Thursday, 20 April 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Skullsworn - Brian Staveley

Release Date: 20/04/17
Publisher: Tor/Pan Macmillan

SYNOPSIS:

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. And she’s not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing, as Pyrre has spent her life training for this. The problem is love. To pass the trial, she will have fourteen days to kill seven people detailed in an ancient song, including one true love, ‘who will not come again’. However, Pyrre has never been in love, time is short, and if she fails she’ll be given to her god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail. So a month before the trial begins, she returns to the violent city of her birth, where she once offered an abusive father to the god. Here Pyrre hopes to find love – and end it with the edge of her knife.


REVIEW:

Having enjoyed the authors previous work, I was rather looking forward to returning to the world and spending time with one of the cast members, this time in the lead role. However to be honest I had a hell of a job getting into the book. I found the character detestable and to be blunt, if you hadn't read the previous titles in the series (although this is the start of a new one) you may well find yourself more than confused and wondering how long you'd persevere with the book.

I'm not saying its bad, but the first chapter feels more than a little clunky and almost lost as if it were a later add on or a start that wasn't returned to later and polished to keep it smoother. The writing is solid enough, the story arc one full of reasonable twists and turns which when added to dialogue that helps further it, generates a book that is more OK than anything else.

All round, I will stick with Brian as I feel that there's a lot more behind the scenes waiting to come to the fore in later outings for the world, however as a standalone I do feel that this one is more of a middle of the road title than a standout must read book.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

SCIENCE FICTION CRIME REVIEW: From Darkest Skies - Sam Peters

Release Date: 20/04/17
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

After a five year sabbatical following the tragic death of his wife and fellow agent Alysha, Keon Rause returns to the distant colony world of Magenta to resume service with the Magentan Intelligence Service. With him he brings an artificial recreation of his wife's personality, a simulacrum built from every digital trace she left behind. She has been constructed with one purpose - to discover the truth behind her own death - but Keon's relationship with her has grown into something more, something frighteningly dependent, something that verges on love.

Cashing in old favours, Keon uses his return to the Service to take on a series of cases that allow him and the artificial Alysha to piece together his wife's last days. His investigations lead him inexorably along the same paths Alysha followed five years earlier, to a sinister and deadly group with an unhealthy fascination for the unknowable alien Masters; but as the wider world of Magenta is threatened with an imminent crisis, Keon finds himself in a dilemma: do his duty and stand with his team to expose a villainous crime, or sacrifice them all for the truth about his wife?


REVIEW:

OK, a book that to be honest could have done without the Westworld addition to the cover, yes I know, it will sell the book and help put it into a niche that people can identify with but for me it feels like cheap shot that detracts from the story within.

Yes there's AI, and yes it has sentience alongside being "better than the original" but for Skynets sake, AI is so much more than that.

Right that said, lets onto the nitty gritty, the book has good prose, an interesting principle character and a Crime Thriller theme that works wonderfully well in this genre. What doesn't work however is the female cast members around him. They felt cheap and nasty, rather 2D rather than fully realised as they all seemed to be cut from two stereotypical cloths that for me made me feel that a lot of hard work was thrown way just to keep the author focused on the story.

Yes at the end of the day its a solid story and one that I did have a lot of fun reading but when an author alienates half of the readership due to poor insight into the feminine psyche then you really have to pull up a chair and ask why.

Friday, 7 April 2017

SCIENCE FITION DISASTER: New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson

Release Date: 16/03/17
Publisher: Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

The waters rose, submerging New York City.

But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been. Though changed forever.

Every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island.


REVIEW:

Kim is an author that always manages to come up with a book that not only grabs my attention but keeps it glued as he weaves his storytelling magic. Here we get to see a city under siege from not only nature but mans own foibles as each block is a self sustained living unit amongst others.

Its a book that looks at practicalities of mans ability to survive and how we can come together despite the circumstances. Its definitely an unusual title, one that makes you think and for me, at the end of the day, that makes for a truly unique experience.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The End of the Day - Claire North

Release Date: 06/04/17
Publisher: Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

At the end of the day, Death visits everyone. Right before that, Charlie does.
You might meet him in a hospital, in a warzone, or at the scene of a traffic accident.
Then again, you might meet him at the North Pole - he gets everywhere, our Charlie.
Would you shake him by the hand, take the gift he offers, or would you pay no attention to the words he says?
Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He never knows which.
The End of the Day is the stunning new novel by Claire North, author of word-of-mouth bestseller The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.


REVIEW:

Now to be honest I've not read Claire's work before now and I have to wonder why she wasn't on my radar sooner as this tale just pulled me in from the very beginning. I loved the way that she weaved the plot with cracking dialogue as well as great prose, however the real star for me was the way she brought her characters across, especially the principle player Charlie.

He shone for me from start to finish and I was so engrossed to find out what he was up to as well as how things would develop that I didn't notice time slipping away as I read page after page, chapter after chapter.

Its wonderfully inventive, a tale unlike any other and for me this unique outing really is a book that will stay with me for a long time. Magic.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

HISTORICAL CRIME THRILLER: Flavia Alba 5: The Third Nero - Lindsey Davis

Release Date: 05/04/17
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

Flavia Albia's day-old marriage is in trouble - her new husband may be permanently disabled and they have no funds. So when Palace officials ask her to help expose a plotter in their midst she is obliged to accept their commission.

The plot could not be bigger. Ever since he died in AD 68, apparently by his own hand, Rome has been haunted by reports that the Emperor Nero is in fact very much alive and about to return to claim his throne.

Two Nero pretenders have emerged in the East and met grisly fates. But now, as the Emperor Domitian, whose tyrannical, paranoid reign grows ever more unpopular, fights a war in faraway Dacia, there emerges a far more sinister contender. What's more the rumour is that this false Nero is already in Rome. Plunged into the conspiracy, Flavia must infiltrate the house of the Parthians who have smuggled in this new impostor, negotiate with spies, dodge the assassins sent by the Palace traitor, and somehow cope with her stricken husband.

