Tag Archives: C.R. May

Bloodaxe (Erik Haraldsson #1) by C.R. May – Review

Today I’m reviewing Bloodaxe, Book 1 in the Erik Haraldsson series by C.R. May.

Here is the blurb –

Under the iron rule of Harald Fairhair, Norway has been a land at peace for half a century.

Groomed for the succession, the king’s eldest surviving son has lived the life of a Viking prince; harrying wherever his longships can reach, from the frozen forests of Bjarmaland to the rocky shores of Brittany and beyond.

But none expected Harald to live so long, and as the king enters his ninth decade his powers begin to wane.

Seizing their chance other Haraldssons move to snatch the crown for themselves, and a brother war sweeps the land as Erik fights to defend his birthright…

Bloodaxe is the first volume in a trilogy which will tell the story of one of the Viking Age’s legendary kings.

Review

Bloodaxe is the story of Eric Haraldsson, son of  Harald Fairhair, King of Norway.

You’d always imagine in the modern day that being heir to a throne would be an easy, sheltered life. Not so in times past! It just leads to bloodshed.

I loved Eric from the start, the guy just oozes confidence and strength, he’s got something about him.

As a young boy Eric was sent away to live with one of Harald’s most trusted, he learns the ways of a warrior and soon starts to build a relationship of sorts with his father.

It’s the real brutal Viking tale you’d expect as Eric leave a path of red behind as he makes a name for himself and earns the respect of the men who fight at his side.. he’s going to need those men.

Eric isn’t one to shy away from a fight, he’s got wits and knows when to use them. I think he proves early on that he has the qualities needed to become King when Harald eventually dies.. but the old king has been rather promiscuous to say the least and there is many with a claim to the throne.

What we see then is a rather brutally vivid and well actioned series of events to see Eric claim power… there’s no time for niceties.. he’s going to seize power one way or another. It’s not an easy ride for Eric but you see him prove time and time again he’s got the qualities needed to rule.. yes he’s still up for a good slaughter but he’s learned to pick his battles well.

C.R. May effortlessly transported me back to the age of Vikings and showed how rough life would have been for them.. It’s a fight from day 1..You have to prove yourself and if you aren’t a warrior you might as well be dead already.

The plot was very enticing to say the least and while history can be a little incomplete at times I loved that C. R. May offers up a plausible storyline but at the same time hits the high notes with the use of descriptiveness to an awe inspiring level. Bloodaxe isnt a book you can just skim read.. it’s not the kind of book you read a chapter here and there..No, Bloodaxe instantly sucks you in.. immerses you in Viking world.. It’s vivid and packs a punch and the turmoil/fear is real.

Take your time to enjoy Bloodaxe, there’s a lot to get to grips with.. so many names…why did Harald have so many sons? Ha.. It’s worth savouring.. sit down in your favourite chair and watch the hours fly by.

I don’t think you’ll find a better example of an Historical Fiction novel as the author perfectly demonstrates his knowledge of the subject expertly woven with his imagination and storytelling skills.

The only word to describe C. R. Mays’ work is “detail” he knows his stuff and these detail shines through to give us the most beautifully brutal book I’ve read in a long time!

Bloodaxe is the 1st in what can only be an epic saga!

5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

The Scathing (King’s Bane #3) by C.R. May – Review

Next up for review is The Scathing (King’s Bane #3) by C.R. May

Here’s the blurb –

Genre – Historical Fiction

In an epic tale of courage and ferocity, the kingdom of Mercia is born.

More than a year has passed since the English crossed the German Sea to settle the island of Britain.
Secure now in their Anglian fastness, their gaze turns to the West.
But other kingdoms also covet the middle lands.
Sweeping down from the western hills Cynlas Goch and his army of Powys lay waste the valley of the River Trenta, burning, killing and enslaving as they go.
Heavily outnumbered but trusting to their valour, can Eofer king’s bane and his war band slow the onslaught until the English and their allies wrest a final victory from the ashes of defeat?

The Scathing is the third book in the Bestselling King’s Bane series, the genesis of England.

Review

The Scathing is the 3rd and final book in the King’s Bane series and we are back with Eofer and his loyal troop.

Years have passed since Eofer earned the title of King’s Bane.. he’s older but also a little wiser.

