Tag Archives: Steven A. McKay

RELEASE DAY!!!! The Northern Throne (Warrior Druid of Britain Book 3) by Steven A. McKay – Review

Today I’m reviewing The Northern Throne by Steven A. McKay, Book 3 in the Warrior Druid of Britain series! It’s just out today!!!

First things first.. that cover! I’m bloody well quoted on it!!! Now is that going to make me take it easy on McKay? No no no.. If my name is added to something it bloody better be a 5* read!

Here’s the blurb

Northern Britain, AD431, Spring.
Bellicus the Druid and his friend Duro, a former Roman centurion, have already suffered a great deal in recent years but, for them, things are about to get even worse.
Britain is changing. The Romans have gone and warriors from many different places seek to fill the void the legions left behind. In the south, the Saxons’ expansion seems unstoppable despite the efforts of the warlord Arthur, while north of Hadrian’s Wall various kings and chieftains are always looking to extend their borders.
In Dun Breatann, Bellicus believes the disparate northern tribes must put aside their differences, become allies, and face the Saxon threat together, under one High King. Or High Queen…
Small-minded men don’t always look at the bigger picture though, and, when Bellicus and Duro seek to form a pact with an old enemy, events take a shocking and terrible turn that will leave the companions changed forever.
This third volume in the Warrior Druid of Britain Chronicles is packed with adventure, battles, triumph, and tears, and at the end of it a new course will be set for Bellicus.
But at what cost?

Review

Times are changing for Bellicus.. the land is in turmoil, the Druid order’s reach is being curtailed by the growing Christian faith and there is a real threat being posed by the Saxon’s. The only way to save Alt Clota along with his ways is if everyone bands together to face the Saxon threat..but that’s easier said than done.

No one trusts each other and there is more than one person who feels they should be High King.. Or Queen.

Bellicus sets out to unite the people and face the threat head on and that means joining the warlord Arthur.. he is in great need of men and Bellicus and Duro are just the ones to help!

Clearly things aren’t going to just go their way..that’s the way of war.. and it wouldn’t be much of a story if it did..we see our heroes face probably their biggest challenge to date. I was torn as I read, I felt a wedge growing and was dreading either one not making it out alive.. or simply parting ways.

I’m going to skip Bellicus a little.. not that he isn’t a major part of book because he clearly is.. but Duro.. my god Duro.. what a guy.. this is his book for me. He has got to go through some of the worst trials in his life and that’s saying something after losing his wife.

Bellicus has his own challenges to face, mainly being human.. I think the power given to a Druid made Bellicus a little blind at times and he’s certainly knocked down a peg or two as he is shown his own weaknesses.

I’m a big fan of flow.. a book has to progress at the right speed but McKay did something I didn’t see coming. He’s used recent events of the global pandemic/lockdown to feed his plot..lets just say Duro has some hard times ahead.. our lockdown is nothing compared to his ordeal. Was I bored? Did I skim read.. NO! McKay managed to keep the story flowing even when I didn’t see/feel it.. I was just honestly hooked in.

I really don’t want to spoil the plot at all but I was very pleased to see Cai make his “mark”.. who doesn’t love a faithful hound?? I’m also already in love with Aife, A Pict who I’m sure we will be seeing more of… She is clearly one to watch.

As a fan of the author when he started this series I was torn a bit.. I loved the comfort of his Forest Lord series and Robin Hood but that only had so much life in it… The Druid series has given the author the time to showcase his skills more..it feels like anything is possible.

For the people of Alt Clota war is coming.. it’s going to be brutal for sure and the build-up has been immense and gripping. For the actions junkies there is definitely some heart stopping moments. (you know, those moments you stop reading, sit up and focus, take a breath before continuing) and a few good twists thrown in there.

One thing I really liked about the book was the detail.. the numbers given to the warbands. You imagine a fight scene with hundreds..thousands.. sometimes all it takes is 20!

Overall I think this book packed a punch, the author manged to give me exactly what I needed but at the same time through some curve balls to give me a little scare… remember no one lives forever.

The plot was superb and leaves me in little doubt more will follow..

I eagerly wait the next instalment!