Can she succeed before the impostor is revealed? Or will Rome once more be plunged into civil war?


REVIEW:

In Historical Crime Fiction one author that always gives me a cracking tale is Lindsey and I'm pleased to say that she hasn't let me down again as Flavia works her analytical mind to help those in power solve a problem whose answer has eluded them.

As usual the pace it solid, our protagonist a forward thinker alongside a delight to spend time with and a continual joy as she grows into her forced role as things look bleak for her family. Its a pure delight to spend time with and when you throw in a good few twists, some cracking red herrings and a heroine you can't wait to spend time with all round makes it a tale that you'll return to during subsquent rereads to spot clues you may have missed once you know the answer.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

SCIENCE FICTION DISASTER REVIEW: Themis Files 2: Waking Gods - Sylvain Neuvel

Release Date: 05/04/17
Publisher: Michael Joseph

SYNOPSIS:

When an alien vessel materialises in London, does it mean peace or war? Waking Gods is the gripping sequel to the ground-breaking thriller Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.

What's going on?
Turn on the television.
What channel?
Any channel.

An unknown vessel, not of this world, materializes in London. A colossal figure towering over the city, it makes no move. Is this a peaceful first contact or the prelude to an invasion?

Every child has nightmares. But the only thing scarier than little Eva Reyes' dreams - apocalyptic visions of death and destruction - is the habit they have of coming true...

Scientist Dr Rose Franklin has no memory of the last few years. The strangers she works with say she died, and was brought back to life. The question is not just how ... but why?

Kara Resnik and Vincent Couture fell in love during war, and have found peace since. They are the thin line of defence against what is coming. But they do not know they have been living a lie.

And a man who claims to have the answers has his own agenda. There are things he cannot say - and others he won't.

All pieces of an epic puzzle. One we have been trying to solve since the dawn of time...


REVIEW:

OK, I'm entering this on book two rather than the first title (Sleeping Giants) and whilst I realised that there would be spoilers for the first, I was more than entertained and felt welcomed in by those ice cold metallic arms.

Its well written, with humanity facing extinction from Robots (again) and whilst this is an old trope, it does work decidedly well in the authors favour as he adds his on flavours to the pot to generate something unique.

All round I was more than pleased with the book and loved the way it gave me highs and lows alongside goosebumps in much the same way Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds has. Finally throw into the mix a good sense of pace allowing you to gather your breath alongside characters who help forward the tale and all round it was a joy to spend time with. Cracking.



Monday, 3 April 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: Joe Pickett 17: Vicious Circle - CJ Box

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

One man hell-bent on avenging his family,

the other dead-set on protecting his...

Joe Pickett always knew there'd be a day of reckoning. And now that day has come.

Two years ago, his daughter was beaten and dumped by the side of a country road. Joe's determination to avenge her forced him into a catastrophic confrontation with the Cates clan that left three of their number dead and put the two survivors behind bars. Now the youngest son, Dallas, is out of prison and back in town. Joe knows exactly why he's returned – an eye for an eye.

All Joe can do is wait for Dallas to make the first move...


REVIEW:

I love it when events from the past come back to haunt a principle character and for me CJ has really worked this revenge thriller well as his principle hero has to withstand the wrath of Dallas Cates whose pulling no punches coming after him and his family.

Its a book that works wonderfully well with cracking prose, top notch pace and of course a principle character that you just love to spend time around. Don't worry if you haven't read the previous book featuring thier last encounter "Endangered" as CJ presents an overview for the reader. All round cracking fun.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: Sometimes I Lie - Alice Feeney

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Harper Collins

SYNOPSIS:

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.

1. I’m in a coma

2. My husband doesn’t love me any more

3. Sometimes I lie

Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Widow.


REVIEW:

As many people know I love books that are a little different and take the reader on a journey, the more dysfunctional the characters alongside many weaknesses help bring them to life and for me this outing by Alice, really does give you the best of all with a whole cast of people that you could step outside and meet on the street.

It's defintiely a quirky book and with many twists and turns leave you wondering which way is up as each piece of the puzzle throws another spanner into the works. Its definitely a book that I was pleased I took the time to read, the prose sharp, the plotline solid and whilst at times I was left trying to figure things out so that they made sense, I had a lot of fun each night as I put it down as I imagined what would occur next. All round a book that was a cracking journey and a title thats made me pay attention to Alice. Magic.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Destiny 2 Announcement Trailer and Cost of Various Editions - Bungie

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
By now you've already heard and become excited about the forthcoming Destiny 2 from Bungie, however a lot of the feed out there is about the various editions but they don't mention the prices which we're going to let you know about so you can make your own choice, but before we give you the bitter pill just in case you missed the Trailer here it is:

OK, so now you've seen it (and for us, Nathan Fillion playing Cayde 6 stole it) we feel its time to delve into the not so nice part, the price of the various edition alongside what you get:  Please remember that these are the current prices for the Xbox One as of this article and are subject to change:

Collectors Edition:  £219.99
  • Destiny 2 Base Game
  • Destiny 2 Expansion Pass: Get access to both Expansion I and Expansion II, offering brand new story missions, cooperative activities, competitive multiplayer, and a wealth of new weapons, armor, and gear.
  • Destiny 2 – Frontier Bag
    • Customizable bag that can be worn as a backpack or messenger bag
    • 15” Laptop/Tablet Sleeve with protective pocket slip
  • Frontier Kit, featuring:
    • Solar panel USB charger with built-in light
    • Paracord
    • Solar blanket
  • Limited Edition SteelBook® Case
    • Booklet with secrets into the Cabal Empire
    • Cabal Schematic
    • Collectible Postcard Images
    • Cabal Military Pawns
  • Premium digital content:
    • Legendary Sword
    • Legendary Player Emote
    • Cabal Empire Themed Emblem
Limited Edition:  £89.99

