Category Archives: Historical Fiction

The Cold Light Of Dawn by Anna Belfrage – Review

Title – The Cold Light Of Dawn (The King’s Greatest Enemy #4)
Author – Anna Belfrage
Genre – Historical Fiction/Romance
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

After Henry of Lancaster’s rebellion has been crushed early in 1329, a restless peace settles over England. However, the young Edward III is no longer content with being his regents’ puppet, no matter that neither Queen Isabella nor Roger Mortimer show any inclination to give up their power. Caught in between is Adam de Guirande, torn between his loyalty to the young king and that to his former lord, Roger Mortimer.

Edward III is growing up fast. No longer a boy to be manipulated, he resents the power of his mother, Queen Isabella, and Mortimer. His regents show little inclination of handing over their power to him, the rightful king, and Edward suspects they never will unless he forces their hand.

Adam de Guirande is first and foremost Edward’s man, and he too is of the opinion that the young king is capable of ruling on his own. But for Adam siding with his king causes heartache, as he still loves Roger Mortimer, the man who shaped him into who he is.

Inevitably, Edward and his regents march towards a final confrontation. And there is nothing Adam can do but pray and hope that somehow things will work out. Unfortunately, prayers don’t always help.

Review

The Cold Light of Dawn is book four in the highly enjoyable The King’s Greatest Enemy series by Anna Belfrage.

You can read my reviews for the rest of the series by clicking the links below.

In the Shadow of the Storm

Days of Sun and Glory

Under the Approaching Dark

I had high hopes for book 4 of this series. I’m invested in Kit and Adam’s future and I just hope one day they get the peace they deserve..will they get this in book 4??? Not bloody likely ha.

King Edward is growing up fast and he’s starting to resent his mother’s control and Lord Rogers more so. Lord Roger may have become regent with the best of intentions but power has a way of changing a person and Lord Roger is no exception.

The this tale Adam is torn even more in two and both the King and Lord Roger questioning his loyalty..the trouble is he’s loyal to both but that’s not going to be acceptable by either of them..it’s time he picks a side one way or another and without giving the game away something rather personal for Adam happens that really tests loyalty to both.

The plot is strong but also balanced well with the personal aspect of Kit and Adams relationship. I’ve said it every time but I’m no fan of romance in novels but the romance in the Cold Light of Dawn builds on the story for me rather than distract from it.

We see more of Queen Phillipa in this tale and Kit has her own issues when she finds herself a pawn being controlled by two Queens.. how can she please them both while not betraying either?

The ending of the story does give the reader a little closure as the tension that has been brewing finally plays out but at the same time leaves the door open for more tales from our favourite knight.

This series is exactly what I love about historical fiction. A tale of the authors imagination written around facts. While the life of King Edward and Lord Roger have already been written in history but Kit and Adam’s story belongs to the author and her alone and what a wonderful, heart wrenching tale of love and loyalty we’ve been given.

I challenge anyone to read this series and not enjoy it..it would be impossible not to love it.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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Empire of Shades (Legionary #6) by Gordon Doherty – Review

To celebrate the release of book 7 of the Legionary series I’ve got right up to date with the adventures of Pavo and the XI Claudia so here’s the blurb and my review for book 6 of the series Empire of Shades!

The blurb –

379 AD: Thracia has fallen to the Gothic horde…

With the ashes of Adrianople still swirling in the air, the Eastern Roman Empire is in turmoil. The emperor is dead, the throne lies empty and the remaining fragments of the army are few and scattered. Numerius Vitellius Pavo, now Tribunus of the XI Claudia, tries to hold his patchwork ranks together amidst the storm. One of the few legions to have survived the disaster at Adrianople, the Claudia do what they can to keep alive the dying flame of hope.

When word spreads of a new Eastern Emperor, those hopes rise. But the coming of this leader will stir the Gothic War to new heights. And it will cast Pavo headlong into the sights of the one responsible for the East’s plight – a man mighty and seemingly untouchable, and one who will surely crush any who dares to challenge him.

From the ashes of Adrianople, new heroes will rise… with dark ghosts in close pursuit.

Review

After the events in the last book I wondered if the series had any life left in it.. I’m so glad to say YES IT DOES!

Shades torment Pavo during this tale. The faces from the past now walking by his side always. We see occasions when Pavo is urged on by these shades.

With Emperor Valens dead a new emperor must be crowned. Will this man be another puppet of Emperor Gratian?

Pavo is now Tribunus of the XI Claudia and while the faces from the past might be gone they are not forgotten. While I loved the old characters some of the new ones are just wonderful! Libo and Rectus I just loved! Stichus was by far the best addition to this tale. Pavo can see himself in Stichus and learns a lot about how to be a leader from guiding the young lad just like Gallus did with him many years back.

The war with the Goth’s intensifies as the horde splits its forces, each force might be separate but they have enough manpower to make the men of Rome shake and now Gratian is calling support to the West! this means one thing..a showdown between Pavo and Emperor Gratian. Pavo is on a mission of vengeance for Tribunus Gallus whose family were slayed on the orders of Gratian may years ago.

Now here’s an interesting thing..we’ve met Speculatores before..they are assassins loyal to only Emperor Gratian.. we hate them right? nah I’m starting to like them..well one of them at least! Scapula is his name and the relationships he forms in the story really ramped up the excitement level.

Overall another cracking plot and a storyline that just keeps getting stronger and more bloody.

The ending smashed the ball out of the park leaving me wondering just how much longer Pavo can last.. lets find out in book 7!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

 

Gods & Emperors (Legionary 5) by Gordon Doherty – Review

Hey all, as you may remember I reviewed book 4 of the awesome Legionary series by Gordon Doherty last week! This is a series I’ve really enjoyed but sometime reviewing non stop means I miss out on books I want to read..no more! Requests make up a very small amount of my reading total now and I made it my mission to catch up on this series ready for book 7’s release tomorrow!

Here’s the blurb for  Gods & Emperors

The fate of the East rests on the edge of a sword as the legions and the Goths march to war…

378 AD: Fritigern’s Gothic horde tightens its iron grip on Thracia and only a handful of well-walled cities to the south remain in imperial hands. The few tattered legions pinned in these cities can only watch on from the battlements as smoke rises across their lost lands and the Goths roam at will, pillaging and extorting. Every Roman – legionary or citizen – speaks of only one thing: the Emperors of East and West, Valens and Gratian, who are said to be closing swiftly on this war-stricken land, each bringing with them vast armies capable of vanquishing the horde.

Awaiting the relief armies in Constantinople, Centurion Pavo and the XI Claudia prepare as best they can. The Gothic War has taken much from each of them, and none more so than Pavo. But still he and his fellow officers cling to the chance that two lost to them might yet return: their leaders, Tribunus Gallus and Primus Pilus Dexion – Pavo’s brother – have not been seen or heard from since setting off on a mission to Emperor Gratian’s court in the West. Some are sure they must have fallen, yet Pavo refuses to give up hope, instead whetting his blade and praying that fate will guide the pair back in time for the clash that is to come: a clash that promises to end the Gothic War – for the empire’s finest legions are destined to meet Fritigern’s ferocious masses… on the plains of Adrianople.

My Rating – 5/5 Stars!

Review

Just when I thought there’s no way this series could get better Doherty gives us Gods & Emperors, the most gut wrenching read I’ve ever came across.

I’m going to be honest from the start. The plot beautifully plays out but I had my heart in my mouth from the minute I opened the book…I’ve grown attached to the characters and in the latest installment the author takes an axe to many and some deaths hurt more than others.

Some major truths were revealed towards the end of book 4 that will play out during this book so I don’t want to spoil too much. THIS SERIES IS A MUST READ.

Pavo and the remains of the XI Claudia are without their leader Tribunus Gallus and Primus Pilus Dexion who set out on a mission to contact Emperor Gratian to petition him to bring his forces to bear on the Gothic horde..but why has it taken so long without any word..and if they did make it when will Gratian arrive?

There’s plenty of twists in this tale but for me character development played a heavy part in how good this book truly is. The author manages to breathe life in to the men of the XI Claudia and after 4 previous installments you’d think the author would be running on fumes.. not so.

