Category Archives: Historical Fiction

A Review of Tribune of Rome (Vespasian #1) by Robert Fabbri

Tribune of Rome (Vespasian #1), Robert Fabbri

My rating: 5 of 5stars

Authors/Publishers Book Description/Synopsis

ONE MAN: ONE DESTINY 26 AD: Sixteen-year-old Vespasian leaves his family farm for Rome, his sights set on finding a patron and following his brother into the army. But he discovers a city in turmoil and an Empire on the brink. The aging emperor Tiberius is in seclusion on Capri, leaving Rome in the iron grip of Sejanus, commander of the Praetorian Guard. Sejanus is ruler of the Empire in all but name, but many fear that isn’t enough for him. Sejanus’ spies are everywhere – careless words at a dinner party can be as dangerous as a barbarian arrow. Vespasian is totally out of his depth, making dangerous enemies (and even more dangerous friends – like the young Caligula) and soon finds himself ensnared in a conspiracy against Tiberius. With the situation in Rome deteriorating, Vespasian flees the city to take up his position as tribune in an unfashionable legion on the Balkan frontier. Un-blooded and inexperienced, he must lead his men in savage battle with hostile mountain tribes – dangerous enough without renegade Praetorians and Imperial agents trying to kill him too. Somehow, he must survive long enough to uncover the identity of the traitors behind the growing revolt

Robert Fabbri read Drama and Theatre at London University and has worked in film and TV for 25 years. He is an assistant director and has worked on productions such as Hornblower, Hellraiser, Patriot Games and Billy Elliot. Now, his life-long passion for ancient history, especially for that of the Roman Empire, has drawn him to write his first novel. He lives in London and Berlin.

What Do I Think?

A very good read this the author without a doubt has a sincere love of the historical genre and this stood out all through.
The characters were agreeable and I found the relationship between Vespasian and Magnus entertaining and unforgettable.
Clearly this story weaver knows his facts and wove them into a believable story, with a whole horde of books out there with the Roman army in action, a story weaver has to do something distinct to get their stories noticed, what Robert Fabbri has done in this story is placing one of the most fascinating of the Roman Emperors who emerged to this lofty rank about AD 68.
Robert Fabbri has written a story of style, well plotted with superb characters, with fiction and non-fiction brought together well.
So now we have probably a fresh challenger to Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane, Conn Iggulden, Douglas Jackson and the like competing for the prime position of this genre.
In conclusion I can truly say if you’re a enthusiast of Roman historical novels then this is an unquestionable must read.
Buy it, you won’t be disappointed!

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Review: King’s Man

King's Man
King’s Man by Angus Donald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Authors/Publishers Book Description/Synopsis

The third crusade is over Richard the Lionheart is bound for England. But with all the princes of Europe united against him . . . can the greatest warrior in Christendom make it safely home?
The lion is chained Captured. Bound. Imprisoned. King Richard’s slim hope of salvation rests on one man – a former outlaw, a vengeful earl, a man who scoffs at holy mother church:
Robin Hood For king and country robin and his loyal lieutenant Alan Dale will risk all – from blood-soaked battlefields to deadly assassins – to see the Lionheart restored to his rightful throne.

What Do I Think?

All I need to do now is read the first book in the series and I will know everything?
This story-weaver is fast becoming one of my all time favourites, what is more important I think I have found the successor to Bernard Cornwell’s crown as master story-weaver.

With this the third book in the Outlaw Chronicles, Angus Donald throws you headlong into his medieval world using the formidable account of Alan Dale to escort you through a kingdom of injustice, ardent sex, bloodthirsty battles fought by factual heroes legends and, murderous outlaws.

A true adventure story from a master story-weaver, it took me a couple of days to read this book its a real page turner and the way in which Angus Donald portrays Robin Hood is nothing short of genius he has made him what I always believed a real Robin Hood would have been; a merciless, hard-hearted SOB who will do almost anything for his King. We in reality shouldn’t like him; however his steadfastness and love for each one inside his gang leaves you feeling nothing but admiration for him and his followers from start to end.
I am looking forward to the next book hopefully one in which we see and hear more from Alan Dale’s memories.

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A Review of Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

Authors/Publishers Book Description/Synopsis

Ken Follett‘s “World Without End” was a global phenomenon, a work of grand historical sweep, beloved by millions of readers and acclaimed by critics. Fall of Giants is his magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage.

Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams enters a man’s world in the Welsh mining pits…Gus Dewar, an American law student rejected in love, finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson’s White House…two orphaned Russian brothers, Grigori and Lev Peshkov, embark on radically different paths half a world apart when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution…Billy’s sister, Ethel, a housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts, takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with Walter Von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in London…

These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as, in a saga of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, Fall of Giants moves seamlessly from Washington to St. Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. It is destined to be a new classic.

In future volumes of The Century Trilogy, subsequent generations of the same families will travel through the great events of the rest of the twentieth century, changing themselves-and the century itself. With passion and the hand of a master, Follett brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again.

What Do I Think?

Ken Follett without doubt lays down his reputation as a master story-weaver of the historical classic with “Fall of Giants,” this the first part of an incredibly large-scale piece of story telling, he has called “the Century Trilogy” as the series title signifies, it narrates the unruly times of the 20th century.

Set alongside this chronological view are the tangled lives of nearly a hundred characters but don’t worry this story-weaver has at the front of this book given us a cast list of the characters involved, a whole six pages.
This tale begins in 1911 when the giants of the title, the crowned heads of Europe, are powerfully established in their palaces, when it ends in 1924 they are all gone except King George V of Britain.

Between the 1911 and 1924 we have the various upheavals that were to restructure the world, the world that my great grandparents and grandparents knew.

Offered with plenty of possibility for action by these somewhat turbulent times Ken Follett takes full advantage of this occasion to weave a story that must surely touch the lives of each and every reader.

Apart from the destinies of the reigning crowned heads of Europe we follow the entangled destinies of five families, in Wales, England, Germany, Russia, and America.

Ken Follett has a thorough understanding of the history of this period and his skill to incorporate his research and his fictional characters into an animated, appealing story is masterful.

He’s exceptionally successful in relating the build-up to the 1914-18 war, when all hopes of a peaceful resolution steadily disappeared because of the conceit, belligerence, and epic lack of forethought of the powers that be led the way for the devastation that would overshadow the following decades.

This is a gigantic book; however, it was quick to read what with love stories, industrial unrest, political dramas, battlefield awfulness, class struggles it is presented to us in instalments, setting out on the journey first with one section of the story, and then another, at times joining together in unforeseen ways.

I loved the way the characters are eyewitness’s to such historic events which include; The Battle of the Somme (My maternal great-grandfather fell on the first day), Germany signing the Treaty of Versailles to name but two of many historical events and the way that Ken Follett is so adept to be able weave fact with fiction is inspiring and enlightening.

I really got a sense of how these events had an effect on the lives of so many of my very own families, and as I read this book I found myself thinking that what my great grandparents and grandparents had to go through is why they fought so hard for the vote, women’s equality and a living wage and why the first world war maybe had to happen.

In conclusion this is book that is unquestionably worth reading, it’s competently researched, effortless to read, and keeps the reader’s attention throughout, and I guarantee that If, like me, you enjoy historical novels you’ll take pleasure in the masterly woven stories of Ken Follett for his ability to make history come alive.

A Review of The Third Secret by Steve Berry

The Third Secret
The Third Secret by Steve Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Authors/Publishers Book Description/Synopsis

Explosive in both its pace and its revelations, The Third Secret is a remarkable international thriller. Bestselling author Steve Berry tackles some of the most controversial ideas of our time in a breakneck journey through the history of the Church and the future of religion.
Fatima, Portugal, 1917: The Virgin Mary appears to three peasant children, sharing with them three secrets, two of which are soon revealed to the world. The third secret is sealed away in the Vatican, read only by popes, and not disclosed until the year 2000. When revealed, its quizzical tone and anticlimactic nature leave many faithful wondering if the Church has truly unveiled all of the Virgin Mary’s words–or if a message far more important has been left in the shadows.
Vatican City, present day: Papal secretary Father Colin Michener is concerned for the Pope. Night after restless night, Pope Clement XV enters the Vatican’s Riserva, the special archive open only to popes, where the Church’s most clandestine and controversial documents are stored. Though unsure of the details, Michener knows that the Pope’s distress stems from the revelations of Fatima.
Equally concerned, but not out of any sense of compassion, is Alberto Cardinal Valendrea, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Valendrea desperately covets the papacy, having narrowly lost out to Clement at the last conclave. Now the Pope’s interest in Fatima threatens to uncover a shocking ancient truth that Valendrea has kept to himself for many years.
When Pope Clement sends Michener to the Romanian highlands, then to a Bosnian holy site, in search of a priest–possibly one of the last people on Earth who knows Mary’s true message–a perilous set of events unfolds. Michener finds himself embroiled in murder, suspicion, suicide, deceit, and his forbidden passion for a beloved woman. In a desperate search for answers, he travels to Pope Clement’s birthplace in Germany, where he learns that the third secret of Fatima may dictate the very fate of the Church–a fate now lying in Michener’s own hands.

What Do I Think?

I think Steve Berry is a remarkable writer and having read nearly all of his books I think I can say with all honesty that they continue to take me to a world of adventure and mystery a world filled with wonderful characters, plots, twists and turns, and world famous locations.

An out-and-out story weaver who weaves stories and plots of all you could want in a genre that is so difficult to write.
Everybody appears to be writing books on the subject of the Catholic Church ever since the Da Vinci Code was written, I liked the Da Vinci Code unlike a few others but then again I am a catholic and I do like conspiracy theories.

Steve Berry can weave a story which includes some of the best conspiracies you could ever want and the Third Secret is one of his best examples, yes it’s a work of fiction but there’s nowt like a bit of truth to make you question exactly where the fiction ends and fact begins, a real testament to his research.

This was an extremely compelling thriller that involves the story of the third secret of Fatima, in addition to the political machinations in the Vatican; it is a high-speed plot focused detective story
I found myself compulsively turning the pages as the story evolved just to see what happened next, the story may upset some readers this is owing to the portrayal of some of the priests who are shown to be as corrupt and able of murder as the worst of criminals but, one should consider that in the past we have had some quite nasty popes, cardinals etc in the church more to the point, priests are people, and, as such they like us are subject to temptation.

The focal point of the story is the third secret of Fatima, and even though the third secret of Fatima was released to the world by Pope John Paul II this secret was so unlike the other two secrets as well as being so enigmatic that loads of people believe there was more to the secret than was published.

This master story-weaver has taken advantage of this and has woven a story that is interwoven with historical facts, world events, along with his very own plots, twists, and turns.
I believe this is a story that will be enjoyed by fans of “The Da VInci Code” and “Angels and Demons”, as well as by those who enjoy well written thrillers.

In conclusion “The Third Secret” has it all, travelling in Europe, homicide, deception, and excitement, it is compelling and provocative read it and enjoy.


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A Review of : Holy Warrior by Angus Donald

Holy Warrior
Holy Warrior by Angus Donald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I know I have gone and done it again and read a book out of sequence, I don’t care this was a fantastic story told by a master story-weaver.

Authors/Publishers Book Description/Synopsis

Arrows will fly. Swords will swing. Heroes will fall. Legends will survive. And the Holy Land will never be the same. 1190 AD: Richard the Lionheart has launched his epic crusade to seize Jerusalem from the cruel Saracens. Marching with the vast royal army is Britain’s most famous, most feared, most ferocious warrior: the Outlaw of Nottingham, the Earl of Locksley — Robin Hood himself. With his band of loyal men at his side, Robin cuts a bloody swathe on the brutal journey east. Daring and dangerous, he can outwit and outlast any foe — but the crimson battlefields of the Holy Land are the ultimate proving ground. And within Robin’s camp lurks a traitor — a stealthy enemy determined to slay Christendom’s greatest outlaw before the trumpets fade. Blazingly paced and richly imagined, featuring a cast of unforgettable characters and packed with fast, furious action, Holy Warrior is adventure at its thrilling, white-knuckle best.

What Do I Think?

A story of a real historical figure and a legend what more could I ask for? A lot more and did I get it? Yes I got intrigue, battles, romance, murder, mystery, and a fast paced story that I could not put down and what is more important I think I have found the successor to Bernard Cornwell’s crown as master story-weaver.

Those of you who have read Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian stories will recognise the set-up of the story being told by the main character who in this story is Alan Dale who in his declining years tells of his youth spent with the legendary bandit Robin Hood. It is a no holds barred account, with the normally portrayed gallant and wayward Robin depicted as a merciless robber baron.

Angus Donald blends in a small amount of subplots with the actual crusade itself so the story becomes a mystery/murder as well as a fast paced historical thriller this story will keep you turning the pages as you want/need to get to the bottom of these sub-plots all the while in your mind’s eye you are taking part in the great pilgrimage which is on the face of it is a correct account of “The Lionheart’s” expedition to free Jerusalem and the story-weaver makes it more real with some outstanding battle scenes.

Angus Donald’s story-weaving is outstanding, fast paced, evocative oh so evocative! you can almost smell the blood, the cities and towns you find yourself empathizing with the characters yes even some of the baddies and nothing detracts from the main plot, this story-weaver keeps you turning the pages so much so that you have finished the book before you know it.

In conclusion I can only say that this is a story I will want to read again and again it is a Boy’s Own Story for Grown-up Boys and Girls, I just can’t wait for the next instalment which is waiting on my bookshelf, the first in the series will just have to wait!

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