The Siege is the first book in Nick Brown’s debut the Agent of Rome series and tells the tale of Cassius Corbulo, a young Roman aristocrat who after tThe Siege is the first book in Nick Brown’s debut the Agent of Rome series and tells the tale of Cassius Corbulo, a young Roman aristocrat who after too much boozing and womanizing is forced to join the army by his Senator father. Luckily because of his standing in Roman society, Corbulo manages to gain a place in the Imperial Security Service, which in normal circumstances would handle administration within the army such as gaining food and supplies and not really fight on the front line with normal Legionaries.
However, when Queen Zenobia of Palmyra throws off the shackles of Rome and revolts in 270 AD, Corbulo finds himself been the highest ranking officer on the Syrian boundary and is tasked with holding an important fort called Alauran on the Roman supply line. Been a fresh recruit and only just passing his officer training, Corbulo is uneasy about taking a posting as the commander of the fort and when he learns that the cohort which is guarding Alauran are veterans from the Third Legion, Corbulo’s insecurity is made much worse.
When Corbulo arrives at Alauran he finds the fort in a state of severe disrepair and with the death of their commander, the Legionaries of the defences have become lazy and ill disciplined. Nevertheless, Corbulo has to find a way to repair the fort and get the Legionaries on his side as news arrives that a Palmyran force has been dispatched to attack and capture Alauran. Lacking in leadership skills, Corbulo uses other methods such as bribes to gain the support of the fort’s most influential officers and manages to motivate the men and their allies to fight and repair the defences with the promise of a relief column arriving within the next week (which Corbulo is not 100% sure will arrive!). However, this may not be enough as the unexplained murder of one of Corbulo’s best men reveals that there is a traitor in the camp. In addition, the sheer number of Palmyran forces which arrives to siege Alauran means Corbulo will have to use all of his limited knowledge of soldiering and the experience of his officers to stem the tide of the Syrian conquest of Roman land!
As a debut novel this book was extremely well written and thought out and different to any other Roman novels I have read. Yes, like Scarrow’s Cato and Riches’s Corvus, the main character was an inexperienced young aristocrat who is thrown into leadership and has to make the best of a bad situation. But what I really enjoyed about this book and what I thought made it refreshing to this genre, is that whereas Cato and Corvus evolve into great leaders charging into battle and killing numerous foes, in this book at least, Corbulo doesn’t. He is still nervous and confused about what he has to do as a leader and often times would rather let others tell him what to do instead of the other way round. I thought this was a great factor because it made the book seem much more realistic because I know if I was thrown into that situation, I’d have no clue what to do! I also think this factor helps portray the situation the Roman Empire was in in 270 AD as they would fast track young aristocrats into leadership roles because they had no other experienced men to fill them. I don’t know, maybe in the later books Corbulo will evolve into a great leader but in this first novel I’m glad Brown made him the nervous young man I think he should have been.
I’d suggest this book to anyone who enjoys Roman historical novels and authors such as Simon Scarrow, Anthony Riches, Ben Kane and Gordon Doherty. I’d also suggest it to anyone who is looking for a great historical fiction novel because this book was brilliant and I’m sure is going to be a part of an amazing series. By the way, I’d like to say a massive thank you to Nick Brown for getting in touch and introducing me to his work- look out for his new novel Agent of Rome, The Far Shore which will be released on July 18th!
Jack Lark was just a normal boy from the poor east-end of London who, sick of lifting heavy beer barrels in his mother’s pub, decided he wanted somethJack Lark was just a normal boy from the poor east-end of London who, sick of lifting heavy beer barrels in his mother’s pub, decided he wanted something more. For Jack, that opportunity came when the recruiting officers of the British Army arrived in Jack’s borough looking incredibly impressive and promising the young Londoner a life of excitement and adventure with postings in the vast British Empire. So, one day, Jack plucked up the courage to leave his mother’s pub and join the army, however once enlisted, Jack realises that the life of a soldier is not as exciting as he hoped…
The year is 1854 and Britain has not been at war since the days of Napoleon and Wellington. Therefore, most British troops are not in active service but are instead on garrison duty in the heartland of England. Unluckily for Jack, his new unit is garrisoned in Aldershot and Jack soon finds out that garrison life can be extremely boring. However, trying to better himself and trying to impress a young woman, Jack manages to get promoted to the station of Orderly under Captain Sloames. Being new at his job, Jack is not as efficient as other orderlies in the camp, but with an understanding Captain like Arthur Sloames, he soon learns what his duties are.