While awaiting Gratian’s arrival Emperor Valens must ready his army. He’s quite a likable leader and seems to care about the true cost of war..He knows he’s outnumbered so eager to reach a truce with the Goths but the speculators, loyal only to Emperor Gratian, are set are making sure war comes to Valens. Gratian is only after power and has set his pieces on the table well.

Eventually the battle we know would happen comes to pass but even I could not have guessed the ending Doherty gives us, just simply WOW.

Overall another masterpiece from Gordon Doherty. He broke my heart with this one but damn it was one hell of a ride!

My review for book 6 will be out tomorrow to celebrate the release of book 7!

Check out the links below for more info.

Book 5 Gods & Emperors – Goodreads

Book 5 Gods & Emperors – Amazon

Book 7 – Amazon 

 

Legionary: The Scourge of Thracia by Gordon Doherty – Review

Title – Legionary: The Scourge of Thracia (Legionary #4)
Author – Gordon Doherty
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 396 pages
Publication – 5th February 2015
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

The legions are in tatters, and the Gothic hordes are gathering beyond the mountains . . .

377 AD: Thracia’s legions are few and broken in the wake of the Battle of Ad Salices. But the scattered centuries and cohorts rally in an effort to blockade the Haemus Mountain passes and hold back the relentless attacks of Fritigern’s swelling Gothic armies. These passes must endure until Eastern Emperor Valens and Western Emperor Gratian can muster and bring their Praesental Armies in relief.

Numerius Vitellius Pavo and the men of the XI Claudia return to Constantinople from their brutal Persian sortie to hear widespread tales of Thracia’s plight and the precarious mountain blockades. Each of them knows what is at stake should those passes fall: the heartland of the Eastern Empire would face the wrath of the barbarians and loved ones would be at the mercy of their savage blades. When the Claudia are despatched to aid the effort at the mountains, Pavo can think only of two souls wandering in the jaws of the Gothic threat: his beloved Felicia and his lost half-brother, Dexion. So he and his comrades march at haste, headlong into the storm that awaits them . .

Review

After the battle of Ad Salices the legions are in tatters but the Goth’s will be back soon..The forces of Emperor Valens and Emperor Gratian must combine if they have any chance of stopping the Gothic horde.

Pavo and the XI Claudia were assumed dead by most. Including Felicia who happens to Pavo’s beloved. He doesn’t have much time to rest as every man is needed to man the mountain passes. He gets his chance at a reunion with Felicia but also gets closer to his half-brother Dexion..it’s not going to be smooth sailing though that’s for sure!

Haunted by the past Pavo travels blindly on until he finds Dexion and no one could be happier for the pair than Gallus the fearless XI Claudia centurion. This book really made Gallus stand out and I couldn’t love the character more. His dealings with the speculatores are explored and it really adds to an already exciting plot.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the build up, it’s not just a simple tale of Roman’s vs Goth’s fighting to the death.. smash..smash..smash..there’s so much more, the plot goes deeper and when we get towards the end of the book the author hits you dead between the eyes with some revelations you just don’t see coming.

Gordon Doherty stands out for me as one of only a few authors I’ve read that truly know how to mix plot and descriptiveness. It’s too easy to add information that just isn’t needed for the reader to pad the word count out a bit but not with Gordon, every bit of detail feels important to the tale. I’ve read too many books that have paragraphs that leave me wondering why it was even included but not Gordon Doherty!

The author also stands out for me as one who can really engage a reader. Usually I find myself burning through a book or sometimes losing a little bit of interest (staring into space type of moment) but not with Gordon Doherty’s work. He makes me take my time.. Makes me truly appreciate the time and effort heput in to writing what I can only describe as a masterpiece! (That’s the first time I’ve ever used the word (“masterpiece” in a review)

Super plot, super twists and I’m just left with that excited/nervous feeling for more. So much so I’ve already finished books 5 & 6 ready for book 7 of the series which is released on July 10th!

