Plot: In the battle for power, there can be only one ruler. AD925: Athelstan is the king of the English, uniting the petty kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia, the Danish-held Five Boroughs and York following the sudden death of his father, King Edward.
His vision is to unite the realms of the Scots and the Welsh in a peace accord that will protect their borders from the marauding threat of the Norse Vikings.
Whilst seemingly craving peace and demanding loyalty with an imperium over every kingdom, Athelstan could dream of a much bigger prize.
But danger and betrayal surround his best intentions, namely from his overlooked stepbrother, Edwin, who conspires and vies for what he deems is his rightful place as England’s king.
As ever, powerful men who wish to rule do not wish to be ruled, and Constantin of the Scots, Owain of Strathclyde, and Ealdred of Bamburgh plot their revenge against the upstart English king, using any means necessary.
An epic story of kingsmanship that will set in motion the pivotal, bloody Battle of Brunanburh where allies have to be chosen wisely…
I’ve been a fan of Conn Iggulden’s writing for some time now, both his fantasy and historical fiction works. While Lion is technically a new series, it is also a continuation of The Athenian, with a lot of references to past events and inclusion of main characters. It can be read as a stand-alone, but I’m seeing it as an addition to that series. Read my full review on Lion and see what you think.
Publisher: Michael Joseph | Date: 2022 | Genre: Historical Fiction
Plot: Ancient Greece, 5th century BC
The age of myths and legends has given way to the world of men. In the front rank stands Pericles, Lion of Athens.
Behind Pericles lies the greatest city of the ancient world. Before him, on land and at sea, stands the merciless Persian army. Both sides are spoiling for war.
Though still a young man, Pericles knows one thing: to fight a war you must first win the peace.
It’s time for a hero to rise.
For his enemies to tremble.
And for Athens, a city of wisdom and warriors, to shine with glory . . .
I’ve been trying to write up my Rivers Ran Red thoughts for a few weeks. I thought it sounded like the type of book I’d enjoy, and for the most part, it was. It was missing something though; a spark, a connection, something to keep me gripped. Keep scrolling to check out my full review.
Plot: In a whirlwind of fire and carnage, Attila the Hun wheels half a million horsemen towards Roman territory. In his path, corruption and greed have undermined the ancient empire and the vacillating emperor, Valentinian III, has cut her legions to a sliver. But out of this smoke a wily, battle-scarred general, Avitus, rises in her defence. Making allies of his enemies, Avitus rallies barbarian warlords to fight for the Eagle and crosses the Alps to face Rome’s nemesis. But when Attila offers to split the Empire’s corpse with the Goths his march becomes a suicide mission.
One war will decide the fate of civilization.
The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains rages through the night. Individual acts of bravery and cowardice tip the final balance. Rivers run red and burst their banks with blood. Dawn draws a portrait of unimaginable carnage.
In a tale of epic deeds, heroes confront insurmountable odds, with honour and courage. Avitus faces a myriad of enemies, both Roman and barbarian but can one man save civilisation?
The Gates of Athens is one of my most popular book reviews on here. When offered the chance to read the sequel, I couldn’t resist, keen to see what happened next. We’re returning to Ancient Greece today, for a mix of battles, politics and drama. Here’s my Protector review.
Plot: ONE FEARLESS WARRIOR . . . THE BATTLE OF SALAMIS Persian King Xerxes stands over the smoking ruins of Athens, an army of slaves at his back.
Come to destroy, once and for all, everything that the city stands for, he stares pitilessly at the hopelessly outnumbered Greeks. Veteran soldier Themistocles cannot push the Persians back by force on land, and so he so does so by stealth, at sea.
Over three long days, the greatest naval battle of the ancient world will unfold, a bloody war between the democracy of Athens and the tyranny of Persia.
THE BATTLE OF PLATAEA Less than a year later, the Persian return to reconquer the Greeks.
Tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides ready themselves for war.
For the Spartans, Plataea is chance to avenge their defeat at Thermopylae.
For the people of Athens, threatened on all sides, nothing less than the survival of democracy is at stake. And once again Themistocles, the hero of Salamis, will risk everything – his honour, his friendships, even his life – to protect his country.
Between library closures and lock-downs, it’s been a long wait for this book, but it was worth it! We’re returning to the Cromwell era, with one of my favourite hard-guy-soft-heart characters. If you like a historical mystery, I recommend the Seeker series. Here’s my review on The House of Lamentations.
Plot: Summer, 1658, and the Republic may finally be safe: the combined Stuart and Spanish forces have been heavily defeated by the English and French armies on the coast of Flanders, and the King’s cause appears finished.
Yet one final, desperate throw of the dice is planned. And who can stop them if not Captain Damian Seeker?
Between lock-downs and library closures, I waited a long time for this book. Although it’s been a while since reading book 2, I was instantly transported back into this world, and loved it. Today, I’m sharing my review on The Bear King – third in the Pendragon trilogy by James Wilde.
Plot: AD 375 – The Dark Age is drawing near . . . As Rome’s legions abandon their forts, chaos grows on the fringes of Britannia. In the far west, the shattered forces of the House of Pendragon huddle together in order to protect the royal heir – their one beacon of hope.
For Lucanus, their great war leader, is missing, presumed dead. And the people are abandoning them. For in this time of crisis, a challenger has arisen, a False King with an army swollen by a horde of bloody-thirsty barbarians desperate for vengeance.
One slim hope remains for Lucanus’ band of warrior-allies, the Grim Wolves. Guided by the druid, Myrrdin, they go in search of a great treasure – a vessel that is supposedly a gift from the gods. With such an artefact in their possession, the people would surely return and rally to their cause? Success will mean a war unlike any other, a battle between two kings for a legacy that will echo down the centuries. And should they fail? Well, then all is lost . . .In The Bear King, James Wilde’s rousing reimagining of how the myth of King Arthur, Excalibur and Camelot rose out of the fragile pages of history reaches its shattering conclusion .
Take a step back in time with today’s mystery as we return to Victorian times and the Bowman of the Yard series. After the gripping mystery of the first two books, I was looking forward to this one. I wasn’t expecting quite the emotional punch that came with it! Here’s my review on The Body in the Trees.
Plot:When a man is found hanged in the woods around the village of Larton, a troubled Inspector Bowman is despatched to investigate, only to discover that this is the latest in a series of supposed suicides.
He finds a village beset by suspicion, where every man is his neighbour’s enemy and the fingers point at any number of parties.
It’s not long, however, before Inspector Bowman’s fragile mental state places those closest to him in even greater danger.
Plot: The Raiders have been routed from Torksey, dead, or escaped.
Mercia lies broken but not beaten, her alliance with Wessex in tatters, her new king a warrior not a ruler. And as he endures his coronation, as demanded by the bishops and ealdormen, there are stirrings from the east.
Coelwulf must again take to the trackways of Mercia. His destination, any place where the Raiders are trying to infiltrate the kingdom he’s fought so hard to keep whole, losing beloved friends in the process.
The year is AD874 and Mercia lies threatened. But Coelwulf, and his loyal warriors, have vowed to protect Mercia with their lives. They’re not about to stop now.
After thoroughly enjoying The Head in the Ice, I was looking forward to seeing where the adventure would take George Bowman next. Head back in time for a new mystery set in the Victorian era with my review of The Devil in the Dock.
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Considered a loose cannon, Detective Inspector George Bowman of Scotland Yard is despatched to London’s docks where he can do no harm.
When an explosion rips through the wharves, however, he’s soon pitched into a world of intrigue and extortion.
With the whole of Victorian London in the grip of the mysterious Kaiser, Bowman must find the strength to escape the ghosts that haunt him. Just who is the Kaiser, and what do they have to do with his wife’s death?
I’m exploring a new historical fiction novel today. I’ve only ever read Iggulden’s fantasy works before so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the different genre is tackled. If you’re prepared to go back to Ancient Greece, then keep scrolling for my Gates of Athens review.
The momentous struggle between Athens and Sparta as rival powers and political systems will last for twenty-seven years (431 to 404 BC).
It will end in the fall of a dynasty.
Filled with cunning political scheming and astonishing military prowess, invasions and treacheries, plagues and slaughters, passion and power, Conn Iggulden brings to life one of the most thrilling chapters of the ancient world.