Monthly Archives: July 2011

Review: Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy


Dead or Alive
Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy

I have been reading Tom Clancy’s books since 1984 when he brought out his first book “The Hunt for Red October”, and I was hooked not just on his books but the films made from the books.
I have read all of his 12 Jack Ryan Yarns and found them to be some of the most excellent thrillers yet. Bear in mind Tom Clancy is America’s, and the world’s, much-loved worldwide thriller author, and starting with “The Hunt for Red October”, all thirteen of his previous books have reached number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, furthermore his books, “The Hunt for Red October”, “Patriot Games”, “Clear and Present Danger”, and “The Sum of All Fears” have been made into major movies.

That is why I am so disappointed in “Dead or Alive” I just couldn’t believe that Tom Clancy was involved in this book at all, I do read some collaborations but with this yarn I just could not find out what the book was really about.

The characters had all the familiar names but the conversation was so wordy that I just gave up, apparently they planned to be looking for somebody called the Emir but it was never explained why or what he was alleged to have done.
I was expecting a huge Tom Clancy story from this book but I found it difficult to keep going and by the third chapter gave up altogether, it just didn’t flow, it wasn’t what I had come to expect from Tom Clancy.

I will always be a fan of his and will always give him a chance with the next book, but “Dead or Alive” was a big disappointment, not what I was expecting, you of course may think differently, let me know what you think!

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Review: Tyrant, Book 1 of the Tyrant Series by Christian Cameron


Tyrant
Tyrant by Christian Cameron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tyrant, Book 1 of the Tyrant Series by Christian Cameron
If you read my book reviews, you will have realised by now that one of my favourite genres is historical fiction especially good yarns about ancient world, Rome, Greece and Briton in particular then when I found the books from Christian Cameron he did disappoint me, I was thrilled by his style of story weaving he is an outstanding weaver of tales about the ancient world.
He is going to become one of the top writers in this specific genre and the ancient era, up there with Conn Iggulden, Bernard Cornwell, and Simon Scarrow.
Anyway let’s get to the story;
“Tyrant”; a well-born officer of Athenian cavalry, Kineas fought shoulder to shoulder with Alexander in his epic battles against the Persian hordes. But when he returns to his native city, he finds not glory but ignominy, as all veterans of the Boy King’s campaigns are sent into exile. With nothing to his name but his military skills, Kineas has no choice but to become a mercenary, and soon accepts a commission to soldier for the Tyrant of Olbia, a wealthy city on the Black Sea. But when he reaches Olbia he finds he and his tight-knit band of Athenians have stumbled into a deadly maze of intrigue and conspiracy as the Tyrant plots to use them as a pawn in the increasingly complex power games between his own citizens, the so-called barbarians of the encroaching Scythian plains, and the dread military might of Macedon. Caught between his duty to the Tyrant, his loyalty to his men and a forbidden love affair with a charismatic Scythian noblewoman, Kineas must call on all his Athenian guile, his flair on the battlefield, and even – he is convinced – the intervention of the gods, to survive.
This is the first story I have read from Christian Cameron and I knew straight away that I was reading a story from someone who has a passion for the ancient world and it is his debut book in a series that I firmly believe will become very popular.
Undoubtedly the backdrop of the story and the dramatis personae (cast) a mixture of Greeks, local tribesmen, and others are original and believable.
The historical facts are quite correct and there is an adequate amount of action to keep you going with a sensation of exhilaration.
You know, I don’t know about other readers but with a good story I picture it in my head, almost cinematically, in fact with some books I can even see which actors should play a certain character anyhow, this is what I got from this story so I believe we know have a story-weaver of the same calibre as Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden, and Harry Sidebottom.
It is, as a rule easier said than done to create a believable story of an actual well documented era and culture, to do it whilst trying to keep to established historical facts and also entertain a reader who might find real history uninteresting is the mark of a superb story-weaver and in Christian Cameron with his first outing as a weaver of tales I think we have found a real treasure.
What did I like about this story?
Well the persona are plausible and as I have said before the descriptions of the battles soar into your mind really well.
It’s an absorbing read one in which you rapidly lose track of time, I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about intrigue, war, love, and the battle of good against evil.

