Tag Archives: Steven A. McKay

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.

The Escape by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Escape: A Forest Lord Short Story
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 19 Pages
Publication – 3rd April 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

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.
The locals all respect – even fear John – but the strangers from the north only see in him the chance to claim a great bounty.
When the hard stares and furtive whispers turn into explosive violence the chase is on. Without any of his famous friends to help him though, will it mean the end for the giant outlaw?

This new 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.

Review

So this is a super short fun tale that fits in with McKay’s Forest Lord Series. It slots in nicely between books 2 & 3 so I’d advise not reading this until you’ve finished book 2 at least.

McKay’s Forest Lord series mainly focuses around Robin Hood as you’d expect so this short is a good chance to shine light on Little John.

It’s short at 19 pages but does offer an action packed little tale to read. The plot is really good and it was a really nice change of focus Robin not being involved. Little John gets to show how much of a formidable opponent he is and the image McKay paints is spot on with how I’d imagine the character myself.

I do hope we see more short tales as I think these are the perfect accompaniment to the series.

As usual with McKay you get great writing and can expect a bit of violence but it’s not overly gruesome, which is one of the things I like about this authors books. I know it sounds weird but he manages to add fun to the fight.. That makes sense right? Ha

Overall this is a good short from McKay and it ticks all the right boxes but it really does highlight how much I miss the series. *Sighs*

Definitely one for the fans of the author and let me tell you that ending is what makes it 5*

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

The Prisoner: A Forest Lord Novelette by Steven A. McKay (@SA_McKay) – Review

Title – The Prisoner: A Forest Lord Novelette
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Publication – 20th December 2016
Pages – 27 Pages
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

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?

England 1325 AD

As Robin Hood and Little John take the criminal into custody they find the people of Stapleford accommodating enough and the terrified victim’s bruises are plainly visible. Inevitably, as they set off on the journey back to Nottingham the lawmen’s disgust at the captive’s crime colours their opinion of him and Little John has to be restrained from brutally assaulting the man.
The harsh winter conditions slow their progress though, and eventually the prisoner’s protestations and desperate violent actions have the lawmen questioning what’s really been happening in Stapleford…

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

Fans of the bestselling Forest Lord series will love this exciting new stand-alone tale, set just before Blood of the Wolf, that explores the themes of morality and justice in medieval England.

Review

The Prisoner is a short story in the absolutely brilliant Forest Lord series by Steven A. McKay which brings fresh life to the tale of Robin Hood.

This short is 27 pages long which isn’t much but you get a good little story for your 99p.

If like me you’ve read the rest of the Forest Lord series you’ll be needing a fix of McKay right about now and this does the job nicely.

What I really enjoyed about this tale is once again how the author manages to give an ending I didn’t see coming. You really never know with McKay what twists and turns he’s going to throw at you.

For me the story ticks all the right boxes for a short tale. If you’re familiar with the series you’ll love being back, and if you’ve not read the series yet this would a be a great insight to McKay’s Robin.. you can’t go wrong for 99p in my opinion.

This isn’t a Christmas tale but it does have an ending which can bring a smile to your face and give you a bit of joy which is exactly what you need at this time of year. Justice will be served.

Everyone is busy with the holiday season so this is the perfect tale for you, it’s not a big commitment and it’s got a strong story which builds on the series and characters we’ve grown to love

Top notch for a short story

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon