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A. M. Donald "Anno Domini" (UK)
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The Fell Sword
The Fell Sword
by Miles Cameron
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent world-building, first-class storytelling, 19 May 2014
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This review is from: The Fell Sword (Paperback)
I love entering Miles Cameron's fantasy world – a medieval-ish place packed with with magic and monsters; and all totally believable. Cameron blends a Byzantine-style court with touches of chivalric France and England, and a dash of Ancient Greece, and even has a version of Canada and Native Americans as players in this grand, almost-operatic global drama. His magic-wielders are quite credible with their Aristotelian memory-palaces and laser-like power workings, which draw the eyes of other sorcerers and deplete their strength. His knights are utterly authentic to the buckle, vambrace, aventail and strap (if you can say that about a fantasy world) and his battles bloody, realistic and thrilling. The Fell Sword follows on from the equally brilliant Red Knight and I long for the next instalment. A beautiful piece of art. More please!


God of Vengeance
God of Vengeance
by Giles Kristian
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant non-stop Viking action, 19 May 2014
This review is from: God of Vengeance (Hardcover)
I absolutely loved God of Vengeance! Great action from a band of medieval Norsemen almost from the first page to the last. There was a delicious sense of anticipation as Sigurd the hero sails round the fiords and collects a band of iron-hard Viking warriors to enact his revenge. And, I enjoyed the surprise twist at the end, which I won't spoil. Good work, sir! This is an excellent, white-knuckle, action-adventure novel by a master of the genre.


Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park
by Simon Conway
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent edge-of-your-seat stuff, 25 Mar 2013
This review is from: Rock Creek Park (Paperback)
Part police procedural, part spy thriller, part apocalyptic sci-fi - but all of it absolutely brilliant, seat-of-the-chair entertainment - Conway's latest is a book that defies pigeon-holing, and is far, far more satisfying as a result. The body of a beautiful young woman is discovered in Washington's Rock Creek Park near the property of a powerful politician and a world-weary, ex-special forces cop is given the unlovely task of unravelling the crime. The hunt for the killer takes the reader from the drug-blasted ghettoes of DC, via the covert palaces of US power to the lawless badlands north of the Caucasus and unveils a secret all the more horrifying for it's absolute plausibility. Don't expect to sleep much after beginning this book. Highly recommended!


Instruments of Darkness
Instruments of Darkness
by Imogen Robertson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant, 18 Mar 2013
I thought this was a superb novel, brilliantly plotted and written with enviable panache, great skill and genuine insight. Unusual heroes - the fiesty naval wife Harriet Westerman and icy cool natural scientist Gabriel Crowther - are on the trail of a multiple murderer in late 18th-century England. In a time before the establishment of a police force or much in the way of criminal investigation, our two amateur sleuths gather up the clues from threads of cloth, marks on the bodies and samples of handwriting and lead us by the hand through a fascinating Whodunnit and, in the latter stages of the book, a Whydunnit. Although it is not a funny book - indeed, it is at times terrifying - there are echoes of the sublime wit of Jane Austin in the narrative, though it is set a generation or two before her time, and also the playfulness of Agatha Christie comes to mind. My one niggle is the use of Commodore as a naval rank. As I understand it (from reading a lot of Patrick O'Brian) it was a temporary rank in the 18th century used when an officer was actually commanding a squadron of ships, not a permanent rank, such as Captain or Admiral. But that is an insignificant criticism. I finished the book an hour ago and I already want to spend more time with Westerman and Crowther, and shall shortly be ordering the second book in this wonderful series.


Spartacus: The Gladiator: (Spartacus 1)
Spartacus: The Gladiator: (Spartacus 1)
by Ben Kane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars More battles than you can shake a gladius at, 16 Oct 2012
This is a very believable fictional account of the first half of the Spartacus story (the part when he's winning) and a book that makes your pulse race from the first page. Kane's writing is vivid and his characterisation convincing. Spartacus is a rock-hard hero with a heart of gold - exactly that kind of character that I enjoy - than there are more battles than you can shake a gladius at, with the overweening Romans getting a solid kicking on several bloody occasions. Very satisfying. The action comes thick and fast, with some gut-wrenching scenes of rape and slaughter, but I couldn't put it down and devoured it in two days. Bravo Ben!


The Bleeding Land (Bleeding Land Trilogy 1)
The Bleeding Land (Bleeding Land Trilogy 1)
by Giles Kristian
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First-class first installment, 25 April 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed Giles Kristian's Raven series and was therefore intrigued to discover that he was tackling the English Civil War as his next project. But what surprised me was the step-change in the quality of the writing: while the Raven books are gutsy, exciting Viking rampages, The Bleeding Land is a cut-above, a beautifully written and very moving story of a 17th-century family of Lancashire gentry torn apart by war. The characters are well-drawn, believable human beings struggling with fear, love, family loyalty - and the nihilistic urge for revenge. There is plenty of gut-tightening action - the battle of Edgehill is so vividly evoked that you can almost smell the blood, fear-sweat and gunpowder smoke and hear the screaming of wounded horses - and there is a gruesome hanging, drawing and quartering scene, but this is a book primarily about people and their relationships. A truly gripping first installment of what looks set to be a first-class historical fiction series.


Insurrection (Insurrection Trilogy)
Insurrection (Insurrection Trilogy)
by Robyn Young
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb storytelling - more please, 1 July 2011
By all accounts, the real Robert the Bruce was a bit of a trimmer - sometimes siding with the English, sometimes with his countrymen during the late 13th-century Scottish Wars of Independence. But it is to Robyn Young's great credit that her interpretation of the Bruce casts him as a sympathetic, complex yet utterly believable character. You genuinely like the man, you desperately want him to triumph - and that is a sign of superb storytelling. Young handles the complicated history of the times deftly, never allowing the tension to flag, and giving us stomach-clenching, blood-pumping violence and wonderfully tender moments too. Her prose gleams, glitters and slices like a sword-blade in a wild melee - and I cannot wait to read the next book in this excellent trilogy. Insurrection is a thrilling, thoroughly engrossing historical novel by a first-class writer at the very top of her game. Bravo!


The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series)
The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series)
by Robert Low
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior historical fiction, 16 April 2011
By God, this is a brilliant book! It grips, it bites, it rips, it fights - and leaves you gasping and dazed by the last page. Robert Low entranced me with his superb Oathsworn Viking series - but this is in a different class entirely. The swirling political chaos of late 13th century Scotland - a proud land groping for identity and freedom, with the English titan Edward Longshanks growling at the gate - gives Low a mirr-drenched stage upon which to enact the complex, poignant and very human dramas of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. The language is bleak, as knotted and tough as a briar root, and yet somehow achingly pure - and through the rough Scots dialects he uses so skillfully, you are plunged into an utterly believable medieval world that rings as true as the clash of steel blades across the gulf of 700 years. If you want to read superior historical fiction, Robert Low is your man - and his Kingdom Series looks set to be the best of its kind this decade.


The Blasphemer
The Blasphemer
by Nigel Farndale
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful, haunting novel, 21 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Blasphemer (Paperback)
I devoured this book in less than 24 hours - I couldn't put it down. As a powerful almost clinical exploration of courage and cowardice, I think it will appeal any man who has ever wondered how he would react when put to the ultimate test. Few of us have experienced the terrors of battle - thank God - but many a man has thought to himself, how would I behave in the face of almost certain death? Am I a coward? I found the book wonderfully human, surprisingly haunting and, at times, quite horrific. Farndale's descriptions of Tommies preparing to go "over the bags" in the First World War gave me goose-bumps - and the modern-day parts of the book also rang absolutely true. It has a thrilling climax, too, and some excellent insights on the nature of faith/atheism. It's a book that I'll read again - and you can't say that about many modern novels.


Sick Notes
Sick Notes
by Tony Copperfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Direct hit on the funny bone, 25 Aug 2010
This review is from: Sick Notes (Paperback)
Fascinating, insightful and very, very funny. Filled with tales of appalling medical bureaucracy, quacks, hacks and snake-oil salesmen; it really makes you appreciate the difficulty of trying to diagnose a complicated medical problem in a ten-minute time slot - when the patient won't tell you what's really wrong until the last minute. This book is a sage, salacious, split-your-sides-laughing commentary on NHS medicine in 21st-century Britain, seen through the eyes of an ordinary GP. Sick Notes makes doctors seem almost like real human beings - and I couldn't help noticing that it has been brilliantly edited, too!


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