Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Otho’s Regret by L. J. Trafford – Review

Title – Otho’s Regret
Author – L. J. Trafford
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 469 Pages
Publication – 24th July 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Having spectacularly grabbed the Imperial throne by way of a very bloody coup, new emperor Otho is horrified to discover that there is an emperor already in place. His name is Aulus Vitellius and he is relaxing himself in Germania whilst his two generals, the twisted Valens and the handsome but dim Caecina, march two colossal armies to Rome to claim his prize.

With negotiations between the two emperors becoming ever more entertainingly abusive, imperial secretary Epaphroditus has his work cut out trying to save Otho’s throne for him. Hopelessly outnumbered, all looks doomed until a series of unexpected victories give hope to the beleaguered secretary. With the eastern legions declared for Otho and en route to help, all they have to do is stop Valens’ and Caecina’s armies meeting.

Meanwhile, in Rome, a former palace slave, Antonia Caenis, has returned from Judaea with plans of her own…

Review

Otho’s regret is the third book in The Four Emperors series.

You can read my reviews of book one and two by clicking the links below to open a new window.

Palatine- Book 1

Galba’s Men – Book 2

So after the events of the last book Otho is now emperor. Now while he doesn’t seem to be the most natural at the role he does ooze charisma, he’s fair and likeable which people notice.. the issue is he’s not going to get much of a chance to prove himself.

Persuaded by his generals Vitellius decides he should be Emperor and they set out to take the throne by force if needs be.

Vitellius and his generals have very different reasons for their actions and the author did a great job of breathing life into each of them and developing them as much as she did. The two generals Valens and Caecina have to be my favourite additions to the series so far.

With armies on the march espionage is inevitable with both sides planting spies..the fun twist is there’s more than just two players in this tale…someone is lurking..someone has their own motivations to delay Valens and Caecina but you are kept waiting and wodering as the author builds this suspense keeping you hooked until the end.

One person who has made this series stand out for me is Philo. He’s trying to move on with his life after everything has happened to him.. he’s a little out of the loop with events in the palace but soon gets sucked back in.. he even ends up playing his part in the war that is coming. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever love a character as much as Philo.

Epaphroditus surprised me this time around. I never really fell in love with him until now.. this tale shows a different edge to the character which I really enjoyed.

Trafford effortlessly manages to make the tale light-hearted and fun (especially when Sporus is around) but at the same time develops the uncertainty and fears that are brewing.. Building the suspense so much your heart pounds until everything starts to tumble-down around Otho.

I’ve had high expectations with The Four Emperors series which continues to deliver time and time again. It ticks all the right boxes for historical fiction. It’s descriptive but never too heavy, fun when needed but still deals with the serious side of events.

What Trafford has done superbly is make history fun and exciting with the perfect mix of fact and fiction. It’s books like this that keep my love of reading burning strongly, always stoking the furnace..pushing me further, raising that bar which each installment.

I can’t say I’m an expert.. I just know what I like.. and this book is a shining example of what a 5* star historical fiction book should be in my opinion.

My thanks go to Karnac Books for the uncorrected proof copy for review..This will have pride of place on my book shelf.

You can read more reviews on Goodreads and pre-order your copy of the book today on Amazon or purhcase direct from the publishers Karnac

A Violent Aftermath – Guest Post by author Gordon Doherty – (@GordonDoherty)

In late 378 AD, the Eastern Roman Empire was in pieces. Emperor Valens lay dead on the plains of Adrianople, surrounded by the corpses of his best generals and legions. Victorious, the Goths of Fritigern roamed all over the land of Thracia (modern day European Turkey and Bulgaria) like conquerors, and with no emperor or army to curtail or contest them, it must have felt like the end of the world to the Roman people – holed up in the few high-walled cities capable of resisting the Goths.

The stages of the Gothic War (left-right): revolt, pillage and then victory. And that’s where Legionary: Empire of Shades begins – in a fallen land.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this excellent artwork.

 

Theodosius I was the man chosen to tackle this sorry state of affairs. A Spaniard who had proven himself in recent military engagements in Pannonia, he was offered the Eastern throne by his Western counterpart, Emperor Gratian. Gratian’s thinking and the conversations held between the two men must have been quite a thing to eavesdrop upon – for Gratian had only a few years previously ordered the brutal beheading of Theodosius’ father, viewed as a rival. Regardless, Theodosius accepted the offer. Did he fear Gratian? Did he perhaps see the ‘gift’ of the Eastern Empire as a way to prove his loyalty to his father’s killer and guarantee his own safety? Or might Theodosius even have had a hand in his father’s death? We will never know (although I do indulge in a bit of speculation in ‘Empire of Shades’).

5

Theodosius I

 

After accepting the Eastern purple, Theodosius made his headquarters at Thessalonica. The city, capital of the Diocese of Macedonia, was well-positioned: on the eastern coast of modern-day Greece, far south enough from troubled Thracia so as to distance himself from immediate threat, but close enough to plot a reconquest. There he set about reviving the shattered Eastern Army. Firstly, he erected a great turf wall around the city – partly to bolster its defences but also to enclose an area that could serve as a military campus within which he could rejuvenate the ruined Eastern Army. And that was Theodosius’ next step – to summon to Thessalonica the remaining fragments of the legions shattered at the Battle of Adrianople, who were by now hiding in the hills and woods on the periphery of Thracia.

 

 

Left: The Roman city of Thessalonica and its famous Galerius Rotunda. Right: The lay of the land following the Adrianople disaster.

 

But as these army ‘fragments’ congregated at Thessalonica, it would have quickly become apparent to Theodosius just how few had survived the disaster, and it seems he acted upon this stark truth quickly. Starting in 379 AD, he issued a series of decrees to allow the depleted ranks to be filled and for obliterated legions to be reformed. Retired veterans were obliged to return to duty, as were their sons – attempts at bribery to escape service would now be dealt with severely. Indeed, noblemen were required to supply their slaves to the army, and refusal would result in said noblemen being burnt at the stake! Even peasants, beggars and deserters were swept up in an effort to plug the manpower shortage.

Starting at the same time as this mass-recruitment, and continuing over the next few years, Theodosius raised five new generals, or ‘Magistri Militum’ to command these raw troops. With fresh recruits and new leaders, Theodosius now needed a victory to cement their loyalty and his place on the throne. One of his first retaliatory strikes against the Goths occupying Thracia was carried out by a small Roman expeditionary force: under cover of darkness, they outmanoeuvred and fell upon a drunken, sleeping warband (thought to have been four or five-thousand-strong), descending upon them from a hillside to claim a decisive victory.

News of the triumph was very much welcomed in Thessalonica, but Emperor Theodosius knew it was merely a warband that had been defeated, barely denting the horde. And still, the legions were too few and too thin to consider action against Fritigern’s main force. Thus, in search of yet more manpower, Theodosius was forced to turn his eye towards the north, into the wilds of ‘Barbaricum’ (everything north of the River Danube).

Theodosius was forced to look to the most unexpected of places for fresh recruits… the lands of Barbaricum! (left: the Carpathian Mountains, right: the woods and hills nearby)

 

Bringing more Goths into the empire – as allies to fight against their marauding kinsmen – was a risky strategy but a wholly necessary one. Indeed, it had been policy in past (albeit far-more stable) years. It is here that the heroes of the XI Claudia Legion come to the fore in ‘Empire of Shades’. Tasked with trekking into Barbaricum and escorting dubious allies back into the war-torn empire, they then face the prospect of once again standing up against Fritigern’s horde. Weaker, fewer, and with recent defeats branded on each legionary’s mind, the soldiers of the empire must learn to believe once more, to stand together, and to rekindle the dying light of the East….

