the plot and warfare. Gordon Doherty always has that knack of writing things exactly how I like it and long may it continue.

Hats off to the author, simply wondrous.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

An English Revenge by Gabriel Stein – Review

Today I’m going to be reviewing An English Revenge by Gabriel Stein. The author contacted me to see if I was willing to review his work and I gladly bought a copy via Amazon.

Here’s the blurb –

Genre – Historical Fiction
Pages – 475 pages
Rating – 4/5 Stars

The greatest battle lies within…

England is at war.

Edmund has fought the Normans all his life. First at Hastings, then in uprisings against William the Conqueror.

But as the rebellions fail, Edmund leaves England and eventually travels to Constantinople, where he joins the Byzantine Emperor’s elite Varangian Guard.

Yet Edmund is at war with himself too, torn between his new life and his dreams of revenge against the Normans – of leading an army of battle-hardened Englishmen back home to restore an English King.

Before fighting the Normans in his homeland however Edmund must defeat his enemy on the blood-soaked lands of Greece.

Edmund is a soldier. And a soldier must fight.

But not all will go according to plan. War – and revenge – always exacts a price.

Review

The tale follows Edmund a solider who has fought battles but has many more to come.

After the defeat at Hastings and the Norman’s tighten their rule Edmund finds himself drafted to Constantinople to join the Byzantine Emperor’s guard. England may have lost the will to fight but Edmund hasn’t.

An English Revenge is the authors first novel and I was surprised just how extensive the plot is.

There’s a lot going on in this tale as the Emperor has many enemies so at times It was a little hard to remember who was who when the author set the scene but as soon as we get to the juicy action I couldn’t find fault.

The pace jumps around a bit but with a plot like this one it was expected and quite easy to follow.

I enjoyed the overall plot, the characters were likable and interesting and the more I read the more I was sucked in.

Ultimately Edmund’s goal is to come back to England and rid the country of the Normans but along the way he changes..grows and while he still wants to go home you can see he’s got some inner turmoil brewing.

Edmund has found not only a place to live but also someone to love and as he starts to form some friendships you can see him slowly start to accept his lot in life.

Overall a cracking read which is well worth reading.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

The Centurion’s Son by Adam Lofthouse – Review

Today I’m reviewing The Centurion’s Son by Adam Lofthouse.

Here’s the blurb –

Genre – Historical Fiction/Romance.

Amazon Verified Purchase.

My Rating – 4/5 Stars.

Albinus, the son of a revered Roman veteran Silus, has always longed to be a farmer, not a soldier, and live his days ploughing and reaping the harvests, with his bride-to-be, Licina. But Silus’ has darker ambitions, for Albinus to follow in his footsteps in the army.

But, as the conflicts between father and son come to a head, a growing threat comes down from the vengeful Germanic tribes to the north. Just as Albinus and Licina are about to marry, their settlement is raided by barbarians and Silus and his veteran comrades are brutally killed, while Licina is kidnapped by the raiders and taken to their king as a gift.

Believing her to be alive, Albinus sets out on a quest to find Licina, finally fulfilling his father’s wishes as training as a soldier, even as he is spurred to avenge his father’s death. As the barbarian hordes gather and plan major rebellion against the Romans, Albinus finds a new fighting spirit within him and grows in stature among the legionaries.

Licina meanwhile has a fight of her own, to escape from slavery and find Albinus. Time is running out, as the northern tribes head for Rome, decimating everything in their path…

Review

Albinus is the son of a famous Centurion but he’s nothing like his father..he’s just not cut out to be a solider and because of this the tension between them could be cut with a knife.

Silus, Albinus’s father, is retired and has set up a nice little place for his son and former colleagues to live out the rest of their days. During an outing to secure supplies for the community we get our first glimpse of the differences between the two. Albinus wants to make his dad proud but he just can’t see any way to do it.

The plot moves quickly as two Romans are captured as slaves.. will Silus help free them? The choice made haunts Albinus for a time and I’m sure he will never come to terms with it.

We next see a few really good plot developments as a strange figure appears, he’s got an agenda and is willing to do anything to make sure events play out the way he wants. At the same time we also see an enemy of Silus plot revenge for what he sees as a past wrong to be put right. These events lead Albinus and Silus down very different paths and is the making of Albinus.

Silus is now dead with Licina, Albinus’s love interest, taken. Albinus sets out to be the man his father would have always wanted. It’s time to join up and become a solider.

The story is told from different perspectives and this made for a fun read and you can see things developing quickly. You’d get engrossed and just at the right point the author would switch focus building the excitement and ramping up the suspense.

I really enjoyed the book. At times the soldiers were a bit too lovey dovey for my tastes, I prefer my soldiers to be rocks and simple nod or grunt to show affection ha.

The plot certainly has promise and I’d like to see where Albinus ends up. The development of this plot really made it what it is..and to top it off it’s a very easy-going read so someone of a younger age wouldn’t struggle with the language or word count.

A good read and an author who shows promise in the areas I like.. keep switching perspective to build on that strong plot that’s developing and you’ll have me back for the rest of the series when published 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon