S.J.A. Turney's Books & More

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Posts Tagged ‘revenge

Golden Lion

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2015-09-23 20.29.15

A fascinating book and one I was looking forward to reading. I’ve read a few of Smith’s novels in the past and he’s a recognised master of the pen and I’ve read everything Giles has written and have yt to be disappointed by him. So something written by both of them? Well it had to be a win.

The book is the latest in the Courtney series of which I had thus far read only one. Since Smith books tend to leap about a bit era-wise and the Courtney series more than most I didn’t know what exactly to expect.

The book is set in the reign of Charles II with characters who remember the civil war all too well. It takes place on the Indian Ocean and the shore of Africa around Zanzibar. It involves an earlier villain previously presume dead and a series of revenge plots. It is as action packed and evocative as you would expect from either writer.

There are echoes of pirate era tales and of Napoleonic naval books, of African adventure and of British Empire colonialism. There are aspects of religious conflict, of slave trading, of piracy and hunting of snares and rescues, of sea battles and duels. Essentially it should have something for every reader of action adventure.

Having recently involved myself in several different collaborations I am intrigued as to how this one was carried out. I have experienced alternating chapters, separate parts to one novel and even multiple viewpoints. This one bears the hallmarks of none of them.

The writing to me feels more like a Smith book, as though Smith has essentially written the prose right through. But most aspects of the plot feel very Giles Kristin to me, from the superb and chilling array of villains to the hairpin plot twists to the cameraderie of the sailors right down to the locations.

The combination has produced an excellent tale whatever the case, though I couldn’t help but feel that Giles’ part was somewhat downplayed in the novel’s paperwork, with his name in relatively small print, a scant mention and no picture on the flyleaf etc.

So the upshot… would I recommend it? Yes I would. I suspect that readers of both writers will enjoy it. I think readers will get most from it if they have at least some familiarity with the Courtney novels and in particular the one that comes chronologically immediately before this but that being said I had not read that one and the book still worked for me. A hearty slice of adventure in an unusual milieu I would say and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

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Written by SJAT

September 24, 2015 at 9:00 am

Bandits of Rome

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There are a few gems out there in the world of independent fiction and despite the increasing (now vast) swathe of Roman fiction hitting virtual shelves, still certain writers and works stand out. Alex Gough came to my attention last year with his debut work Watchmen of Rome, which immediately hit me as a cut above the general quality of releases and was, in fact, a thoroughly absorbing and well-written book.

Given that, when I found out that he’d written a sequel, I virtually drooled with anticipation.

Bandits of Rome maintains the high standards set by the first book and continues to build characters and relationships while forming a completely separate plot, totally independent of the previous volume.

Following the troubles in Rome with the rogue priestess and the conflagrations in Watchmen of Rome, Carbo sets off with his vigiles friend, his woman and a small entourage to lay eyes for the first time on the plot of land that had been granted him on his retirement from the army. But on the journey, a chance encounter with an intriguing and deadly pair of killers leads him into a feud that threatens everything he cares about.

The characters from book one continue to deepen (with one notable exception – you’ll understand that when you read it) and the new characters are well-rounded and credible. In fact, Carbo himself becomes a much more 3dimensional character in this second volume as we are treated to a whole different side of him that makes him more human and sympathetic. The bad guys are at once creepy, vicious, dislikable and yet somehow fascinating. The settings, in small town and countryside estate, are a nice juxtaposition to the tight urbanism of book 1 and are described well enough that they capture the imagination and can easily be seen in the mind’s eye.

The plot was fresh, plausible and exciting, and possibly surpassed that of book 1. The pace never really let up, which made the book an enthralling read, pulling you along in the plot with never a pause. And there are moments in this novel, following a certain point in the story, which I consider to be extremely powerful writing, hitting the reader between the eyes and wrenching at their gut.

In short, Bandits of Rome is a very worthy sequel to an excellent book. I heartily recommend both of these. Carbo is fast becoming one of the seminal heroes of Roman fiction.

Written by SJAT

September 3, 2015 at 9:52 am

Vengeance is here

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Remember Raven? Well you should do! Giles Kristian’s debut book and the series that followed were ground-breaking for me, being the first Viking novels I had read. They had all the action, excitement and fur-wrapped adventure – with frozen snot in your beard – as a reader could hope.

Then Giles stopped (or more accurately paused) the Viking writing to delve into the world of the English Civil War with The Bleeding Land, which was one of the deepest, most harrowing pieces of historical fiction I ever read. A sequel spawned to that, and here was I awaiting the third of those novels. But no. Giles is of Norwegian descent and clearly he was, to quote a famous scene, pining for the fjords. As a surprise, instead of a third civil war novel, or even a fourth Raven one, we are given… (insert drumroll here) A PREQUEL!

Enter God of Vengeance. For those of you who haven’t read the Raven books, you’re in luck. This could be read without any prior knowledge. In fact perhaps it would even be better. For those who have, this novel tells the tale of our Raven fave Sigurd as a young man and treats us to his introduction to several of the solid characters who will make up his crew in Raven (including the excellent Black Floki.)

Sigurd is too young to accompany his father to war as part of King Gorm’s war on the rebel Jarl Randver. Instead he travels to a clifftop with family and friends to watch the sea battle unfold. To his horror, instead of seeing his father win easy glory, he watches as King Gorm betrays his father and the three ships are overwhelmed.

Thus begins Sigurd’s saga and a new series for Giles as the Odin-favoured wily hero, betrayed, orphaned and homeless sets out with the few survivors of his father’s oath-sworn to form a band of warriors – based upon a Gods-sent vision – in order to seek revenge on his enemies and regain his  honour. Ranging around a relatively small region of the western coast of Norway, Sigurd will wade through blood if he must to achieve his goal.

One of the surprising things about this book is the inclusion of a strong female character. Strong females are not all that common in ancient-medieval fiction anyway, and in the Viking world perhaps even less common. This shield maiden is a welcome addition to the cast.

The thing I will say above anything that recommends this book is the writing. Giles’ early works were very action/adventure, in the best possible way, while his civil war saga has  been harrowing and dark and emotional. God of Vengeance seems to draw on both sides of his writing to create a new, different style. It has the feel of a traditional Viking Saga. The wordsmithing in it is fine and authentic-feeling, and it will transport you right back to the era. Giles has moved on from being a storyteller of the highest calibre to being  a true Skald.

God of Vengeance is out today and if you loved Sigurd as the supporting character of Raven, you’ll LOVE him as the hero of his own saga.

Buy it today.

Written by SJAT

April 24, 2014 at 8:00 am