Nevertheless, just as Jack believes he is getting somewhere in the army he becomes a target for the rough and bullying Colour Sergeant Slater who has a grudge against Jack for been promoted and therefore, no longer been under Slater’s control. The Colour Sergeant has been known in the camp to frame other soldiers to get his revenge, so Jack is as cautious as he can be around Slater. However, after a fight between the two soldiers, which accidently results in a death, Jack has to escape the camp or face a severe punishment. Luckily, Captain Sloames helps Jack again and offers him the opportunity to join the division of troops that have been deployed to the Crimea to fight the Russians.
Jack happily accepts, as it will get him away from Slater. However, on the road to Dover, Captain Sloames is struck by a fever which ends in his death. Jack is at a loss of what to do. He thought the war in Russia would lead him to glory and riches but with Sloames’s death, that future is uncertain. On the other hand, he cannot return to the garrison for fear of punishment, which could see him whipped and Slater, which could see him killed. Jack has to make a decision on his own future and eventually makes one that will see him go to the Crimea, not just as an Orderly, but as the new Captain of the King’s Royal Fusiliers!
As a first book in a new historical series, I thought Fraser Collard did an excellent job. At first seeing this book was based in the Crimean War, I assumed that the novel would take place around the Siege of Sevastopol, which is probably the best know event in the war after the Charge of the Light Brigade. However, I was totally wrong, as Fraser Collard bases the novel at the very start of the war with the first battle between the allies (Britain and France) and the Russians at the Battle of the Alma. I really liked this fact because I did not know that much about the battle and found reading Fraser Collard’s description of it both entertaining and exciting but also really interesting, making me want to find out more about this period of history!
I also really enjoyed the story in the novel as it was the type of zero-hero plot which I always love in a historical fiction book. I think this is why the book has been compared to Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels so often (along with the fact it in based in the 19th Century). However, I did like uniqueness of how Jack became a hero in this novel and how his personality and attitude still manages to shine through even when he becomes an officer. Plus, I thought the ending set up the next novel in the series really well, making me want to read more of Jack’s tale!
All in all, this was an exciting and interesting novel which I really enjoyed reading! If you are a fan of British military history and like novels such Sharpe, then I think you’ll love this book so make sure to check it out!
Azincourt is a one off novel from the historical author Bernard Cornwell. It tells the tale of the English invasion of France in 1415, looking throughAzincourt is a one off novel from the historical author Bernard Cornwell. It tells the tale of the English invasion of France in 1415, looking through the eyes of a humble English archer Nicholas (Nick) Hook. The novel follows the English army from its departure, to the gruelling siege at Harfleur, through its march up to Calais and the final battle at Agincourt. It sees Nick turn into a hero and sees him help win the Battle of Agincourt with the help of his faith in the Saints Crispin and Crispinian.
This book was a great read and was the first book that really got me into historical fiction. It is very well written with a very accurate account of the English campaign of 1415. The part I like most about this book was that many of the characters were all real people and Cornwell uses them in the right historical context. Cornwell’s descriptions of the battles at Harfleur and Agincourt similarly make the book a brilliant read. Again keeping to the historical context, Cornwell describes the battles as if you were actually there and looking through Nick Hook’s eyes. As well as describing how the battle happened, Cornwell’s description of how the archers are used makes this book even better to read. I think it would have been easy for him to over exaggerate the role the archers played in the Battle of Agincourt. For example, having them lead a charge for dramatic purposes or been great swordsmen who could fight the French Knights. But Cornwell doesn’t. He explains the actions of the archers correctly, (firing volleys of arrows and then finishing off the dying French Knights). Cornwell makes this book great because he sticks to the historical evidence and context, making the book much more realistic and much better to read.
Nick Hook’s story is also a great asset to this book. Like many of Cornwell’s books, its sees unlikely people become the hero. It takes Hook from the atrocities of the siege of Soissons, to becoming an archer in Henry V’s army and finally a leader of his group of archers. Where he experiences romance, death, disease and the other factors life in a fifth-teenth century army brings.
The book is well written and full of action and is very historically accurate. I would suggest that anyone interested in the Hundred Years War, archery or Bernard Cornwell read this book. It certainly got me into the all of these and is a good book to start if wanting to read any of Bernard's other novels!
The Forgotten Legion is based around one of the most infamous eras of Roman history, the triumvirate of Pompeii Magnus, Crassus and Julius Caesar. DurThe Forgotten Legion is based around one of the most infamous eras of Roman history, the triumvirate of Pompeii Magnus, Crassus and Julius Caesar. During this period of corruption and instability emerges two tales. The first is that of Tarquinius, an Etruscan warrior and soothsayer who has the ability to tell the future from the stars, the elements and from the innards of animals. At a young age, Tarquinius is told by his teacher that he will travel to Rome and there meet and befriend two Gladiators. The Etruscan keeps this prophecy in mind, and after his teacher’s death, travels to Rome. In the city, his prophecy is reveal as (by accident) he is introduced to two Gladiators who are wrongly accused of murder and are on the run from Roman justice.
The second story follows Romulus and Fabiola. Romulus and Fabiola are twins who were born as slaves into the ownership of a wicked merchant. At the age of thirteen, the twins are sold into two of the harshest forms of slavery. Romulus is sold to a Gladiator school and Fabiola is sold to the Lupanar, Rome’s most famous and expensive brothel. Life seems over for the two young slaves, Gladiators only last a few months in the vicious Lupus Magnus and Fabiola seems destine to live out her life as the plaything of wealthy men. However, their stories do have a silver lining.
For Fabiola this comes with the introduction of Decimus Brutus, a charming army officer and Julius Caesar’s right hand man. Fabiola (after been taught the tricks of her trade) manages to seduce Brutus with the hope that one day he will buy her freedom and reunite her with Romulus. Romulus’s silver lining comes in the friendship he makes with a Gaul called Brennus, who happens to be the best Gladiator in all of Rome! Brennus helps train the young slave in sword fighting and when the chance arises, even sneaks Romulus out of the Lupus Magnus for a night on the town! However, the night does not go as planned, resulting in Romulus been accused of murdering a Roman noble and the two Gladiators fleeing for their lives. Luckily, fate seems to be on the Gladiators’ side as they manage to escape Rome and join an auxiliary unit destined for service in the East with Crassus’s army. It is here where the two Gladiators meet Tarquinius and the prophecy is fulfilled. However, with the army moving east against Rome’s greatest enemy, their journey is not at an end, as the three suffer bad omens, defeat and capture to become part of the Forgotten Legion!
This was a great book! I thought the story of Crassus’s army and the ‘Forgotten Legion’ was really interesting because most other novels based in this period of history are always set around Caesar’s ascendancy and Pompeii’s reaction. So I found it really interesting reading about Crassus’s fate and the amazing story of the Legionaries that were captured after the battle of Carrhae. As always, Kane does an extremely good job of adding precise details to his novels, which gives his books historical accuracy. At the same time, the detail also makes them extremely fun to read as the extra details makes it much easier to visualise these events that happened over two thousand years ago! Plus, when you have Michael Pread narrating, it gives another, extra bonus to the book and I’d highly suggest you check out the audiobook of The Forgotten Legion!
A really entertaining book (and so far) an amazing series. I would suggest this book to anyone who is a historical-fiction fan and enjoys Ben Kane's other novels. I'd also suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of authors such as: Anthony Riches, Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden and Gordon Doherty.
The Bloody Ground is the forth and at the moment last book in Bernard Cornwell’s Starbuck Chronicles. There are rumours that Cornwell will be adding tThe Bloody Ground is the forth and at the moment last book in Bernard Cornwell’s Starbuck Chronicles. There are rumours that Cornwell will be adding to this series after a sixteen year break! I wish he would get back to Nate’s story because I love this series.
This novel picks up after Battle Flag as the Confederate army fights off the last Northern attack and finally goes on the offence and invades the North itself. The mastermind behind this plan is Robert Lee and for his plan to work he will need the best soldiers in the Confederate army, soldiers like Nathanial ‘Nate’ Starbuck. However instead of playing a key role in the leadership of the army, Nate’s enemies conspire against him and place him in the control of a ‘punishment’ Battalion. Hoping that with this Battalion’s poor record of routing, Nate will never become the great officer he is destined to be. But Nate turns his Battalion into a well-trained unit and is rewarded for his hard work by been given the command of the attack on the Northern Garrison at Harper’s Ferry. After his victory over the garrison, Nate and his Battalion then go onto Antietam Creek where the bloodiest battle ever fought in America pushes Nate to the limit. Meanwhile a conspiracy is happening at the heart of the Confederate army. One of Nate’s best friends Adam Falconer is trying to lead Lee’s army into a trap, to try and re-unite both the North and the South and stop the bloodshed spilt between American and American.
This book was brilliant and I can’t believe that Cornwell has left the series with this novel and hasn’t as yet written the next book. I suppose you could argue that during those sixteen years he has written some truly excellent books such as The Warlord Trilogy, The Grail Quest and The Saxon Stories as well as writing many new Sharpe books, so maybe hasn’t had time to get back to them. Nevertheless the four he has written were all brilliant and the thing I like the most about these books is that throughout the novels we get to see Nate grow from a boy into a man. As I have said in my earlier reviews, Cornwell’s technique of making a character who would not normally become a hero into a hero is most apparent in these novels. I think this is because they are set over such a small space of time. During that time Nate is put through some of the bloodiest battles in history, forcing him to become a leader of men (because so many officers were killed) and eventually become a hero. I do hope Conwell adds to these novels, it would be great to see where Nate’s path takes him after the Battle of Antietam.
Brilliant book, brilliant series but please Bernard do write some more of these books! Anyone who is a Cornwell fan will love this series. Also if you are interested in the Civil War period I think you would really like these books as Cornwell really brings the facts to life and portrays the horror of the battles in what some people call the first modern war.
Thomas of Hookton is back in Bernard Cornwell's new book 1356 and as usual, Cornwell does not disappoint with this novel. I have been looking forwardThomas of Hookton is back in Bernard Cornwell's new book 1356 and as usual, Cornwell does not disappoint with this novel. I have been looking forward to this book release for a very long time. Cornwell’s Grail Quest trilogy was the first series of books that I ever read, so Thomas of Hookton holds a dear place in my heart and I couldn't wait to see what happens to him in 1356!
1356 sees Thomas and his group of rogue archers and men-at-arms (or otherwise known as the Hellequin) fighting as mercenaries in the French countryside. Thomas and his men are content; they are becoming rich off the warring French aristocracy and are able to help Frenchmen kill Frenchmen. However, Thomas knows that war is looming and when a message arrives from his liege Lord, the Earl of Northampton, Thomas is expecting to be wielding his bow back against the King of France. But, the letter is not what Thomas is expecting. The Earl of Northampton wants Thomas and his men to find a legendary relic called La Malice. La Malice is the sword of Saint Peter. The holy sword the Saint used to defend Jesus from the Romans.
The Earl of Northampton stresses how important La Malice is and Thomas sets out to reclaim it for the Kingdom of England. However, Thomas is not the only person looking for the sword! Thomas’s nemesis Cardinal Bessieres is also looking for the relic in a vain attempt to become the next Pope! Both parties intertwine within the book, but the great finale between these two, and who ends up with the sword, is decided at the Battle of Poitiers! Will it be Thomas and the English or Bessieres and the French?
As usual, this was a great read from Bernard Cornwell and I’m glad that he has returned to this series because my favourite period in history is the Hundred Years War. I like that Cornwell does justice to the Battle of Poitiers. As he rightly says, Poitiers is always overshadowed by the other great battles of the time like Crecy and Agincourt, so it is nice to see Cornwell give it the credit and recognition it deserves! I also love the fact that the ending suggests there could be another book to follow! I just hope it doesn’t take as long to come as 1356 has! And I love the front cover, it's so simple but just looks so awesome!
I would suggest this book to anyone who is a historical-fiction fan or to anyone who has read any of Cornwell’s other novels. I would say that if you are a Cornwell fan and you haven’t read his Grail Quest series, then go back to the first book Harlequin and start from there, don’t start with 1356!
The Splintered Kingdom sees us return to Tancred after the end of Sworn Sword. As promised by Robert Malet in Sworn Sword, Tancred is rewarded for hisThe Splintered Kingdom sees us return to Tancred after the end of Sworn Sword. As promised by Robert Malet in Sworn Sword, Tancred is rewarded for his bravery at York (Eoferwic) with land which takes him for been a Knight into a Lord! Tancred’s new land and hall is in the small town of Earnford on the borders between England and Wales. Life is good for Tancred, he is now a Lord with his own knights, he has wealth and he has a new woman. However, life on the Welsh Marshes is not as easy as it seems. The fearsome Welsh have started to raid Tancred’s land as their leaders have become more militant towards the new rulers of England. And upon hearing the news that some of Harold Godwinson’s old friends and allies have taken refuge within the Welsh King’s courts, Tancred suspects that there will soon be trouble not just for his small holding but for the kingdom at large!
His fears are proved right as he and his men are called to arms to defend the imminent invasion from the Welsh and Saxons. But this is not the only threat; Eadgar Ætheling and the King of the Danes have joined forces and are removing the Norman presence from the North! After finally convincing the leader of the army set to tackle the Welsh (Guillaume Fitz Osbern) to take the initiative and attack does Tancred find himself at the head of five hundred men, with the task of pillaging and plundering the Welsh countryside. However, Tancred falls into a trap and is only just saved from defeat and death, with the Norman army been pushed back out of Wales with its tail between its legs!
With this last blow and humiliation, Robert Malet decides enough is enough and takes Tancred and the rest of his men north to York to try and find a safe haven for his sister Beatrice. But on their journey they are ambushed and Tancred is taken captive by the Welsh King! After finally escaping his captors, Tancred returns to his journey north in search of Robert and the rest of his men. What he finds is the King’s army moving to the aid of York which has been sacked by the Ætheling! Tancred also finds that Robert and Beatrice have been taken captive by the Ætheling and his Danish allies. Tancred must return north to save his Lord’s family (again!) and face his nemesis Eadgar, the murderer of his old Lord and his love Oswynn.