  • Destiny 2 Base Game
  • Destiny 2 Expansion Pass: Get access to both Expansion I and Expansion II, offering brand new story missions, cooperative activities, competitive multiplayer, and a wealth of new weapons, armor, and gear.
  • Limited Edition SteelBook® Case
  • Cabal-themed Collector’s Box, containing:
    • Booklet with secrets into the Cabal Empire
    • Cabal Schematic
    • Collectible Postcard Images
    • Cabal Military Pawns
  • Premium digital content:
    • Legendary Sword
    • Legendary Player Emote
    • Cabal Empire Themed Emblem
Digital Deluxe Edition:  £89.99
  • Destiny 2 Base Game
  • Destiny 2 Expansion Pass: Get access to both Expansion I and Expansion II, offering brand new story missions, cooperative activities, competitive multiplayer, and a wealth of new weapons, armor, and gear.
  • Premium Digital Content:
    • Legendary Sword
    • Legendary Player Emote
    • Cabal Empire Themed Emblem
Destiny 2 Game plus Expansion Pass: £79.99
  • Destiny 2 Base Game
  • Destiny 2 Expansion Pass: Get access to both Expansion I and Expansion II, offering brand new story missions, cooperative activities, competitive multiplayer, and a wealth of new weapons, armor, and gear.
Destiny 2 Game: £59.99

  • Destiny 2 Base Game
  • We hope this helps you make your choice, Gareth and Lady Eleanor
Destiny 2 Expansion Pass:  Currently Unknown
  • Destiny 2 Expansion Pass: Get access to both Expansion I and Expansion II, offering brand new story missions, cooperative activities, competitive multiplayer, and a wealth of new weapons, armor, and gear.

We hope this helps you make your choice for the edition either you'd like or that family member,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

HISTORICAL CRIME THRILLER: Arrowood - Mick Finlay

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Harper Collins

SYNOPSIS:

London Society takes their problems to Sherlock Holmes. Everyone else goes to Arrowood.

1895: London’s scared. A killer haunts the city’s streets. The poor are hungry; crime bosses are taking control; the police force stretched to breaking point.

While the rich turn to Sherlock Holmes, the celebrated private detective rarely visits the densely populated streets of South London, where the crimes are sleazier and the people are poorer.

In a dark corner of Southwark, victims turn to a man who despises Holmes, his wealthy clientele and his showy forensic approach to crime: Arrowood – self-taught psychologist, occasional drunkard and private investigator.

When a man mysteriously disappears and Arrowood’s best lead is viciously stabbed before his eyes, he and his sidekick Barnett face their toughest quest yet: to capture the head of the most notorious gang in London…

In the bestselling tradition of Anthony Horowitz and Andrew Taylor, this gloriously dark crime debut will haunt readers long after the final page has been turned.


REVIEW:

I love books that try to do something a little different and this debut from Mick gave me one hell of a treat as I loved the way he brought the old streets of London to life for me with not only cracking description but carefully woven humour.

The principle characters work well together each one working off the other as thier clues to thier case are discovered proving to be something deeper than originally thought. Its carefully designed, the prose is sharp and when you add the Dickensian and Conan Doyle style of wordplay utilised all round gives it a rather authentic flavour.

Finally throw into the mix a rather delightful style of storytelling alongside a set up that could easily lead to a series and all round I was a more than happy reader. I'll definitely keep an eye out for more books by this author in future.

Monday, 13 March 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Find Her - Lisa Gardner


Release Date: 09/02/17
Publisher:  Headline

SYNOPSIS:

AN ESCAPED KIDNAPPING VICTIM BECOMES AN AVENGER OF INNOCENTS. CAN SHE ESCAPE WHEN SHE'S TARGETED AGAIN? The eighth novel in Sunday Times bestseller Lisa Gardner's Detective D. D. Warren series. Harlan Coben says FIND HER is 'taut psychological suspense' which 'should not be missed'.

A LOST GIRL FOUND

472 days locked in a pine box, at the mercy of a madman.

Flora Dane survived her hell with only one goal:
develop all the deadly skills necessary to make sure she's never caught again.

ANOTHER GIRL MISSING

Detective D.D. Warren believes that Flora may be the key to finding missing college student, Staecy Summers.

But she must follow rules that Flora has no interest in.

For Flora no risk is too great, no cost too high, even if it means playing into a predator's hands.

Two victims. One cop.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT...if you're going to FIND HER


REVIEW:

With so many crime thrillers to enjoy what I want as w reader is a tale that will grab my attention, throw in a good few twists and of course keep me glued to the pages whilst it weaves its eldritch spell over me.

What this story from Lisa does is bring all of that to the fore alongside giving the reader a protagonist who is not just a victim but a hunter as she twists the scenario round with inventive solutions. Its cleverly done allowing the reader to see sensitivities alongside strength, weakness and mental resolve whilst at the same time giving the reader a whole host of characters to delve into as you try to figure things out before the tale reaches its conclusion.

Back this up with some great twists, believable characters alongside a story that keeps you fascinated from start to finish and all round I was a very happy reader. Great stuff.

Monday, 27 February 2017

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Middle Earth: Shadow of War - Warner Brothers Interactive


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warner Brothera have let us know about the forthcoming Shadow of War, here's what they had to say:

"Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment today announced Middle-earth: Shadow of War™, the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor™, winner of more than 50 industry awards, including 2015 Game Developers Choice Awards’ Game of the Year, Outstanding Innovation in Gaming at the 2015 D.I.C.E. Awards and the BAFTA for Game Design. Developed by Monolith Productions, Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ features an original story with the return of Talion and Celebrimbor, who must go behind enemy lines to forge an army and turn all of Mordor against the Dark Lord, Sauron.