5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

 

Athour Spotlight – Steven. A. McKay plus review!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a little author spotlight..lets rectify that now as I welcome author Steven A. McKay to my blog. Keep reading for my lastest review as well!!

Steven is author of the brilliant Forest Lord series and now The Warrior Druid of Britain series. Not to forget if you are a fan of Audible you should check out his Roman slave tale Lucia!

Let’s get on with the Q&A.. Welcome!!

So I’ve a few questions I hope you won’t mind answering.

After the success of the Forest Lord series it must have been quite daunting starting a fresh new series. Did you worry at all and how has the new series been received?

Yes, it was a bit of a wrench to leave behind my Forest Lord series. Not just because I had really grown to know and love the characters, but because it had done so well for me in terms of sales and reviews. There’s always a chance any new series won’t garner as much interest so, yeah, I was a bit apprehensive of starting a new book with all new characters. But then I began writing The Druid and I realised I was enjoying it immensely – that’s always a good sign! If a book is fun to write, and the characters really entertain you as the author, well, readers might enjoy it too.

I’d say most of my readers like the druid books even more than they did the Forest Lord ones, although some, like you I believe, prefer the latter. As a writer you always want to improve, and create better stories, but it’s also nice to know your previous work has also really touched someone and given them a few hours of entertainment.

N.b – I love them both for very different reasons but without the Firest Lord series we may never have seen you develop and produce The Druid… 5* books every last one!

 

For those who don’t know about your latest series what would you say to entice them to pick up a copy?

I think it’s set in a period of history that isn’t really that well covered in fiction – post-Roman Britain. It was called the “dark ages” for a long time, but people are now beginning to realise that civilisation didn’t just completely collapse when the Romans left this island. Things changed, of course, and quite drastically, but everyone didn’t become a mad savage overnight – they still had culture and religion and so on and it’s interesting to explore all that. Then of course you add in my main characters like the giant warrior druid Bellicus, little princess Catia, the former centurion Duro, dangerous Saxons Horsa and Hengist, and all the various kings of the time (even Arthur makes a small appearance in the first book) and, well, they’re the perfect guides to Britain in the fifth century.

Apart from all that, the books are free on Kindle Unlimited so if you have a membership why not check them out? They are a great way to escape all the lockdown bleakness just now.

 

Now I can’t ignore the obvious going on around us. The dreaded COVID19. How are things for you? Many may think this is an ideal time for writing but I know you’ve an important day job.

Important day job? It depends on what you mean by important. It pays my mortgage, but even in these times when so-called “unskilled” workers are finally gaining recognition, I don’t know if a part-time gas and electric meter reader would be classed as that important, ha! But my company told us we weren’t to go out working about 5 weeks ago now, so me and the family have been staying home. Yeah, there’s lots of free time to write, but when there’s so much fear and uncertainty going around, it’s extremely hard to get into the right frame of mind to sit down and work on a novel.

Last week, I decided to write a new Warrior Druid of Britain short story to give away to my email list subscribers and, honestly, that was great. There was no real pressure, I just had to write something fun and entertaining with the specific idea of entertaining myself and my subscribers and the result was “Over The Wall”. My readers enjoyed it and I thought it was good too, so I’ve expanded and polished it and since it was set at Beltane, I’ve decided to make it available on Kindle this May 1st  – Beltane! Complete with a professional new cover.

It was really enjoyable to write and kinda focused my mind so I’ve been able to get back onto the novel writing again this week and book 3 in the druid series is coming along nicely.

N.b – All jobs are important if they pay the bills! Ha and look out for my review of Over The Wall… Keep scrolling!!!

over the wall medium

Giving the current situation I’ve seen authors have release dates pushed back by their publishers. What’s your take? Me personally I’ve been looking for more books than ever and really do see these luxuries a way to keep us indoors safe.. Ebooks even more so.

Yeah, I agree, it seems a bit strange NOT to publish a new book if it’s all ready to go. Personally, I’ve had a Kindle Unlimited subscription for a long time but I’ve only started to really use it in the last month. I’ve read lots of books on things like ghosts and the unexplained, purely to take my mind off all the scary stuff in real life just now. So, when everyone is stuck at home, looking to be entertained, why not give them new books to read? It seems like publishers are shooting themselves in the foot in that regard, but then hardly any of my sales come from actual print books. About 95% of my readers do it via Kindle so I’m thinking of it in that sense – maybe the big publishers would lose out on a lot of business if they couldn’t have a launch party for a hardback? I don’t know. I suppose, if there’s less books coming out, there’s more chance people will find my back catalog so…

Whats your plans for the next book.. Will we see Bellicus return? he’s got plenty fight left in him?

