Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

The Rescue And Other Tales: includes The Escape and The Prisoner by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Rescue And Other Tales: includes The Escape and The Prisoner
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 80 Pages
Publication – Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Three short tales from the bestselling Forest Lord series, two of which are in the exclusive Kindle Singles Program, published in paperback for the first time.

THE ESCAPE

All he wanted was a quiet drink…

It’s spring, 1323 AD, and John Little, notorious outlaw, seeks to forget his troubles in a Barnsley alehouse. He didn’t count on the place being packed to the rafters with drunk, belligerent Scottish mercenaries though. This stand-alone Forest Lord tale sees one of England’s favourite sons in a battle for his very life that will hugely entertain all lovers of action and adventure.

“A short tale of Little John that packs a wallop as vicious as his quarterstaff!” – Parmenion Book Reviews

THE PRISONER

When two lawmen – fabled former outlaws themselves – are sent to a snowy English village to arrest a rapist it seems a straightforward task, but is all as it first appears?

Can Robin Hood and John Little complete the mission they’ve been given, or will their own innate sense of justice lead them down an unexpected path?

“A delightfully crafted, deceptively simple little glimpse of life in early 14th Century England.” – 5 Stars, Steve Denton of Speesh Reads

THE RESCUE

When a faithful friend goes missing from an English village it’s up to an unlikely hero to find out what’s happened in this action-packed tale.

“Once again Steven A. McKay delivers a story that, although short, hits like an arrow in the guts.” – Stuart S. Laing, author of Jezebel’s Chains

Review

I’m a big fan of Steven’s work and I’ve read each of the stories included in this bundle in kindle format previously. Why I’m I reviewing this bundle? Well I purchased 2 signed copies from the author, 1 for me and 1 for my dad (he loves the books too and Christmas is fast approaching). I can honestly say I’ve got all Steven’s books as paperback and always felt the collection wasn’t complete..This was a collection of tales I’ve been hoping would be released.

I’m going to try hard not to cover old ground..instead I’m going to focus on this version of the tales rather than the single editions and give an overall option.

What we get is a very neat and tidy looking book packed full of adventure. These are the kind of tales that really get me pumped up, short and full of action.

The tales themselves go side by side with the authors Forrest Lord series and are a perfect introduction to the author if you’ve never read his work and want to have a taster first.

One thing I particularly liked is the author included a suggested reading order, perfect for a long series if you are just starting out.

As much as I loved the main novels from McKay I think the shorts really show his talent. Providing such good stories in very few pages that really suck you in.

The Escape features our big friend Little John as the main character, it was a tale I’ve been bloody well waiting for but it was so worth it. 19 pages.. but that’s 19 pages of action and adventure. Little John has such a pleasing personality and the plot was perfect for the character.

The Prisoner again features Little John but this time Robin is here too 27 pages but you get a wallop of an ending!

The Rescue is the author’s way to let others have the limelight again as the focus shifts away from Robin once again, this time the girls play their part in an action packed, gory tale. I’m not going to spoil if for you but this tale shows the girls are just as tough as the boys.

The main thing a like about these tales is the author doesn’t lose any of the humour I’ve become used to from his longer works, if anything these books give a bit more dimension to the characters as the author focuses on individuals rather than Robin and his whole band of outlaws.

Short stories can easily go wrong, not enough plot, no real development and sometime you just find yourself thinking did this story really need written? Well that’s not this book. This collection hits the mark just as Robin’s arrow do!

Fantastic little collection that can be yours in time for Christmas, it’s the perfect quick read..let’s hope my dad agrees, he’s not tech savvy so I’m not worried this review will spoil the surprise on Christmas day ha.

Let’s hope we see some more shorts from the author..I want to see The Abbey of Death in paperback too 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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Distant Echoes: stories of people, places and times past – Review

Title – Distant Echoes: stories of people, places and times past by writers from the Historical Novel Society
Author – Dorita Avila, Anne Aylor, Anna Belfrage, Richard Buxton, Christopher M. Cevasco, Lorna Fergusson, Cj Fosdick, Mari Griffith, Patricia Hilton-Johnson, Lisa Kesteven, Vanessa Lafaye, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, Yvonne Lyon, Jeffrey Manton, Nicky Moxey, S. Pitt, Jasmina Svenne, L C Tyler.
Genre – Historical Fiction/Short /Stories
Length – 171 Pages
Publication – Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Gripping and thought-provoking stories of people, places and times past by writers from the Historical Novel Society.

A new anthology of nineteen award-winning and acclaimed historical fiction short stories.

Distant Echoes brings you vivid voices from the past. This haunting anthology explores love and death, family and war. From the chilling consequences of civil and world war, to the poignant fallout from more personal battles, these stories will stay with you long after the last page.

This selection of winning and shortlisted stories from recent Historical Novel Society writing awards includes The House of Wild Beasts by Anne Aylor (winner of the Historical Novel Society Short Story Award 2014), Salt by Lorna Fergusson (winner of the HNSLondon14 Short Story Award) and Fire on the Water by Vanessa Lafaye (winner of the HNSOxford16 Short Story Award).

Review

If I had to pick one word to describe this anthology it would be heart-rending..the tales were all so beautifully raw and emotive. At the end of the book I wasn’t sad as such.. it just knocked the wind from me and brought me back down to earth. My life has been so far relatively pain free..not everyone has been so lucky.

It’s a very personal collection of tales, In very few word you find yourself immersed like the events are playing out right in front of your very eyes. While it might be a quick read I found myself drifting in-between stories, rereading bits, contemplating events in my own life that seem so trivial now. It left a lasting impression.

It’s hard to pick a favourite from the collection but The Happy Island by Christopher M. Cevasco really hit me hard and I won’t forget it any time soon.

I challenge you to read this book and not be touched by it.

A major plus for this book is although this is a collective work by a number of authors it all fits together nicely. While the stories differ in setting the tone filters throughout the book to make it an easy flowing read.

It’s a touching collection of thought-provoking tales that I highly recommend.

I was lucky enough to be given an ARC copy of the book by Corazon Books to read but how could I read this and not buy my own copy..for me it was worth every penny.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

10 Questions with Alison Morton.

Today I’m very glad to bring to you a Q&A with Alison Morton, author of the Roma Nova series.

You can read my reviews of Aurelia and Insurrectio by clicking the images below to open a new window.

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One of the biggest things I’ve enjoyed about the series is that it turns the traditional and outdated idea of social structure on its head.

I hope you enjoy the questions, do let me know your thoughts 🙂

P.S look out for my review of Retalio book 6 in the series soon!


 

Q1 – For anyone who’s read my reviews of your works I’m sure they will know how much I’ve enjoyed reading them but for anyone new what would you say to convince them to give your books a try?

You don’t believe in starting with an easy one, do you, David?  😉

Seriously, I try to provide a cracking story and provoke a few questions along the way. Yes, my books are thrillers, but without dripping body parts and with a different take on what might have happened at the end of the Roman Empire.

I enjoy a good twist when I read, so I like to put a few of those in my own books, but of course, all good reads are not only about the story, but equally about characters. We love to gasp with horror, feel that frisson of fear, fall in love and celebrate along with our heroine (or hero).

Q2 – Strong female leads are something I’m starting to see more and more in books and I love it. Did you always set out to write a series that knocks on the head the idea of the male characters being in charge?

In brief, yes! I wanted a female character who led the action and pushed the story through. Too often the woman is the sidekick or the mother/daughter/sister/colleague who waves the hero goodbye as he sets off on his quest, whether in the 4th, 21st or 43rd century. Virginia Woolf wrote in 1929 about fictitious women, “But almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men.” So it’s nothing new!

A little secret: if I find myself slipping back into the action man/passive woman trap when writing, I reverse the dialogue to make sure my heroine is making the decisions!  But it doesn’t make Roma Novan men any less masculine or tough. (I explain it all here.)

Q3 – Your idea of alternative history and that the fall of Rome didn’t mean the end of Roman culture opens up lots of writing possibilities, where did the idea come from?

Several things! I’ve been a ‘Roman nut’ since I walked on my first mosaic at Ampurias in northeast Spain. In fact I’ve clambered over quite a lot of Roman Europe! The idea of a modern Roman heroine has been bubbling away in my head for years.  She would have to be modern as even in Late Antiquity no woman could have a public role, let alone a military one, and Rome was essentially a military society. Then I read Robert Harris’s Fatherland and learnt about alternative timelines and outcomes.Two more neurons connected in the brain!

