Tag: Book Review

Blog Tour Review: Enemies of Mercia – M.J. Porter

When I saw Enemies of Mercia on tour with Rachel’s Random Resources, I signed up immediately! Regular readers will know that I have reviewed prior books in this series as part of blog tours before. If you want to get up to speed with any books from the series so far, here are some links to check those out!

Son of Mercia     Wolf of Mercia     Warrior of Mercia

Eagle of Mercia       Protector of Mercia

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this latest tour, as well as to M.J. Porter. I’m looking forward to discussing specifics on why I loved this latest instalment… so how about we get stuck in?!

 

Enemies of Mercia – M.J. Porter

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 339

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date:  04 Apr 2024

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Enemies of Mercia

A King’s command. A warrior’s quest for the truth…

Tamworth AD835

Following Icel’s epic rescue of Lord Coenwulf’s children from their almost certain death, King Wiglaf is forced to call upon Icel’s loyal services once more.

Furious that the conspirators behind the audacious move to snatch the children have yet to face justice, he despatches Icel to hunt down the enemy of Mercia and discover who seeks to conspire against the throne.

The dangerous mission will take Icel into the heartland of enemy-held Wessex to Winchester and onto Canterbury. As the web of lies and deceit grows, Icel must battle to discover the truth whilst keeping himself and his allies safe.

But those who conspire against the King have much to lose and will stop at nothing to prevent Icel discovering the truth.

Once more, Icel’s life is endangered as he tries to protect Mercia from her enemies who threaten Mercia’s kingly line.

 

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/EnemiesofMerciasocial

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Although the wider Eagle of Mercia series is set during a time of Viking invasion and population in Britain, Enemies of Mercia focuses on internal conflict between Saxon kingdoms. I’ve enjoyed the depth and detail we’ve explored in this series so far – and this sixth instalment builds upon that cleverly. 

Events in Enemies of Mercia follow on almost directly after those of book 5. What I also really enjoyed about this book is how the consequences of those events have shaped both characters and the events that follow. Without giving anything away, it’s something we’ve not seen before in the series, and from a development point of view, I really enjoyed this. More on that later.

The driver of the plot in this instalment is very political. That said, we follow Icel amongst other characters in their quest to find out the truth of a conspiracy to murder heirs to the Mercian throne. This inevitably leads them into all kinds of danger, battle, and desperate chases for their lives. If you enjoy fast-paced and action-driven historical fiction, Enemies of Mercia will not disappoint! I really enjoyed the balance of the underlying motive, together with the actual investigation and elements of danger our protagonist inevitably gets embroiled in. Icel is in more danger than ever as he tries to quash a dangerous plot against fellow Mercians.

 

Setting

Stepping into enemy territory was never going to be a walk in the park. Doing so to try and uncover a conspiracy to murder innocent children, and make it back to Mercia and King Wiglaf with evidence is a challenge. Nevertheless, that is the quest Icel embarks on at the request of his King.

By nature, stepping into hostile territory is fraught with danger. It also incorporates a lot of tension into the narrative, which was a real contributing factor in keeping me reading on…and on, and just another chapter… 

Many of the places we find ourselves in during the narrative should be familiar to readers from previous books, or even from a basic understanding of English geography. Some place names do very slightly from modern day, but they are distinct enough to identify what is happening where. Geography was probably one of my worst subjects at school and I still didn’t have a problem.

 

Characters

Icel undergoes yet more character development in this latest instalment of the series. Without giving away spoilers as to events of the previous book, in Enemies of Mercia Icel suffers physically and with his confidence as a result of those final events. Instead of being the strong warrior who recovers to go charging to the next battle headlong, instead we see a slightly more reserved young man.

It changes the dynamic of the narrative as well. Instead, we see some attempts at avoiding conflict where possible. It’s fair to say he is a bit more of a tactical individual who would rather pick his battles as opposed to have others choose it for him. That’s not to say he always gets his way, because this world wouldn’t be what it was without perpetual infighting.

I enjoyed seeing Icel reflect on his experiences to date and use them as an opportunity to grow. Whilst he may think himself a lesser man for his predicament, I think it’s a big plus, and shows a level of maturity, that he doesn’t just dive in and consider the consequences later.

Icel is by far one of my favourite characters, not just in this book or series, but in the genre. He is a complex character that has grown considerably in the series to date. I highly doubt that will cease to be true in further books in the series either, which has me asking where he will go next!

 

Narrative Style

Enemies of Mercia, with its conspiracies and unfolding drama, is a fast-paced page turner. I read this book in a handful of settings, purely because once I picked it up, I didn’t want to put it down again! Action and plot threads unravelling consistently mean that readers will always want to pick up just one more chapter. At least, I did!

The chapters in this book are also a great length to keep readers engaged. They are neither too short, nor so long that we lose interest. This is also great if you do need to pick up and put down the book around other things. It makes the text approachable for readers of any commitment level.

The same can be said for the length of the book. There is plenty of page count to explore a detailed narrative in Enemies of Mercia without becoming too long or overwhelming.

 

Summary

I really enjoyed this sixth instalment to the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles, and I can’t wait to see where future events take us. It is abundantly clear Icel still has a part to play in the fate of Mercia and the other Kingdoms yet to come. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

Author Bio

M.J. Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, and in Viking Age Denmark. They were raised in the shadow of a building that they believed housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia – so their writing destiny was set. The first novel in their new Anglo-Saxon series for Boldwood Son of Mercia was published in February 2022.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MJPorterauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/coloursofunison

Instagram: MJ Porter (@m_j_porter) • Instagram photos and videos

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/MJPorterNews

Bookbub profile: MJ Porter Books – BookBub

Blog Tour Review: Lost Solace – Karl Drinkwater

In today’s post, I have the privilege to share my review of Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater. I originally shared my review back in February, but I’m back today having touched up my review to share as part of the blog tour!

As always, a huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to the author Karl Drinkwater. I received a review copy of the earlier edition of the book and as you will see, I thought the book was fantastic!

If you’re looking for a fun science-fiction novel to pick up and potentially explore the further series, look no further!