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Review: Killer of Men, Book 1 of the Long War Series by Christian Cameron


Killer of Men
Killer of Men by Christian Cameron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Killer of Men, Book 1 of the Long War Series by Christian Cameron
If you read my book reviews, you will have realised by now that one of my favourite genres is historical fiction especially good yarns about ancient world, Rome, Greece and Briton in particular then when I found the books from Christian Cameron he did disappoint me, I was thrilled by his style of story weaving he is an outstanding weaver of tales about the ancient world.
He is going to become one of the top writers in this specific genre and the ancient era, up there with Conn Iggulden, Bernard Cornwell, and Simon Scarrow.
Anyway this is the first book of a brand new heroic story from the Christian Cameron author of the ‘Tyrant’ series I have sort of written some reviews of the “Tyrant” stories I just have to publish them.
Anyhow to “Killer of Men”, Greeks and Persians are poised on the edge of conflict, Arimnestos has been betrayed by his cousin and found himself a slave, and this is his journey out of bondage to seek his revenge.
This story-weaver impressed me with the amount of historical detail, moody battle scenes, and believable characters along with a fast and furious story it’s the beginning of another fantastic series of yarns from the ancient world.
Totally gripping, and here is something a little different it is told in the first person as Arimnestos now an old man narrates his life to a daughter, and what a life story to tell, I’m still picturing it in my minds eye!
As I said It’s a fast book with lots intrigue and several of the characters have imperfections of character just like in real life, Christian Cameron makes many of Arimnestos’ enemies also his friends and some of his allies his enemies just as I would expect it would have been at that time in the ancient world of Greece and Asia, just think of the Spartans and the Greek city states.

For me “Killer of Men” stands out from the crowd and I cannot highly recommend this book enough, if you like historical novels read it, if you like war stories read it, if you like intrigue, romance and an outright rollicking good story then you must read it.

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Review: King Arthur: Warrior of the West by M. K. Hume


King Arthur: Warrior of the West
King Arthur: Warrior of the West by M.K. Hume
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I said when I reviewed the first book in this trilogy “Dragon’s Child”, I have read and enjoyed Bernard Cornwell‘s Arthurian stories and Mary Stewart’s somewhat whimsical tales of Arthurian Legend. However I have to declare that M. K. Hume‘s Arthurian legend is a superb unorthodox account of one of the most treasured of British legends, she is up there with Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden.
I find that her style of weaving a story is somewhat distinctive and brimming with detail and creativity. Her talent to place images of bloody battle scenes in your head and then to explain the subtle involvements in her characters interactions is simply inspirational, furthermore if you are searching for a story weaver who can give you images of bloody battles you won’t be let down.
It’s always good to come across another great historical series and this new trilogy from M K Hume looks set to be one. The first book follows the story of Arthur from childhood into manhood. Exciting, violent and bloody and full of historical facts to keep you gripped throughout.
This tale includes all the time-honoured elements of this legend but this weaver of tales presents us with an original, unsentimental and most crucially a quite plausible tale.
I’m not saying it’s perfect it’s different, a bit darker and if you want to read of Arthur of the Britons beneath the customary legend then M. K. Hume has given us that choice.
Anyhow to the book;
M K Hume grasps this legend by the scruff of its neck and arranges the story based on realism and logic by producing a young man who struggles to accept the fate that is his by heritage in a brutal and bloody age.
This the second book in an exhilarating, Arthurian trilogy that starts twelve long, bloody years, after Artor fulfilled his destiny and was crowned the High King of the Britons. Against all odds, Artor has united Celtic Britain and with a last great campaign, has banished the Saxon scourge. The legend of Camlann has begun. But even as Artor’s kingdom is at its zenith, even as he has succeeded in conquering all external threats to his rule, his kingdom is being undermined from within.
Not only is Artor betrayed by the one person he should be able to trust, he has also learned of appalling perversion at the heart of his kingdom. He must make a terrible choice. Does he commit a deed that leaves him open to comparison with the despotic Uther Pendragon, or does he let evil go unchecked? The burden of leadership, of power, now rests solely – and heavily – on Artor’s shoulders for Myrddion Merlinus, master tactician, guiding light for so many years, has left Artor to his fate. Could all that Artor has fought for, the destiny of Britain, be lost? Will Britain be torn apart? Arthur (Artor) is now High King and takes revenge on the Saxons for the murder of his envoys.
Merlin (Myrddion) arranges a marriage for Arthur with the beautiful (but spoilt and dim – sounds very 21st Century WAG!) Guenevere (Wenhaver).
The beautiful and bewitching Nimue arrives (and in this version of the legend is one of the good people). At this point it all goes horribly wrong… but such is the way of legend.