With the Powys on the attack our heroes are tasked the unenviable task of putting an end to their rampage..and they’re heavily outnumbered…they must do what they can to protect those that can’t defend themselves.

This story really develops Eofer for me, many friends have come and gone and he’s haunted by his past as it walks beside him..he will never let the memory of those lost be forgotten. Not only were these moments quite moving but I thought it linked the books together well. Eofer’s memories tugged at my own and I found myself reliving past events in the series.

May sets a vivid scene of tumultuous times..people are dying horribly and something must be done.. many more lives will be lost…it’s a tale of camaraderie and hard-fought battles..

What the author did superbly for me was the connection between Eofer and his men…not only is it believable but each member of the team has value and is developed in their own right… they really are a tight team of loyal men who would die for each other.

The main storyline of war was vivid and engrossing but so emotionally charged..each chapter tearing at me as the tale progressed. So much so that the ending left me shattered..heartbroken..what a cracking ending to a very detailed and exciting series.

The Scathing has the perfect mix of plot and character development, there’s a big picture but lots of personal titbits to make you fall in love with the characters..their humour..I’ll truly miss them.

There’s something to keep everyone happy with this book..it just ticks so many boxes.

I can’t give it any less than a 5 star rating.. that ending.. just wow. Top marks!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

Gods of War (King’s Bane #2) by C. R. May – Review

Title – Gods of War (King’s Bane #2)
Author – C. R. May
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 332 Pages
Publication – August 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Spring 524A.D.
As the last settlers board the ships which will carry them to Anglia, Eofer and the men of his war band are sent to harry the Danish coast, drawing the enemy eastwards as King Eomær’s host lands in the west.

But the gods of war can be fickle, and the ravaging does not end as planned.

A warlord, Ubba silk beard, leads the counterattack. Driving the raiders from the kingdom he pursues them through the forests of Scania as the war of fire and steel rages on.

Other forces are at work, other ventures already in play.

Seizing his chance for kingship an assassin strikes, and a new power emerges from the ruins of the old as the young Danish king gathers his army and marches to confront the invader.

Gods of War is the second volume in the bestselling King’s Bane series, the genesis of England.

Review

Before you go any further why not read my review of Fire & Steel, book 1 in the series.

It’s taken me too long to get back to this series but i’m so glad I did.

We are back with Eofer, King’s Bane and it was genuinely a thrill to get back in the action with him and his warband.

For me what made this book a step up from the first is the bond Eofer has with his men. The connection they have with each other is more developed and believable.

This bond is strengthened throughout the book when Eofer is in need of his men more than ever.

The plot has a lot of meat on the bone as I like to say, lots to get to grips with but not so much that you are bombarded with too much info. If anything it was the sheer amount of action and the fast flowing plot that sucked me in.

The Angles are leaving, headed for what they hope is a better future but while the last of them race to get aboard a ship there’s still the chance of attack.

Eofer’s men have great comradery and some very fun conversations which give some light relief at times from all the heavy action.

Spearhafoc, who you may remember from the first installment is back and her story gets dark and complicated, I really enjoyed it but I do hope that her story isn’t over.

What I really liked about this book is the setting. As there’s not a lot of information known about the events it’s given the author the chance to weave a believable tale at times but also exercise his imagination. I want to say more but I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.

For me this is a complex tale, it’s a battle to see which tale is more important, Eofer’s tale or the historical tale. There’s a lot crammed in with this one but it all worked for me. Fun, exciting and it’s left me wanting to get on to the next book in the series quickly.

The action is spot on but varied in such away it doesn’t feel repetitive. We are given raids, full on wars, surprise attacks and you just never know where the author will take you next and that made it all the more exciting to read.

There are a few really emotive scenes also which knock the wind from your sails, this gave another edge to Eofer and for me these moment stole the show, I hope the author throws in more moments like this in book 3.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

Cover design and it’s importance – Guest post by author C.R. May

Today i bring to you a guest post from author C.R. May. Cliff will talk about covers and their importance . You may remember recently i posted a review of one of his books Fire & Steel. Covers are so important to me and play a big part in deciding what books i buy. Cliff i must say has some awesome covers which definitely catch the eye and draw a reader in.