11

Available at all good online stores, now!

Gordon’s website: www.gordondoherty.co.uk

Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage – Review

Title – Under the Approaching Dark (The King’s Greatest Enemy #3)
Author – Anna Belfrage
Genre – Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Length – 432 Pages
Publication – 10th April 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II has been forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over… After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster. In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much. When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers. Under the Approaching Dark is the third in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

Review

So we are back with Adam and Kit. I must admit I’ve missed these two. This is the third book in The King’s Greatest Enemy series, If you’ve not read the previous books you can read my reviews here –

In the Shadow of the Storm – Book 1

Days of sun and Glory – Book 2

Immediately I was struck by the cover of this book much more so than the previous two, the image and the colours used are definitely to my taste and suit the tale which is a mix of historical fiction and romance.

Hugh Despenser is dead..Finally Adam can relax! Nope.. not a chance.

King Edward II has been forced from the throne and his son Edward now rules as King Edward III. This king is young but he likes to keep those he likes close to him.. Adam included.. He’s sworn to the king and will serve him until the day he dies or is released from service.

There’s a lot of growing tension in this book. First and foremost some of the most powerful lords and businessmen don’t like the fact Mortimer and the Queen mother are acting as the king’s advisers, more so when it’s clear they are lovers even though both are still married! Add to this a brewing conflict with Scotland and a difference of opinion on how it should be handled means rebellion is on the cards.

One issue keeps bubbling to the surface..what to do with the old king? Well this is where Adam and Kit come in, I don’t want to spoil the tale at all but I really enjoyed their involvement in this part of the tale.

As the young king grows it’s clear to Adam that one day this king will not appreciate the input of the Queen mother and Mortimer but they have tasted power and it doesn’t look like they will give up control easily. He even starts to take his frustrations out on Adam during training but as the tale progresses I do feel the king learns Adam’s worth.

An old foe reappears in Kit’s life..and it spells trouble. Again I won’t spoil it but this foe drives a wedge between Adam and Kit by hitting them with a very sensitive issue indeed.

Of course Kit and Adam can get through anything..They may not make it out unscathed but as long as they have each other they will be fight and stay together. They each have their cross to bear during this tale and it can only make them stronger and more determined to be with each other and no other.

For me the book is certainly a 5* story, I won’t lie though..the romance was a little much for my personal tastes but the reason the story still warrants a 5* is because I can understand why it’s there.. the books wouldn’t be the same without it..I feel the book needs this romance and it certainly does build on the truly loving relationship and connection Adam and Kit have which brings that something extra to the tale.

For me this is the best installment in the series so far and it gives Adam more chance to shine. As much as I love Kit it’s Adam who leaves the lasting impressions on me during this books,  I loved the writing and there’s so much going on to really get you hooked in. Well worth reading.

For more information or to purchase check out Amazon or Goodreads.

Matthew Harffy Q&A

Today I’m doing something a little different to my normal Q & A’s.

I’ve been a loyal fan of Matthews for a while now and I recently bought the hardback copy of his book, The Serpent Sword.

20170607_194841

Now I don’t think there was anything wrong with the self-published book but the new hardback is so gloriously beautiful I just had to own it.

One of the clear differences I spotted instantly was this beautiful map! Every good book needs a map!

20170607_194855

The new release got me thinking. Beobrand really has grown over the series from a young man into an older but not necessarily wiser man, trusted by many even though he doesn’t see his own worth in himself.

There is deep changes within him during Killer of Kings as it’s time for Beo to head home and face his past..

It’s be a long journey for Beobrand and also for the author.

Matthew very kindly offered to answer a few questions about his work.

Enjoy.


 

So one of the big changes since I first read The Serpent Sword is you’ve been picked up by Aria Fiction (Well-deserved I might add).

One of the biggest OMG moments is seeing a hardback version of The Serpent Sword hit the shelves. It’s really great to have been along with you on your journey and I’d like to ask a couple of questions.