He’s still in his twenties, so I think he has many years left to kick ass. Duro is older, although, sadly, even though he’s the veteran centurion, he’s a few years younger than me! But yes, Bellicus and Duro are both back in the next book and they’re facing a very tough time. I don’t want to give away too much, but the plot so far has been influenced by what’s happening in the real world just now so it’s pretty bleak in places. But, as anyone who’s read my previous books will know, I always like my characters to live in hopes of prevailing, no matter how dark their circumstances. So, I’m about a third finished and I don’t know how it will end, but I’m sure the gods won’t abandon our heroes!

N.B – I’ve always felt Bellius as a little older… I guess it’s the respect he commands and his presence…certainly he’s far wiser than I was in my twenties! ha

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Any chance of any more Robin Hood themed short tales? You have quite a talent for the novella I must say?

Thank you! Yes, I like writing the shorter things as there’s not so much to keep track of, it can all be a bit more linear. My last one, Faces of Darkness was really well received – I think it has the highest average rating of any of my books on Amazon UK, so, although novellas and novelettes never sell as well as novels, it’s great to know that readers appreciate them. It spurs me on to create more in a similar vein so yes, there will be more Forest Lord novellas. I already have a basic outline for another Friar Tuck/Little John mystery, again, like Faces of Darkness based on a real criminal case which I heard about on a podcast. I would expect it to be published in the autumn or winter, all being well with the next druid novel coming out before it in the summer.

If you’re anything like me I’m sure you’ve not had much downtime since lockdown but what have you been doing to keep yourself and the family busy? I know you like your guitars? I’ve never learned to play… I really should.

Oh yes, my guitars have been a really good way for me to escape reality. There’s been a few times, particularly at the start of the lockdown, when I started to feel quite stressed and fearful, and I’d pick up one of my guitars and just start playing along to Metallica or some old death metal song and I’d completely lose myself in the music. Not for very long, but enough to let me relax and really chill out. I’d recommend you start learning an instrument given all this free time we have!
Other than that, my family keep me busy – there’s always another meal to cook, or clothes to be washed, or stories to be read, and there’s the home-schooling thing too just now. I’ve actually never been bored at all, which is pretty incredible. Any time I do feel like quiet time, like I say I’ve been reading stuff on Kindle or browsing the creepy  r/unresolvedmsyteries pages on Reddit.

This post is of course a way for me to highlight your awesome books but if you had to pick someone who you think is on fire at the moment in the book world who would it be?

Well, I don’t read much fiction anymore since I have to spend most of my reading time on research for my own books – even in lockdown I’ve been mostly reading non-fiction. I have been really impressed, and pleased, with Matthew Harffy’s rise though. His newest book, Wolf of Wessex, was a cracking read which I was happy to endorse and now he’s even got a TV series in the works which is probably every writer’s dream. I won’t deny I’m jealous of that success, but not in a bad way – he’s a good guy and supports other authors and he likes Iron Maiden so good luck to him!

 

Lastly, If Bellicus was here today.. would he have any words of wisdom?

I tend to think of Bellicus and Friar Tuck in a similar way, since they’re both hard, fighting men who represent a higher power. I think Tuck’s wise words to Robin in my second novel, The Wolf and the Raven are particularly appropriate for all of us in these frightening times. I wrote that book when I was going through a very tough period in my own life since our second child had just been stillborn, and this particular line of Tuck’s was as much for me as it was for Robin, who’d been beaten, imprisoned and was very close to breaking point:

His eyes welled up, but he angrily wiped them, not giving in to the self-pity that threatened to overwhelm him and he remembered Tuck’s words from not so long ago: “Never give up hope!”

He clenched his fists and forced a smile into the oppressive darkness. It would take more than this to break Robin Hood.

Never give up hope everyone, and stay safe.