The tale itself is agreeably narrated however after the opening violent) battle with the Saxons, we are left with a kind of peace for the country which doesn’t really seem right (Hence only 4 stars).
The tale then adheres to the Queen and her horrendous peevishness rather than keeping to Arthur and his task of the organising his army, knights and country and even though I enjoyed this book I found it more of a romantic fiction than a new and terrible vision of the Arthurian legend.
I imagine that, being the second book of the trilogy, we will have to wait for the third to come back to what I would think to be a horrendous ending that will certainly overcome Artor.
All in all it was a good read that left me wanting more, I just hope that the third and final part of this new version of Arthur of the Briton’s has more of Arthur and less of messed up, ill-tempered women!

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Review: King Arthur: Dragons Child by M. K Hume


King Arthur: Dragons Child
King Arthur: Dragons Child by M. K. Hume
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read and enjoyed Bernard Cornwell‘s Arthurian stories and Mary Stewart’s somewhat whimsical tales of Arthurian Legend. However I have to declare that M. K. Hume’s Arthurian legend is a superb unorthodox account of one of the most treasured of British legends.
This tale includes all the time-honoured elements of this legend but this weaver of tales presents us with an original, unsentimental and most crucially a quite plausible tale.
I’m not saying it’s perfect it’s different, a bit darker and if you want to read of Arthur of the Britons beneath the customary legend then M. K. Hume has given us that choice.
I have placed M. K. Hume on my favourite authors list; I find that her style of weaving a story is somewhat distinctive and brimming with detail and creativity. Her talent to place images of bloody battle scenes in your head and then to explain the subtle involvements in her characters interactions is simply inspirational, furthermore if you are searching for a story weaver who can give you images of bloody battles you won’t be let down.
Anyhow to the book;
Uther Pendragon, High King of Britain, is dying. As he weakens, Britain is being torn apart by the squabbling of kings. Only one man can bring them together. This is the legend of Artorex, the man destined to be King Arthur. Artorex, tall for his years, is growing up in the household of Lord Ector. Artorex was sent here by the Bishop of Glastonbury when he was but a babe in arms and, although his parentage is unknown, life has been unremarkable. That is, until the arrival of three men who arrange for him to be trained in the skills of the warrior; blade and shield, horse and fire; pain and bravery. By the time the men return, Artorex is both a father and a warrior — and married to Lady Gallia. The country is in a desperate state — Londinium is about to fall to the Saxons and Artorex is needed to help fight their advance. But to do so, he must leave his wife and family in the care of others. In an act of appalling treachery, they are slaughtered. But despite his terrible grief, Artorex’s destiny is set. He launches into a campaign of battle against the Saxon hordes, earning himself the trust of all men, and proving himself to be the only worthy successor to Uther. But Uther cannot accept Artorex’s role and hides his sword and crown. If Artorex is to unite the kings and fulfil his destiny, he needs the weapon destined to be worn by the High King of the Britons. Can he find the embittered Uther’s hiding place? The future of Britain is at stake
Dragon’s Child is the first book of the King Arthur trilogy and covers Artorex’s childhood and early adulthood up to the time when he discovers Uther’s crown and sword and is crowned High King and I find myself looking forward to the next two in this trilogy.

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