Is it a good feeling to have a publisher behind you and do you miss anything about being self-published? 

It is great to have a team of professionals behind me now. The feeling that things are happening behind the scenes is really amazing. This includes things such as the brokering of translation deals, or selling the audio rights to Audible, and things like press releases, marketing and publicity.

As to whether I miss anything about being self-published, I think the truthful answer is not much. I suppose I am a control freak, and I have very strong ideas about how I like to do things, so if I miss anything, it is having total control. Having said that, I think Aria and its parent publisher, Head of Zeus, are perhaps different from the norm in terms of publishers, as they allow me a lot of input into things like the covers and are keen to involve me in most of the decisions, which I am really grateful for. Aria is a very young, dynamic publisher and they can get things done very quickly. I think I would possibly go mad working with one of the much bigger publishers, that have very slow turnaround from handing in a manuscript to seeing it published. As it is, I am already sometimes frustrated by the loss of agility from when I was self-published. However, any perceived loss of control is more than outweighed by improvements to quality and visibility and distribution of my books.

Do you feel any pressure to churn out the books or do you thrive having targets to meet?

Yes and no! Having deadlines that are written into a contract certainly focuses the mind and I would go as far as to say that at the beginning of the year, when I knew I had a new manuscript to deliver in November and I had nothing written, I felt the pressure. Now that I am hundred thousand words into the first draft of book 5, Warrior of Woden, that pressure has lessened. However, once I’ve handed it in, and I look towards book 6 which is due for delivery to my editor by November 2018, I am sure the pressure will be on me again. So there is pressure, but I actually think having targets is a really good thing for any long project. Even when I was self-published, I set myself weekly and monthly goals. Without them there is a tendency to drift and not to progress towards a defined target.

Since being picked up have the books gone through more editing?

The Serpent Sword and The Cross and The Curse both went through a couple of extra rounds of editing. But as they had already been published and edited when I was self-published, the process was lightweight, with not many changes being made. For the subsequent books, Blood and Blade, Kin of Cain and Killer of Kings, the editorial process has been slightly more thorough than when I was self-published I would say, mainly due to the fact that the publishers pay different types of editors, such as copy editors and proofreaders, who are professionals. When I did these things myself, I enlisted family and friends and was lucky to have people with an eye for detail who I could turn to.

I’ve been very impressed with some of the comments from my copy editor, who manages to spot points of inconsistency in things like names and spelling between books. For example, he mentioned that I had used the name of a small character in book 3 that was also mentioned in book 1, but in each occurrence it was a different character being referred to but sharing the same name. It was a very minor point but by changing the name in one of the books it removes any confusion that might be there for the reader.

So far in your writing career what’s been your highlight?

It’s hard to name just one. Getting the first good reviews from total strangers, finishing each novel, signing with Aria. I think recently the two things that stand out are hearing the audiobooks for the first time (I was worried that I wasn’t going to like them, but in the end I loved what Barnaby Edwards has done with them), and holding in my hands the recently released hardback edition of The Serpent Sword. There had been two versions of print on demand paperbacks of the book already, but for some reason the hardback feels more real. Not just that, but the book is now available in libraries and in high street shops, which is a huge step forward.

Any low moments?

There are lots of moments when the writing process gets me down. It is by definition solitary, and it is easy to lose sight of the ending of the story and to get lost. Now that I have a few books under my belt I push through these moments, trusting that I’ll find a way. So far, I’ve managed to do just that.

It’s also very disheartening to receive truly negative reviews. I understand that not everyone is going to like my writing, and that’s fine, but from time to time somebody will leave a review online that seems to be trying to cause offence. I know all authors get this type of review, so I know it’s nothing personal, but it certainly feels personal when somebody is slagging off a book it’s taken a year to write!

