Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

ARC Review – Odin’s Game (The Whale Road Chronicles Book 1) by Tim Hodkinson

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing an ARC of Odin’s Game by Tim Hodkinson

Here’s the blurb

AD 915.

In the Orkney Isles, a young woman flees her home to save the life of her unborn child. Eighteen years later, a witch foretells that evil from her past is reaching out again to threaten her son.

Outlawed from his home in Iceland, Einar Unnsson is thrown on the mercy of his Uncle, the infamous Jarl Thorfinn ‘Skull Cleaver’ of Orkney. He joins forces with a Norse-Irish princess and a company of wolfskin-clad warriors to become a player in a deadly game for control of the Irish sea, where warriors are the pawns of kings and Jarls and the powerful are themselves mere game pieces on the tafl board of the Gods.

Together they embark on a quest where Einar must fight unimaginable foes, forge new friendships, and discover what it truly means to be a warrior.

As the clouds of war gather, betrayal follows betrayal and Einar realises the only person he can really trust is himself.

Not everyone will survive, but who will conquer all in Odin’s game?

Review

This tale follows Einar whose mother fled her past many years ago. Life seems settled but after a disagreement Einar must leave his home behind or risk death! Unn, his mother, feels there is little choice but send him to the home of his uncle, known as Skull Cleaver.

Einar sets out to prove his worth but ends up in over his head, captured and held hostage..what price will his uncle pay to see him free?

The relationship between Jarl Thorfinn ‘Skull Cleaver’ and Einar is wonderful to see unfold with quite a few twists along the way..the past won’t stay buried for long.

Along the way we meet the Wolf Coats..Fierce warriors who utterly engrossed me..the dark humour they have made it such fun to read.

The plot was well planned out and paced perfectly to keep on the edge of my seat..there’s no time to be bored.. you just get sucked into this one so easily.

A word to describe this tale is deception.. nothing is what it seems…backstabbing and plotting are high on everyone’s agenda..who can you trust.

What I really enjoyed was that on the whole this is a dark and gritty tale of deceit with war brewing but you can see some moments where the author really had some fun.

Odin’s Game ticks the boxes for me, plot is fantastic and when you add in the very likeable characters you’ve got a hit!

Tim Hodkinson has written an epic tale and I can’t wait to see where this goes..that ending has me itching for more! The scene has been set.. an earth shattering saga in the making!

My thanks go to NetGalley for the ARC! Certainly a book I’ll happily buy myself on release tomorrow!

5/5 Stars for me

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon!

The Forest Lord Collection by Steven A. McKay. (@SA_McKay)

Any follower of my blog with have heard the name Steven A. McKay, the brilliant author of the fantastic Forest Lord series. The series follows one of my favourite characters ever.. Robin Hood!

What really sucked me into the series is it felt real and fresh and that mainly came from the change in setting for the series, namely Barnsdale. I asked the author about this and this is what he had to say

When I started researching the Robin Hood legend I realised the original ballads were actually set in Yorkshire, not Nottingham. I knew I had to stick pretty closely to the well-known tales, but somehow stand out from all the other modern retellings – moving the setting away from Sherwood was the ideal way to do that while still remaining faithful to the earliest ballads.

McKay continue..

I wanted The Forest Lord series to be familiar to fans of Robin Hood, yet, at the same time, new and fresh and exciting and not just another rehash of the same old story.

I’ve previously reviewed the books separately but now the box set is out I thought it high time to update/combine my reviews 🙂

Here we go..

So we’ve all heard of Robin Hood yes? Of course we have. As a boy Robin Hood was always one of my favourite characters. This was one of my reasons for buying this series and I’m so glad I did! McKay gives us the Robin Hood we never knew we wanted.. and damn it’s good!

McKay has decided to revamp the whole Robin Hood tale, moving the location to Yorkshire when England was under the reign of Edward II. This makes the book quite refreshing as it’s moved away from the well-known tale set in Nottingham. From the authors notes you can see a lot of thought and hard work has went into this series and it shows.

The story starts with Hoods early life and the events that led him to become an outlaw. We see him climb the ranks to eventually lead this band of outlaws.

Along the way we see him deal will conflict not only with the rich people of Yorkshire but also himself and the outlaws where personalities clash.

Even though the setting has changed we still have the heroes we all know and love, Little John, Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet & Much.

Chapter after chapter you see the tension grow as McKay takes you from one characters journey to another, friendships are made.. and broken… this isn’t a tale of merry men.. but desperate men who want only to live life or care for their family..it’s a struggle. There’s plenty of humour within the tale but the underlying struggle to stay alive keeps you on the edge of your seat!

