Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Song of the Centurion by Steven A. McKay – Review

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Song of the Centurion by Steven A. McKay.

Here’s the blurb

It is AD 430. Against all odds Princess Catia has been rescued from her brutal Saxon captors and Bellicus is taking her home at last.

As the giant warrior-druid knows, however, the gods rarely make things easy and, even if he can escort the girl back to the North safely, their troubles will be far from over…
In a land beset by the rivalries of petty warlords, Dun Breatann has stood solid and secure for untold generations. Trouble brews though as King Coroticus has cracked under the pressure and, as well as starting a war with the neighbouring kings, he has become jealous, suspicious, and often blind drunk. When the king’s paranoia finally boils over during a winter feast, Bel finds himself with two choices – accept exile, or complete another seemingly impossible undertaking.
So much for the returning hero…

Accompanied by his massive war-dog, Cai, and the ever-loyal former centurion, Duro – who has his own painful issues to contend with – Bellicus must somehow survive a journey east into enemy-held lands. There, he will need to use his gods-given talents to the full if they are to survive the winter frosts and carry out the mad king’s orders without being captured or killed by the men of Dalriada.

Folklore, superstition, the healing power of song, and even a wondrous white stag will all play a part in the companions’ continuing adventures, but, no matter the outcome of their mission, it will take a miracle to untangle the mess they’ve left behind in Alt Clota. Armies are gathering and, when spring returns, the people of Dun Breatann will be under siege once again.

Will their legendary warrior-druid be there to defend them, or will the new ways sweep away the old once and for all?

Review

When we last saw Bellicus he had just rescued Princess Catia from the Saxons. As he makes his way back to the King and Queen we see that the relationships between Catia, Bellicus and Duro has grown strong and they’re all looking forward to a nice warm welcome on their return…

You’d think the King would be happy to see the return of the Princess but in Bellicus’s absence the King has changed.. he’s not the man he was and his quick temper is slowly putting his people under  strain.. they will only take so much.. can Bellicus help set the King back on the right path?

Well he tries.. he really does but in the end the King sends Bellicus away on a mission.. a mission that seems doomed to fail.

Bellicus will honour the King’s wishes but he knows the Saxon’s are the real threat so he needs to get this task done.. and fast.

Things never go to plan of course and Bellicus must use all his cunning to make it out in one piece.

When all is done it’s time to return home.. but how will the King receive him this time?

McKay has outdone himself with this one. Being a fan of the author my biggest fear was him moving away from a series I loved to something new.. would It live up to expectations.. well it smashed the ball out of the park to be honest.

While the first book in the series The Druid was very plot driven to get the readers sucked in to a new series, book two is character driven development which is what I wanted to see.. this is the kind of action I need.. the kind of connections with the characters I want.

The word to describe this book is “Development” in more than one way. Not only does the tale develop amazingly I feel it shows real author development as McKay cements is credentials as a top-notch author.. he’s no one trick pony. He himself says that at one point progress on this book was side-lined for a while as he was involved with other projects but you’d never think that from reading the book.. it flows perfectly, the direction is never forced and that ending was pure brilliance.. as a storyteller McKay is up there with the best of them..the whole white stag storyline was not only riveting but joyous to read.

Bellicus along with his loyal war dog Cai and Duro the centurion are the perfect team.. they complement each other superbly and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Duro for me steals the show as I felt he had a larger part to play in this tale compared to the first book in the series..(for obvious reasons if you’ve read the book)..  he was often the one who put a smile on my face with his humour but I also felt for him.. there’s some deep wounds that will take time to heal and this side of him really makes you take a shine to him.

Overall it’s a cracking read.. but it’s more than that.. it’s the perfect 2nd book in a series.. it shows growth from the first book but leaves you in no doubt this Is a series you need to keep following.

Everyone should have a copy of this on their bookshelf.

My rating – 5/5 Stars

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

No Stone Unturned (The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries Book 1) by Pam Lecky – Review

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing No Stone Unturned (The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries Book 1) by Pam Lecky.

Here’s the blurb:-

Genre – Historical Mystery.

A suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward: who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?

London October 1886: Trapped in a troubled marriage, Lucy Lawrence is ripe for an adventure. But when she meets the enigmatic Phineas Stone, over the body of her husband in the mortuary, her world begins to fall apart.

When her late husband’s secrets spill from the grave, and her life is threatened by the leader of London’s most notorious gang, Lucy must find the strength to rise to the challenge. But who can she trust and how is she to stay out of the murderous clutches of London’s most dangerous criminal?

Review.

I’m a big fan of Pam Lecky’s work and have been following her progress since 2015 when I read The Bowes Inheritance. When I got wind of the latest release I couldn’t wait to grab a copy.

The tale follows Lucy, whose life has just been shattered by the death of her husband.. but nothing makes sense.. he shouldn’t have been there..what was he doing and why didn’t he tell her where he was really going?

Soon Lucy learns her husband was in league with some very bad men and her life could even be in danger.. but what are they looking for?.. to top it off her finances are a mess since her husband kept these affairs from her.

To escape the stress and the building pressure she heads to her childhood home..but things aren’t going to easy there either and while she’s trying to find out what to do with her life she ends up in more hot water… this time she gets to see the inside of a prison cell.

Lucy gets a helping hand by Phineas Stone.. they have briefly met before.. but why is he here? What is he after? Can he be trusted? Can anyone?

Soon a dark web of deceit is uncovered that goes further than either of them could have imagined.

When the pieces start to fall into place we see Lucy, who is determined to be independent, head out to solve the mystery and the revelations will have lasting repercussions for Lucy and her family.

So down to the nitty-gritty. I loved the plot and it played out at a perfect pace. The characters were fun and developed well but what Pam Lecky got spot on once again is her writing style..quite literally for me it was the perfect mix of plot progression, descriptors & character development.. nothing was forced in there.. it was a natural progression.

I also really enjoy Pam’s style of female leads.. they a flawed (like all the great characters are!), they are independent, head strong and can be ruled by emotions at times.. it’s not anything against men certainly but Pam shows female driven stories work just as well and as male driven stories.. better even. Like with all good characters there worth moments I loved her and moments she had me screaming inside to see what’s right in front of her… I wasn’t frustrated with her.. more I was invested and wanted her to succeed.

Overall a fun little historical mystery tale which ticked the all the boxes. It’s mystery, thriller and suspense all thrown into one and I do hope it’s not the last we see of Lucy and Phineas!

5/5 stars!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

Empires of Bronze: Son of Ishtar by Gordon Doherty – Review

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Empires of Bronze: Son of Ishtar by Gordon Doherty.

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction

1315 BC: Tensions soar between the great powers of the Late Bronze Age. The Hittites stand toe-to-toe with Egypt, Assyria and Mycenaean Ahhiyawa, and war seems inevitable. More, the fierce Kaskan tribes – age-old enemies of the Hittites – amass at the northern borders.

When Prince Hattu is born, it should be a rare joyous moment for all the Hittite people. But when the Goddess Ishtar comes to King Mursili in a dream, she warns that the boy is no blessing, telling of a dark future where he will stain Mursili’s throne with blood and bring destruction upon the world.

Thus, Hattu endures a solitary boyhood in the shadow of his siblings, spurned by his father and shunned by the Hittite people. But when the Kaskans invade, Hattu is drawn into the fray. It is a savage journey in which he strives to show his worth and valour. Yet with his every step, the shadow of Ishtar’s prophecy darkens…

Review

Wow! Where to start..

Son of Ishtar starts with a brutal heart wrenching prologue which sets the tone for the story perfectly.

Prince Hattu makes his way into the world..but the cost is great. Ishtar the Goddess claims Hattu has her man and a dark prophecy is written.

As Hattu grows up he’s shunned by many as the cursed son.. always in the shadow of his siblings but when the Kaskans attack its time for the prophecy to be fulfilled.

Hattu is a strong character.. he holds himself well, he’s selfless, loves his family and wishes only to prove himself to the King.. finally Hattu has his chance to train as a solider but it’s not going to be easy. The King expects him to fail.. but that’s not going to happen!

As Prince he’s afforded no respite..rather the opposite..he’s pushed harder than any man before him and slowly but surely you see boy become man. As he grows you see a change to how others view him as he earns their respect.. this causes its own issues though as jealously is a cruel emotion.