It doesn’t affect me now as I am not actively sending out my manuscripts looking for a deal, but earlier on in my career, when I was looking for a publisher and, before that, an agent, it was quite demoralising to receive rejection after rejection. Writing certainly isn’t for the fainthearted.

Looking at the hardback the biggest improvements I see is the map which is much more prominent and detailed. Whose idea was it to make this addition?

I agree! The map is wonderful. I had always wanted a better map in the books, but when I self-published I was doing all of the work myself, including the maps, so I didn’t have the skills or the time to do anything more detailed than a simple map of Britain with the place names of the major locations in the books. When releasing the books again, Aria spruced up the maps I had created, making them look more artistic, but they hadn’t added any more detail.

When the hardback was being designed, I went to a Head of Zeus sales conference in London and was approached by Nicolas Cheetham, the deputy MD of the publisher. He produced a rolled up printout of a new map that was more detailed and drawn in the style of Tolkien’s maps from Lord of the Rings! Nic had read the Serpent Sword and thought a better map would really elevate the hardback release. Having seen the final product, I can only agree with him. The plan at the moment is to include similar style maps in all subsequent hardback releases of the Bernicia Chronicles.

Who picks the quotes for the backs of the books, you or your publisher?

That was the publisher. There were a few that didn’t get used on the hardback, but I don’t know how they decided which to use. I’m guessing other quotes might get used on the paperback edition.

The most important question..when’s the next hardback coming out?

The hardback of The Cross and The Curse is due for release in November 2017, coinciding with the mass market paperback release of The Serpent Sword. Just in time for Christmas!

So the next book for release is Killer of Kings. What should we expect?

In Killer of Kings we follow Beobrand south into East Anglia. There he quickly finds himself embroiled in a battle of epic proportions. On his travels he also returns to his old home village in Kent where he meets old friends and uncovers some dark secrets.

What’s next for you?

Right now I am writing book 5 of the Bernicia Chronicles, Warrior of Woden. After that, it will be on to book 6! When I finish that, we’ll have to see what’s next. I’ve got a few ideas about more books in the series, or starting a new series, but time will tell!

Thanks for the great questions. It’s always a real pleasure doing an interview on your blog.


Thank you Matthew for taking the time to answer my questions.

Killer of Kings is out now! You can read my review here or head straight to Amazon

Want a Hardback copy of The Serpent Sword? Check out Amazon for more details.

Killer of Kings Blog Tour!

Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for Killer of Kings by Matthew Harffy, book 4 in the Bernicia Chronicles series.

If you’ve not read me reviews for the rest of the series and the standalone novella click the images below to find out more!

1234

 

 

 

 

Want to know more about book 4? Well here’s the blurb followed by an extract to hook you in.


Synopsis :-

AD 636. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical thriller and the fourth instalment in The Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Beobrand has land, men and riches. He should be content. And yet he cannot find peace until his enemies are food for the ravens. But before Beobrand can embark on his bloodfeud, King Oswald orders him southward, to escort holy men bearing sacred relics.

When Penda of Mercia marches a warhost into the southern kingdoms, Beobrand and his men are thrown into the midst of the conflict. Beobrand soon finds himself fighting for his life and his honour.

In the chaos that grips the south, dark secrets are exposed, bringing into question much that Beobrand had believed true. Can he unearth the answers and exact the vengeance he craves? Or will the blood-price prove too high, even for a warrior of his battle-fame and skill?


Extract –

FRANKIA, ad 635

“Be careful there, you two!”

The cry came from old Halig. He worried like a maid.

Wuscfrea ignored him, leaping up to the next branch of the gnarled oak. The bark was damp and cold, but the sun was warm on his face as he looked for the next handhold. They had been enclosed in the hall for endless days of storms. Great gusts of wind had made the hall creak and moan as if it would collapse and when they had peered through the windows, the world had been hidden beneath the sheeting rain.

After so long inside it felt wonderful to be able to run free in the open air.