This was another faced-paced, thrilling and historically detailed novel from James Aitcheson! I really liked how James developed Tancred as a character is this book. How he is not just a knight with no responsibilities but a Lord in his own right, having to care for his people and command his own soldiers! There is also a great twist in this novel that really sets up the next one! I won’t say too much because I don’t want to spoil it for any of you, but it is awesome!
I would suggest this book to anyone who has read Sworn Sword. If you have read it, you MUST continue reading this series because it is amazing! I would also suggest it to fans of authors such as Bernard Cornwell and Robert Low because their novels are based around the Vikings and the Saxons.
Sworn Sword is the first book in James Aitcheson’s 1066: The Bloody Aftermath series. The novel is based two years after the Norman conquest of EnglanSworn Sword is the first book in James Aitcheson’s 1066: The Bloody Aftermath series. The novel is based two years after the Norman conquest of England and tells the tale of Tancred a Dinant, a Norman Knight serving under the Earl of Northumbria, Robert de Commines. Tancred’s story starts with the Norman capture of the city of Durham (or Dunholm as it’s called in the book). Tancred is on a scouting mission looking for any English fugitives that have escaped the attack on the city. But his mind is elsewhere. He would much rather be celebrating the victory with his comrades in the city and spending time with his woman Oswynn than riding through the dark, wet Northumbrian countryside. But his mission soon becomes less of a strenuous walk and more of a fight for survival.
Tancred and his men come across a regrouped horde of English warriors and a new Northumbrian army led by Eadgar Ætheling, an English pretender to King William’s throne. Tancred and his companions are trapped in a fierce fight, but it is a fight they cannot win, and are forced to flee as Durham is sacked and recaptured by the English. Tancred is wounded and left without a Lord as Robert de Commines is killed. But, with the help of his friends Wace and Eudo, he makes his way to York (Eoferwic). After passing out for a few days, Tancred awakes in the house of Guillaume Malet the vicomte of York. After he has recovered, Tancred is given a mission by Malet to take his family to the safety of London and to escort his priest Ælfwold to Wilton (Wiltune) with a message. After giving his oath to Malet, Tancred, Wace and Eudo set out on their journey South, and it is not a moment too soon as Eadgar’s army is about to lay siege to York!
On their journey Tancred, Wace and Eudo uncover a secret conspiracy that could unite the entire English race against the Normans and send them back over the Narrow Sea! Tancred must work out who the conspirators are and help recapture York to stop the secret becoming known! But will he and his two companions be able to do it in time? Or will King William and the Normans have a country-wide rebellion to put down?
For me this was a great book. For some time I have been looking for a novel that is based around 1066 and the Norman Conquest and Sworn Sword was just what I wanted. It is not directly based around the Battle of Hastings but does refer back to it as Tancred talks about what happened there. I really liked that Aitcheson decided to base his novel after the battle and more on the Northumbrian rebellions and the ‘Harrying of the North’ because I think that this point in history is as important as the Battle of Hastings. It was a time where the Normans effectively colonised England, interbreeding and intermarrying with the English, further gaining a hold on the Kingdom. Plus the ‘Harrying’ showed King William’s determination to keep hold of his Kingdom by killing thousands of Northerners and creating an elaborate castle system throughout the North to further police and control the English population, (many of these castles are still standing today!) further cementing in the English psyche that they were here to stay! It shows to people that Norman history is not just about 1066 and the Battle of Hastings but has other as exciting and important parts! Plus I enjoyed it because it is based in the North and I’m a Northern boy!
The book itself was well written and I thought Aitcheson paid a lot of attention to detail. For example giving place names their French/Saxon names instead of just their modern English ones. I also liked that some of his characters like Robert de Commines and Guillaume Malet are based on real historical people, further showing that he added more detail to his novel to make it seem that much more factual and enjoyable to read!
As I said I was looking for a good novel about 1066 and Sworn Sword really delivers! I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories as it is based around similar themes; they both are about the conquest of England (Cornwell=Vikings, Aitcheson=Norman) and both are great reads! And I can't wait to read the sequel The Splintered Kingdom!
Wolf of the Plains is the first book in Conn Iggulden's epic Conqueror series based around the life and legend of Genghis Khan. I have to say that I rWolf of the Plains is the first book in Conn Iggulden's epic Conqueror series based around the life and legend of Genghis Khan. I have to say that I read this book a few years ago so this review will only be a short overview. What I will say is that I remember loving this book as it was my first introduction to Conn Iggulden’s work and it propelled me into both his Conqueror series and his Emperor series (both of which are excellent!).