If you’d like to sign up for my email list and receive a FREE Forest Lord short story, “The Rescue”, along with regular chances to win signed books, posters, mugs and Audible downloads click here: http://eepurl.com/bqatb5


 

I’d like to give a big thank you to Steven for appearing on my blog today and what better way can I do that then with a review for his lastest book Over The Wall..

Here’s the blurb

Beltane, AD425
Northern Britain

Midnight approaches and in Dun Breatann’s great hall the Beltane feasting continues, with stories and songs and as much meat and ale as anyone could wish for.
On the western side of the towering fortress however, ten small figures make their way up the shadowy rock. Armed to the teeth, and hand-picked for their particular, deadly skills, these warriors have travelled far across the sea from Dalriada and are utterly focused on their mission, despite the fact most – perhaps all – of them will die this night.
High above, guards patrol the fortress walls as usual, but they expect yet another quiet shift for, as everyone knows, Dun Breatann is impregnable.
Isn’t it?

Review

Over The Wall is a 31 page novella, part of the author’s Warrior Druid series. Written during the lockdown of 2020.

As night falls and drink is flowing King Coroticus’s enemies approach..

Will these dark assassins manage to carry out their plan? it’s almost certain death for them.

What they don’t know is that Bellicus and his trusty hound Eolas are in attendance in the great hall.

31 pages isn’t a lot to fit a story in to but McKay manged it perfectly leaving me eager for the next book in the series to come out.

The plot was fun and the story linking with the Trojan horse fit perfectly.

McKay always manages to give life to characters, even in such a short space of time and I loved the interactions with Gavo, the captain of the guard.. I love that guy.

A fun novella which any fan will be excited to read.. and if you are anything like me it will have you rereading the series.. I need another Bellicus fix and fast.

5* Novella!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

Faces of Darkness by Steven A. McKay

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Faces of Darkness by Steven A. McKay.

Here’s the blurb

When a young noblewoman is brutally assaulted in her own manor house, two former outlaws decide they must solve the mystery, before things go too far…

CROFTUN, NORTHERN ENGLAND
WINTER, AD 1328

Lady Isabella de Courcy is found alone in a room bolted from the inside, unconscious, and with a dagger forced through her hand, but this is just the latest in a line of similar, terrifying incidents. For months now, she’s been stalked by some shadowy tormentor yet, bafflingly, the attacker has never been clearly seen by anyone, even Lady Isabella, and he seems to leave no trace of his movements.
Can the bailiff, John Little, along with the legendary friar, Robert Stafford, uncover the truth and, more importantly, will they be able to save the troubled victim before she ends up dead?

This new standalone novella from the author of The Druid sees the return of two much-loved characters from the Forest Lord series and is based on a shocking real-life case which remains, to this day, unsolved.Genre – Historical Fiction.

Review

Steven A. McKay has delivered a gem of a story! I really thought McKay had shelved for good Robin Hood and his gang for new pastures.. turns out there’s still some stories left to be told and I couldn’t be happier.

We are back with Friar Tuck and Little John who are about to stumble upon a mystery.. and let’s be fair we all know Tuck.. he’s not one to walk away without getting to the bottom of things.

Little John in his role as bailiff is out to collect a fine and Tuck comes along for the journey. They soon learn of the plight of Lady Isabella, who is being terrorised and things seem to be escalating! There’s one issue though.. there’s no witnesses and no evidence that the individual exists..but there must be someone right?

John and Tuck do due diligence and secure the area.. with no issues found they go on their way… only to be called back as another frightful event has occurred.

It soon becomes clear that not everyone believes the stories they are being told by Lady Isabella.. things don’t add up.

Tuck is a good judge of character and soon seems to be getting somewhere.. you can see the cogs start to turn once the oil gets the gears going and it leads to a fast paced and gripping ending that packs a punch.

What I really enjoyed about this book..  it’s a perfect little mystery but with the authors fun and gritty edge.. and Tuck and John were the perfect duo. You’d be forgiven for raising an eyebrow.. you either want modern-day mysteries or straight up historical fiction right?..can you mix them? McKay certainly knows the recipe!

I’m going to put it out there now… I love these little novellas.. Can we have Will Scaflock back in the next please :).