No fingers were hovering above a keyboard yet, though. Then I saw a really bad film. The cinematography was gorgeous, it was set in modern Rome and it had the enormous bonus of starring Ewan McGregor. (Your women readers will understand the last one better than men, I feel.) However, the dialogue and continuity were rubbish. I knew I could do better. The trigger was pulled. Ninety days later I had a manuscript of 90,000 words. Rubbish, of course, but it went on after much slashing, rewriting and polishing to become INCEPTIO.  The legend of Roma Nova was born.

Q4 – The great thing about the setting of your tales is that you have some leeway with historical accuracy. Was the accuracy in describing the Roma Nova culture important to you?

Absolutely! I have an MA in History which has given me a grounding in being picky about accuracy and sources in a methodological way. I don’t think you can alternate history without knowing it first.

When you choose to diverge from the standard historical timeline, you have to know exactly what the world was like at that point. This is the last solid foothold you have on the historical record. For example, the Roma Nova storyline is that the group of senatorial families who trekked out of Italy at the end of the fourth century to become the first Roma Novans were pagans persecuted by Christian Emperor Theodosius II. This persecution really was taking place at the time (not something we’re taught about). Theodosius signed the final edict outlawing worship of the traditional Roman gods in AD 394; the punishment was death.

Once you have researched that divergence point in time ad nauseam, then you project forwards using historical logical until you reach thelater time when your story is set. It helps to have a general knowledge of ,and a feel for ,history here. If not, research!

In fact, everything has to be checked from technology and attitudes in the 1960s (AURELIA), how to mount a coup d’état, intelligence techniques, warfighting of the 1980s (INSURRECTIO, RETALIO), weaponry, signals, locations and transferable Roman practices for all the books. But I love research. Honestly!

Q5 – How long have you been a writer and what influenced you to first put pen to paper?

I’ve written most of my life, but mostly practical stuff: student theses, government papers, exercise reports, corporate documentation, PR copy, articles, an academic dissertation even. As a trained translator, my work turning foreign language text into English was precise with a touch of creativity in expression, plus I edited at least one million words in that time. Now, making up stories? Ever since childhood. Writing them down? That only started in 2009 with that bad film.

Q6 – Would you contemplate writing a book in any other genre?

Ha! The great Conn Iggulden who endorsed INSURRECTIO gave me a suggestion about that. But I’m not telling at the moment!

Q7 – How important is feedback from your readers?

Very important. I’m not so grand that I don’t read and take notice of my reviews. Of course, they are all subjective, but I’ve gleaned some excellent advice from readers and fans since INCEPTIO was published in 2013.

The Roma Nova Enthusiasts’ Group on Facebook is small but going well, as is my Facebook author page and I always love it when people react to my blogposts (alison-morton.com) or tweets (@alison_morton).

Q8 – Who have been your biggest influences within the writing community?

This is such a difficult question as it changes all the time! Like many Roman writers, my first Roman book was The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. I grew up on a very mixed diet of fiction, swinging from Georgette Heyer, Leslie Charteris’s The Saint to Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise and Dennis Wheatley’s adventure tales.

I adore Gore Vidal’s Julian, and anything by Margaret Attwood and Tom Clancy. These days, Lindsey Davis is a clear favourite along with Steven Saylor, Ruth Downie, William Boyd, J D Robb and of course, Robert Harris.

Q9 – What books are currently on your reading shelf?

Legionary: the Roman Soldier’s (Unofficial) Manual by Philip Matyszak. I’m enjoying it tremendously. I’m ex-military myself, so it’s raising a few smiles.

Q10 – Future plans? More books I hope J

More books, certainly!  I’ve just completed a novella featuring Carina and set between INCEPTIO and PERFIDITAS. Perhaps I’ll write more ‘inbetweeners’ or a collection of short stories. Then there’s the foundation story of Roma Nova waiting for me…

Thank you so much for letting me ‘invade’ your blog, David!

 

The Abbey of Death by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Abbey of Death
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 97 Pages
Publication – 26th Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

He wanted to find peace in prayer, but some men serve God best with a sword in their hand.