In Middle-earth: Shadow of War™, players wield a new Ring of Power and confront the deadliest of enemies, including Sauron and his Nazgul, in a monumental battle for Middle-earth. The open-world action-adventure game is brought to life through the expansion of the award-winning Nemesis System. The robust personalization from the first game is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are all shaped by player actions and decisions, creating a personal world unique to every gameplay experience.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ will be available for Xbox One, Project Scorpio, Windows 10 PC (Windows Store and Steam™), PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®4 Pro beginning 25 August, 2017. Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ will be available as an Xbox Play Anywhere title.

“Monolith Productions continues to innovate by introducing deeper, more personalised gameplay experiences, coupled with authentic storytelling,” said David Haddad, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ truly drives the genre forward by taking the Nemesis System to new heights and allowing players to create their own personal journey within Middle-earth.”

“Following the amazing reception to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor™, we massively expanded every dimension of the game, including the world, the story, the RPG systems, the core gameplay and of course the personal player stories of the Nemesis System,” said Michael de Plater, Vice President, Creative, Monolith Productions. “As lifelong fans of Middle-earth, we are so grateful to have the privilege to bring to life the most incredible fantasy world ever created in a new way, for a new generation. With Middle-earth: Shadow of War™, we can’t wait to see the amazing stories players are going to create and share.”

The innovative Nemesis System created unique personal stories through procedurally-generated enemies who remember every encounter and are differentiated by their personality, strengths and weaknesses. Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ expands this innovation with the introduction of Followers who bring about entirely new stories of loyalty, betrayal and revenge. The Nemesis System is also expanded to create a unique personal world through Nemesis Fortresses, which allows players to utilize different strategies to conquer dynamic strongholds and create personalized worlds with their unique Orc army.

Set between the events of The Hobbit™ and The Lord of the Rings™, Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ continues the original narrative of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor™. Players will be engrossed in a richer, more personal and expansive world full of epic heroes and villains, iconic locations, original enemy types, even more personalities and a new cast of characters with untold stories.

As an Xbox Play Anywhere title, players can purchase a digital version of Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ once and play it on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. Gamers can pick up where they left off on another Xbox One or Windows 10 PC, bringing all the saves, game add-ons and achievements with them at no additional cost."

For more information or to join the Middle-earth: Shadow of War conversation, visit www.ShadowofWar.com or find them on YouTube (ShadowofWarGame), Facebook (ShadowofWarGame), Twitter (@ShadowofWarGame), Instagram (ShadowofWarGame), Twitch (MonolithLive) and our Lithium Community (ShadowOfWar).

NEWS: We're Back

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Yes, its true, we're back.  Having recently undergone massive locational renovations (Ok so two bedrooms, a lounge, a bathroom and a kitchen) we are now back in a position to get back to what we love and thats bringing you, our readers and friends, the latest in Books, News and Video games.  

We thank you for staying with us during this period and we'll be bringing you a whole ton of fun over the next few month.

All the best,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Friday, 24 February 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Robert Hunter 8: The Caller - Chris Carter

Release Date: 24/02/17
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

After a tough week, Tanya Kaitlin is looking forward to a relaxing night in, but as she steps out of her shower, she hears her phone ring. The video call request comes from her best friend, Karen Ward. Tanya takes the call and the nightmare begins.

Karen is gagged and bound to a chair in her own living room. If Tanya disconnects from the call, if she looks away from the camera, he will come after her next, the deep, raspy, demonic voice at the other end of the line promises her.

As Hunter and Garcia investigate the threats, they are thrown into a rollercoaster of evil, chasing a predator who scouts the streets and social media networks for victims, taunting them with secret messages and feeding on their fear.


REVIEW:

The eighth book by Chris to feature lead character Robert Hunter and each offering really takes the reader from the opening page into an almost cinematic story as each page turns. As with his other books the writing is crisp, the prose sharp but above all else its his characters that really bring the whole world to life.

Add to this solid dialogue, a cracking overall arc that adds more to Hunters mythos and all round it was a very satisfying read. Just be aware that some of the subject matter can be unsettling especially if you hear a phone ring at the wrong time. Cracking.


Saturday, 4 February 2017

URBAN NOIR REVIEW: Road Kill - Hanna Jameson

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher: Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

From the queen of urban noir, a new thriller set in the nowhereland between New York and LA.

Eli and Ronnie are two British ex-cons on the road in America. Their mission is to find Trent, a guy who screwed them over and disappeared. But now, after forty hours driving through yellow desert, eating at lonely motels, what seemed real is no longer certain. Where did Trent stay? What did he do? Did he even exist at all?

Leaving violent killings in their wake, Ronnie and Eli can do nothing except keep travelling. Now, trapped in a nightmarish road trip together, these two men must confront their own personal demons before they can come home.


REVIEW:

There are some books that you see where they're going from a mile off and sit back to enjoy the journey safe in the knowledge of certain scenary that's going to appear, then you get titles like this one by Hanna that is a magical mystery tour where nothing is set, no one is safe and the only thing you can be sure on is that its going to be thrilling from start to finish with you not wanting to miss a single scene.

What occurs within is a tale that is high octane blended with the odd lull for you to catch your breath before the author does something unpredictable to throw you onto a new track. It works wonderfully well and with a cracking writing style helps it move along as the pages keep turning. Add to the mix solid dialogue and all round I was a more than happy reader. I can't wait to see what she has in store for future outings.

Friday, 20 January 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Massacre of Mankind - Stephen Baxter

Release Date: 20/01/17
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

It has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. The Martians are vulnerable to earth germs. The Army is prepared.

So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells' book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat.

He is right.

Thrust into the chaos of a new invasion, a journalist - sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins - must survive, escape and report on the war.

The Massacre of Mankind has begun


REVIEW:

When you're asked to write a follow up to what many see as a classic of the genre, many authors would have baulked at the task, not only do you have to get the story right so that it fits into what has gone before but you also have to step into the authoritive voice of the writer of the original in such a way that the story feels like a continuation of the first.

What Stephen manages well here is to get that voice, he brings Well's Martians vividly to the 1930's as mankind seems doomed from the start as they learned from what had gone before. Its dark Science Fiction at its best and for me each page gave me something to relate too.

All round a cracking story with characters that stood. The fact that I reread the original Wells; story just before starting only added to the overall feeling of reading joy. A must read for Sci-Fi fans.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: The Voices 1: The Defender - GX Todd

Release Date: 12/01/17
Publisher: Headline

SYNOPSIS:

Defender by G X Todd is an imaginative thriller that draws on influences from Stephen King, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman to create a new world - where the biggest threat mankind faces is from the voices inside your own head. If you loved The Stand, you'll love Defender, the first in a four part series.

'Compelling, suspenseful, and altogether extraordinary' Lee Child

'So accomplished that it's difficult to believe it's a first novel, Defender is already worthy to take its place alongside The Stand in the canon. An absolute gem of a book' John Connolly

'On the cusp of sleep, have we not all heard a voice call out our name?'

In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it's dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn't know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.

#HearTheVoices


REVIEW:

For a reader perhaps the best books are the one that ask a question of you. In Todd's case, if you were virtually alone, would you listen to the voices in your head and if new ones arrive how much of it is you and how much an invader.

As you can tell from this question the story is indeed incredible dark, with events within the pages at times making you feel ill but that is perhaps what makes this book so unique. The fact that no punches are pulled, no subject taboo and with what feels like open writing into the mind all round just adds to the authors prowess. Back this up with a solid arc, decent dialogue and all round I was one disturbed bunny by books end. Definitely something to read for fans of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman as it links into the darkness that lurks within thiem.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Baby Doll - Hollie Overton

Release Date: 12/01/17
Publisher: Arrow

SYNOPSIS:

She kept moving forward. She didn't stop. She didn't look back.

Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.

For eight long years she's been locked away from the outside world. During that time she's changed from a girl into a woman. She's had a baby.

And now she has seized her chance and escaped.

Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know - to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend - and her freedom.

But is it possible to go back?

Impossible not to read in one sitting, Baby Doll is a taut psychological thriller that focuses on family entanglements and the evil that can hide behind a benign facade.


REVIEW:

Stories create an emotional bond for the reader and to be honest this one is going to be tough for anyone who picks it up. Not because of the writing, its beautiful, but because of the subject matter that for me is based on the Josef Fritzl case, It's deeply harrowing, is emotionally draining and at the end of the day its content is disturbing as whilst we often claim that fiction is just that, when you can find real life parallels it makes it all the harder.

OK, so this book won't be for everyone and to be honest I'd have probably preferred not reading it due to how uncomfortable it made me feel as a voyeur within the scene. The principle character is believable, the dialogue solid and all round I have to say its a book that whilst I won't say that I'm pleased that I made it all the way through, was one that with its complexities and inner thoughts made this a real in-depth discovery into the mind of a prisoner. All round a book that you really should ask yourself questions about before embarking upon but if you do, be prepared for a number of nightmares as well as questions that this tale will end up leaving you asking yourself.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Daughter of the Wolf - Victoria Whitworth

Release Date: 12/01/16
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

DAUGHTER OF THE WOLF is set during the Dark Ages in an England ruled by rival kings. Among the lords who serve them is Radmer of Donmouth, the King's Wolf, guardian of the estuary gateway to Northumbria.

When the king sends Radmer on a mission to Rome, Donmouth is left in the safekeeping of his only daughter, Elfrun, whose formidable grandmother wants her to take the veil, while treacherous Tilmon of Illingham covets her for his son.

This is the story of daughters in a man's world. Wynn, determined to take over from her father, the smith; Saethryth, wilful daughter of the village steward, whose longing for passion will set off a tragic sequence of events; and Auli, whose merchant venturer father plies his trade up and down the coast, spying for the Danes. Above all, it is the story of Elfrun of Donmouth, uncertain of her father's fate, no knowing whom she can trust, or whom she can love.


REVIEW:

Historical Fiction is often a tricky thing to balance, you have to get just the right amount of details added within to help transport the readers back without giving them massive info dumps and you also have to make sure that the characters within are relatable so that the reader falls in love and cares about their fates.

Victoria manages to do both presenting a story that not only kept me interested but fascinated. I loved the supporting cast and how they helped bring the flavour of the past to life but for me the real gem of the piece was Elfrun. I loved the fact that even whilst she was priveledged certain things were expected as well as demanded of her, whilst she's trying to maintain her fathers interest. Its well written, the prose is solid and all round I was a more than happy reader. I will definitely be looking out for more of Victoria's work.



Tuesday, 10 January 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Star Wars: Catalyst - James Luceno

Release Date: 17/11/16
Publisher: Century

SYNOPSIS:

Lauded Star Wars author James Luceno returns to pen an intense tale of ambition and betrayal that sets the stage for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.

Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.


REVIEW:

When a new film comes out in the star wars universe, readers always want to get ahead of the curve and for me, you need a top notch author to help maintain the magic, especially when the book that's being released is a prequel to the film that allows you a better glimpse of not only the events but the characters whom will be the pivitol part of the rebellion gaining of the death star plans.

What James a well told story will help fully immerse you. I'm glad that I read this prior to watching the movie.

Monday, 9 January 2017

FANTASY SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM REVIEW: Arcanium Unbounded - Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: 24/11/16
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

Welcome to New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller Brandon Sanderson's first collection of short fiction.

These wonderful works, originally published individually, have been collected for the first time and convey the true expanse of the Cosmere. Telling the exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect, Arcanum Unbounded include the Hugo Award-winning novella 'The Emperor's Soul', an excerpt from the graphic novel 'White Sand', and the never-before-published Stormlight Archive novella 'Edgedancer'.