Faces of Darkness offers an intriguing plot based around a real life event, balanced with wit from both Tuck and John.. add in the perfect pace and you’ve got a winner!

McKay knows what his readers want.. everything he offers us is pure brilliance and while we may not see the gang around that much it was so good to be back!

5/5 Stars.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

David’s Book Blurg’s Top Choices for 2019

Ok.. so there’s still time for some last minute gifts so I want to share my top picks! These are just some of the books I’ve read/listened to this year! Click the pictures to head to Amazon to have a look in detail!

  1. Are you an audiobook fan? If so you’ve got to get Lucia by Steven A McKay. It’s a gut wrenching slaves tale set in Roman times.51cHfw39UnL._SX342_
  2. Fancy a delicious new mystery novel? then look no further than No Stone Unturned by Pam Lecky. (Currently at the bargain price of £0.99 on Kindle!)46203408._SY475_
  3. Do you like a police procedural kind of novel and like flawed leads? Well The Silent Dead by Keith Nixon is the book for you.47969376._SY475_
  4. Enjoy a bit of Science Fiction without the word count? Take a look at The Bastard Cadre by Lee Carlon!415GhUysFtL
  5. Like a bit of a historical read.. ever heard of the Hittites? look no further than Empires of Bronze by Gordon Doherty.51Odsq2iUkL
  6. Not quite sure what you are after? Fancy more than one book? Well why not get a boxset of goodness? Check out forged in Fire, a set which includes books by authors Prue Batten, Simon Turney and Gordon Doherty 5168XFNxseL

 

There’s so many good books out there.. these are just a few of the hundreds i’d happily recommend so do check out my reviews and see if anything takes your fancy.

Do get in touch and let me know what book gifts you give and receive this year 🙂

Lucia by Steven A. McKay – Audiobook Review!

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Lucia by Steven A. McKay on available on Audible!

Here’s the blurb

At eight years old, Lucia is torn from the life she knew. Her village burned to the ground and parents murdered by Romans, she is kidnapped, sold and shipped abroad to the Villa Tempestatis in Britannia to serve the young Roman army officer Castus.

Faced with a bleak future of decades of servitude to her master, as well as sadistic brutality at the hands of his slave and manageress, Paltucca, she finds herself fixated by one thought alone. Fuelled by hatred and a belief that the gods saved her for a reason, she vows to never taste freedom until she gets her revenge.

As she and her fellow slaves are exploited mercilessly by the master and his ‘noble’ friends – and brutally punished for even the smallest misdemeanours – Lucia’s longing for vengeance only grows stronger. Despite warnings from her loyal friend, Sennianus, that her hatred won’t bring her happiness, she continues to plot the downfall of Castus and Paltucca.

When Paltucca performs an unforgivable act, cruelly destroying a chance of happiness for Lucia, the manageress seals her own fate and unwittingly becomes her own undoing. But what will become of Castus? Risen within the ranks and trusted by the master, Lucia must decide whether or not to exploit her power and risk everything to fulfil her lifelong desire.

Genre – Historical Fiction.

Review

Lucia is a slaves tale told from the very beginning when she is brutally taken from her family and those she loved left for dead.

Quickly Lucia learns her new place in life but struggles with the horrible Paltucca.. an evil manageress who never seems to be happy with the work no matter the standard.

Her master Castus is an enigma or sorts at first.. as a Roman officer he’s not always at home but when he is the wine and food flows.. some of his guests are less than delightful and their urges quite abhorrent. Castus shows himself to be a good master at times ensuring the youngest slaves aren’t unduly harmed but as time goes on he himself changes…his own deprived tastes come to the fore and Lucia feels the brunt of his affections for a time.

While Lucia learns to deal with her masters demands she proves to be a good slave.. she’s part of a family. Of course she hates those who oppress her and she swears one day to get vengeance on all those who have wronged her.

As time goes on some important events happen to Lucia and her fellow slaves..the most important is her saving the estate from thieves. It’s a catalyst which sees Lucia’s fortunes change.

To say Lucia is a tough read is an understatement… don’t get me wrong.. this tale is gripping and it’s tough to put down.. what I mean is it’s harrowing… real heart wrenching.. to see someone downtrodden..treated like they don’t matter.. it’s hard to imagine a time when slaves were common place. The hardships these people suffer arent easy to forget.