Will Scaflock wants only to live in peace. He had more than his share of adventure when he went by the name Will Scarlet and fought corrupt authority alongside Robin Hood. Now widowed and alone, and estranged from his adult daughter, he has taken holy orders and sought refuge in a remote Benedictine abbey.

But even there, trouble and violence follow him. The abbot, John de Wystow, is a good man but a weak leader, and easily undermined by a faction of dissident monks. When the rebels, led by Brother Robert de Flexburgh, run riot in the local community—stealing, drinking, fornicating—Scaflock’s old instincts return. Reluctantly taking charge of the abbey’s moral defence, he finds himself embroiled in a series of fierce clashes with de Flexburgh’s rowdy gang.

As the abbey’s tranquillity is shattered, its cloisters stained with blood, Scaflock is forced to reconsider the direction of his life. Has he really left Will Scarlet behind him—or has he simply been running from reality?

Review

I’m a big fan of Mckay and as much as I knew the end was neigh for the Forrest Lord series featuring Robin Hood I couldn’t help but feel a little down.. I loved the every bit of the series and it was just a shame It had come to an end….Luckily for me the author knows what his readers want and gives them another short that sits alongside the series.

This short is set years after the events of the main Forrest Lord series, Will Scarlet has moved on.. he’s older now and as the world moves on around him he struggles to find his place.

Will ends up turning to religion and is now Brother Scaflock.

We all know Will though don’t we? If he doesn’t find trouble..trouble will find him.

There’s a good plot involving some unruly monks and town’s people who are at their wits end but when things turn violent one night and the stakes are raised Will becomes gods tool. You really do feel like he was sent to the abbey for a purpose in life.

Will has his internal battles. He’s convinced he has no place in this world and he can’t seem to shake his old life.. but let’s be honest we don’t want him too!

What I really like about the book is it gave me a little closure..it’s what I needed to really say goodbye to the character. The end of Will’s tale just felt right and I was left with a big smile at the end.

What the author gives us is another cracking short that builds on his larger works. It’s got the edge to it that makes it dark and gritty at times but over everything else it’s just fun and riveting. As a young kid I grew up on stories of Robin Hood and these books keep the little boy inside me giddy with anticipation every time I read them.

I’m really looking forward to what the author comes up with next as he moves away from Robin Hood and his band of outlaws.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Blog Tour – The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas – Review

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas.

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Here’s the blurb –

Synopsis

It’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cosy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.

The author has kindly wrote a piece on how her work has progressed since the release of Fifteen Words so keep reading after my review for something I hope you’ll find as interesting as I do! It will also give you a little more insight to her latest work.

Review

If you haven’t already I highly recommend you read the authors previous novel Fifteen Words. The Watcher follows directly on and it would give you some background to the characters.

Fifteen Words was the story about Max being held prisoner, The Watcher is a story about how life and Max himself have changed since his release.

Max is a torn man, he’s struggling to come to terms with what happened to him when he was a prisoner and this really made me feel for the man, I don’t imagine being a POW is something you would ever come to terms with.

His relationship with his wife is stretched to breaking, the love they had for each other just isn’t what it once was, so much has changed.

For me this tale was really about Max’s daughter Netta, I loved her. She’s a young girl who’s grown up in an adult world and she hears and sees more than people know.

While the family are trying to come to terms with their own demons a murder occurs that has the police snooping around and the author keeps you on edge until the last moment to reveal all.

I really enjoyed how the ending was written when you see the events play out from different perspectives, this really kept the suspense going.

There’s some good twists in the tale, nicely written and followed on well from the previous novel. The characters  might be the same but this tale had that little bit extra with a whodunit thrown in. It was a change in direction from what I expected but it worked well and I was hooked.

Going back to Max, there is a lot of development for him during the story and emotions are very raw for him and I liked how this was explored. Not easy to read at times as he’s a beaten man with what looks like no way to build himself back up.. just when he needs someone the most he and Netta finally bond and it was a pleasure to read.

Overall I loved it, the unexpected events in the book really kept me on my toes and had me sucked in from page 1. We are left with a little cliff-hanger so I do hope we see more of Max and his family to see how things play out.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon


Monkika Jephcott Thomas

How my work has progressed since the release of Fifteen Words. –  Monika Jephcott Thomas.

Writing my debut novel, Fifteen Words, was a daunting task. No doubt it is for most writers. So when it came to writing the follow up, The Watcher, I was definitely less apprehensive. I was more confident with the whole mechanics of writing and publishing, but I was also on more solid ground with regards to my characters, because some of the protagonists I had got to know so well during the writing of Fifteen Words and the newest character was based on myself – so what could possibly go wrong!

Although the character of Netta is based on me, she is based on my five-year-old self, so the challenge here was to try and recall the feelings, preoccupations, and perspective of a child’s world when I had been resident in the adult one for over half a century. Fifteen Words is quite an adult book – in its events and style of prose. But during the initial drafts of The Watcher I realised that writing in a more ‘childish’ way could be just as powerful, if not more so.

The advantage of writing from a child’s perspective, if you succeed, is that it can illuminate the absurdities of the adult world and adult relationships in a way that no adult character can. The central motivation of a child, wherever they come from, is to play. Children play games. But of course, so do adults in relationships, whether they realise it not. Psychological games, power games, cynical games. Hence, the best person to illuminate how daft these games appear to be, is the unjaded player of innocent games: a child. As Netta thinks to herself after observing her family one morning:

Adults were like the British soldiers who still hung around on the streets: they spoke a different language and had no intention of learning hers.

As well as unwittingly observing the chess of adult interaction for us, Netta soon becomes a direct recipient of adult game-playing, ironically enough, when she stays at children’s home. There the abusive Herr Kahler fulfils his own perverse desires by callously manipulating Netta. You can perhaps see from this extract how it is written with almost fairy-tale repetition, which is intended to elevate Kahler’s callousness to ‘wicked witch’ proportions whilst keeping it in the realms of possibility, as we are reminded more than ever by this fairy-tale style how we are seeing these events through a child eyes. This reminder, I hope, makes the end of the extract even more sickening.

‘What did I tell you to do this morning?’ he growled.

‘Sweep the sand from the driveway,’ she answered.

‘And did you do that?’

‘Yes I did,’ she said.

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Yes I did, Herr Kahler,’ she added to make sure she wasn’t sounding rude. She didn’t want to sound rude. She was just telling the truth.

‘I beg your pardon?’ he repeated.

‘Yes I did!’ She raised her voice ever so slightly in case he was having difficulty hearing her.

‘I beg your pardon, but if you had done what I’d asked you to do, why was there sand all over the driveway when I went out at lunchtime?’

Silence, except for the sound of children enjoying themselves in the garden. Netta couldn’t think of anything to say.

‘I’ll tell you why.’ The red face was getting redder again. ‘Because you’re a lazy, spoilt little girl, that’s why.’

Netta had to tell him this wasn’t true. She had to explain that she had done the job. ‘No, I—’

‘I beg your pardon?’ he shouted, slamming his hands on the table and pushing himself up.

‘I—I—I… yes, I—I’m lazy, Herr Kahler.’

‘And?’ He sang the word like a motorcar speeding up.

‘And spoilt,’ she said, but the words tasted foul in her mouth because she was sure they weren’t true.

‘Yes you are.’ He came out from behind the desk and Netta flinched, but he passed by her and grabbed the broom from behind the door. ‘Now, you’ll go and do it again and you’ll make sure you do it properly otherwise you’ll get the slipper, do you hear?’

She took the broom. It felt like it was made of lead. She went outside. The driveway was covered in sand. Her whole body drooped. But she swept it all away again, more thoroughly than she did the first time with the thought of the slipper hanging over her.

Milla found her at dinner time slumped in her chair at the round table.

‘What happened?’ she whispered.

‘I’m too tired to even tell you,’ Netta sighed.

The two girls ate their fish and cabbage that evening in the kind of silence Frau Auttenberg expected every evening. When the cod liver oil came round Netta opened her mouth obediently, as she had done ever since that long night when she had first done battle with the battle-axe. And when she was allowed to leave the dining room she spat out the oil she’d been hiding into the potted plant on the windowsill in the stairwell, which was growing much faster and looking much healthier than Netta was for its daily dose of fish oil.