A crow cawed angrily at Wuscfrea from a perch high in the canopy of the trees. The boy laughed, echoing the bird’s call.

“Away with you,” Wuscfrea shouted at the creature. “You have wings, so use them. The sun is shining and the world is warm.” The crow gazed at him with its beady eyes, but did not leave its branch. Wuscfrea looked down. Fair-haired Yffi was some way below, but was grinning up at him.

“Wait for me,” Yffi shouted, his voice high and excited.

“Wait for me, uncle,” Wuscfrea corrected him, smiling. He knew how it angered Yffi to be reminded that Wuscfrea was the son of Edwin, the king, while he was only the son of the atheling, Osfrid. The son of the king’s son.

“I’ll get you,” yelled Yffi and renewed his exertions, reaching for a thick branch and pulling himself up.

Wuscfrea saw a perfect path between the next few branches that would take him to the uppermost limbs of the oak. Beyond that he was not sure the branches would hold his weight. He scrambled up, his seven-year-old muscles strong and his body lithe.

The crow croaked again and lazily flapped into the sky. It seemed to observe him with a cold fury at being disturbed, but Wuscfrea merely spat at the bird. Today was a day to enjoy the fresh air and the warmth of the sun, not to worry about silly birds. For a moment, he frowned. He hoped Yffi had not seen the crow. Crows were the birds of war. Whenever he saw them Yffi recalled the tales of the battle of Elmet, and how the corpse-strewn bog had been covered by great clouds of the birds. The boys had frightened themselves by imagining how the birds had eaten so much man-flesh that they could barely fly. It was a black thought. As black as the wings of the crows. To think of the death of their fathers brought them nothing but grief. Wuscfrea shook the thoughts away. He would not allow himself to be made sad on such a bright day.

Glancing down, he saw that Yffi was struggling to reach a branch. He was a year younger than Wuscfrea, and shorter.

“Come on, nephew,” Wuscfrea goaded him. “Are you too small to join me up here? The views are fit for a king.” Wuscfrea laughed at the frustrated roar that came from Yffi. Yet there was no malice in his words. Despite being uncle and nephew, the two boys were more like brothers, and the best of friends. Still, it was good to be the superior climber. Yffi, even though younger, was better at most things. The long storm-riven days had seen the younger boy beat Wuscfrea ceaselessly at tafl and Yffi had joked that someone with turnips for brains would only be good to rule over pigs. The words had stung and Wuscfrea had sulked for a while until Yffi had brought him some of Berit’s cheese as an offering of truce. Wuscfrea loved the salty tang of the cheese and the insult was quickly put aside.

Now, as he pulled his head and shoulders above the thick leaves of the oak, Wuscfrea wondered whether he would ever be king of anything. Certainly not of this land, rich and lush as it was. This was Uncle Dagobert’s kingdom. Far to the south of Bernicia and Deira, the kingdoms his father had forged into the single realm of Northumbria. Far away and over the sea. A safe distance from the new king.

Wuscfrea breathed in deeply of the cool, crisp air. The treetops on the rolling hills all around swayed in the gentle breeze. The leaves sparkled and glistened in the sunlight. High in the sky to the north, wisps of white clouds floated like half-remembered dreams.

One day, he would travel north with a great warband, with Yffi at his side. They would have ships built from the wood of this great forest and they would ride the Whale Road to Northumbria. They would avenge their fathers’ slaying and take back the kingdom that should have been theirs. Wuscfrea’s chest swelled at the thought.

“Vengeance is a potent brew,” Halig had said to him when they had spoken of the battle of Elmet one night over a year before. “Drink of it and let it ferment in your belly. And one day you will wreak your revenge on the usurper, Oswald,” the old warrior had touched the iron cross at his neck. Wuscfrea had thought of how Jesu told his followers to turn the other cheek when struck and wondered what the Christ would think of the lust for revenge that burnt and bubbled inside him. But then Wuscfrea was the son of a great king, descended from the old gods themselves so they said, so why should he care what one god thought?


Tempted yet?

Here’s my thoughts –

Beo’s back and this one is just as brutal as it’s predecessors. Beobrand is older but still as sharp and hot-headed as always.

Old enemies show their faces again but this time Beobrand might actually be able to rid himself  of them..that ever present shadow looming over him.

War is coming and while on a mission for Oswald Beo is sucked in and the bloodlust takes holds..it’s time for a blood feud to be settled.

We get a great mix of action and suspense as the focus switches from Brobrand to Reaghan back home struggling to figure out her place in Beobrand’s absence.  She’s resented by others because of her past but she’s powerless to change it.. While the action is non-stop this switch of focus really gave it a suspenseful build up.

Chapter 15 was my favourite chapter of the story, real white knuckle moment. Scary and exciting at the same time.

Harffy once again holds no favouritism with his characters..not all Beo’s gesithas will make it home… but neither will Beobrand’s enemies.

The character I most enjoyed was Wynhelm. I didn’t like him at first but as he developed throughout the tale I warmed to him like I felt Beo did to. Although he may rub Beo up the wrong way he’s loyal and is faultless in his logic.

The one difference I felt this book had over the rest in the series is that Beobrand gets some closure, so it does leave me wondering what could possibly happen next.

Harffy is one of my top authors who never disappoints and he has my thanks for having me on the blog tour. I would also like to thank Yasemin at Head of Zeus who organised everything. While I’m always grateful for the ARC of the book it was my pleasure to purchase the book on release.

Killer of Kings is a strong book that solidifies this series as being one of the best to be published in recent years.

My verdict – 5* all the way!

Keep an eye on my blog tomorrow for a Q&A with the author himself who kindly answered some of my burning questions.

If you’d like to know more head to Amazon or Goodreads.


Other stops on the tour –

History.. The Interesting Bits – 5th June

Love Books Group – 7th June 

Breakaway Reviewers – 8th June

Stephanie Churchill – 9th June

What Cathy Read Next – 10th June

Lives and Loves of a Book Nerd – 11th June

Parmenion Books – 12th June


 

Author info:

 

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.

Buy links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nNItf2

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

iBooks: http://apple.co/2ocWWEi

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2ocS2Y7

 

Follow Matthew

Website: www.matthewharffy.com

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Facebook: MatthewHarffyAuthor

 

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Facebook: @ariafiction

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

NetGalley: http://bit.ly/2lkKB0e

Sign up to the Aria newsletter: http://bit.ly/2jQxVtV

 

Insurrectio by Alison Morton – Review

Title – Insurrectio (Roma Nova #5)
Author – Alison Morton
Genre – Historical Thriller
Length – 276 Pages
Publication – April 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

‘The second fall of Rome?’

Aurelia Mitela, ex-Praetorian and imperial councillor in Roma Nova, scoffs at her intelligence chief when he throws a red file on her desk. But 1980s Roma Nova, the last province of the Roman Empire that has survived into the twentieth century, has problems – a ruler frightened of governing, a centuries-old bureaucracy creaking for reform and, worst of all, a rising nationalist movement with a charismatic leader.

Horrified when her daughter is brutally attacked in a demonstration turned riot, Aurelia tries to rally resistance to the growing fear and instability. But it may already be too late to save Roma Nova from meltdown and herself from entrapment and destruction by her lifelong enemy…

Review

Have you read Aurelia yet? The previous book in the series. If not click here to read my review – Aurelia (Roma Nova #4)

When we left Aurelia a lot had happened to her and I wondered how easy it would be for her to pick up the pieces.. well now we know. Some time has passed since the events with Caius Tellus and Aurelia has settled down to her role in Roma Nova well. She’s enjoying life albeit a stressful one, a daughter who is coming of age and a partner who yearns to be free of life’s constraints. She juggles this life and work balance well until she finds out Caius is due to be released!

