Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Legionary: Dark Eagle (Legionary 8) by Gordon Doherty – Review

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Dark Eagle book in in the Legionary series by Gordon Doherty!

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction

Winter, 382 AD. The Gothic War is over. After years of bloodshed, the Eastern Roman Empire and the Goths have struck a deal for peace. Imperial heralds crow about the treaty as if it were a triumph. Feasts and celebrations take place across the Eastern provinces. Every hero of the war is honoured and acclaimed… except one.

Tribunus Pavo languishes in exile, haunted by a dark truth: that it was Gratian, Emperor of the West – the most powerful man alive – who caused the war and manipulated its every turn. Tormented by memories of loved ones lost during the great conflict, one word tolls endlessly through Pavo’s mind: Justice!

But in this great game of empire, justice rarely comes without a grave cost…

Review

We are back with Pavo and Sura.. or should I say Urbicus and Mucianus…after the events of the last book and Pavo’s brush with Emperor Gratian our lions are believed dead.. and they need to keep it that way.

While Pavo struggles to deal with being separated from his men of the Claudia they themselves are feeling his loss keenly.. and it’s about to get a hell of a lot worse.

The war with the Goths may be over but tension is bubbling and on top of that the tension between the Eastern and Western emperors that has been growing is about to boil over.

I’m used to Gordon’s work by now but he continues to amaze me with gripping plots and fascinating characters. As the title suggests this instalment is dark.. Probably Pavo’s darkest moment to date and once again not all our lions will live to tell the tale.

One chapter stands out for me as a bone crunching heart fluttering smack in the face.. Chapter 9.. it cemented just how far Gratian’s power can go and shows just how high the climb will be for Pavo to get to him.. it won’t be easy.

Along with way we get a wonderful new cheekiness from Darik..he bounces off Sura’s character brilliantly.. While Sura likes to think he’s the best at everything… to him Darik seems to have it all.. Including the looks.. there’s never animosity.. rather a budding friendship when you can tease but know when to draw the line… to see how they connected was refreshing to explore as I’m so used to it just being Pavo and Sura with a supporting cast.. Darik shines through.

Now to the nitty gritty without giving the game away.. yes there’s battle and Gordon did his usually with pure brilliance in describing the different units and how they are formed/where they are from.. for someone like me who likes the action this extra detail doesn’t distract at all but will really hit the mark for those who like authors going that little bit further. If anything it makes me want to learn more.. do my own research.. I’ve always known the Roman army encompassed many nationalities/groups but it’s amazing to see how far their reach was at one point.

With every chapter I smelt defeat on the cards… followed by hope..only to have it dashed again and again.. but wait.. hope arrives again.. Pavo is not the only one who want’s to see Gratian overthrown after all.. but as always all is not as it seems!

Damn you Gordon with all those marvellous twists!

Another little thing Gordon does that I really like is there’s always little titbits thrown in to remind the reader of those lost and fallen..the series may focus heavily on Pavo but he’s happy to share the limelight.

I felt Libo came into his own in this instalment too.. without Pavo he steps up and along with others like Pulcher show what the Claudia are all about.. they won’t go down without a fight.

I really don’t want to spoil anything but of course the Speculatores show their ugly faces again.. but Pavo is ready for them… if he can figure out who he can trust… one gets a rather gruesome death.. I can’t lie… I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I made one note when reading this book and it simply said… hard hitting gut hurting masterpiece.. and I stand by that.. 5*

Now enough.. go buy the book! 😊

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon!

Faces of Darkness by Steven A. McKay

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Faces of Darkness by Steven A. McKay.

Here’s the blurb

When a young noblewoman is brutally assaulted in her own manor house, two former outlaws decide they must solve the mystery, before things go too far…

CROFTUN, NORTHERN ENGLAND
WINTER, AD 1328

Lady Isabella de Courcy is found alone in a room bolted from the inside, unconscious, and with a dagger forced through her hand, but this is just the latest in a line of similar, terrifying incidents. For months now, she’s been stalked by some shadowy tormentor yet, bafflingly, the attacker has never been clearly seen by anyone, even Lady Isabella, and he seems to leave no trace of his movements.
Can the bailiff, John Little, along with the legendary friar, Robert Stafford, uncover the truth and, more importantly, will they be able to save the troubled victim before she ends up dead?

This new standalone novella from the author of The Druid sees the return of two much-loved characters from the Forest Lord series and is based on a shocking real-life case which remains, to this day, unsolved.Genre – Historical Fiction.

Review

Steven A. McKay has delivered a gem of a story! I really thought McKay had shelved for good Robin Hood and his gang for new pastures.. turns out there’s still some stories left to be told and I couldn’t be happier.

We are back with Friar Tuck and Little John who are about to stumble upon a mystery.. and let’s be fair we all know Tuck.. he’s not one to walk away without getting to the bottom of things.

Little John in his role as bailiff is out to collect a fine and Tuck comes along for the journey. They soon learn of the plight of Lady Isabella, who is being terrorised and things seem to be escalating! There’s one issue though.. there’s no witnesses and no evidence that the individual exists..but there must be someone right?

John and Tuck do due diligence and secure the area.. with no issues found they go on their way… only to be called back as another frightful event has occurred.

It soon becomes clear that not everyone believes the stories they are being told by Lady Isabella.. things don’t add up.

Tuck is a good judge of character and soon seems to be getting somewhere.. you can see the cogs start to turn once the oil gets the gears going and it leads to a fast paced and gripping ending that packs a punch.

What I really enjoyed about this book..  it’s a perfect little mystery but with the authors fun and gritty edge.. and Tuck and John were the perfect duo. You’d be forgiven for raising an eyebrow.. you either want modern-day mysteries or straight up historical fiction right?..can you mix them? McKay certainly knows the recipe!

I’m going to put it out there now… I love these little novellas.. Can we have Will Scaflock back in the next please :).

Faces of Darkness offers an intriguing plot based around a real life event, balanced with wit from both Tuck and John.. add in the perfect pace and you’ve got a winner!

McKay knows what his readers want.. everything he offers us is pure brilliance and while we may not see the gang around that much it was so good to be back!

5/5 Stars.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

Lucia by Steven A. McKay – Audiobook Review!

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Lucia by Steven A. McKay on available on Audible!

Here’s the blurb

At eight years old, Lucia is torn from the life she knew. Her village burned to the ground and parents murdered by Romans, she is kidnapped, sold and shipped abroad to the Villa Tempestatis in Britannia to serve the young Roman army officer Castus.

Faced with a bleak future of decades of servitude to her master, as well as sadistic brutality at the hands of his slave and manageress, Paltucca, she finds herself fixated by one thought alone. Fuelled by hatred and a belief that the gods saved her for a reason, she vows to never taste freedom until she gets her revenge.

As she and her fellow slaves are exploited mercilessly by the master and his ‘noble’ friends – and brutally punished for even the smallest misdemeanours – Lucia’s longing for vengeance only grows stronger. Despite warnings from her loyal friend, Sennianus, that her hatred won’t bring her happiness, she continues to plot the downfall of Castus and Paltucca.

When Paltucca performs an unforgivable act, cruelly destroying a chance of happiness for Lucia, the manageress seals her own fate and unwittingly becomes her own undoing. But what will become of Castus? Risen within the ranks and trusted by the master, Lucia must decide whether or not to exploit her power and risk everything to fulfil her lifelong desire.

Genre – Historical Fiction.

Review

Lucia is a slaves tale told from the very beginning when she is brutally taken from her family and those she loved left for dead.

Quickly Lucia learns her new place in life but struggles with the horrible Paltucca.. an evil manageress who never seems to be happy with the work no matter the standard.

Her master Castus is an enigma or sorts at first.. as a Roman officer he’s not always at home but when he is the wine and food flows.. some of his guests are less than delightful and their urges quite abhorrent. Castus shows himself to be a good master at times ensuring the youngest slaves aren’t unduly harmed but as time goes on he himself changes…his own deprived tastes come to the fore and Lucia feels the brunt of his affections for a time.

While Lucia learns to deal with her masters demands she proves to be a good slave.. she’s part of a family. Of course she hates those who oppress her and she swears one day to get vengeance on all those who have wronged her.

As time goes on some important events happen to Lucia and her fellow slaves..the most important is her saving the estate from thieves. It’s a catalyst which sees Lucia’s fortunes change.

To say Lucia is a tough read is an understatement… don’t get me wrong.. this tale is gripping and it’s tough to put down.. what I mean is it’s harrowing… real heart wrenching.. to see someone downtrodden..treated like they don’t matter.. it’s hard to imagine a time when slaves were common place. The hardships these people suffer arent easy to forget.

Along the way we see friendships forged..and tested. Sennianus wants nothing more than to live an easy life with Lucia but she’s broken…Senni stands by her but struggles at times to accept the situation.