The first book in this series tells us the tale of Genghis’s (Temujin’s) childhood. It starts off with Temujin and his family at the top of their tribe’s hierarchy, after all their father Yesugei is the Khan. Life is good for Temujin; he has the freedom to do what he likes. The only worry he has is his elder brother Bekter and the rivalry they both have over who will be Khan next. However this life is destroyed when their father Yesugei is attacked on his route home from a neighbouring tribe. After his death, Temujin, his brothers and his mother are thrown out of the tribe as power is usurped by Yesuegi’s bodyguard Eeluk.
Temujin must look after his exiled family whilst removing his greedy brother Bekter and avoid the men sent to kill his family by Eeluk. With pure dertermination and grit, Temujin must gain vengeance for his family and retake the throne that is rightly his. He must unite all of the tribes on the Plains to see his plans come to fruition and create the Mongol nation and attack his true enemies the Chin. But will he be able to do it?
I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of Conn Iggulden’s other books such as his Emperor series or to anyone who has an interest in the Mongols and the legend of Genghis Khan.
Spartacus: Rebellion is the sequel to Ben Kane's Spartacus: The Gladiator and picks up the story straight after the end of that book. It sees SpartacuSpartacus: Rebellion is the sequel to Ben Kane's Spartacus: The Gladiator and picks up the story straight after the end of that book. It sees Spartacus's slave army divided. His biggest competitor for control of the army; Crixus the Gaul, has left with his fighters, leaving Spartacus severely crippled because much of his fighting force has been removed. To make things even worse, Crixus is beaten and killed in his first battle against the Romans, meaning that the Roman forces in Italy can now focus on removing and destroying Spartacus's men!
But, there is still a chance to escape Italy forever. As Ariadne's prophecy said, Spartacus should head East out of Italy and into his homeland of Thrace. However, getting his army to follow him will be tough! The men are content with pillaging Rome; after all it was the Romans who enslaved them, why should they not get some revenge? Also, under Spartacus's rule the slave army has never been defeated, who's to say they couldn't go on and beat every army sent against them or even sack Rome itself? These are the problems Spartacus faces with his men. Plus the other two clan leaders in the army Callus and Gannicus have plans of their own. Both want to remove Spartacus as the leader of the army; he is becoming too powerful and arrogant, leaving them out of important decisions, sending out spies without telling them and leading the battle without asking for their advice! It is time they took control of the army and marched on Rome themselves like their ancestors did. But they must wait for the right time to remove Spartacus, his wife and his loyal followers before they can usurp control.
Meanwhile, the Senate is in disarray! Every force sent to deal with Spartacus has been defeated! It is no longer just a slave rabble that is running around the countryside but a full scale Rebellion! One Senator, Crassus, feels like he is the man who can hunt down Spartacus and defeat him. After all, he is the richest man in Rome and can put any resource at his disposal, but this is not the reason why he thinks he can beat Spartacus, but because he knows him.
All those years ago in the Ludus of Capua, Crassus would never have expected the Gladiator who had won the death bout put on for him to be heard of again. Yes, the Thracian was spirited and a good fighter but his destiny was to die in the sands of a Colosseum! Not to become the leader of the biggest threat to Roman security since Hannibal! Crassus knows he has greatness in him and that he is not just a rich merchant but a leader of men. He knows that if he can outmanoeuvre and defeat Spartacus he will have achieved that greatness!
What will Spartacus do? With Crassus biting at his heels will he be able to persuade his soldiers to leave Italy forever and fight new wars in foreign lands? Or will he turn south, confront Crassus and come up with a new plan to escape Italy?
This was another great book from Ben Kane. Like Spartacus: The Gladiator it was filled with action, battles, love and betrayal. It was really fast paced; I read it in only a few days! But to be fair, I expect these sorts of things from Ben’s novels. What I found really surprising about this book and what I really liked about it was how Ben develops the two main characters, Spartacus and Carbo. In Spartacus: The Gladiator I always saw Spartacus as the unlikely hero that I love to read about in historical fiction. He was a slave, exiled from his Kingdom and training to become a Gladiator, the lowest of the low in Roman society. Yet, he had a brilliant tactical mind which managed to free him from the Ludus and which eventually made him the leader of the slave rebellion. Whereas in Spartacus: Rebellion, Kane evolves him into the general, a leader of men who puts his soldiers before his family and his friends. This sees Spartacus make decisions that he might not have made when he was in the Ludus. There are times when we see glimpses of the old Spartacus but mostly he is cold and hard. Which I thought was great because he would change as a person because of the pressures put on him in command.