I’m not going to spoil the tale.. I just couldn’t ruin such an exciting and gripping read for you. Lets just say.. Hattu has something to fight for..someone to fight for, and when all is said and done his hands will be covered in Kaskan blood!

Son of Ishtar is a fast paced riveting read from the first page to the last.. it’s a dark harrowing tale of betrayal and loyalty.. of love and hate!

The battles are intense.. the deaths brutal and unforgiving..and I loved being along for the ride with the men of the Storm, the Wrath, the Fury and the Blaze!

I can say with certainty that Son of Ishtar is my recommend book of 2019! Highly anticipated and well worth the wait.

As a fan of Gordon’s I can say he’s got it spot on once again, the balance between plot, character development and detail. Never once do you feel anything is forced.. the book just flows perfectly.. plot and descriptive details mixed seamlessly.. no boring segments.. no boring characters.. no confusing sub plots.. just pure intense reading that sucks you in.

Gordon Doherty has put so much time into this book and it shows.. utterly breath-taking, heart stopping goodness that leaves you craving more!

5/5 stars!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

Lions of Rome by S.J.A Turney – Review

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Lions of Rome book 4 in the Praetorian series by S.J. A. Turney

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction.

Rufinus is dead, crumpled at the base of a cliff in far-off Dacia. Or so the world believes. Back in the west, secretly in the entourage of the fierce Septimius Severus, the young hero moves in the shadows with fellow conspirators in an attempt to finally bring down the would-be tyrant of Rome: Cleander.

Under assumed names and in a variety of roles, the former Praetorian conspires with some of the most important men in Rome, bringing the city to the very brink of disaster in a grand and complex plot to cause the fall of the untouchable chamberlain.

And as governors, prefects, Praetorians and consuls work their secret plots in the seedy underbelly of Rome, Rufinus finds he has an opportunity to settle old scores along the way.

The empire is suffering. Rome is seething. Rufinus is back.

Review

We are back with Rufinus for his fourth adventure , you’d think after past events he would want the quiet life..not so.. he still wants to see the downfall of Cleander.

Plot wise I think the author took a slight risk, although it worked pretty well, as the series takes a more fun tone at times. The author provides insights into this in his author notes and it was really interesting to see his thought process.

So on with the nitty-gritty…  Rufinus is for all intents and purposes is dead after a nasty fall from a cliff.. he survived barely and now he’s fit and healthy it’s time to get back to Cleander and his downfall. But he’s going to need the help of some likeminded and powerful individuals to do it.

Along the way we learn more about the men sent to kill Dis, a frumentarius, loyal to the Emperor who was murdered way back at the start of the series and now he’s this close Rufinus vows to take vengeance.

We see Rufinus tackle each foe In turn.. getting closer and closer until the time is right to strike..some chances come sooner than others and the waiting game certainly frustrates Rufinus whilst building up the tension for the reader.

What Turney get’s spot on for me is the detailed plot. Whilst a little bit more outrageous with Rufinus changing his appearance to stay hidden time to time the frankly exciting and well planned plot was easy to get sucked in. You can see the cogs turning slowly as Rufinus works his way through his targets and the author managed to show his impressive knowledge of roles within the empire and how individuals would interact with each other day-to-day.

I also really enjoyed the links to the past..I’m not going to say much but I’m glad Merc wasnt forgotten.

Lions of Rome is a slow burner..not to steal a phrase but we are in the endgame now..and the pieces on the board need to be set in such a way that Cleander won’t see it coming! While you might feel the frustration just like Rufinus does the author knows just what to give his readers, just wait until you get to the last 3rd of the book when everything starts to come to fruition..you won’t want it to end!

Overall a detailed and fun story that didn’t disappoint..i’m excited for more from the author although I fear he churns hits out faster than I can read them! Ha

One final note for the author.. I missed Acheron greatly.. and for anyone who gets the reference don’t worry too much 🙂

4/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

Oathbreaker by Adam Lofthouse

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Oathbreaker by Adam Lofthouse!

Here’s the blurb

“It’s not the shadows you should fear, but what hides within.”

Alaric is an enemy of Rome.

For too long he has thwarted the empires attempts to gain control over the land that has long resisted them: Germania.