The collection will include nine works in all:
'Edgedancer' (Stormlight Archive)
'The Hope of Elantris' (Elantris)
'The Eleventh Metal' (Mistborn)
'The Emperor's Soul' (Elantris)
'Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania' (excerpt; Mistborn)
'White Sand' (excerpt; Taldain)
'Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell' (Threnody)
'Sixth of Dusk' (First of the Sun)
'Mistborn: Secret History' (Mistborn)

This superb collection also includes essays and illustrations which offer an insight into the numerous worlds in which the stories are set.


REVIEW:

When you hit the new year, after a heavy swath of reading over the holiday period you sometimes want something a little lighter or smaller to dip into whilst you get ready to expound the sheer volume of what the previous year had in store, sort of a book diet if you will. Its at times like this that short stories become a firm favourite for many readers and when an author that many love brings together a collection, its like a special buffet that allows you to pick and choose.

What this title brings together is a whole set of tales from his Cosmere series and its a book that I soon found myself lost within the pages, only to emerge once I'd finished each story. They're well written, help to delightfully expand the Cosmere and all round give the reader that special treat to help ease them back into work with magical outings to help take them away during travel time or work breaks. A magical offering and one that I'm pleased I saved for the new year.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Castle 5: Fair Rebe; - Steph Swainston

Release Date: 24/11/16
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

Steph Swainston's much-anticipated return to her uniquely imagined fantasy world of the Fourlands.

Fifteen years after the last devastating Insect attack, the immortal Circle is finally ready to launch an offensive against their implacable enemies. This time they have a new weapon - gunpowder. Hopes are high.

But the Circle's plans are threatened when the vital barrels of gunpowder go missing. Jant, the Circle's winged messenger, is tasked to investigate. Soon it becomes clear that the theft is part of a deadly conspiracy . . . and Jant and his friends are among the targets.

As tensions rise, Jant races to foil the conspirators. Can he expose them in time - or will the crisis blow the Fourlands apart?


REVIEW:

Fantasy is a genre that every so often has an author not only try something a little different but also helps to pave the way for new talent, and for me Steph is one of those authors who likes to push the boundries to help take the genre in a different direction. Here pulling into this title, set in the Castle universe is a tale that brings terrorism into a full scale battle where the reader gets to see that not all faces of warfare are armes facing off against each other.

The writing is crisp, the character faulted and for me thats what helps bring them to life, the fact that no matter what foibles they have their acts of heroism really stand out for the fact that they feel like real people. Add to this great dialogue alongside a plot that once it sweeps you up won't let go all round makes this a thrilling ride. Magical.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Star Wars: Bloodline - Claudia Gray

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher:  Arrow

SYNOPSIS:

WITNESS THE BIRTH OF THE RESISTANCE

When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.

Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy―from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.

As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position―even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing…


REVIEW:

I've had this title for a bit and to be honest having read it after recent events left me feeling not only melancholly but also fulfilled in certain respects as you get to know the principle character of Leia on a deeper level. Claudia has worked very hard on getting not only the "voice" of Leia right but also on allowng us to see her develop nito the woman of power she'd become.

Its emotional, it is a great addition to the star wars mythos and all round left me with a sense that we had so much more to get from her in the future outings that we'll sadly not get to see.

All round a book that I'm pleased I'd saved and one that deserves to be rated highly in the Star War's Pantheon. Magical.

Friday, 6 January 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: The Grim Company 3: Dead Man's Steel - Luke Scull

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

The final instalment in the critically-acclaimed Grim Company trilogy.

The Age of Ruin is near complete: in the far North the Nameless stirs beneath the Spine Mountains and demonspawn push ever southwards; from the West the Fade have returned, vowing to purge the realm of humankind; and an ancient weapon, forged in the Godswar, has once again been unleashed to ravage the land.

Weakened by in-fighting, the surviving Magelords are unable – or unwilling – to use their power to defend humanity. The last spark of hope rests with the surviving members of the Grim Company: Davarus Cole, Brodar Kane and Eremul the Halfmage.


REVIEW:

The final part in Luke's Grim Company Trilogy and to be honest it was one hell of a ride from start to finish and whilst I haven't championed the series I hav to say that the conclusion left me feel that as an author he's learned a hell of a lot to present a finale that will entertain aswell as pay its dues to those who have gone before.

The story isn't rushed, the prose solid and for me, the way that the characters come across in this final outing when all bets are off, makes this title a lot more believable with death being a close companion throughout the pages.

Back this up with some modern twists of language alongside tp notch action sequences and fantasy fans will be more than satisfied by the titles end. I look forward to future outings.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: DC Ebony Wullis 5: Cold Killers - Lee Weeks

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

Eddie Butcher, one of four brothers from a notorious East End family, is tortured and brutally murdered while visiting London from his home in Marbella. DI Carter and DS Willis monitor his extravagant funeral in case Eddie’s violent brother Terry, under house arrest in Spain, tries to make an appearance. Terry is wanted for robbery, drug trafficking and murder - and the police strongly suspect he is even prepared to kill his own family to maintain his power.

What Carter hasn’t told all of his colleagues is that this family’s history is personal to him. When Carter is offered the chance to finally catch Terry, he knows he cannot refuse. But it comes at a heavy personal, and professional, cost - and Willis must protect them all as the Butcher family’s enemies close in, wanting revenge.


REVIEW:

OK, so having read previou work by lee, I've realised that I missed book four, yet with that being said I don't feel at a disadvantage to readers who have kept up to date with the series. As with previous outings, the authirs dark humour works wonderfully well throughout the piece, the mismatched duo working wonderfully well off each other and for me, its the dialogue that really helps to glue the book together.