On the other hand, in Spartacus: The Gladiator Carbo is the one who should have been a leader. He was from a wealthy Roman family and was young and arrogant. It should have been him leading a brigade of Cavalry in the Roman army and not some Gladiator fighting for his life! However when he enters the Ludus he is humbled and in Spartacus: Rebellion he becomes the follower, always looking to protect Spartacus and receive his praise. Again I think Kane did a great job evolving Carbo into this role.
So there you go, this was my sneak peak/ preview of Ben Kane’s Spartacus: Rebellion, I hope you enjoyed it! I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of Roman fictional writers such as Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden and Anthony Riches. Of course if you read Spartacus: The Gladiator and enjoyed it then you should definitely read this book!
Strategos, Born in the Borderlands follows the story of Apion, a young crippled Byzantine boy who has a dark past and an even darker future. At an earStrategos, Born in the Borderlands follows the story of Apion, a young crippled Byzantine boy who has a dark past and an even darker future. At an early age Apion’s mother and father are murdered by masked killers and he becomes enslaved in the aftermath. Whilst working in a dingy drinking-hole for a cruel master, Apion stumbles into an elderly Seljuk man called Mansur, who buys Apion’s freedom and takes him back to his farm to live as a foster son. There Apion grows happy and forgets about his dark past and the murder of his parents, learning sword-play and strategy from Mansur whilst creating a great bond with Mansur’s daughter Maria.
However, a few years into his stay at Mansur’s farm, Apion discovers that the man behind the murder of his parents is none other than Bracchus, a corrupt soldier who forces Mansur to pay money for protection. But Apion cannot get at Bracchus for two reasons. The first is that Bracchus has been made into a Tourmarches, a powerful figure within the Byzantine army. The second reason is because Bracchus is a secret imperial agent with the Emperor’s protection and blessing, and therefore untouchable to Apion.
But Apion has a plan! With the threat of invasion from the Seljuk hordes in the East, Apion decides to join the army and becomes stationed under Bracchus. However when he arrives at Argyroupolis (where Bracchus is stationed) it is not what he is expecting, and soon finds Bracchus has the town run as a mini kingdom with him at the top! With joining the army, Apion also has another problem. With his deformed leg he cannot keep up on marches! Apion decides to bide his time, not only to make his leg stronger but to give him enough time to come up with a plan to take down Bracchus. Though, time may be running out for Apion as the Seljuk advance is much quicker than expected!
Apion and his comrades must face the odds and destroy the Seljuk army (which have 4 times as many troops!) Will Apion survive the battle? Will he gain his revenge for the murder of his family? Will the Byzantines push back the wave of all conquering Seljuks? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
I was looking forward to reading this book the moment I heard about it! I am a huge fan of Byzantine history (especially Justinian!) but I have never really read into this period of the long and eventful Byzantine era. And Strategos didn’t disappoint! I thought Doherty did a brilliant job of painting the picture of the era, especially when describing the troops of the Byzantine and Seljuk armies! I also loved the character of Apion! He is the hero that I always love to read about because he shouldn’t really be a hero! He is a cripple, an orphan and hated by some other Byzantines because he was brought up in a Seljuk family. But he perceivers! He overcomes his weakness and uses his great mind and understanding of strategy to become a Tourmarches, the leader of hundreds of men. There is also a revelation in the book that I was not expecting! I thought I knew where the book was heading but towards the end a spanner is thrown into the works which I thought was excellent! And which really rattles Apion!
This was a great book! I would suggest it to anyone who is a fan of C. C. Humphrey's book Constantinople, A Place Called Armageddon or is a fan other Romanesque/Greek epics authors such as Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane, Conn Iggulden and Anthony Riches! I’d just like to say a massive thank you to Gordon for getting in touch and introducing me to his work, this was a great book!
The Imperial Banner is the second book in Nick Brown's The Agent of Rome series and sees us return to the third century and our inexperienced, unlikelThe Imperial Banner is the second book in Nick Brown's The Agent of Rome series and sees us return to the third century and our inexperienced, unlikely hero Cassius Corbulo. After the events in The Siege, Cassius and his manservant Simo have some down time solving some minor crimes which understandably Corbulo enjoys! However, after a long standing conflict between Rome and its greatest rival Persia comes to an end, Corbulo and Simo are called back into action by the Imperial Security Service. As part of the peace treaty between Rome and Persia, a symbolic battle standard know as the Faridun's Banner (or the Derafsh Kaviani) which was captured by the Romans in the war, is agreed to be returned to the Persian Emperor as part of the coming together of the great Empires. The Imperial Security Service is tasked with transporting the standard from Antioch to the peace talks between Rome and Persia. However, when the convoy does not report in several days after its departure, the Service begins to fear the worst and Corbulo is tasked with retrieving the Standard from whomever stole it. Luckily for Corbulo, the Service provides the young officer with a body guard to protect him from the bandits that likely stole the Standard.