But before she could begin to get undressed, Paul came up to her and said, ‘Herr Kahler wants to see you.’

Netta almost cried right there in front of Paul, but somehow she held it in and got herself back downstairs to the office. And it all sounded very familiar.

‘What did I tell you to do this afternoon?’ he growled.

‘Sweep the sand from the driveway,’ she answered.

‘And did you do that?’

‘Yes I did.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Yes I did, Herr Kahler.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Yes I—!’

‘I. Beg. Your. Pardon?’

She knew what the answer was supposed to be, but she couldn’t believe she hadn’t done it properly this time.

She opened her mouth to speak.

‘Think very carefully before you answer, young lady,’ he snarled.

She couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. If she told the truth she would get the slipper. If she lied and said she had been lazy again, she would get the slipper. This was so unfair!

Herr Kahler got up. He was wearing his pyjamas already with an open red dressing gown on top and red leather slippers to match.

He closed the door quietly and took Netta by the wrist.

Without giving too much away about how this strand of the story ends, it takes another child to see a possible way for Netta out of Kahler’s twisted game. And it has to be a child, I think. The Watcher partly explores the effect of trauma on children in an age when children were supposed to be ‘seen and not heard’ by illuminating that fatal mistake all adults make, as if they have never been children themselves:

how children, seen and not heard, still saw things and heard things, especially the things expressed inches above their heads, which adults somehow believed were inaudible and forgettable to something as absorbent as a child.  


My thanks go to Monika and Authoright for the chance to read and review the book in exchange for my honest review.

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

Cometh the Hour by Annie Whitehead – Review

Title – Cometh the Hour – (Tales of the Iclingas Book 1)
Author – Annie Whitehead
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 249 Pages
Publication – September 2nd
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

In seventh-century England, a vicious attack sets in motion a war of attrition which will last for generations.
Four kings, connected by blood and marriage, vie for the mantle of overlord. Three affect to rule with divine assistance. The fourth, whose cousin and sister have been mistreated and whose friend has been slaughtered, watches, and waits.
He is a pagan, he is a Mercian, and his name is Penda.
By his side is a woman determined to escape her brutal past. She aids his struggle against his treacherous brother and their alliance founds a dynasty with the potential to end injustice and suppression, if only they can continue to stand together…
A story that spans generations, and travels from Sutton Hoo to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and back to the buried treasure of Staffordshire, this is the first volume of the tales of the Iclingas, the family who ruled Mercia, fighting to avenge their kin and to keep their people free.

Review

I’ve been a fan of Annie’s work for a while, Click to read my reviews of To Be A Queen and Alvar The King Maker if you’ve not seen them already!

Annie is great a weaving a historic tale that much I already know, so this one had to give me something more to top her last effort. I’m glad to say this indeed gave me the oomph I wanted.

What set this book apart from the rest was that it covers a wide period of time and you see events through many different perspectives. This gives you get much fuller picture of events as they flowed from one King to another, you can see how things fit together and overall get a much clearer picture.

This tale really shows that being King wasn’t always the position you’d want to be in, war can breakout at any time, you are constantly watching your back as even your friends might not be as loyal as they say they are and marriage is a political tool and to survive you need to be able to navigate all.

Penda was the biggest draw in the book for me, a lot focuses around him and rightly so, but what I really enjoyed was insights into the man I’ve read about before. I know we don’t know truly what went through people’s heads but we do have a lot of evidence to events that happened and I like how Annie manages to put fact and fiction together in a way that brings life to a historical individual.

What the author gets spot on for me is the flow of the story, effortlessly mixing detailed descriptions of places and people but at the same time never slowing down the pace of the tale.

Religion plays its part in this book and I felt the author depicted this period of transition well, when people changed from worshipping one god to another and highlighted how many would not change their beliefs along with some who would gladly worship anyone as long as it meant they would come out on top.

I’m not going to give away the plot of the tale but it really shows the political nature at the time. Sons are groomed to be King’s while daughters are simply seen as bargaining chips to create power links to other kingdoms.

To sum up, a wonderfully detailed account of the power struggles during the 7th century. There’s a lot of players involved so don’t rush it, take it slow and enjoy. Annie Whitehead has manged to again give me another action packed, engrossing historical read that I highly recommend to all.

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