Look out tomorrow for a little post about the release of book 7 and a review of book 5! I hope you are as excited for it as me!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Virgin to Victoria by Trisha Hughes – Review

Title – Virgin to Victoria
Author – Trisha Hughes
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 308 Pages
Publication – 25th April 2018
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Virgin to Victoria is a powerful retelling of the history of the British monarchy, beginning with Henry VIII’s daughter, Elizabeth I, as she comes to the throne. Charting Elizabeth’s incredible journey, Virgin to Victoria travels in time through the confusion of the Stuart dynasty, the devastation of a Civil War led by Oliver Cromwell, horrific battles for the throne and the turbulent Hanover dynasty with its intricate family squabbles. Despite her amazing legacy, Elizabeth failed England in one vital area. She never married, nor did she leave an heir to the Tudor family. In making this one fateful decision, the Virgin Queen left the path open for a take-over and life would never be the same. Victoria did not ask to be Queen. It was thrust upon her by a series of events that removed all others who stood in line for the throne. She assumed it reluctantly and, at first, incompetently. Parliament was sure that the 18-year-old could be relied upon to leave the job of running the country to the professionals. Couldn’t she?

Review

Virgin to Victoria is the follow-up to Vikings to Virgin: The Hazards of Being King by Trisha Hughes. You don’t need to have read the previous book to enjoy this one but I highly recommend it simply because it’s one hell of a read.

So Virgin to Victoria..another history book you might think.. no not just a history book. What the author gets spot on for me is the way she writes, it’s like she’s talking to you one on one..rather than just regurgitating information in a text-book style you get a fact filled educational ride that quite honestly makes history fun and interesting.

What I particularly like is the way the author keeps things clear for the reader..If I’ve learnt anything it’s that King’s and Queen’s have a habit of naming their children after themselves or relatives so the same names pop up time and time again so it would be easy to get confused.. Trisha Hughes manages to keep things on track well by reminding you of key facts as and when to jog your memory.

Something that really stuck me is the high death rate of not only commoners at the time due to disease but that fact the royals did not escape it. Disease wasn’t the only thing that royals had to worry about..the act of child-birth posed its own dangers to not only the mother but the child also and mortality rates were shockingly high. This really shows you how much of a business being a King or Queen is..as soon as they come to the throne they need to produce an heir and the pressure must have been immense to say the least and even after a miscarriage you’d be expected to continue and try again..I can’t even imagine what this must have felt like but it did help me connect with the characters from history and made them more real for me… you really feel for them at times.

Being a relative of a King or Queen wasn’t good either..everyone is a pawn in the big game and marriages were made to build connections rather than love and because of this overwhelming need to strengthen their hold on the throne it’s very apparent becuase there was a limtied nubmer of royal families inbreeding occurred leading to many life limiting medical conditions..it’s quite scary when you read it.

The book flows well and I loved that key events are repeated so you can easily put the book down and come back to it later to read about the next ruler and have your memory refreshed.

Some of the most interesting bits about this book have to be the theories around Queen Elizabeth I (I’ll not spoil that if you’ve never read about it) .. The fact 3rd September seemed to be a very important date in history and how a man named Buckingham seemed to have the worst luck ever!

Overall the book is well written and sets out the facts in a fun and easy to read way. I can’t recommend the book enough.

My thanks go to the author and The Book Guild for the chance to read and review the book! This is most certainly one book I’ll be buying my dad (if you follow my blog you’ll know that’s only something I do when the book is simply amazing) because he’s not getting my copy 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Caligula (The Damned Emperors) by Simon Turney – Review

Title – Caligula (The Damned Emperors)
Author – Simon Turney
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 480 Pages
Publication – 8th March 2018
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Everyone knows his name. Everyone thinks they know his story.

Rome 37AD. The emperor is dying. No-one knows how long he has left. The power struggle has begun.

When the ailing Tiberius thrusts Caligula’s family into the imperial succession in a bid to restore order, he will change the fate of the empire and create one of history’s most infamous tyrants, Caligula.
But was he really a monster?

Forget everything you think you know. Let Livilla, Caligula’s youngest sister and confidante, tell you what really happened. How her quiet, caring brother became the most powerful man on earth. And how, with lies, murder and betrayal, Rome was changed for ever . . .

Review

Caligula is a very different book than I expected from Turney, it shows his true skill at storytelling to continually grow as an author and to keep churning out hit after hit even when moving away from his normal style of writing.

This story is told from the eyes of Livilla, Caligula’s sister. This gave the tale a real emotional feel and I easily formed a connection with her. This is the history I like.. not a text book..I need it to feel real.

The tale of Caligula is a dark one..he’s been watching is back for years..he’s learnt in that time how to play the great game but as we learn of the constant death and betrayal in his life we see him slowly loose his humanity and he becomes the tyrant we know.

What the author does well is building that connection with the characters, especially Caligula. You feel sorry for him..he just doesn’t know who he can trust so in the end he loses control and simply removes anyone who may be a threat..be it real or perceived.

It’s a real tale of how power can corrupt and warp even those with the best intentions and that when pushed to the limit what would you do to survive?

Truly a magnificent read, insightful¸ powerful, emotional and gripping from the start. This is unlike any book on Caligula you’ve read before..it challenges our preconceived views and the tale will certainly stick with you.

How much do I enjoy Turney’s work? Well I own a hardback copy and a kindle version of Caligula plus I bought a copy for my dads birthday..If me buying 3 copies can’t even convince you to buy one then I don’t know what will! 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Blog Tour – Warrior of Woden by Matthew Harffy.

9781786696373_preview

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Warrior of Woden. Book 5 of The Bernicia Chronicles by Matthew Harffy.

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 596 Pages
Publication – 1st April
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Oswald has reigned over Northumbria for eight years and Beobrand has led the king to ever greater victories. Rewarded for his fealty and prowess in battle, Beobrand is now a wealthy warlord, with a sizable warband. Tales of Beobrand’s fearsome black-shielded warriors and the great treasure he has amassed are told throughout the halls of the land.

Many are the kings who bow to Oswald. And yet there are those who look upon his realm with a covetous eye. And there is one ruler who will never kneel before him.

When Penda of Mercia, the great killer of kings, invades Northumbria, Beobrand is once more called upon to stand in an epic battle where the blood of many will be shed in defence of the kingdom.

But in this climactic clash between the pagan Penda and the Christian Oswald there is much more at stake than sovereignty. This is a battle for the very souls of the people of Albion.

The tour has already started so you can check out the previous stops here :-

Historical Fiction Reviews

History… The Interesting Bits!

Review

I’m going to be honest from the start..this book killed me..my heart feels as shattered as Beobrand’s. So much happens in this book not only to excite you but also to crush you.

This series continues to go from strength to strength and it shows real skill by the author to keep the series going with such exciting plots.

So what is in store this time for Beo? Well war is fast approaching and Oswald must march to stop Penda’s advance.

Lets just say things don’t go the way Beo would like but he does get to show what he’s made of and he certainly makes sure the enemy remember his name.

What this tale really does well is show the growth of Beobrand. He’s older now.. his connection with men stronger but as the book goes on you can really see how events have taken a toll on Beo. He’s tired of this life but peace seems to be something he will never know.

I really enjoyed the addition was ÁstÍgend. I won’t spoil it for you but he stole the show for me, his character shining above others easily.

I also loved the development of Cynan the once thrall who really shows his worth to his lord and there’s a little side story with him that plays out that really give him some depth.

Ok so let’s get down to it..yeh this author holds no favourites and characters will die.. and you know it isn’t going to be pretty. It hit me hard this time..it was a death I didn’t see coming although I knew it could always happen to anyone. The great thing about Harffy is how he uses death to build on the emotional side of his characters which helps you form a  connection with them.

Another cracking tale that really knocks you for six. Brutal has always been my word of choice for The Bernicia Chronicles and I stand by that.

 

Follow to tour :- (Links will be added when posts go live)

What Cathy Read Next – 19th April

The Secret World of a Book Blogger – 20th April

Jemahl Evans – 21st April

Parmenion Books – 22nd April

Author bio

Harffy_Matthew_preview

Matthew grew up in Northumberland where the rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline had a huge impact on him He now lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.

Links to buy

 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2I4PeTA

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2Gf2V1P

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2umk5ZO

iBooks: https://apple.co/2G7vhyW

 

Follow Matthew Harffy

 

Website: http://www.matthewharffy.com/

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Facebook: @Matthew Harffy

 

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