Indavara is a sword for hire and is tasked with protecting Corbulo on his investigation. A freed Gladiator, Indavara is an expert in sword fighting and archery, which is lucky for Corbulo because when Indavara first meets him, he is being attack by three Legionaries! At first Corbulo and the Service expect that the convoy was ambushed by brigands left over from Queen Zenobia's rebellion. However, when clues are unearthed and rumours about Antioch's leading politicians are proved true, Corbulo's belief that the attack on the convoy was an 'inside job' becomes stronger and stronger. Nevertheless, his superiors disagree and are convinced that the Banner was stolen accidentally by opportunistic bandits. With his limited experience, Corbulo is uncertain whether to follow orders or go with his gut instinct,but after a failed assassination attempt on his life, Corbulo is certain that Roman politics and political intrigue is at play and follows his leads to the heart of Antioch's society.
In my review of The Siege I said that I really enjoyed the book because Corbulo was not made out to be a hero, but instead was a scared and inexperienced teenager, which for me made the book more realistic. In The Imperial Banner, Corbulo is still inexperienced teenager but he also becomes a very arrogant and at times, unlikable character. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this factor because again it made the novel and Corbulo seem much more realistic. I could imagine that a rich, aristocratic teenager who has the authority of the Roman Emperor would be arrogant and self-righteous and therefore a little bit unlikable. I don't know if this was intentional but I do really like how Corbulo isn't really the hero that seems to appear in books in this genre. In addition, I found the story behind Faridun's Banner intriguing and thought it was a good mystery for Corbulo to uncover!
All in all, this was a great historical mystery novel in a very promising series and I can't wait to check out the next novel The Far Shore. I would suggest this book to fans of other Roman history novels such as Simon Scarrow's Marco and Cato series or Anthony Riches's Empire series. I'd also suggest it to fans of other historical mystery novels such as C. J. Sansom's Shardelake series.
The Strangled Queen is the second book in Maurice Druon's nail-biting The Accursed Kings series. The novel follows on from The Iron King and finds medThe Strangled Queen is the second book in Maurice Druon's nail-biting The Accursed Kings series. The novel follows on from The Iron King and finds medieval France in turmoil after the death of one of its most successful and respected Kings, Philip the Fair. His son Louis has inherited the Kingdom but does not possess the brilliance of his late father and is easily swayed in making decisions by his bold and charismatic uncle Charles of Valois. Charles is of the old ways of France and hated most of Philip the Fair’s new bureaucratic methods which modernised the Kingdom. In addition, Charles hated the new methods most of all because they raised the middle class into the social elite. He wants France to return to the era of chivalry and the time of powerful nobility. To do this, Charles manipulates his weak nephew by promising him a new marriage after the embarrassment of Marguerite of Burgundy (Louis wife) and Philippe d’Aunay’s affair. However, to achieve his goals Charles must first remove his greatest rival Enguerrand Marigny, the old King’s closet advisor, from the French court.
Meanwhile, Marguerite of Burgundy and her sister Blanche are still been held prisoners by Louis X, whom is awaiting the appointment of a new Pope to divorce his marriage from his adulterous wife. The miserable dark cell is enough to crack the once beautiful and powerful Queen of France and forces her to write a confession that states her marriage was never valid. However, after no news is heard from the King after the departure of the letter, Marguerite’s future looks very bleak and when new condemning evidence is discovered against Marguerite and her protector, Enguerrand Marigny, her future also looks very short…
I found this book much better than The Iron King. Don’t get me wrong, I did really like the first book, I thought as a historical-fiction novel it was probably one of the best I’ve read this year because it was so full of historical detail. However, as a thriller I didn’t think it was that thrilling and thought marketing the novel as ‘the original Game of Thrones’ was very misplaced. The Strangled Queen on the other hand totally fits this bill! It was full of political intrigue, plots and betrayal that I loved and like The Iron King, Druon’s historical detail was top notch. Coupled with the intrigue, Druon successfully and entertainingly shows the weakness of the French crown at the start of the thirteenth century.
This was a great novel and has got me really excited to read the next book in the series The Poisoned Crown, which from the sound of its title already sounds epic! I’d suggest this book to anyone who likes historical-fiction, especially authors such as Bernard Cornwell and his Grail Quest series. I’d also suggest it to fans of Game of Thrones because as George R. R. Martin explains in his Forward note at the start of the book, this novel was the inspiration behind his series.