Tag Archives: History

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 ÂŁ9.99… 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 Watson Letters Volume 1: Something Wicker This Way Comes by Colin Garrow – Review

Today I’m going to share my thoughts on The Watson Letters Volume 1: Something Wicker This Way Comes by Colin Garrow.

Here’s the blurb :-

Genre – Historical Mysteries

In a not quite Post-Victorian, steampunk parallel universe, Holmes and Watson continue their fight against crime.
Based on the infamous Blog of the same name, this indecorous take on the Holmes and Watson stories pitch the detecting duo into Whitechapel, the Western Isles and the Village of the Damned. Adult humour throughout.

THE WATSON LETTERS is book #1 in this Victorian comedy adventure series.

Review

I chanced upon Colin Garrow while on Twitter.. I’m nosy so had a look at the books he’s written..Sherlock Holmes? YES PLEASE!.

Sherlock has always been a favourite of mine, his humour dark as well as the subjects he explores.

This collection is written from Watson’s viewpoint as he chronicles the cases he and Sherlock examine. More often than not Holmes leaves Watson in the dark and this is where the adult humour really comes in. The relationship between the two was so much fun.. humorous..witty..

I really enjoyed the short sharp style diary entries which made it easy to read. It was exciting and riveting, a thoroughly enjoyable read!

It can’t be easy writing a story based on a well-known figure..how can you live up to expectations? For me Garrow got it spot on and I immediately felt at home with the tale and I loved it from the first page to the last!

Why did I choose to read this book you might wonder? Well I read a lot and sometimes I need a change of pace or an easy quick read. At under 150 pages this filled my needs for a quick read..but what I got was so much more than I could have expected and I’m so glad I took the time to enjoy this beauty of a book.

My rating – 5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

 

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

Vitellius' Feast - Blog Tour Poster.png

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

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

Here’s the blurb

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

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

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

Book 1 – Palatine

Book 2 – Galba’s Men

Book 3 Otho’s Regret

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hats off to the author, simply wondrous.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.