I hope you find his take on covers as interesting as i have.

Without further ado..take it away Cliff.


 

This is a tale (cautionary if you are a new or aspiring author) about the very first thing which draws us to a book which is, of course, the cover.

As a first-time author I looked forward to the cover design part of the writing process; it must be easier than writing a novel, right? If only that were true. The simple fact is that if you are an independently published author the whole shebang, research, planning, writing, re-writing, editing, cover design, promotion etc, is entirely in your hands. Of course there are a myriad number of professionals out there willing to help you out for a fee, but it is a truism of writing today that the cottage industry of editors, proofreaders, and cover designers which has grown to satisfy this demand often make far more money from the business than the people who write the books themselves. A professionally produced cover can easily cost four figures. What if, like the vast majority of self published books, your surefire bestseller actually sank like a stone? Amazon alone publish thousands of new titles each and every day and even at a very reasonable £1.99 a go, the author actually receives not much more than £1 per download. For a physical copy the profit margins can be even worse. The production costs for a print-on-demand publisher like Amazon’s Createspace will produce an average sized paperback containing around 100,000 words for about £8. If the author adds just £1 to that for their own profit he or she will still be priced out of the market by the big boys. I once saw Tesco selling Ben Kane’s latest hardback bundled with his previous volume for £6. Paperbacks in the big supermarkets are typically £3, or two for £5.

So it can be tough out there, your cover has to grab a potential reader’s attention straight away. Let’s see how my own cover developed over time using my very first book, Sorrow Hill, as an example. The story starts off with young Beowulf poaching two eagle chicks from the nest so, after spending days groaning over jokey or just plain ridiculous ‘Viking’ pictures on photo sites such as Shutterstock, Getty Images etc I gave up with that angle. Anglo-Saxon was even worse, pictures of Big Ben, red post boxes or Union Jack knickers seemed to be about all that they had to represent one of the most advanced cultures in early medieval Europe. Beowulf? Angelina Jolie of course. So back to the eagles it had to be. This is my first design from back in 2013.

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A nice image, monochrome to be ‘different’ – (before I discovered that most readers don’t do ‘different’). If they are interested in Roman literature they expect to see a Centurion or legionary standard on the cover; Dark Ages, longship/swordsman.  Even before book two had appeared I decided that if I wanted affordable originality, I would have to make my own.

I have a statue of Odin/Woden which is a copy of an original in the Swedish National Museum Stockholm. By placing this onto a picture of a pattern-wielded sword (and supporting the head on a ball of blu-tack!) I developed a common look to the series which also reflected the series title, Sword of Woden. Delving into the various fonts and script types which you can find on most computers gave me this…

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Although this image looked far better, and certainly easier to develop into a series, at a smaller scale it quickly became apparent that it was not much more than a red and yellow blob and far too dark when viewed on an e-reader or mobile phone screen so… A bit more proficient by now, I stripped off the script and increased the shading before adding gold and white lettering. The darker lower third helped with the clarity of the title, and thus was born Sorrow Hill – mark 3:

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Not convinced? No, neither was I, so back to the eagle it went, this time using an image which I had taken at Battery Park in New York City with my trusty Canon IXUS.

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It’s a nice cover, and it might have remained that way if the book had not done too well. Fortunately not only did it seem that I could spin a good yarn after all, but others seemed to agree. As word spread and the Sword of Woden series was followed by the equally well received Brennus, Conqueror of Rome series of books, it became obvious that my homemade covers were just not up to scratch. With an established readership and more confident now in my ability to sell books on a consistent basis, this year I finally took the leap of faith and began to commission professional covers…

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The Sword of Woden trilogy, being the early life story of the legendary figure Beowulf, necessarily contained a few supernatural elements. One of the minor characters who appeared in books one and three, the Angle, Eofer, is now the subject of my latest series, King’s Bane, which tells the story of the Anglian migration from present day Jutland to the lands which would in time become England. By using the same cover designer for both series of books and writing a novella, Dayraven, to link the two storylines, I have left the myth and legend element of the Beowulf tale behind and grounded the events more firmly within the  history of early sixth Century Europe. Utilising the same designer for the Sword of Woden and King’s Bane series’ means that I can finally obtain the homogenous look which I have strived for over the past few years, while injecting a greater degree of action into the cover images. Here is the cover for the first book of the King’s Bane series, Fire & Steel to illustrate the point.