To the Romans he is a scourge, always evading their carefully laid traps. But to the tribes he is much worse: Outlaw, chief killer, battle turner, Oathbreaker.

All men know him, all men fear him. At his back is a war host, on his shoulder sits Loki, the Trickster.

A deal has been struck between the legions and the tribes: lifelong enemies agree to become friends, for a time. The eagles march with the wolves, together they hunt the raven.

Isolated and lacking in allies, will Alaric be able to break free from the noose that slowly encircles him? Or will the Sly One once more come to his rescue.

OATHBREAKER: One man’s stand against the tyranny of empire.

Review

After reading the authors last two offerings I had high hopes for Oathbreaker..I’ve been craving something a little bit darker..grittier and boy did the author get it spot on!

If you’ve read the authors previous works you’ll know the name Alaric, don’t’ worry if you haven’t as this book will work just as good as a standalone tale.

Alaric is a mercenary for hire and he’s damn good a what he does… he turns the tide in favour of whoever pays the most and there’s not many he wouldn’t stab in the back for the right price.

We find Alaric and his band of 500 battle hardened men, the Ravensworn, in search of their next commission.. the only problem is something doesn’t smell right.

Alaric soon learns a powerful enemy wants him dead.. but why now.. he’s been in game a long time.. it just doesn’t make sense to him. I loved this part of the plot, the pace of the development was spot on revealing just enough to keep you hooked but never enough to give the game away too soon.

One really interesting thing about the book is the backstory of Alaric.. we learn of how he became to be the man he is.. and as much as I didn’t want to I found myself liking the character more and more even though he’s a bringer of death and destruction.

I really enjoyed the development throughout the tale as Alaric fights his way to the truth behind the plot to have him killed.. not only that but the characters themselves were captivating and when the action hit the story was utterly invigorating.. I was on the edge of my seat..especially during the last battle!

There’re so many good characters to pick from but for me Ketill and Birgir shine through simply through not only be interesting characters but also because of the connections they have to Alaric.

I was fully immersed in the vivid battle scenes which had the adrenaline pumping overtime! This is what i wanted.. dark and dirty..life and death.. when push comes to shove niceties go out the window.

The last two offerings from the author were an easy 4* rating from me..great but I craved a darker tale and the tone of Oathbreaker ticked all the boxes for a 5* rating from me. This tale definitely left me with that “damn that was good” feeling you get after a particularly good read.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

War In The Wilderness by Adam Lofthouse – Review

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing War In The Wilderness by Adam Lofthouse!

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Thriller

Balomar, King of the Marcomanni and leader of the united army of the tribes, broods and drinks his way through the long winter as his alliance falls apart. He won great fame when he destroyed the Fourteenth legion and brought his army to Italian soil. Rome will not let his victory go unanswered; new legions have been formed, and their spear tips point north.

Elsewhere Albinus braves the harsh weather and tribal hordes as he searches desperately for Licina, his lost fiancé. Once more he must play dice with Fortuna as he launches himself into the iron storm.

For Rome, and his father’s shade…

Review

We are back with Albinus for book 2 in The Centurion’s Son Chronicles.. he’s grown up fast since the death of his farther in the previous instalment…he’s lost so much but things were looking up when he found love with Licina..only for his hopes and dreams to be dashed.

Time has passed but Albinus hasn’t given up on finding Licina…how can he find his love whilst also fulfilling his commitment to the legion though..it’s not going to be easy.

Albinus is pretty lucky as the legion aren’t just comrades..their brothers and he along with a trusted few set out to find Licina.. of course they end up in a bit of bother and the stakes are high.. the cost too much and the guilt will stay will Albinus forever.

Meanwhile we also learn of Licina’s fate.. she’s become rather resourceful and brave in her own right.. the perfect match for Albinus..if only she can get back to him… If anything her tale overshadowed that of Albinus and I would have loved to see her fight more…who doesn’t love a strong female character!

Both Albinus and Licina struggle at times being apart..does the other still care about them..is it worth fighting for? Neither are going to give up easily though.

War in the Wilderness is a great mix of legion comradery mixed with a personal plot you can get invested in, add in a couple of big twists along the way and you’ve got a smashing read.

