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on 22 May 2012
I'll state for the record that Gordon emerged from the same writing-feedback site as I (and a few others), and have since come to know him through Twitter too. But this fact in no way influences the following review, as nepotism does not float my boat. Feel free to simply disregard it if you must, but you do so at your peril.

I gave Gordon's first book 5 stars. I honestly thought it was that good. Reading it just made me jealous over the relative quality of my own work. Now that I've read Strategos, I wish I'd given it 4 stars, as this book is significantly better and I can't reflect that in the ratings, so there you go. Both fab books, but this is better.

Strategos seems to be the work where Gordon's writing has matured into a solid style that is easily the challenge of most established Histfic authors. I feel you will find it hard to tell that this is not a traditionally published novel. Even the shaky editing and typos that are a regrettable feature of self-published work are suspiciously absent. I think I found three or four typos in the whole book, which is a number I expect to find in any work. And the editing? Well it's tight and on-track all the way through.

The story is complex and deep, involving a twisting tale of intrigue and revenge that entwines the protagonist's path all against the background of a great and tumultuous time of desperate military actions to preserve a dying empire. What impressed me particularly is that there is no Good guy/Bad guy black-and-white attitude in Strategos. It is hard not to find likeable and appreciable traits in the bad guys. Not all the good guys are that good. Indeed the main antagonists are ostensibly on the same side as the hero.

The story had a plausible tale of personal growth and overcoming the most outrageous obstacles, the unit cameraderie a reader tends to seek in any military histfic, scenes of horror and glory, but pulls no punches and at times leaves the reader feeling a little hollow and angered at events.

For those of you who like the Byzantine era, I'm sure you'll like this. Gordon's done a great deal of research and it shows (I'm not knowledgable enough on the subject to find any errors if there are any, so I can't tell if it's mistake free. You'll have to do that yourself and comment appropriately). What I CAN say is that if, like me, you have a deep love of the Roman era or the Medieval/Crusading era, you should find this fascinating, as it is an era that is a definite crossover. To have a man who is the descendant of the Roman legionary, armoured in a late-Roman fashion, facing an enemy that would not seem out of place fighting the crusaders in Outremer is a fascinating thing.

There is also an overtone of spirituality and strangeness that threads throughout the story, pointing at a greater destiny that must become apparent in a future book.

If I have a criticism (and it's really hard to find one) it was that the ending was a little abrupt. I was expecting a sort of wind-down epilogue, but the plot wrapped up and the story ended with a sharp stop. In the grand scheme of things I hardly think this is a reason to put anyone off, so go ahead and read the book and see for yourself. And, since indie authors are oft accused of promoting one another blindly, please do comment on this review if you think I've been fair and on-the-ball.

Happy reading.

Vale, Haga.
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on 15 July 2017
Having worked for many years in Bulgaria as a British Expat, and running a company which was able to sponsor some joint archaeological projects between a Bulgarian and a British University I had the opportunity to witness a major dig at a place called Ditchin (just to the north of Nicopolis ad Istrum near present-day Veliko Turnovo which features in the Legionary books). Ditchin was a fortified faming community which had remained untouched since it was laid waste in the 4th Century by Goths/Huns and battle remains were found. Doherty's books bought this to life for me and really added fantastic colour. Strategos continues in the same excellent highly readable format and is hard to put down. It is so good to read a historical novel situated in a place and era that is little written about. I would commend the series to any historically minded tourist to the region.
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on 9 February 2014
I was intrested to read this book as I you don't often come across many historical /fiction books covering this period (11th century Byzantium) and I must say I am really glad I purchased this book. I am racing through it and the story is a griping action packed and very believable one as I find many authors who cover the Mediveval/Crusading and Roman periods tend to be disappointing and to take liberties with history and the facts but not Gordan's account.

The story grips you from the start and is well written, action packed and moves along at a fair rate. The characters are a mixture of good and bad as you would expect with their own stories mixed into the wider picture of what is taking place on the borderlands between Byzantine and Islam at the time of decadence and neglect from the Byzantine point of view and the rise of the Seljuk Empire in the east. The story covers a young mans early years from a boy to a man who joins the army as he reaches adult hood to persue the wrongs inflicted on himself and to avenge his parents deaths against the individuals who inflicted much misery for him and his gradual acceptance with in the ranks of his fellow comrades who are trying to defend the eastern reaches of his homeland (Anatolia) while further east you see you through the eyes of the Seljuk leaders, their rise to greatness.