Caius quickly worms his way into Aurelia’s life again by using his charm on the ruler of Roma Nova..Aurelia does everything in her power to rid herself of this man but he’s as slippery as they come.

There’s the added stress of the rising nationalist movement who believe men are being oppressed. I particularly loved this role reversal from what we see reported in the news today.

What I really enjoy about the authors work is that even though the story has a strong female lead and is very focused on how capable women are in general at no point do I feel it’s a dig at men at all, more a celebration of women.

This is a more brutal tale than the last, more death and at times the pain is very close to home for Aurelia. I wasn’t sure how she could continue..but push on she does.

There’s some great scenes in this book between Caius and Aurelia which leave others to wonder who’s side is Aurelia really on, but we know..she would never side with the likes of him..but she needs to earn the trust of individuals in this book which gave her some vulnerability which suited the tale perfectly and it was a joy to read.

The book definitely picks the pace up as events don’t just affect Aurelia now.. they threaten Roma Nova itself and some very powerful people have been removed..what can Aurelia do??

It’s a historical fiction/political thriller, lots of twists with brilliant development of the characters. Some of which we may not see again..or will we?? I hope so.

Morton ticks all the boxes for me, suspense, action, love, death, pain and anguish and one hell of a lead character who is very likeable.

Looking at the book in general one for the other things I love is it’s neither too short or too long for my tastes and the pacing of the tale means it develops quickly but with what feels a natural progression rather than forced.

Super tale to read. Have a look!

My thanks go to th author for the chance to read/review her work. Certainly an author I’ll keep an eye on.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of Being King by Trisha Hughes – Review

Title – Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of Being King: Book 1
Author – Trisha Hughes
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 333 Pages
Publication – Feb 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

In Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of Being King Trisha Hughes provides the reader with a pacey introduction to the many pitfalls faced by the ambitious as they climbed the dangerous ladders of royalty. It is easy to think that monarchs are all powerful, but throughout the Dark and Middle Ages it was surprisingly easy to unseat one and assume the crown yourself. But if it was easy to gain … it was just as easy to lose.From the dawn of the Vikings through to Elizabeth I, Trisha Hughes follows the violent struggles for power and the many brutal methods employed to wrest it and keep hold of it. Murder, deceit, treachery, lust and betrayal were just a few of the methods used to try and win the crown. Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of Being King spans fifteen hundred years and is a highly accessible and enjoyable ride through the dark side of early British monarchy.

Review

What I’ve learnt from this book is it wasn’t easy being King.. but at the same time it wasn’t always a good thing to be related to a King, your likely to be used as a pawn during a rebellion or murdered to eliminate your claim to the throne.

This was a most informative book and I felt the author did a great job of bringing each of these Kings and Queens to life while also giving the reader a great insight to such issues as disease and aliments suffered at the time.  I thought I knew a lot about Henry VIII but after reading this he’s even more shocking than I first thought.

I think what I loved about this book the most was how it’s presented. Rather than focusing on one person this book covers many and that made it different compared to anything else I’ve read.

Some of the rulers covered I’ve read about previously and I thought I might be bored reading things I already know but Trisha’s style of writing made it exciting again and I loved it from start to finish.

This is a historical fiction novel but only in the sense that the author has used dates/events to the best of her knowledge and research. There is of course periods in time where little evidence remains or when we do have sources available there’s generally another which says something different.

My advice to the hardcore historically accurate people, just enjoy the tale for what it is. This book brings together so many periods of time into bitesize chunks manageable by anyone and enables the reader to then delve further if they wish.

This is the kind of book that gives you the juicy interesting facts and ignites the flames of passion for history. I’m a big fan of history. It was probably my favourite subject at school and it’s certainly made me want to revisit a few historical characters.

If you like your history but don’t want to get into something a little too heavy then this is the prefect condensed but action packed and detailed version of history you’re after!

Enjoy!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.