 

Lost Solace – Karl Drinkwater

Genre: Science-fiction

Pages: 258

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Organic Apocalypse

Original Publication Date: 15 Oct 2017

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads –  Lost Solace

They’re called the Lost Ships … but sometimes they come back.

And when they do the crews are missing, while the ships have been strangely altered, rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal Imbiana has been seeking something her whole life. It’s a secret so precious she’s willing to risk her life recovering it from a recently discovered Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But with the aid of an amazing AI companion and experimental armoured suit, Opal might just stand a chance.

This blast of a book kickstarted the much-loved Lost Solace series, about an unlikely friendship between two women who keep hope alive in the darkest of times.

 

Purchase Links:

https://books2read.com/karldrinkwater

https://karldrinkwater.myshopify.com

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

If you enjoy fast paced, action-led plot-lines then Lost Solace is a book you won’t want to miss! Full of twists and turns, within is a compelling storyline in which we explore many interesting facets of lore in this world.

Opal is determined to explore the hostile environment of a re-emerged Lost Ship. Not only does she have the local environment to overcome, but she is also challenged by other humans on her quest for discovery. With an AI, Clarissa, on her side, she sets out to do what would appear to be impossible.

In a race against time, will Opal and Clarissa prevail? 

 

Setting

The Lost Ship is an eerie setting we get to explore in detail throughout the narrative. Whilst Opal and Clarissa feel very isolated in their quest, they are far from alone. If the local hostile environment wasn’t enough to contend with, Opal is being hunted down.

The tension and atmosphere Karl Drinkwater incorporates into this already busy narrative is impressive. Although the book overall is very action-led, there is plenty of world-building and description incorporated into the narrative to construct an immersive, deserted and eerie atmosphere present throughout.

 

Characters

Lost Solace is told from the perspective of two strong female leads. The first of these is Opal. She is a strong and inquisitive individual, empowered by her determination and force of will. Opal is accompanied by an AI known as Clarissa. She is incredibly smart – as can only be expected from a supercomputer. However, this isn’t just where her strengths lie.

For artificial intelligence, she is full of humour and dry wit. It’s a facet of personality that I expected from her character as a result of reading Helene, but otherwise would have been surprised by. It works very well too! Clarissa stands out and the personality quirk adds depth to her character.

The interactions between Opal and Clarissa are hilarious to read and their relationship is one of my favourite aspects of the book. Their witty dialogue is interspersed within the action in the book, making for a well-rounded read.

As a little extra, we also get to see characters from Karl Drinkwater’s other Lost Tales of Solace series. It was fun to see the overlap and get to revisit some of these individuals!

 

Narrative Style

Lost Solace has an easy to read, flowing narrative style. The book is approachable for readers of all levels and experience. Although a science-fiction novel, the content isn’t so technologically advanced that readers are unable to understand what’s going on. It strikes just the right balance of setting the scene, but also being clear and descriptive so no presumed knowledge is required.

At under 300 pages, it is also a quick read. I am a fast reader anyway, but a book of this length is definitely approachable for anyone interested in (or wants to try) the genre, and for any level of commitment.

 

Summary

I am a fan of science-fiction, so I was never not going to love Lost Solace. It is the first book in a series that I will be continuing with as soon as possible!

Lastly, I cannot help but share the dedication that Karl includes in the opening of this book. I loved it!

To strong women everywhere, at all times. 

 

Author Bio

Karl Drinkwater is an author with a silly name and a thousand-mile stare. He writes dystopian space opera, dark suspense and diverse social fiction. If you want compelling stories and characters worth caring about, then you’re in the right place. Welcome!

Karl lives in Scotland and owns two kilts. He has degrees in librarianship, literature and classics, but also studied astronomy and philosophy. Dolly the cat helps him finish books by sleeping on his lap so he can’t leave the desk. When he isn’t writing he loves music, nature, games and vegan cake.

Go to karldrinkwater.uk to view all his books grouped by genre.

As well as crafting his own fictional worlds, Karl has supported other writers for years with his creative writing workshops, editorial services, articles on writing and publishing, and mentoring of new authors. He’s also judged writing competitions such as the international Bram Stoker Awards, which act as a snapshot of quality contemporary fiction.

DON’T MISS OUT!

Enter your email at karldrinkwater.substack.com to be notified about his new books. Fans mean a lot to him, and replies to the newsletter go straight to his inbox, where every email is read. There is also an option for paid subscribers to support his work: in exchange you receive additional posts and complimentary books.

Social Media Links

Newsletter (and Substack) https://karldrinkwater.substack.com/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5766025.Karl_Drinkwater

Book Review: Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

Today, I review a book on my review backlist – Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb! I’ve published a few review for blog tours of late. It’s been fun, and I want to keep up momentum of reviews and recommendations. 

I first picked up the book on the recommendation of my friend Rachael. She loves Robin Hobb and I gave her a go based on that recommendation. I haven’t looked back since! Since reading Assassin’s Apprentice in 2022 I’ve gone on to read 5 further books in the Realm of the Elderlings series and loved every one. I’m also hoping to read Fool’s Errand soon and return to Fitz and his adventures.

But, I guess I need to introduce you to him first! So, let’s crack on!

 

Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 392

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 01 April 1995

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads –  Assassin’s Apprentice

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

 

My Thoughts

Plot

In Assassin‘s Apprentice, we follow a young boy who is known to us as Fitz. In the opening of the narrative, he is just a small child, dropped off at the home of his father who is absent. Instead, he is cared for by his loyal man and stable master Burrich.

Fitz is eventually brought into the royal household, but his duties are far from regular. He serves the crown by training and executing his duty as the royal assassin. Not only that, but he is an irregular boy. Fitz shows signs of a form of magic frowned upon. Having been a part of his identity all his life, he fails to see why the superstition of others should prevent him from bonding with animals. It’s a point of conflict throughout an I expect this to become even more prominent in the later series. 

If you enjoy fantasy with plenty of political intrigue, then this book is a great foundation for a series rife with it! I really enjoyed the depth and attention to detail even in this opening book. It is shorter than the sequels to this mini series within the Realm of the Elderlings universe. Even so, it really paves the way and draws the reader in. Honestly, this description of the book really doesn’t do it justice, but I doubt I ever could!

 

Setting

Western medieval fantasy fans will be in their element. The vast majority of this first book is set in the location of Buckkeep. Home to the Royal family, it is where Fitz is brought as a young boy and we watch him progress into adolescence and role in court.

It is a very typical setting on its own, but it is vastly complimented by the introduction to the wider landscape and universe that Robin Hobb writes so well. We start to see some of this landscape explored in this first book and it adds a great deal of contrast to the political landscape we otherwise spend our time exploring.

 

Characters

Fitz is a wonderful and complex protagonist, and his perspective is one that I have enjoyed the most out of the series so far. At first I was a little bit disappointed when the second mini series deviated from his character arc. However, I quickly got over that because that set of books follow a completely different (but equally impressive) character set. I am excited to be going back to his storyline in the next mini series though, I can’t lie.

Fitz it’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster in that his relationships with the people around him are constantly changing. Dynamics constantly ebb and flow, and it makes the events taking place in the book feel even more tangible and like real life.

In reality, Fitz is one of many in-depth characters in the series. There are many prominent characters in their own right, such as Verity, the Fool, Chade and Burrich. They all ultimately help shape and support the man Fitz becomes. Even beyond that, every character introduced has their part to play, however major or minor.

 

Narrative Style

Personally, I find Robin Hobb to be an author to take on the slower side. These books aren’t the quickest in terms of pace or readability. But, with the amount going on at any one time, that’s not a bad thing. There is a lot of depth and detail to take in and turn over.

Assassin’s Apprentice itself isn’t so bad, but this comes into play more as you get further into the series. I love these books, but I feel it’s only fair to advise this to potential future readers to manage expectations. There have been times I have wanted to read her books more quickly, but I’m not able to. You may have a completely different experience and find it easy to rattle through her narrative. If you do, that’s great! When it comes to Robin Hobb, I’m a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of girl.

In terms of the written style itself, I find there is a good balance of action, as well as world-building and general description. There is no lack of detail in these books, and especially so in this introduction. It’s the shortest of the series I’ve read so far, with the longest being near 900 pages. Even across these vastly different page ranges, the writing style is consistent throughout. Robin Hobb has a knack of lifting events off the page and portraying it vividly in the readers mind.

 

Summary

If you are looking for a new epic fantasy series to start, and aren’t intimidated by a large number of books (or page count), I strongly recommend Realm of the ElderIings. I only discovered Robin Hobb for the first time in 2022 and already she is one of my favourite authors!

I love this series and I am always looking forward to picking up the next book. I wanted to feature Assassin’s Apprentice in today’s review because I cannot scream loud enough from the rooftop that Robin Hobb is an author you need to try. Have I done her justice in the review? Who can say?

If you have read Assassin’s Apprentice or any other books by Robin Hobb and want to add to this sentiment, please let everyone know in the comments what you think! I’d love to persuade more people to start this series 😊

 

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Blog Tour Review: Raven Lord – J.C. Duncan

In today’s post, I’m excited to feature the sequel to Warrior Prince and share my thoughts on this second instalment of The Last Viking series! You may recall, I also read that book as part of the blog tour, and I’m back again and launching the tour for Raven Lord! No pressure…

Before I get into the book and my review, I always take the opportunity at the start of these posts to thank both the author, J.C. Duncan, and Rachel at Rachel‘s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part. It’s a pleasure to be able to read some fantastic books and share my honest thoughts with readers. With any luck, I’ll convince you to pick up this fantastic book!

So, let’s get to it, shall we?

 

Raven Lord – J.C Duncan

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 352

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 22 Mar 2024

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Raven Lord

 

Mercenary. Exile. Warlord.

At the edge of the world, the clouds of war are gathering…

1034AD

Cast out from the Kyivan Rus, Harald Sigurdsson’s quest for fame and fortune takes him to the far reaches of Europe; the lands of the Eastern Roman empire.

The empire is dying the slow death of decay and corruption. In desperation to fend off a myriad of foes, the emperor turns to the legendary Varangian guard for salvation. These deadly warriors from the far north, famed for their fearsome steel and battle skill, have become the empire’s greatest protectors.

From the golden gate of Constantinople to the holy waters of the river Jordan, Harald will march with the emperor’s finest. Joining their ranks promises him all the gold and glory he can desire, if only he can survive the desperate battles, the hostile land, and the ruthless ambition of a vengeful queen.

The fascinating next book in the extraordinary tale of Harald Hardrada.

Perfect for fans of Matthew Harffy, Peter Gibbons, Bernard Cornwell and Christian Cameron

 

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/ravenlordsocial

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Raven Lord picks up after the events of Warrior Prince and spans Harald’s next three years of adventures.

With an intriguing, action-led plot with political motives underpinning the action, there is plenty for readers to dive into. Whether you enjoy detailed battle scenes or digging into the machinations of those in power, both are in abundance in this book. I enjoy both of these elements, and they were perfectly balanced in this narrative. Whether you are a fan of one, the other, or both, there is something for all readers.

Harald and the crew are out to make a name for themselves and secure a fortune to go and win the throne back from the usurpers back in the North. It’s a long, epic quest and not one without its hardships. With danger around every corner, we readers are kept on a blade’s edge wondering if those we have come to love in the narrative will see it through, or pay the ultimate price.

 

Characters

The series is made up of a handful of main protagonists, together with a fantastic supporting cast. Naturally, our narrator Eric, as well as Harald Sigurdsson (aka Harald Hardrada), feature heavily in the narrative. I enjoy both their character arcs and the development we see of both individuals in this second book of the series. That the tale concerns Harald and his journey to becoming a strong leader is undisputed; we see this growth throughout.

Admittedly, Harald wouldn’t be the man he was without his followers. There are characters we have come to know and love from the previous book, as well as new faces. The familiarity is comforting whilst new characters add a fresh flavour to the narrative and help build upon what has gone before.

 

Setting

Something I talked about in my review of Warrior Prince, and I will talk about again here, is the Eastern European setting. It’s quite common to find fiction of this time period and genre set in Britain. However, I really enjoyed this alternate setting. There is far more scope for travel, and it’s a pleasant break from reading the same narrative over again. Don’t get me wrong, I read a lot of the genre and I don’t get tired of it, but I do appreciate when something different like Raven Lord comes around.

This change gives us more of an idea of the people as well as the chance to look at some European history. There is some travel that takes place in the book, but it easy to follow what is going on when.

I especially enjoyed this as it gives us the chance to explore more of a multi-cultural narrative. In this second narrative, we build upon the characters and cultures already introduced and add Muslim representation as well. I really enjoyed how each of these cultures is featured and how they interact with each other. Naturally, some of the conflict in the book centres around this, and it was exciting to read!

 

Narrative Style

The narrative is told by Eric, who was Harald’s right hand man on campaign. This storyteller format is one I have read and loved time and again in books (I’m incidentally reading another one already). It lends a casual and conversational style to a narrative. It’s easy to read and imagine that you are sat around the fire and listening to the story for yourself.

What I also like about the style is that it lends some intimacy to the tale. We get hints about how characters are feel about events, not just the pure fact of what happens.

Naturally, the majority of the narrative is the retailing itself. However, I enjoy the brief flashbacks to present day that break up the narrative, and give Eric opportunities to look back in hindsight at what has happened in the course of his and Harald’s life. It is a unique perspective, and one I will not tire of!

 

Summary

If you enjoy Viking era historical fiction, and are looking for a slightly different premise and setting, The Last Viking series is one I would strongly recommend picking up. Full of both action and intrigue, this unique narrative has plenty to offer any historical fiction fan!

 

Author Bio

James has a 5 book historical fiction series ‘The Last Viking’ about the extraordinary life of Harald Hardrada being published with Boldwood books starting with ‘Warrior Prince’. When he isn’t writing or doing his full-time engineering job, James is happiest being an amateur bladesmith, forging knives in the shed he built in his garden.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JCDuncanAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JCDuncanauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/j.c.duncan/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/JCDuncanNews

 

Blog Tour Review: At the Stroke of Midnight – Jenni Keer

In today’s post I’m excited to share my views on a fun historical fiction novel. I found it very reminiscent of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. If you like cozy mysteries with a Groundhog Day theme, a rich array of characters and a touch of romance, please read on about At the Stroke of Midnight!

Before I share details of the book and then my review, firstly I’d like to thank Jenni, Boldwood Books and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. It’s always a pleasure to be able to to read and participate in these blog tours. A lot of hard work goes into organising them! I appreciate the opportunity to read these books around release and feature them here. I genuinely enjoy them as much as I do the chance to share them with you!

So, I suppose that takes me on to my final note before getting into the book. The opinions expressed in this review are, and always will be, entirely my own.

Now, let’s dive in!

 

At the Stroke of Midnight – Jenni Keer

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 357

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 12 Mar 2024

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – At the Stroke of Midnight

 

It’s 1923 and in a decade that promises excitement and liberation, Pearl Glenham and her father are invited to a mysterious country house party on the Dorset coast, by a total stranger.

Her father claims not to have any prior association with Highcliffe House, but upon arrival, it is apparent that he has a shared history with several of the guests, although he won’t admit it. Belatedly discovering that her father was blackmailed into attending, Pearl’s worries are compounded when their host fails to arrive…

Intimidated by everyone at the party, she escapes to the nearby cove and stumbles upon a mysterious mercury clock hidden in a cave. This strange encounter sets in motion a series of events that will culminate in an horrific house fire, claiming the lives of all the guests, including Pearl herself.

But then Pearl wakes up back in the cave, seemingly destined never to live past midnight. She can repeat the day. But can she change its outcome?

 

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/strokemidnightsocial

 

My Thoughts…

Plot

I am sure you are familiar with the concept of Groundhog Day. At the Stroke of Midnight unravels a mystery that results in just this occurrence. That is, until protagonist Pearl gets to the bottom of it!

What makes this an intriguing novel is that at the start of the book, we have no idea what historic events have brought these seemingly different and unrelated characters together. They all seem to have a past and secrets to hide. Pearl is seemingly the only guest with no agenda or understanding of what has happened before present day. She comes out of her shell as she finds the courage to start asking difficult questions, even of those she loves.

In At the Stroke of Midnight, we have a set of core events that take place once, some that occur if timeline isn’t altered too much, and then we have some variation where alterations do occur. If that sounds like a lot to take in, I promise you it’s not! We see enough loops in the timeline that we are able to identify what sits where and recognise patterns in actions versus consequences.

I really enjoyed the mystery element to this story, and the resolution of the same fitting nicely with expectation, even if I didn’t predict it. The revelations that occur in the story are intriguing once teased out. Nothing is quite as it seems and we readers are left guessing up until the end how everything ties together.

 

Characters

Pearl undergoes quite a bit of character development throughout the book. At the start of the story, she is a quiet, meek girl who has grown up running a household and taking care of her working father. Keeping house and waiting to be wed to a man so that she can run his household instead are her future prospects.

The events of this book change her life trajectory completely. Without the same constraints of modern day life, Pearl starts to reinvent herself. Free of the consequences of not being able to take back her actions, she becomes far bolder and explores what it is like to live in the shoes of others. The freedom this grants her gives a taste of what it is like to be more than a wallflower, and it suits her.

Whilst Pearl is the main character of this story, she cannot come to be without the supporting cast. The group also invited to the party come from a diverse background and they all have a unique flavour. Some personalities are stronger than others, but each are distinct and enjoyable in their own right!

If a touch of romance in your mysteries is something you enjoy, then the dynamic relationship that forms between Pearl and Ellery is one to look out for. Whilst I’m not especially one for romance, I found their relationship touching given Pearl’s background and encouragement he gives her to come out of her shell.

 

Setting

The vast majority of events in At the Stroke of Midnight take place in Highcliffe House. The books is set in an exclusive, well cared for location with elusive owners and a sketchy past. It definitely has us readers asking questions early on. What is this place, and who are the owners? What relationship do the characters of present day have to these people?

This setting and the tension created by the plot make for an intriguing setting. The Groundhog Day element of the story, coupled with this particular setting, cemented the comparison for me with The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. There are differences in these two books clearly, but it is reminiscent enough that fans of either book will enjoy the other.

There are some small deviations in setting which add some variety and opportunities for character development. However, I broadly enjoyed this exclusivity; I wanted to focus on the events taking place at this recurring party and the aftermath. This is the aspect of the book I enjoyed the most. In my opinion, the execution of this fit in perfectly with the period and setting set out at the beginning.

 

Narrative Style

The style of At the Stroke of Midnight is compulsively readable and easy to digest. I personally felt the chapter lengths were perfect to convey action without unnecessary detail. That said, there are hints of detail if you are keen enough to pick them up. Consequently, if you like to try and work out the mystery as you go along, then At the Stroke of Midnight will appeal.

I picked up this book in the evenings whilst sat cosy at home, and even in my lunch hour at work. As my experience shows, it is a perfect book to pick up and put down as and when time and opportunity suits.

 

Summary

If you enjoy cosy mysteries or books with a historical setting, At the Stroke of Midnight is a book I strongly recommend. With a compelling storyline and complex characters to unravel, together with a protagonist who finds in herself an inner strength she didn’t know she had, there was plenty here for readers to enjoy.

I thoroughly enjoyed picking up At the Stroke of Midnight. It is quite a quick read if you are invested in finding out what is going on in the storyline, as you’ll always be picking up just one more chapter.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s review, and if you go on to read and enjoy the book, I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Author Bio

Jenni Keer is a history graduate who lives in the Suffolk countryside. Her lifelong passion for reading became a passion for writing and she had two contemporary romance novels published in 2019. She has now embraced her love of the past to write twisty, turny historicals, and The Legacy of Halesham Hall was shortlisted for the Romantic Historical Novel of the Year in 2023.

Social Media Links

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Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jenni-keer

Discussion Post – Books to Read if You Like The Last Kingdom

I read a lot of historical fiction. I’ve got two books on my current reading list in the genre, and one I’m reading at the time of drafting this post. You’ll hear more on that later. They are the inspiration for today’s discussion post.

There are books, genres and themes that I go back to again and again. Vikings is one of those. If you’re a fan of the historical fiction genre and the conflict of this period, there are a number of series I can recommend. If you’ve been reading or watching The Last Kingdom series and want to try something new, you are in the right place!

 

Recommendations

 

Eagle of Mercia Chronicles

A series I’ve been reading for a couple of years now, and will be picking up again soon, is M.J. Porter’s Eagle of Mercia Chronicles.

Like The Last Kingdom, Eagle of Mercia has a unique protagonist driving the storyline. Instead of being split in terms of loyalties, Icel is unique in that he does not relish his role as a warrior. In fact, going back to the first book, it is hard to believe that Icel ever becomes a warrior at all. He is a healer and places far more value on life as opposed to death.

Broadly the backdrop of the series is very similar. Of all the books in this discussion post feature, I would say this is the closest to The Last Kingdom. Just like that series, we have a lot of conflict and political intrigue set in the backdrop of a divided England.

Reviews:

Son of Mercia   Wolf of Mercia   Warrior of Mercia

Eagle of Mercia   Protector of Mercia

 

The Saxon Warrior

I started the The Saxon Warrior series a bit over a year ago now. It’s a more recent one than Eagle of Mercia, but it is no less captivating.

I really enjoy this series as the protagonist, unlike Icel in Eagle of Mercia, is a very keen warrior. Beornoth has been to hell and back after Vikings invade his homeland. He lost everything. Now he is determined to fight back the horde and take revenge!

With a protagonist who naturally gravitates towards the front line, we get a lot of action and even a bit of graphic detail in this series. If that doesn’t disturb you then I strongly recommend picking this up! Whilst there are elements of politics in the underlying actions, Beornoth is a far more pragmatic and action-driven character. Naturally, more of this comes through in the narrative as a result.

Reviews:

Warrior and Protector    Brothers of the Sword

Sword of Vengeance

 

Warrior Prince / Raven Lord

I have enjoyed reading Warrior Prince, and I’m currently enjoying reading Raven Lord, for its variation in setting. The Last Kingdom and other books I have featured on this list so far are notable for their Viking influence on British soil. Warrior Prince and Raven Lord differ as events instead take place in Eastern Europe.

It’s a different historical context, but we have the same backdrop of Vikings beyond their borders and looking to make a name for themselves. The protagonist in these books is quite a character as well. There is plenty of action, drama and conflict, so fans of these elements throughout The Last Kingdom series will enjoy these elements in this series too!

Reviews:

Warrior Prince

 

Wolf of Wessex

Wolf of Wessex is the first book in a series written by Matthew Harffy. As of this post, I have only read the first book. However, I enjoyed this book and its slightly lighter tone compared to books like The Last Kingdom.

Wolf of Wessex was compulsively readable and focused on a limited set of characters so as not to convolute the overall story. I think this could be an approachable series for anyone looking to explore the genre for the first time, or to pick up something similar, but not quite so heavy. Not that I think the likes of The Last Kingdom is heavy, but there are a lot of elements that come together in the wider story. Wolf of Wessex feels simpler.

 

Dunstan

If you are looking for more of a standalone in order to read around the genre a bit, then Dunstan by Conn Iggulden is an option I’d recommend.

If you are interested in this book more specifically, you can find a link to my review below. This review goes way back on my blog to the first year I started. The style is quite different to reviews I publish nowadays. However, I hope it still proves useful to you. Dunstan may be an ideal book to read as it’s set in the general backdrop of this time period but has a little less focus on the Viking element and more on English/Saxon religion and politics.

Reviews:

Dunstan

 

Summary

Regardless of what you are looking for, in your Viking era fiction, I have shared a variety of books that should scratch that itch.

Also, I am sure that there are many more that I am yet to read for myself and so have been unable to recommend them in this post. That is where YOU come in!

Have you read any books in the genre/period you would like to recommend either to me or to fellow readers?

 

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Book Review: Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

Whilst I have the time to catch up on some outstanding book reviews, I’m making the most of the situation and sharing some of my favourites. Today, I share my thoughts on the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s YA sci-fi series, Skyward.

I have a lot of great things to say about this book! At the time of publishing this review, I’ve read three out of the four books currently on the market. I’ll be looking to pick up the next in the series, Defiant, very soon!

 

Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Science-fiction

Pages: 513

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 06 Nov 2018

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads –  Skyward

Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Skyward has an interesting plot that sucks you in from the synopsis. In truth though, there is far more to explore underneath the surface.

The narrative in which we explore through Spensa’s viewpoint is far more complex than meets the eye. The world history, Spensa’s upbringing and the discovery of a mysterious ship only start us off on this detailed, action-packed narrative. Although we pick up events from Spensa’s discovery onwards, in reality the set up of what happens in this book begins far earlier, and we unravel this history throughout the present day narrative.

As a military sci-fi, fans of combat will have plenty to enjoy in this book. We graduate alongside Spensa through training into live fighting. The drama and suspense keeps us on our toes as we never quite trust that the characters we grow to love throughout the book are safe. They’re not…

 

Setting

Science fiction fans will not be disappointed with the rich descriptions and detail in Skyward. Both in terms of the physical setting and the political environment Spensa grows up in, there is plenty to explore.

Skyward excels in its ability to stand out in the science fiction genre without too much techno-babble and jargon. As a book aimed at young readers, it’s especially important that Sanderson got this right… and indeed he did! I enjoy science fiction, although I wouldn’t say I have the brains for too much techy speak. I was able to follow everything with ease.

What makes this book extra special is that over time, we come to realise that the world and plot introduced throughout the first 400-450 pages is just a small speck in the galaxy. Skyward paves the way for the epic series it is, and sets the scene for the remaining books excellently!

 

Characters

The book is predominantly told from the perspective of a teenager who has grown up in the shadow of her father. His name is tarred for turning against his fleet in the midst of battle. Many try to discount Spensa and prevent her from training to fly out of fear that she will do the same thing as her father.

And in fairness, Spensa is a loose cannon. She is impulsive and independent, which are not traits conducive to an environment where teamwork is essential. Spensa has a lot to learn over the course of the book, about herself, but also about the perceptions that have tarnished her name throughout her childhood.

Whilst the book does well in sharing a detailed plot with rich descriptions, character development is also very prevalent in this narrative. I would say the book has a reasonable 50-50 split of both of these elements. Whether you prefer an action driven narrative or a character driven narrative, there is ample of each.

 

Narrative Style

With a young adult audience in mind, the narrative needs to be easy to read and approachable for a younger audience. Brendan Sanderson does this very well. This makes both the book and genre approachable to new or less developed readers and would serve as a great introduction to the genre.

At over 500 pages, there is plenty of storyline here to sink our teeth into. It has its fair share of twists and unexpected events. These are entwined into the narrative seamlessly and are shocking but not so complex but they cannot be understood either.

 

Summary

If you are looking for a new sci-fi series to start reading without complex jargon, and with a strong female protagonist, Skyward is one I would highly recommend. As of this post, I have gone on to read further two books in the series, with the fourth book recently out and making it to my reading list soon!

Brandon Sanderson is an author I will go back to time and again regardless of genre. If you are a fan of his fantasy books, don’t let the change of genre put you off giving this a try. He is a fantastic writer and being able to lend himself to different storylines, and indeed genre.

Have you read the Skyward or any other books by Brandon Sanderson that you would love to recommend to my readers?

 

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Book Review: Lost Solace – Karl Drinkwater

In November last year, I finally picked up Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater. For months I tried to get to the book, but didn’t quite get there. Having read and reviewed numerous books in his Lost Tales of Solace series already, I was excited to finally see how they intertwined with the main series he has written.

If you enjoy fast-paced science-fiction and are interested in diving into a new series, then Lost Solace won’t disappoint!

Let’s take a look at the book!

 

Lost Solace – Karl Drinkwater

Genre: Science-fiction

Pages: 287

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Organic Apocalypse

Publication Date: 15 Oct 2017

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads –  Lost Solace

 

They’re called the Lost Ships … but sometimes they come back.

And when they do the crews are missing, while the ships have been strangely altered, rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal Imbiana has been seeking something her whole life. It’s a secret so precious she’s willing to risk her life recovering it from a recently discovered Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But with the aid of an amazing AI companion and experimental armoured suit, Opal might just stand a chance.

This blast of a book kickstarted the much-loved Lost Solace series, about an unlikely friendship between two women who keep hope alive in the darkest of times.

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

If you enjoy fast paced and action-led plots, then Lost Solace is a book you won’t want to miss! Full of twists and turns, within is a compelling storyline in which we explore interesting facets of the lore in this world.

Opal is determined to explore the hostile environment of a re-emerged Lost Ship. Not only does she have the local environment to overcome, but she is also challenged by other humans on her quest for discovery. With an AI, Clarissa, on her side, she sets out to do what would appear to be impossible.

In a race against time, will Opal and Clarissa prevail? 

 

Setting

The Lost Ship is an eerie setting that we get to explore throughout the narrative. Whilst Opal and Clarissa feel very isolated in their quest, they are far from alone. If the local hostile environment wasn’t enough to contend with, Opal is being hunted down.

The tension and atmosphere Karl Drinkwater incorporates into this already busy narrative is impressive. Although the book overall is very action-led, there is enough world-building and description incorporated into the narrative to construct the deserted and eerie atmosphere present throughout.

 

Characters

Lost Solace is told from the perspective of two strong female leads. The first of these is Opal. She is a strong and inquisitive individual, empowered by her determination and force of will. Opal is accompanied by an AI known as Clarissa. She is incredibly smart – as can only be expected from a supercomputer. However, this isn’t just where her strengths lie.

For artificial intelligence, she is full of humour and dry wit. It’s a facet of personality that I only expected from her character as a result of reading Helene, and it works very well. It makes her stand out and adds depth to her personality. The interactions between Opal and Clarissa are hilarious to read. They break up the action in the book, making for a well-rounded read.

As a little extra, we also get to see characters from Karl Drinkwater’s other Lost Tales of Solace series. It was fun to see the overlap and get to revisit some of these individuals!

 

Narrative Style

Lost Solace has an easy to read, flowing narrative style. It is written in such a way that the book is approachable for readers of all levels and experience. Although a science-fiction book, the content isn’t so technologically advanced that readers are unable to understand what’s going on. It strikes up just the right balance of setting the scene, but also being clear and descriptive so no presumed knowledge is required.

At under 300 pages, it is also a quick read. I am a fast reader anyway, but a book of this length is definitely approachable for anyone interested in the genre, and for any level of commitment.

 

Summary

I am a fan of science-fiction, so I was never not going to love Lost Solace. It is the first book in a series that I will be continuing with as soon as possible!

Lastly, I cannot help but share the dedication that Karl includes in the opening of this book. I loved it!

To strong women everywhere, at all times. 

 

Have you read Lost Solace, or any other books by Karl Drinkwater?

 

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Blog Tour Review: Sword of Vengeance – Peter Gibbons

I feel especially privileged to bring you a review of Sword of Vengeance on both publication day and for the opening leg of this blog tour!

I’ve had the pleasure to feature two out of the three previous books in the series as part of tours – Warrior and Protector and Brothers of the Sword. I would have featured the second book in the series, Storm of War as well, if not for my oversight of missing the tour invite! This is a great historical fiction series to pick up if you love your Viking era literature.

Before we get into my review, I always take the opportunity to say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, and to the author, Peter Gibbons for the opportunity to review the book as part of the tour.

 

Sword of Vengeance – Peter Gibbons

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages:

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 02 Feb 2024

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Sword of Vengeance

In the aftermath of the great battle of Maldon, justice is demanded and vengeance will be served!

992AD

King Aethelred’s the Unready’s army has been defeated at the historic Battle of Maldon by Viking invaders led by Olaf Tryggvason and King Sweyn Forkbeard.

The strategic turning point of the battle was when Godric, an East Saxon Thegn, fled the battlefield taking with him the Saxon army, leaving behind his brothers to be massacred in a welter of blood and Norse axe blades.

Saxon warrior Beornoth emerges from the ashes of defeat with his heart aflame with vengeance and when King Aethelred sends for Bernoth with orders to punish those traitors responsible for the crushing defeat, he heeds the king’s call.

With a small band of loyal warriors, Bernoth embarks on an unforgiving journey across the perilous landscape to seek out Godric and exact his bloody revenge. They must fight their way through a world teeming with political intrigue, shifting alliances and the ever-present threat of the Vikings.

Can Beornoth triumph over insurmountable odds in this pulse pounding quest for retribution?

If you enjoyed The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell, you’ll love Beornoth’s Quest for Vengeance!

 

Purchase Link

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Sword of Vengeance is a fact-paced and action-packed narrative. That’s hardly surprising as the precedent was set from the get-go in this series, Warrior and Protector.

Events of the book pick up immediately after the conclusion of book three. I’m not giving away any spoilers here, so rest assured. What I can say is that the consequences of that battle, and the drama, are the driving forces of events in this book.

Beornoth and his brave warriors demand vengeance, and these bloodthirsty men have no qualms in seeking it out themselves! As with previous books though, there is an element of underlying politics and a wider plot which still touches on this very personal narrative. As a prominent warrior, Beornoth cannot wholly serve himself, and his ties to some of the most powerful men in the country ensure his actions have both impact and repercussions across the country.

 

Characters

The narrative of Sword of Vengeance is a very personal one in nature. Through this, we find ourselves investing heavily in characters such as Beornoth and Brand. They are the favourites we have come to know throughout earlier books in the series. In particular, I love their individual intricate stories and relationship with each other.

I never quite know or trust what will happen to characters in these books. Peter Gibbons doesn’t spare characters from rough treatment and puts them in the firing line time and again. After the events of previous books, I cannot be sure that the characters we have come to know and love will come unscathed. It’s both terrifying and exhilarating!

 

Setting

Beornoth and his band undertake a fair degree of travel in the book. New settings are beautifully and vividly described. If you are the type of reader visualise such things as you read, you will not find the narrative or descriptions wanting.

Although the main focus of the plot centres around Beornoth and his quest for vengeance, we still get to enjoy the wider setting of turmoil and conflict. Vikings continue to plague the Saxon peoples. The solution presented by the church to deal with this problem is to try and pay off the Vikings. Naturally, this harbours resentment from those who ultimately end up paying the bill. The people. Warriors like Beornoth know that this is only a temporary solution, and will likely beget a larger problem once word of Saxon riches gets out.

On the whole, the depth of the narrative and setting in which events take place makes for full and comprehensive immersion in the storyline.

 

Narrative Style

What I’ve found really helpful when reading Sword of Vengeance is that main plot points in the earlier books recapped as the narrative goes along. They serve as a great reminder of what has gone before, so if it has been a while since you’ve picked up the series, or indeed, if you haven’t picked up those books yet at all, you still know what’s going on. The only reason I wouldn’t recommend reading Sword of Vengeance as a standalone is because you would miss out on three fabulous books before this one. You absolutely could though, if you wanted to. But why would you want to do yourself dirty like that?

Despite plenty of action, Sword of Vengeance is very easy to read. The action compels you to read on, and the narrative style itself is approachable for all readers. I love historical fiction, especially about this time period. As a result of this, and the ease of reading, it was a book I found myself easily getting lost in!

Peter Gibbons strikes up a great balance in these books between chapter length and descriptive detail. Neither one compromises the other, and we can appreciate both in equal measure. Some people love action in their books… others are more character driven. Sword of Vengeance brings both together in a healthy balance, meaning there are elements of this book for all readers.

 

Summary

If you love action-packed narratives full of conflict and detailed battle scenes, Sword of Vengeance will not disappoint! As a huge fan of the genre and time period of both this book and the wider series, it is very much what I hoped for!

I’ve enjoyed this series every bit as much as other books I’ve read by both big names like Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden, as well as upcoming authors like M.J Porter and J.C. Duncan. If you have read any of my reviews of books by these authors and are looking for something similar, then I cannot stress enough how much you should pick up books by Peter Gibbons.

Although I haven’t read his Viking Blood and Blade series myself, I will share that it comes highly recommended to me by a work colleague of mine. Either of these series are great for fans in the genre, and I’ll be picking up that second one in my own time. If that isn’t testament to how much I enjoy Peter Gibbons writing, then I don’t know what is!

 

Author Bio

Peter Gibbons is a financial advisor and author of the highly acclaimed Viking Blood and Blade trilogy.

He comes to Boldwood with his new Saxon Warrior series, set around the 900 AD Viking invasion during the reign of King Athered the Unready. The first title of the new series, Warrior and Protector, will be published in October 2022. He originates from Liverpool and now lives with his family in County Kildare.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/petergibbonsauthor

Blog Tour Review: Betrothal and Betrayal – Janet McGiffin

I’m excited to take part in the blog tour for Betrothal and Betrayal today in conjunction with TheWriteReads! It’s my first time taking part in one of their tours, and we have a great book to feature today!

Betrothal and Betrayal is a historical fantasy set around Constantinople in the Byzantine Empire. Set in the backdrop of a world run by men, we follow Thekla, a fiery female protagonist. She ventures out of her small town after being stood up by her betrothed for the third time. Her mission is to either find him and hold him accountable to his oath, or have him release her. It’s a foray into a richly set world as independently as any woman of her time can!

Let’s take a look at the details of the book before diving into my review:-

 

Betrothal and Betrayal – Janet McGiffin

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Pages: 250

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Scotland Street Press

Publication Date: 01 Aug 2023

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Betrothal and Betrayal

Seventeen-year-old Thekla needs her quick wits and knife to track down her betrothed, a soldier who has left her at the altar for the third time. Elias the monk travels with her to Constantinople where she meets Irini of Athens, an extraordinarily beautiful orphan her same age who has been brought by powerful Emperor Constantine to marry his son, Co-Emperor Leon. The two women join forces to survive this vigorous capital of the Roman Empire of the East which is rocked by religious and political strife. But will Thekla help the ambitious and ruthless Irini of Athens find the power that she craves?

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Despite the book being only 250 pages along, there is plenty of action throughout. It’s amazing how much content the author has packed into such a short page count! As a result, content-wise the book still feels like a full and detailed narrative, comparable to books that are significantly longer.

The storyline progresses significantly from its humble beginnings. Thekla, after being stood up at the altar and threatened with marriage to another suitor, sets out to find her betrothed. Whilst she sets out with the hope that she can convince him to marry her, ultimately, she wants any resolution. Even if it means her release from her commitment.

This is just the beginning, and from there we start to explore a more detailed and complex narrative. Thekla meets a variety of characters and learns a lot along her journey. She discovers her identity and what matters to her above all. Thekla is a determined individual who treads her own path. She’s not afraid to do it independently. We watch this young woman bloom. From there, she is wrapped up a wider plot.

 

Characters

Thekla is a fiery protagonist and a breath of fresh air to read about. She stands out from the crowd; she’s bold, is willing to learn and earn her way, and will defend herself and her rights. In a world of and run by men, she is a unique force to be reckoned with. For younger readers, I think Thekla makes a great role model.

Thekla sets off to locate her betrothed at the beginning of the book. However, from there she develops and comes into her own. She doesn’t allow herself to be defined by her experiences and she does everything she can to shape her own future. She is far from a superficial character, and she was a joy to read about.

Although bold and willing to look after herself, there is only so far she would be able to go on her own. Her character helps her makes allies along her way, namely in Elias. As a result, he helps her to travel when she wouldn’t be safe on her own and is regularly reintroduced at different stages throughout the narrative. There is an element of mystery to Elias and who he is, which I’m hoping this will be explored more in future books!

 

Setting

Firstly, I love the historical background in this narrative. I have very limited knowledge of the Byzantine Empire, and so I enjoyed learning about and experiencing this setting. The historical elements and events leading up to the present day have contextual links to plot. There is enough information to add depth to the storyline, but without overwhelming readers either.

Betrothal and Betrayal had religious elements to narrative, but not to the extent that it would make anyone feel uncomfortable. I enjoyed experiencing this perspective, and the narrative goes a long way to help us readers understand the history of the setting and conflicts in the plot.

Together with this, there are a lot of cultural references and terminology throughout. The terms are explained in the back of the book so this can be used as a reference. I read the book without really referring to these and I was able to pick up a decent amount from context alone. As this is a setting that I haven’t got much experience of, I enjoyed getting familiar with the cultural differences that are explored in this book. Betrothal and Betrayal would be a great way of introducing your readers to new cultures and social attitudes.

 

Narrative Style

Betrothal and Betrayal is a great for young readers and adults alike. It makes a great introduction to fantasy as a genre. Its historical setting is under-represented in fiction too. I confess that even though I am not strictly the target audience of this book, I took a lot away from it as well!

The chapters within are relatively short – very suitable with the intended audience in mind. Combine this with an easy to read narrative style, and we’re on to a winner!

 

Summary

If you are looking for a short historical fantasy, explore a new setting, or invest in a relatable and interesting protagonist, then Betrothal and Betrayal has something for you! I read the book in just a handful of days and I enjoyed the short foray into a new series!

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. This book is the first in the Empress Irini series. Betrothal and Betrayal feels like a set up to bringing these two characters together. Personally, I can’t wait to see how they grow together in future books!

 

About the Author

Janet McGiffin divides her time between her apartment in Manhattan, her family in Washington State, and her friends in Athens, Greece. She was born in Fairfield, Iowa into a newspaper family and learned to write copy as a teenager by writing obituaries for the Ellensburg Daily Record in Washington state. After university, she worked for the Milwaukee Health Department where she gained first-hand knowledge for her best-selling mystery series published by Fawcett Press, NY, featuring Doctor Maxine St. Clair, an ER doctor in an inner-city hospital.

She worked as a press officer for the Washington state senate, then moved to Athens, Greece where she wrote grant proposals for small non-profit women’s organizations in Mediterranean countries. She also wrote a humor column for the Athens News newspaper with field archaeologist Adrian Vrettos, wrote two English language easy readers for Cambridge University Press, UK, and a series of hiking articles for greecetravel.com. She researched her Byzantine-era Empress Irini Series through extensive travel in Greece, followed by six months of research at the Bodleian libraries in Oxford, England. She enjoys hiking in Greece, England, Wales, and Scotland.

Instagram: @janetmcgiffinauthor