I am really looking forward to reading the second book in this series and I also look forward to reading Gordan's other books based around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire (Legionaires series) which look just as action packed as this book.
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on 5 April 2012
I bought this book mainly because it has leapfrogged my own humble scribblings in the Amazon rankings for three months. I was curious to see what kind of writing, self-published as it is, sells well on Amazon Kindle.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this superb creation of tension, drama and characterisation, set in the unusual period of the Eastern Empire. The battle which in it's way is the story arc does not disappoint and the build up of tension beforehand is masterfully crafted. It is a book which keeps you turning screens or pages and I would thoroughly recommend it to any fan of big, panoramic historical fiction.
There are a few books out there set in Byzantium but this is second only to Robert Graves' book set in the same time zone.
Stunning!
What surprises me is that no really big publisher has picked it up. It would be a really good series and deserves wide distribution. Would it sell? To anyone who likes Cornwell, Scarrow and Iggulden - yes it would!
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on 8 April 2016
I first read this book a number of years ago and remembered how much I had enjoyed it, so after buying the second in the series I thought I would just dip into the book and get a feel for the story. Well once started I just couldn't stop and enjoyed it the second time as much as first time if not more. Gordon Doherty has the knack of all good story tellers to draw you in and keep you enthralled until the end and then wanting more. Better people than me will write better reviews than me, just don't let this book slip you by, get it and enjoy.
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on 11 April 2012
Due to length of my commute to work I get through 4-5 books a week and I enjoy many of those I read without being swept away. This book is the exception to that! It's a fantastic read and covers a subject area that Ive not read too much about before but I'm now going to!

The characters are well developed and make you care about them, even if they don't end up staying around for long! The action is fast and furious without you feeling like the author is missing anything out. There's twist and turns that you don't see coming and the plot is completely engrossing. I read this in 2days and can't wait for the next instalment!! Great read, can't recommend it enough.
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on 30 September 2012
i only discovered this writers novels this year when browsing through historical fiction novels on amazon and boy am i glad i did. both books are absolutely riveting from start to finish and almost impossible to close and put down. i love these kinds of novels and there are some excellent practioners out there at the moment as the genre seems to be making a welcome comeback and these rank alongside if not above the best. believable characters,fast paced action and the authors obvious feel for the stories and periods described make these first two novels outstanding. i cant wait for the next two books in each series. looks like more sleepless but entertaining nights reading the further adventures of our two heroes. superb reading for anyone with an interest in these periods of history especially the roman/byzantine sides. keep them coming gordon!! awesome
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on 11 September 2013
Yes this is a tale of revenge, yes it's a `zero to hero' story, no it's not without grammatical errors, but yes it still deserves five stars. Here are the reasons why:

Firstly, I found Gordon's writing style flowed beautifully making this is a very fast read.

Secondly, what made this tale interesting from the start: this is a novel of the end of the Byzantine Empire - a period of history I was very ignorant of. It was wonderful to be plunged into this unfamiliar set. This is strongly in the novel's favour. Are we not all tired of the same old Napoleonic era? The Roman Empire? The Dark Ages? Here is something new...

Thirdly, we have the usual band of brothers forced into dangerous bloody situations with looming threats both foreign and domestic; bloody pitched battles; a complicated love-triangle; a man on a quest of vengeance, and plenty of twists to keep us interested. It's a set of ingredients that work well together, and Gordon gives us a liberal sprinkling of each.

Fourthly, and for me the most important of all the reasons that this book receives five stars instead of four, is that the author did all of this independently. He did it without an agent who knows the market, without the team of professional editors, without the demands of the major publishers, which is probably why we have a novel of Byzantium, and not of the other settings mentioned above. This is all Gordon Doherty, and Historical Fiction at its best.
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on 20 February 2012
I thouroughly enjoyed this book which is a bargain on Kindle!

The book is well written, the characters believable with plenty of action to keep the readers attention.

It was interesting and refreshing to read about the Eastern Provinces of the Byzantine Empire and the pressures on the Byzantine Forces there. Most novels on this period that I have read, concentrate on Constantinople and the West.

I would recommend this book and look forward to the next.
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on 10 January 2013
Interesting absorbing story which sits well with Roman fiction. From my point of view I can't be bothered with the occasional appearance of some"supernatural" person. They aren't necessary for the story and I feel weakens it as the other characters could easily exist while she couldn't. On a picky point there are a few grammatical errors, which are also in the author's other books, that jump out at me. Overall, however, I would definitely recommend it.
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