We see Robin beaten, men killed, imprisonments, executions the works

The word that springs to mind about this series is “Growth” Not only does each storyline improve on the previous one but McKay has managed to grow his characters superbly throughout the series. You can really tell the author has put a lot of time and energy into his work.

What I really enjoyed about these books is that the author takes risks, the heroes don’t always live, it was gobsmackingly refreshing.

This series is dark, gritty and downright engrossing.. You never know what will happen next and when events play out your heart is in your mouth it’s pumped that fast!

The end of the series is a true highlight. Not only does it do the series justice but it also leaves fate to the reader.. read into that what you will 🙂

I strongly recommend the series..I bought 2 paperbacks of each book just so I could share with my dad who I knew would love it just as much as me.. do yourself a favour and get the 4 book set for £9.99… bargain price!

 

Blog Tour – Storm of Steel by Matthew Harffy

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m taking part in the blog tour for torm of Steel by Matthew Harffy!!!

Here’s the blurb

AD 643. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical thriller and the sixth instalment in the Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Heading south to lands he once considered his home, Beobrand is plunged into a dark world of piracy and slavery when an old friend enlists his help to recover a kidnapped girl.

Embarking onto the wind-tossed seas, Beobrand pursues his quarry with single-minded tenacity. But the Whale Road is never calm and his journey is beset with storms, betrayal and violence.

As the winds of his wyrd blow him ever further from what he knows, will Beobrand find victory on his quest or has his luck finally abandoned him?

Review

It seems like forever since we last saw Beobrand and his brave gesithas.. in reality it hasn’t been that long.. I’m just impatient ha.

The wait is over..it’s time to join Beobrand on his latest adventure and this time not much of it will be spent on land as we take to the high seas in search of a missing girl.

While on a mission to bring the soon to be new Queen home Beobrand gets a blast from the past and is torn… he’s oath sworn to do as his King requests but that would mean leaving the girl to fate.

Luckily for Beo the decision is taken out of his hands, the new queen is known to Beo and after a night of feasting they have grown rather close..so much so she orders him to do whatever it takes to bring the little girl home.

Beobrand enlists the help if a group of sailors to aid him in his journey and very soon they are bound together in blood as they set sail on the trail of a group of pirates who have taken the girl hostage.

Twists and turns come aplenty and Beo’s life will never be the same.

The best addition to this story for me is young Brinin..he’s betrothed to Ardith, the girl who has been taken, and he joins Beobrand in the hunt. Brinin reminds me a lot of Beo, he’s young and headstrong and has a big part to play.

For me the plot was just amazing..dark and brutally gripping..the past haunts Beobrand and I really enjoyed it when the author gives you the chance to reflect on moments throughout the series that have impacted on the man Beo is today.

The last fight scene was pure wow factor.. brothers at arms..sacrifices are made that will shape the destiny of others.

This series goes from strength to strength and credit to the author that he manages to keep each story so fresh and entertaining.

5/5 Stars!!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

My thanks go to the author and Victoria @ Head of Zeus for the chance to be part of the blog tour!

Buy links:

Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks

Follow the tour!!!

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About the author

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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.

 Follow Matthew Harffy:    

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Facebook: @MatthewHarffyAuthor

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

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Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

The Wine Boy by L.J. Trafford – Review

Next up on David’s Book Blurg is The Wine Boy by L.J. Trafford

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction

Rome 31 AD.
The aged Emperor Tiberius has retired to Capri leaving his most trusted advisor, Praetorian Prefect Sejanus to run the city in his absence.
To lowly wine boy, Epaphroditus, the Prefect is an example to emulate. From a humble background Sejanus has risen to his current rank through sheer graft and talent. Both attributes sorely missing in the Imperial family.
However an encounter with Palace secretary Caenis reveals the truth behind Sejanus’ rise; treachery on an epic scale. She is determined to bring him down, but she needs Epaphroditus’ help.

Review

The Wine Boy is linked very much to The Four Emperors series which I loved and this short tale is exactly what I needed after that series ended.

If you’ve read The Four Emperors series you’ll easily recognise a few of the names that appear including Epaphroditus.

It’s a real page turner as we learn about Epaphroditus and his early years..his ambitions to be more than just a wine boy… and the fall of Praetorian Prefect Sejanus.

The tale is exactly what I’ve come to expect from the author, all-encompassing and gripping from the first page till the last as we see a plot develop and treachery exposed.

At 60 pages it’s a super quick read but it certainly feels like a full/finished story to me..the pace was perfect, it would be so easy to rush a short tale and throw too much at the reader but The Wine Boy is simply a wonderful quick read. It’s perfect for fans of the author but also a great starting point for those who may not want to commit to The Four Emperors series just yet.

If you enjoy Rome and its backstabbing then this will be perfect for you!

5 Stars!!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

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

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