Regalis is the biggest character for me and plays a pivotal part.. he’s a slave but also has the job of delivering punishments on behalf of Paltucca…the thing is everyone likes the man.. he’s as honest as they come and is just doing as commanded by his master.. there’s no malice in his actions.

Sosthenes, while not very well liked he knows his place. There’s a moment your feelings for him change as you see the man in a different light.

Dentatus, a horrible creature of a man who will do anything if it sees him in the good books of the manageress.

The point I hope I’ve made clear is that this story is not just of Lucia.. yes the main focus is on her life but there’s so much more going on.. each member of the cast play their part and stay with you… they each have their own motivations and you can’t help but feel for them all. Some find it easier to adapt to their new lives than others but under everything they are humans..and their lives are worth more..

Lucia is an Audible book only and the narrator Imogen Church did superbly at making me commit to Lucia with everything I had. I like audio but can get distracted easily..Imogen Church commands your attention.. her tone perfect for each character.. emphasis just when you’d expect.

A compelling 5* story from McKay, an author who continues to amaze me with his writing.

To find out more head to Audible or Goodreads!

Wolf of Wessex by Matthew Harffy – Review

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Wolf of Wessex by Matthew Harffy…. (Granted a little later than planned.. blame the weather and an Ill family ha.. Apologies.

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction.

AD 838. Deep in the forests of Wessex, Dunston’s solitary existence is shattered when he stumbles on a mutilated corpse.

Accused of the murder, Dunston must clear his name and keep the dead man’s daughter alive in the face of savage pursuers desperate to prevent a terrible secret from being revealed.

Rushing headlong through Wessex, Dunston will need to use all the skills of survival garnered from a lifetime in the wilderness. And if he has any hope of victory against the implacable enemies on their trail, he must confront his long-buried past – becoming the man he once was and embracing traits he had promised he would never return to. The Wolf of Wessex must hunt again; honour and duty demand it.

Review

Wolf of Wessex sees Matthew Harffy move away from the comfort of his Bernicia Chronicles Series.

To say I was excited is an understatement.. I was more than a little keen to see how the author would fair with a completely new set of characters.

Following the tale of Dunston was a pure joy! He’s pushing on a years a little as he likes to remind everyone but he’s thrust back into a life he thought he’d left long behind.

As Dunston goes about his normal day he stumbles upon a grisly murder..it’s pretty gruesome.. what makes it worse is Dunston’s dog Odin leads him to a young girl… it’s her father who’s just been murdered.

Thrust together Dunston and the girl Aedwen set out for safety.. Dunston’s wants nothing more than just to live out his days in peace as he’s promised his late wife… unfortunately for him he’s about to walk right into the biggest mess you can imagine.

Dunston is forced to hunt… to use every skill he’s got and Aedwen wants to come along for the ride… the only way to get the quiet life he’s after is to face one last trial.

As they travel the connection between the two grows.. Dunston’s reminded of the past and Aedwen needs that father figure.. a rather unconventional convergence but it’s what they both need… they don’t know it but they can help each other.

Dunston will make those who murdered Aedwen’s father pay. He doesn’t want to be a hero..her saviour.. but he can’t let her down… he’s too honourable to do that.

Down to the nitty-gritty… plot… bloody loved it! Moving away from Beobrand and the Bernicia Chronicles was a gamble of sorts but with talent like Harffy’s it’s a no brainer! My only question throughout the book was would it work.. an old man and a young girl.. can they connect.. will it make sense..and you know what it really did.

While Dunston takes the limelight there is an ensemble of supporting characters who add to the tale, combine this with a wonderfully detailed setting and you’ve got a winner!

I particularly liked the charcoal burners, learning about their lives and how lonely it could have been for them, shunned by many. It proves you can write a cracking plot whilst also sharing knowledge that will stick with the reader long after the book is finished.

The thing about Dunston is he’s complex..his motivations subdued.. until he can hide no longer.. he’s not the young man he once was but he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Gripping from the first page the last, the hero who didn’t want to be, a young girl seeking true justice.

There is one thing in this book better than everything though.. Odin! Dunston’s four legged companion.. his tale is one of pain, loyalty and strength.the connection between the two runs deep.. I loved it.

Wolf of Wessex is a cracking read, dark and brutal just the way I like it. The plot grows at a decent pace and at every turn you are led by the author on a heart-gripping adventure..

As much as I want to see Beobrand return Harffy has proved I’ll love anything he writes… more please!

5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads!

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