Along the way we see friendships forged..and tested. Sennianus wants nothing more than to live an easy life with Lucia but she’s broken…Senni stands by her but struggles at times to accept the situation.

Regalis is the biggest character for me and plays a pivotal part.. he’s a slave but also has the job of delivering punishments on behalf of Paltucca…the thing is everyone likes the man.. he’s as honest as they come and is just doing as commanded by his master.. there’s no malice in his actions.

Sosthenes, while not very well liked he knows his place. There’s a moment your feelings for him change as you see the man in a different light.

Dentatus, a horrible creature of a man who will do anything if it sees him in the good books of the manageress.

The point I hope I’ve made clear is that this story is not just of Lucia.. yes the main focus is on her life but there’s so much more going on.. each member of the cast play their part and stay with you… they each have their own motivations and you can’t help but feel for them all. Some find it easier to adapt to their new lives than others but under everything they are humans..and their lives are worth more..

Lucia is an Audible book only and the narrator Imogen Church did superbly at making me commit to Lucia with everything I had. I like audio but can get distracted easily..Imogen Church commands your attention.. her tone perfect for each character.. emphasis just when you’d expect.

A compelling 5* story from McKay, an author who continues to amaze me with his writing.

To find out more head to Audible or Goodreads!

Song of the Centurion by Steven A. McKay – Review

Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Song of the Centurion by Steven A. McKay.

Here’s the blurb

It is AD 430. Against all odds Princess Catia has been rescued from her brutal Saxon captors and Bellicus is taking her home at last.

As the giant warrior-druid knows, however, the gods rarely make things easy and, even if he can escort the girl back to the North safely, their troubles will be far from over…
In a land beset by the rivalries of petty warlords, Dun Breatann has stood solid and secure for untold generations. Trouble brews though as King Coroticus has cracked under the pressure and, as well as starting a war with the neighbouring kings, he has become jealous, suspicious, and often blind drunk. When the king’s paranoia finally boils over during a winter feast, Bel finds himself with two choices – accept exile, or complete another seemingly impossible undertaking.
So much for the returning hero…

Accompanied by his massive war-dog, Cai, and the ever-loyal former centurion, Duro – who has his own painful issues to contend with – Bellicus must somehow survive a journey east into enemy-held lands. There, he will need to use his gods-given talents to the full if they are to survive the winter frosts and carry out the mad king’s orders without being captured or killed by the men of Dalriada.

Folklore, superstition, the healing power of song, and even a wondrous white stag will all play a part in the companions’ continuing adventures, but, no matter the outcome of their mission, it will take a miracle to untangle the mess they’ve left behind in Alt Clota. Armies are gathering and, when spring returns, the people of Dun Breatann will be under siege once again.

Will their legendary warrior-druid be there to defend them, or will the new ways sweep away the old once and for all?

Review

When we last saw Bellicus he had just rescued Princess Catia from the Saxons. As he makes his way back to the King and Queen we see that the relationships between Catia, Bellicus and Duro has grown strong and they’re all looking forward to a nice warm welcome on their return…

You’d think the King would be happy to see the return of the Princess but in Bellicus’s absence the King has changed.. he’s not the man he was and his quick temper is slowly putting his people under  strain.. they will only take so much.. can Bellicus help set the King back on the right path?

Well he tries.. he really does but in the end the King sends Bellicus away on a mission.. a mission that seems doomed to fail.

Bellicus will honour the King’s wishes but he knows the Saxon’s are the real threat so he needs to get this task done.. and fast.

Things never go to plan of course and Bellicus must use all his cunning to make it out in one piece.

When all is done it’s time to return home.. but how will the King receive him this time?

McKay has outdone himself with this one. Being a fan of the author my biggest fear was him moving away from a series I loved to something new.. would It live up to expectations.. well it smashed the ball out of the park to be honest.

While the first book in the series The Druid was very plot driven to get the readers sucked in to a new series, book two is character driven development which is what I wanted to see.. this is the kind of action I need.. the kind of connections with the characters I want.

