Sunday, 28 April 2013

Wolf's Gold, Anthony Riches

Publishers: Hodder & Stoughton

Pages: 371

Main Characters:

Marcus, Julius, Felicia

Wolf’s Gold is the fifth book in Anthony Riches's action packed Empire series. In his latest book, Riches takes our hero Centurion Marcus Corvus and his Tungrians away from their recent victory in Germania to the far reaches of the Empire. Their destination is Dacia on the north-eastern edge of the Empire, and their job is to protect an important gold mine that supplies the Imperial Treasury with tonnes of gold every day! The mine has come under threat from the Sarmatians, a rebellious tribe that lives in the area. The Sarmatians are a war-like people who are feared for their skills in archery and for the poisoned arrows they use against their enemies.

However, as Marcus and his fellow officers find out, the rebellion is not as straightforward as it seems, as the King of the Sarmatian horde, Asander is not as hostile to Rome as is first thought. However, he is a puppet for his hot headed brother-in-law Inarmaz, who is violently opposed to Roman rule in Dacia. Marcus and his Tribune, Scaurus work hard to have Inarmaz removed as a threat from the Sarmatian army. However, they soon find out that the temptation of gold is not easily quenched, as traitors from within their own ranks plot to seize the gold mine and steal all of the Emperor’s gold, whilst setting their old comrades up to face a severe fight. The likes of which they haven’t seen since Germania.

This was another great edition to Riches’s Empire series. I liked the fact that the Tungrians were taken to another part of the Empire to fight new and interesting allies. I also liked the fact that Marcus’s storyline is built on in this book, as he debates with himself if he should return to Rome to avenge his family’s murder, or just try and move on with his new wife and son.  It gives some insight to where the series is going to go in the next few books, which got me really excited to read the next novel!

I’d suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of other ‘Roman’ novels and authors such as Ben Kane, Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden and Gordon Doherty. As a series, I’d highly suggest it to anyone who wants to get into Roman historical-fiction as it is a great series packed full of action, battles and great characters!

For author’s website click here.

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Forgotten Legion, Ben Kane

Publishers:  Arrow Books

Pages: 432

Main Characters:

Romulus, Tarquinius, Fabiola, Brennus.

The Forgotten Legion is the first book in Ben Kane's epic three part The Forgotten Legion series. A series, which I have to admit, I have not read but instead have listened to as audiobooks. I am currently on the final part of the second book in the series called The Silver Eagle and have just download the final book of the trilogy, The Road to Rome onto my phone today! As a series of audiobooks, I have to say that I have been really pleased! The narrator Michael Pread does an excellent job of bringing Kane’s story to life. I especially like Pread’s narrations of the battles in these books as he make you feel like you’re there, standing in the Roman ranks with all the shouting and chaos going on around you!

The Forgotten Legion is based around one of the most infamous eras of Roman history, the triumvirate of Pompeii Magnus, Crassus and Julius Caesar. During this period of corruption and instability emerges two tales. The first is that of Tarquinius, an Etruscan warrior and soothsayer who has the ability to tell the future from the stars, the elements and from the innards of animals. At a young age, Tarquinius is told by his teacher that he will travel to Rome and there meet and befriend two Gladiators. The Etruscan keeps this prophecy in mind, and after his teacher’s death, travels to Rome. In the city, his prophecy is reveal as (by accident) he is introduced to two Gladiators who are wrongly accused of murder and are on the run from Roman justice.

The second story follows Romulus and Fabiola. Romulus and Fabiola are twins who were born as slaves into the ownership of a wicked merchant. At the age of thirteen, the twins are sold into two of the harshest forms of slavery. Romulus is sold to a Gladiator school and Fabiola is sold to the Lupanar, Rome’s most famous and expensive brothel.  Life seems over for the two young slaves, Gladiators only last a few months in the vicious Lupus Magnus and Fabiola seems destine to live out her life as the plaything of wealthy men. However, their stories do have a silver lining.

For Fabiola this comes with the introduction of Decimus Brutus, a charming army officer and Julius Caesar’s right hand man. Fabiola (after been taught the tricks of her trade) manages to seduce Brutus with the hope that one day he will buy her freedom and reunite her with Romulus. Romulus’s silver lining comes in the friendship he makes with a Gaul called Brennus, who happens to be the best Gladiator in all of Rome! Brennus helps train the young slave in sword fighting and when the chance arises, even sneaks Romulus out of the Lupus Magnus for a night on the town! However, the night does not go as planned, resulting in Romulus been accused of murdering a Roman noble and the two Gladiators fleeing for their lives. Luckily, fate seems to be on the Gladiators’ side as they manage to escape Rome and join an auxiliary unit destined for service in the East with Crassus’s army. It is here where the two Gladiators meet Tarquinius and the prophecy is fulfilled. However, with the army moving east against Rome’s greatest enemy, their journey is not at an end, as the three suffer bad omens, defeat and capture to become part of the Forgotten Legion!

This was a great book! I thought the story of Crassus’s army and the ‘Forgotten Legion’ was really interesting because most other novels based in this period of history are always set around Caesar’s ascendancy and Pompeii’s reaction. So I found it really interesting reading about Crassus’s fate and the amazing story of the Legionaries that were captured after the battle of Carrhae. As always, Kane does an extremely good job of adding precise details to his novels, which gives his books historical accuracy. At the same time, the detail also makes them extremely fun to read as the extra details makes it much easier to visualise these events that happened over two thousand years ago! Plus, when you have Michael Pread narrating, it gives another, extra bonus to the book and I’d highly suggest you check out the audiobook of The Forgotten Legion!

A really entertaining book (and so far) an amazing series. I would suggest this book to anyone who is a historical-fiction fan and enjoys Ben Kane's other novels. I'd also suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of authors such as: Anthony Riches, Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden and Gordon Doherty.

By the way, why not check out my Youtube review of The Forgotten Legion below and remember to give it a ‘thumbs up’ if you like and maybe even give my channel a subscribe if you really like :D

For author’s official website click here.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett

Publishers: Harper Perennial

Pages: 224

Main Characters:

Rincewind, Twoflower, the Luggage, Death

The Colour of Magic is the first novel in Terry Pratchett’s legendary and loveable Discworld series. The novel takes place on a disc-shaped world, floating on the back of four elephants, which are riding on the back of a giant turtle that travels through the universe! The story follows two main characters, Rincewind and Twoflower. Rincewind is a failed wizard from the city of Ankh-Morpork, who because of his daring nature was expelled from the wizard’s university before he could learn any spells. However, from reading a restricted book (which is the reason he gets through out of the university) he does accidently manage to learn one extremely powerful spell. Unfortunately, the spell will only reveal its words whenever it chooses and again leaves Rincewind a wizard without any magic! Plus, things are made much worse for Rincewind as he is plagued by Death who makes it his goal to kill the unfortunate wizard!

Twoflower is an insurance seller from the Agatean Empire (which is on the opposite side of the Discworld from Ankh- Morpork) who decides that he wants to travel and see the Discworld. One day, Twoflower packs up his luggage and sets sail to Ankh-Morpork. Now, Twoflower is very na├»ve and doesn’t realise that the Agatean Empire and Ankh-Morpork are two very different places. In the Empire, there is a vast amount of gold, which means that each of its citizens is very rich compared to the people of Ankh-Morpork. Thus, when Twoflower turns up with a magical suitcase full of gold, he gets a few strange and unfriendly looks. Twoflower is the first ever tourist to Ankh-Morpork and the ruler of the city has to keep him safe, otherwise he’ll feel the wrath of the Agatean Empire. To keep Twoflower safe, the ruler of Ankh-Morpork appoints Rincewind as his guide. However, the task is not an easy one, as the wizard and the tourist have to flee the city because of a fire started by Twoflower, setting them on a magical and hilarious journey!

I’ve wanted to read a Terry Pratchett’s novel for a while now but I never really knew where to start! I was thinking of reading his latest novel Dodger, which I think is the thirty-ninth novel in his Discworld series. However, after some advice, I decided to start at the very beginning of Pratchett’s extensive series with The Colour of Magic and I’m glad I did, because this book was great!

My favourite part about the novel was its humour and its apparent randomness! After reading some reviews of the book, I noticed that not everyone enjoyed this. However, for me, I thought this was great and made the book extremely fun to read. In addition, the novel is left on a great cliff-hanger making me want to read the next novel in the series.

All in all, this was a really fun and entertaining novel and I can’t wait to read more novels from the Discworld series. Hopefully one day I’ll have read them all but I don’t think that will be any day soon! I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fantasy fan or anyone who is a fan of fairy-tale stories. Fans of Hank Quense's work will also love this novel as they both have that humorous, quirky feel to them!

For author’s website click here.

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