I won’t lie.. these soldiers aren’t the hard-nosed warriors I’m used too.. they show their emotions..but that makes them more real at the same time.. what would you do for the one you loved? Would you lay your life on the line for a friend?

One bit that really had me hooked was the whole conspiracy angle..there’s a whole section when you are left wondering who are the good guys.. why are certain people associating with those with a not so clean profile? All this plays out with Albinus in the dark and the repercussions will rock his world.

I loved the book, the pace was pretty decent.. if anything I would just have liked the story strung-out a little longer.. More fighting.. less talking..ha.

The author did a great job a tying up the threads of the plot whilst also developing his characters.. Adam Lofthouse is finding his feet as an author and hit the right notes for me. One to watch? I’d say so!

A plot driven tale with fun and interesting characters to boot 4/5 Stars 🙂

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

Blog Tour – Victoria to Vikings: The Circle of Blood by Trisha Hughes – Review

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m taking part in the blog tour for Victoria to Vikings: The Circle of Blood by Trisha Hughes!

Victoria to Vikings Full Tour Banner

Here’s the blurb

At the heart of our present are the stories of our past. In ages gone by, many monarchs died while they were still young. There were battles and diseases and many were simply overthrown. But the days of regal engagement in hand-to-hand combat are over and the line of succession has a good ageing prospect these days.

One of the most famous monarchs in history is Queen Victoria and her passing brought an end to an amazing era. She could be demanding, rude and she frequently fled public duties for the solitude of Scotland. But she loved fiercely and her people loved her fiercely in return. Under her reign, England achieved a greatness it had never known before.

Victoria to Vikings: The Circle of Blood spans from this great queen to another one: Queen Elizabeth II. Ours is the era of the longest living monarch in history and her ancestry is incredible. But walking two steps behind her, stalwart and loyal, stands Prince Philip, the strawberry to her champagne, and with him comes his own amazing Viking heritage.

Review

Ever wondered what is was like to be King? Ever wonder what it took to become a Queen in a largely male dominated world? Well look no further. Victoria to Vikings: The Circle of Blood is the 3rd and final book delving into the history of our monarchy.

I’d like to think I know a little about history.. I enjoy the subject that’s for sure but what you get taught at school barely scratches the surface!

Trisha Hughes has a very fun approach to sharing history with the reader, with added little commentary along the way. It’s like being back at school.. the fun teacher who makes you enjoy learning but you try not to admit it since you want to look “cool”.

Without going into massive detail..since I want you to buy the book..simply wow.. there’s so much more to our monarchy than I ever imagined. The stress of trying to keep the crown in your family requiring an heir..high mortality rates..birth defects.. madness.. illness not to mention good old religious and cultural divides.

 

We all know bits and pieces about our monarchy..but there’s just so much that you’ve never learned. Bertie has to be the one who shocked me the most..his early life, how power changed him without really being trained for the role.. it’s no wonder time caught up to him in the end.

The author didn’t disappoint with this one.. if anything I’ve caught the bug again…I need more.

It’s one of those books that just gets the synapses firing..one little mention of Rasputin and I’m already looking for my next history book to read.

The most fascinating point of the book for me was the Jack the Ripper links.. not sure what I’m on about? Ah well, buy the book and find out…fascinating!!

The word to describe this series is simply.. Enlightening.

Not to steal words but they say with great power comes great responsibility.. and they are right.. some don’t choose this power..some have it trust on them..while some thrive..some crash and burn..this is their legacy.

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read and review the book.. I’ve bought a copy myself too! it’s worth it!

This is soooo much more than a history book.. it’s more than simply rehashing facts..the author brings everything together and tells the tale in such way to grip you..it’s told the right way.. the fun and riveting way.. get rid of the text books and get these in stock I say!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

Author Bio –  

I am an Australian author born in Brisbane, Queensland now living in Hong Kong.  My writing career began 18 years ago with my best-selling autobiography ‘Daughters of Nazareth’ published by Pan MacMillan Australia.  Over the past 8 years, I have been researching and writing a historical fiction trilogy based on British Monarchy throughout the ages beginning with the Vikings. Originally meant to be a single book, as facts accumulated the material gradually filled three books. I call this series my V2V trilogy.

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