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I think that we all agree that it is an unfortunate part of book buying that a book really is judged initially by its cover. However good an author’s work, he or she has not much more than a second for their thumbnail sized image to spark an interest in the potential reader from among dozens of others. Even though the book has been available and selling steadily for three years now, the new cover for Sorrow Hill has led to a spike in sales and increased traffic to my website. Every one of the various stages which a novel undergoes from the initial idea in the author’s mind to completed book is important, but the cover art really is vital to its success.

Similarly, the addition of good quality maps can really help to lift your book above the competition, especially in these days of ‘look inside’ features on e-book websites. My first books had no maps at all, and several readers were good enough to contact me via the link on my website to suggest that they would really help to understand the storyline. As my books are all set in the ancient past, most of the names used are either in their archaic form, Hroar’s Kilde for present day Roskilde for example, or even based on educated guesswork as in Sleyswic for present day Schleswig.

My first maps were similar efforts to the cover designs which I made at the same time, best described as helpful rather than artwork. This is an example of my first maps, in this case the map which accompanied the concluding volume of my Brennus series, Nemesis.

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As you can see the information is all there and it’s not the worst map that I have ever seen in a book, but it’s obviously homemade and has no ‘wow’ factor. Here is the new map which replaced it:

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All of my books now contain maps of this quality, hand drawn by the same artist Simon Walpole who will also draw the maps in my future books. This will help lend a feeling of continuity and familiarity, reenforcing the effect of the similar cover designs.

Covers and, thanks to the ability to look inside or even download samples of ebooks in moments, maps, really do give a book the best chance of success and are an essential investment for any novelist.

To connect with Cliff head to the author’s website or Twitter. You may also like to view his author page on Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Fire & Steel (King’s Bane Book 1) by C.R. May – Review

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Title – Fire & Steel (King’s Bane Book 1)
Author –  C.R. May
Genre –  Historical Fiction
Length –  355 Pages
Publication – March 2016
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

523 A.D. Arthur is dead.

As Britannia burns a small tribe clings to its colony of Anglia.

Across the German Sea powerful enemies covet Engeln itself.

But the English are not easily cowed.

As Spear-Danes threaten the homeland a hero returns,

leading the fightback with ferocity and guile…

Review

I always like to do a bit of research before I read a book from an author.. as in do they have any other books out etc and a quick look shows C.R. May has a few books under his belt with some very decent reviews so I was looking forward to what could promise to be a great series to get into.

I wasn’t disappointed at all, it’s a nonstop ride for Eofer and his loyal men… honestly the man never stops moving.

I really enjoyed the descriptiveness and the language used to weave this tale, it was a nice blend of words I’m familiar with whilst also engaging my brain with some words I’ve not come across before.. I like this in a book, hooks you in.. keeps your brain active.

Not much is given away by the synopsis but you can tell from that and the cover that war is afoot..and lots of it. Revenge is the word to describe this book.. every action has a reaction and it left me wondering what was coming next..and indeed left me wondering what more can happen in book 2.

I did feel at times the story jumped too fast.. at one stage our hero arrives home and sees his family but with the turn of the page he’s off again. It didn’t leave much chance for the characters to develop or for me to bond with them but the authors style of writing leads me to believe these characters develop long term.. not just over 1 book

From reading the authors notes I can tell some of these characters have appeared in previous books also which will spur me on to read his previous books to gain more perspective into these characters.

While I would have liked to see a bit more growth with a few characters I did however fall I love with a few of the others. There were two who stood out for me as the most interesting Grimwulf and Spearhafoc.. I hope they play a bit part in the next book

The storyline itself took me a few chapters to get into.. to understand who Eofer was.. but once things got going I was hooked. I’m never one for spoiling a story but look out for some awesome battlefield scenes being played out.

Overall this is a very strong book; decent storyline with some very good characters who I hope will develop throughout the series. It’s a fast paced, well written story full of blood and death. The author clearly knows his stuff and the historical note at the end of the book helps keep fact from fiction. Credit to the author, he’s left me with a taste for his work.. and I want more

The book is out now! to find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com