Its delightful, it is deliciously dark and all round its a book that i had a hard time putting down let alone letting go of each night as I processed what I'd read and tried to guess what else would occur. All round a cracking author and one that I'm going to have to pay more attention to so I don't miss out. Now if you'll excuse me I have book four to order.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: Finisterre - Graham Hurley

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher: Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

Germany, September 1944: Dozens of cities lie in ruins. Enemy armies are at the gates. For the Thousand Year Reich, time is running out. Desperate to avoid the humiliation of unconditional surrender, German intelligence launch Operation Finisterre – a last-ditch plan to enable Hitler to deny the savage logic of a war on two fronts and bluff his way to the negotiating table.

Success depends on two individuals: Stefan Portisch, a German naval officer washed ashore on the coast of Spain after the loss of his U-boat, and Hector Gómez, an ex-FBI detective, planted by Director J. Edgar Hoover in the middle of the most secret place on earth: the American atomic bomb complex. Both men will find themselves fighting for survival as Operation Finisterre plays itself out.


REVIEW:

When a title is set in a different world or time period to the one in which we live now the author has to do quite a few things in order to help immerse the reader, firstly they have to give you information without it feeling lie an infodump and secondly the characters within have to be approachable so that you can form bonds. Both of these traits are hard to manage but Graham has managed it with plenty of talent to spare.

The story is gripping, the dialogue sharp and for me the real star of the piece is each of the myriad of the characters that are contained within the page's They feel real, I care about their lives and perhaps best of all I like the way that they're brought across despite which side of the ware they fall. All round the story is wonderful descriptive and feels quite authorative almost as if its been lifted from secret files and brought to the reader. Cracking.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: Agent Pendergast 16: The Obsidian Chamber - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher: Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

A TRAGIC DISAPPEARANCE.
After a harrowing, otherworldly confrontation on the shores of Exmouth, Massachussetts, Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast is missing, presumed dead.

A SHOCKING RETURN.
Sick with grief, Pendergast's ward, Constance, retreats to her chambers beneath the family mansion at 891 Riverside Drive -- only to be taken captive by a shadowy figure from the past.

AN INTERNATIONAL MANHUNT.
Proctor, Pendergast's longtime bodyguard, springs to action, pursuing Constance's kidnapper through cities, across oceans, and into wastelands unknown.

BUT IN THIS WORLD, NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS And by the time Proctor discovers the truth, a terrifying mechanism has stirred -- and it may already be too late..


REVIEW:

If you love a series that is deliciously dark then this thriller series by Douglas and Lincoln really will send a shiver down your spine one minute and hit you with a shot of adrenaline the next. The writing is addictive, has you reading each page carefully so that you don't miss anything NS wraps it all up with top notch characters that you just love to spend time with.

The fact that this is the 16th book in the series doesn't diminish the writing in any way and if anything helps give the reader a fuller flavour as characters return alongside new friends being introduced. All round a cracking read and one that I can't wait to see what comes next with,

Monday, 2 January 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEWL The Expanse 6: Babylon's Ashes - James SA Corey

Release Date: 08/12/16
Publisher: Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

A revolution brewing for generations has begun in fire. It will end in blood.

The Free Navy - a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships - has crippled the Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets. The colony ships heading for the thousand new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them.

James Holden and his crew know the strengths and weaknesses of this new force better than anyone. Outnumbered and outgunned, the embattled remnants of the old political powers call on the Rocinante for a desperate mission to reach Medina Station at the heart of the gate network.

But the new alliances are as flawed as the old, and the struggle for power has only just begun. As the chaos grows, an alien mystery deepens. Pirate fleets, mutiny and betrayal may be the least of the Rocinante's problems. And in the uncanny spaces past the ring gates, the choices of a few damaged and desperate people may determine the fate of more than just humanity.

Babylon's Ashes is the action-packed sixth novel in the New York Times bestselling Expanse series, now a major TV series.


REVIEW:

I tend to spend a lot of time with my head in books, so I make a lot of notes of authors that I've loved and have managed to not only thrill as well as excite me so that each time when they have a new book released I get my hands upon it as soon as possible.

James is a very prolific author and whilst a lot of his works have entertained, I've sadly found that the Science Fiction has been going a little downhill. So much so that I found that I hated this book, The principle villain was terrible and not in a good way. Incompetence seemed to strong a word for someone who in previous titles mastered such destruction. Then I found the heroes deplorable and found that I didn't care about them. All wrapped up in a story that left me wondering more about the flaws than enjoying it.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: The Invisible Library 3: The Burning Page - Genevieve Cogman

Release Date: 15/12/16
Publisher: Tor

SYNOPSIS:

The third title in Genevieve Cogman's clever and exciting The Invisible Library series, The Burning Page is an action-packed literary adventure!

When it's your job to save the day - where do you start?

Librarian spy Irene has standards to maintain, especially while on probation. And absconding from a mission via a besieged building doesn't look good. But when her escape route home goes up in flames, what's a spy to do? However, it seems Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across dozens of worlds. Worse still, her nemesis Alberich is responsible -and he plans to annihilate the Library itself.

Irene and assistant Kai are posted to St Petersburg, to help combat this threat. Here Alberich emerges, as Irene tries to save her friend Vale and foil assassination attempts. Then one incredibly dangerous opportunity to save the Library emerges. Saving herself would be a bonus . . .

Irene's adventures feature stolen books, secret agents and forbidden societies - think Doctor Who but with librarian spies!


REVIEW:

The latest book in the series and one that has continued to build upon the success of the previous two as the readers are treated to a tale that will not only thrill and excite but also pull at the emotional heartstrings as Genevieve continues to weave an almost eldritch spell with the pages.

As with the previous books, the writing is engrossing, taking you into the authors world in such vivid colour that you feel that you;'re walking hand in hand with the protagonists. Finally throw into the mix cracking dialogue and all round its a title that will leave you salavating for more. Great fun.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Interview: Giles Kristian


With the release of the third book in Giles' epic Rise of Sigurd trilogy, we've been lucky enough to be included as part of the authors blog tour.  (For more stops see the poster further down the interview.)

As such we wanted to dig deep into the mind of this modern skald and bring you some answers to some questions we've been pondering for quite some time, so without further ado here we go:

You spend a lot of time writing about the Viking period. How well do you think you'd survive if you were thrown back into those days?

Great question! The truth is, of course, I’d be woefully ill-equipped in every aspect to survive in late 8th century Norway. The itchy woollen clothes alone would finish me off. We are, after all, products of our environment, and my environment is mostly centrally heated, populated with labour-saving technology, relatively sterile and lacking the immediate threat of physical danger. And yet. There is a part of me that would fit right in. Let’s call it my feasting hall mentality. Plus, I’m sure I could do my bit in the mêlée if it came to it. In fact, there’s a dark part of me (buried deep, fortunately) that would love to swing an axe in anger. Still, it’s probably for the best that I can write about Vikings from the comfort of my slippers and save the axe for my enemies that lurk within the log pile.


New discoveries are made every so often that affect the way that we today see those who have gone before. What is the weirdest period fact that you've come across and why has it amazed you?

When I visited the British Museum’s exhibition Vikings: life and legend, I was struck by a collection of bones and decapitated heads, unearthed during the creation of the Weymouth Relief Road, which are believed to be those of fifty-two young Viking warriors. Something else which made this rather disturbing discovery extraordinary was that some of the men’s front teeth have horizontal grooves etched into them. However this was done, it can’t have been a pleasant experience and we don’t know why they did it. There is a suggestion that these grooves were filled with pigment or resin and it could be that having filed teeth was a status symbol, perhaps the mark of a great warrior. Or perhaps it was done in order to frighten one’s enemy, for it must have made for a strange and outlandish appearance. Or could it even have been purely decorative? We just don’t know why a young Viking might have filed his teeth, but it certainly adds fearsome colour to the image of a warrior who has chosen to live outside of society’s norms. And what could be more Viking than that?


Who has been your favourite character to write about and why?

It’s funny how this has changed the older I’ve become. I used to like writing Black Floki best. He’s just so dark and dangerous and good with his blades. He’d kill his own grandmother for the fluff-covered Werther’s Original in her coat pocket, and this lack of decency makes him fun to write. He seems fearless and just does not care for the rules of men or even, perhaps, the gods, and yet he has some sort of spiritual side in as much as he believes his wyrd - his fate - is woven into Sigurd’s own. Then of course I realised I enjoyed writing Sigurd so much that I wanted to base another series on him and how he became a jarl and a man who inspires others to pledge oaths of loyalty to him. But these days I really like writing Olaf. I like his slight cynicism when it comes to the gods. I enjoy his banter and the way he talks to his enemies and I think he is often the voice of reason and experience in the face of some of the other men’s rash bravado. I also like that even among a crew that includes Black Floki, Svein and Bram the Bear, you wouldn’t bet against Olaf being the last man standing if it came down to it. I like to think experience counts for a lot.


What can you say about your next project?

My work-in-progress, LANCELOT: The Betrayal, is my take on the Arthurian myth. What makes it so different from anything else I know of is that it tells Lancelot’s story, not Arthur’s or

Merlin’s, but Lancelot’s. He is, after all, the great warrior. The famous lover. The betrayer. We see the world through his eyes, man and boy, and his journey will be our journey. His inner conflicts will be our conflicts, his battles our battles.

Set in a 5th century sub-Roman Britain besieged by invading warbands of Saxons and Franks, Irish and Picts, this will be a tale of love, lust, guilt and tragedy. It will be earthy yet spiritual. It will be imbued with pagan beliefs and the associated ‘magic’ of divination, spirit-flight and incantation, but there will not be dragons.


What would you say is the most valuable lesson you've learned about writing?

This is a lesson not so much about writing but about the business of writing – and that is: there’s nothing, or at least very little, I can do about what happens after the book is written and published. So, for instance, when I receive emails from angry readers who want to know when book III of the RAVEN saga is going to be translated into Spanish (for whatever reason the Spanish publisher has so far only bought books I and II); when readers mail me to say that this Waterstones or that Waterstones doesn’t have my new book in stock (alas, nothing I can do); when some of my ebooks are available in the U.S. while others are not (all to do with the licensing agreements); when audiobook listeners complain that they can’t find my audiobook on CD, or else they can only find it on CD (depends what deals have been done); when someone doesn’t like the image on the cover of the book (ultimately the publisher’s decision); or when they think a book is too expensive (I don’t set the price); or when the map on the ebook is not big enough (not my area); or when Amazon doesn’t deliver the book fast enough or the box it comes in is damaged so they give me a bad review (seriously); however frustrating all this stuff can be, there’s really not much I can do about it. I guess this is the double-edged sword of being available via all the social media platforms. It upsets me when a would-be reader can’t find my book in a branch of Waterstones, and I do tend to pass the info on to my publisher, but I must try to not let it bring me down, because it’s out of my control. All I can do is try to write the best book I can, then be available to my readers should they want to get in touch. That is what I am trying to learn.




When you're working on a project, what is your biggest flaw and likely to cause delays?

The enticing black hole that is social media. On the one hand it’s amazing to be able to chat to readers and other writers about books or the business or whatever. After all, being an author can be lonely and intense and very, very quiet, so Facebook and Twitter go some way to making up for that. Also, from a business perspective, social media is the way by which we authors, who are, after all, running our own small businesses, can interact with our customers and publicise our work.

And yes, it’s all too easy to let social media, or the internet generally, lead us toward temptation and procrastination. Writing can be hard work. Chatting to friends or looking up medieval recipes for mead is fun. The trouble is that both involve the same keys and the same screen, which are both within arm’s reach. I mean, who hasn’t started Googling images of Iron Age hill forts only to be sucked into a wormhole where you find yourself looking at pictures of supposed ghosts captured on camera, then end up buying a pair of shoes and checking Leicester City’s position in the league? Or is that just me?