The word to describe this book is “Development” in more than one way. Not only does the tale develop amazingly I feel it shows real author development as McKay cements is credentials as a top-notch author.. he’s no one trick pony. He himself says that at one point progress on this book was side-lined for a while as he was involved with other projects but you’d never think that from reading the book.. it flows perfectly, the direction is never forced and that ending was pure brilliance.. as a storyteller McKay is up there with the best of them..the whole white stag storyline was not only riveting but joyous to read.

Bellicus along with his loyal war dog Cai and Duro the centurion are the perfect team.. they complement each other superbly and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Duro for me steals the show as I felt he had a larger part to play in this tale compared to the first book in the series..(for obvious reasons if you’ve read the book)..  he was often the one who put a smile on my face with his humour but I also felt for him.. there’s some deep wounds that will take time to heal and this side of him really makes you take a shine to him.

Overall it’s a cracking read.. but it’s more than that.. it’s the perfect 2nd book in a series.. it shows growth from the first book but leaves you in no doubt this Is a series you need to keep following.

Everyone should have a copy of this on their bookshelf.

My rating – 5/5 Stars

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

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

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

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

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

McKay continue..

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

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

Here we go..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Druid by Steven A. Mckay (@SA_McKay)- Review

Today i’m reviewing The Druid by author Steven A. Mckay. Here’s the blurb

Genre : Fantasy/Historical
Pages : 290

Northern Britain, AD430

A land in turmoil. A village ablaze. A king’s daughter abducted.

In the aftermath of a surprise attack Dun Buic lies in smoking ruins and many innocent villagers are dead. As the survivors try to make sense of the night’s events the giant warrior-druid, Bellicus, is tasked with hunting down the raiders and thwarting their dark purpose.

With years of training in the old ways, two war-dogs at his side, and unsurpassed skill with a longsword, Bellicus’s quest will take him on a perilous journey through lands still struggling to cope with the departure of the Roman legions.

Meanwhile, amongst her brutal captors the little princess Catia finds an unlikely ally, but even he may not be able to avert the terrible fate King Hengist has in store for her.

This, the first volume in a stunning new series from the bestselling author of Wolf’s Head, explores the rich folklore and culture of post-Roman Britain, where blood-sacrifice, superstition and warfare were as much a part of everyday life as love, laughter and song.

As Saxon invaders and the new Christian religion seek to mould the country for their own ends one man will change the course of Britain’s history forever. . .

. . . THE DRUID.

Review

You should know who Steven A. McKay is..author of the Forest Lord series based around one of the best historical figures ever in my mind Robin Hood..after what seemed like forever the end of the series came hard like a punch to the gut.. I needed more.. but could the author ever live up to the expectations set..well lets see.

The Druid is a brand new tale for the author, this tale follows Bellicus. Religion is changing but Druids still hold some power..and as such when the King’s daughter is taken he sets out to rescue her. What he doesn’t know is that every corner he will be tested to his limits.

There’s twists and turns as Bellicus deals with the changes in the world around him. He’s been closed off abit in his own little bubble so he taken aback when people don’t give him the respect his station once demanded.. it’s doesn’t help that he’s a giant of a man..only his weapon makes him stand out as the Druid and as soon as people see it you seem them quickly decide to help the man out..for the most part.

He’s hot on the trail from the start but there’s numerous challenges ahead but Bellicus can handle everything..well at least that’s what he thinks..he either wins or will go down fighting.

The plot was good but I just know the author has more to give. It just proves McKay has a natural talent for storytelling, that he’s able to change the focus of his tales after such a well-developed series like The Forest Lord series. He still manages to give us a tale where there’s a clear ending but leaves so much open left to develop if he wishes. An ending like that just has me desperate for more.

Overall I thought it was well written, It flowed well and it seemed effortless..at no point did it feel like the story lost its way or that things didn’t make sense..it just worked.

Being such a fast paced action tale where the heat is on from the start it’s a wonder the author managed to develop the characters at all but he managed it perfectly.. at one point I even started to really like one of the kidnappers..that’s how easy McKay manages to control your thoughts.

Cracking read and a nice change from the authors previous work. Plenty of life left in the tale to see this develop further and I’d love to see how it continues.

5* .. I can’t give it any less.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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.

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.