Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

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

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Seraphina’s Song by Kathryn Gauci – Review

Next up for review is Seraphina’s Song by Kathryn Gauci.

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction

Dionysos is a man without a future, a man who embraces destiny and risks everything for love.

“If I knew then, dear reader, what I know now, I should have turned on my heels and left. But I stood transfixed on the beautiful image of Seraphina. In that moment my fate was sealed.”

A refugee who escapes Smyrna in 1922 disguised as an old woman. Alienated and plagued by remorse, he spirals into poverty and seeks solace in the hashish dens of Piraeus.

When he can go no lower, opportunity knocks, and Dionysos’ meets Aleko, an expert bouzouki player, recognising a rare musical talent, Aleko offers to teach him to play.

But Dionysos’ hope for a better life unravels when he meets Seraphina — the singer with the voice of a nightingale. From that moment his life is in danger and there is no going back.

Review

I remember vividly reading The Embroiderer by Kathryn Gauci and the word that still comes to mind is epic…luckily for me the author isn’t a one trick pony!

Seraphina’s Song follows Dionysos.. his life was turned upside down.. he fled his war-torn home but is beaten up with guilt.. just when he’s got a chance of a new life we learn it’s not going to be the happy ending he would like.

Dionysos is down on his luck..scrapping money together of with odd job just to get by. Aleko walks into his life and takes a shine to him. so much so he promises to teach Dionysos to play the bouzouki.

At first Dionysos doesn’t believe him.. but when he goes to the club Aleko claims to play in he soon realises the truth and the chance he’s got.

Soon Dionysos meets Seraphina, a woman who could charm any man.. and Dionysos falls hard a fast..and this ultimately leads to his downfall…he’s not the only man with his eye on her.

What Kathryn Gauci does perfectly is the characters and their development. Each character feels real and they all have their own story to tell.. and little by little we are given more detail..never forced..the chracters just grow naturally.

For me Aleko stole the show, at first little is known about the man but we soon get to learn more about his family and a connection to Seraphina which causes Dionysos to doubt everything.

The tales is paced well and the plot is dark and intense.. you know from the outset the outcome of the tale… but we get to read the journey..and I was hooked.

Seraphina’s Song is a short tale at 172 pages but it’s certainly a well planned and gripping ..another epic read from the author for me. I could never imagine such a dark and emotionally charged tale could be written but that’s what the author does best..you get so much more than you could ever imagine.. rich in detail and a plot that will stay with you long after you’ve finished.

My rating – 5/5 stars!!!!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

River God by Wilbur Smith – Review

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

Genre – Historical Fiction

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

 

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

Vitellius' Feast - Blog Tour Poster.png

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

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

Here’s the blurb

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

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

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

Book 1 – Palatine

Book 2 – Galba’s Men

Book 3 Otho’s Regret

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hats off to the author, simply wondrous.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

An English Revenge by Gabriel Stein – Review

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

Here’s the blurb –

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

The greatest battle lies within…

England is at war.

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

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

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

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

Edmund is a soldier. And a soldier must fight.

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall a cracking read which is well worth reading.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon