AURELIA by @alison_morton Roma Nova #4 #BookReview #HistFic

Aurelia (Roma Nova #4)Aurelia by Alison Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aurelia is book #4 in the Roma Nova series of books about an alternative Europe, one where the Roman empire lives on under the rules of the maternal family lines. What if Rome didn’t fall in AD395 and loyal Romans formed a new colony in a mountainous region north of Italy.

This book is set in the 1960’s and is the story of Aurelia, a Praetorian soldier, after her mother has a bad car accident she finds herself head of one of the 12 families, but she finds there are those who wish to undermine everything they have worked for and so she goes to Berlin as a member of a silver delegation, but underneath she works as a spy, to find who is threatening the vital Silver trade of Nova Roma.

I enjoyed this book because I have read others in the series and know the Roma Nova background, I do think readers will benefit from reading the previous books before tackling this one.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Noelle reviews The Watchmen by Richard Denham and M. J. Trow

Today we have a review from team member Noelle, she blogs at http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

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Noelle chose to read and review The Watchmen by Richard Denham and M.J. Trow

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The Watchmen is the second book in the Britannia series by Richard Denham and M.J. Trow. I read and reviewed the first book in the series, The Wall. I liked that book; this one was more entertaining.

The Wall began in AD 367 in Roman Britannia, modern day England. The Watchmen is set years later and the four so-called ‘Heroes of the Wall’ are living very different lives from their earlier roles in the Roman Army. Leocadius, once a bragging and womanizing pedes or foot soldier, is now a leader in civilian life, the council of Londinium (London), with a cold wife and a warm mistress, Honoria. The beautiful Honoria runs an upper class brothel and has a child, Scipio, with Leocadius. Vitalis, also once a foot soldier, has become a Christian and now lives in a rough house by the Thames, where he weaves baskets for sale from the river grasses. Justinus, once a 30 year old non-commissioned officer of the cavalry, is now Commander of Hadrian’s Wall, tasked with protecting Britannia from invaders from the wild lands north of the Wall. Paternus, a semisallis (a rank above pedes) had lost his family in the earlier book and had made a political marriage with Brenna, female leader of the Voltadini, to tie her people to Rome. They’d fallen in love and had a child together, but Paternus had died five years before the story begins. Justinus is in love with Brenna and committed to overseeing the development and education of her two boys, one from an earlier marriage and the one fathered by Paternus. Around these characters the book swirls, moving swiftly from one to the other, leaving the reader with multiple cliffhangers.

The figure tying the separate story lines together is Magnus Maximus, commander of the Roman Army in Britannia. He declares himself Caesar, a challenger to the throne of Gratian, Emperor of the western Roman Empire. Gratian shares the throne with his brother Valentinian II, Emperor of the eastern half of the Roman Empire. At the beginning of the book, Maximus is demanding and winning allegiance from the various native tribes in Britannia, as their Caesar.

Leocadius is mired in the politics of Londinium and saddled with a grasping wife. He plays dice for his life. Vitalis wants a peaceful life but has to rejoin the military to help his sister Conchessa find her husband, who defrauded Valentinian and is missing. Justinus is facing a massive incursion of invaders determined to kill everything and everyone in their way and has to work with Maximus and the tribes allied with him to stop them. Each of their stories winds through the book like ribbons on a maypole, detailed with Celtic legend, Egyptian mysticism and tribal battle-fury. How many of the remaining three Heroes of the Wall will survive?

I only have two negative comments: first, the story of Maximus’ campaign against Gratian is given short shrift – in itself, it could have been another volume; second, there were places where the characters use very contemporary expressions, which was a little jarring. I appreciated the glossary at the end of the book for Roman terms with which I wasn’t familiar, and the map showing sites from the narrative.

Richard Denham is a self-taught Roman historian with an exhaustive knowledge of this period; M.J.Trow is a military historian. They have combined their talents to bring the Britannia of the fourth century and its citizens to life.

I fully admit I am not an historian and perhaps some who are might quibble. But as a general reader, I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and Roman history. Where I felt the first book in the series would appeal mainly to men, this book has a broader appeal. I’m hoping to see a third book soon.

 

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Britannia Part II: The Watchmen by Richard Denham & M.J. Trow

The Watchmen (Britannia, #2)The Watchmen by Richard Denham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Britannia Part II: The Watchmen is the second book in this historical fiction series set around Roman Britain in the late 4th Century. Magnus Maximus is the Military officer commanding Britain – the Dux Britannorum. Power seeking he is gaining support from the legions and calling himself Caesar of Britannia. He’s causing political uproar too by marching on London and demanding the support of the Vicarius, the Governor of the province.

The four heroes of The Wall (Hadrian’s Wall) from the last book have moved on, one has died, Justinus is now Commander of The Wall, keeping the rebels such as the Picti from advancing. Vitalis turned away from his army roots and is a basket seller in London and Leocadius has slept his way into the political role of Consul in London.

This book follows these main characters in the next chapter of their lives. Maximus wants to gain the support of all of Britannia and then head off to over throw the Emperor Gratian. Vitalis’s sister comes from Gaul to ask him help her find her husband who has disappeared. Leocadius finds that politics is not his thing and Justinas faces rebels with a strong Saxon backing.

There’s plenty of action as well as insight into the likely political twists which would have gone on all over the Roman empire in real life. Power hungry men, fighting men and those just trying to survive as best they can. I enjoyed reading how a Roman army wielded itself in battle as well as learning about the local tribes of Britain and their traditions and beliefs. There is a useful glossary of place names and Roman terms, plus a map of Britannia showing many of the main areas from the book. As I read the paperback version this was really useful to be able to flip to these pages.

This review is based on a free paperback copy of the book given to me by the author.

Find a copy of this book here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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Perfiditas by Alison Morton

Perfiditas (Roma Nova, #2)Perfiditas by Alison Morton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perfiditas is book 2 in the Roma Nova series and is a mystery thriller. I really enjoyed book 1 Inceptio and the concept of the Roman nation continuing thousands of years later and being run by the female lines of families. The second book continues with lots of characters from the first book and takes place approximately 7 years later.

Captain Carina Mitela works for the military, but is also the junior head of her Roman family. She must wear many hats of duty in her everyday life. When a secret token makes it’s way to Carina, she realises that a friend is in trouble and a organises a quick military rescue. It soon becomes obvious that a much deeper plot is afoot and Carina must go to extreme lengths to save her nation.

The writing is filled with Roman names, traditions and words which make the world of Nova Roma seem all the more genuine and believable. There are a lot of characters to get your head a round and many have several alias which makes it all a bit more complicated. It’s a very good storyline and to get the best from it I would strongly suggest reading the first book in the series prior to this just so you understand the whole scenario and can immerse yourself fully in modern Roma Nova.

This review is based on a free copy of the book which I won.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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Rosie’s Book review Team #RBRT Noelle reviews Britannia: The Wall by Richard Denham

Today we have a review from Book review Team Member Noelle, she blogs at http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

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Noelle chose to read and review Britannia: The Wall by Richard Denham

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Here is her review.

The year is AD 367 and four Roman soldiers of different age and rank return to their fort after hunting for deer to feed their garrison. They find everyone at the fort slaughtered, horses taken and food pillaged. Their fort is one of many along Hadrian’s Wall, a defensive fortification built by Romans in AD 122 and separating Britannia – the furthest extent of Roman rule – into a north and a south. North of the Wall are a dozen wild peoples, while south of the Wall there is Roman rule and an uneasy peace with other tribes living there. The four soldiers are 19 year old Leocadius, a foot soldier who is a womanizer and braggart; Vitalis, also a foot soldier, who is two years younger and still in reality a boy untried in battle; Semisallis Paternus, who has a wife and child living at another fort; and Justinus, a phlegmatic circitor or cavalry non-commissioned officer, who at 30 years old considered an old timer and is their leader by rank. Horrified by what they find, they decide not to bury the dead but are led by Justinus to the next nearest fort, in the hopes of finding reinforcements. There they find the same scene, but Paternus’ wife and son are not among the dead. The soldiers follow along the road between the forts, finding more slaughter and raiding, while heading south to a major town in the region. When they stop to rest by a cold stream, they are nearly discovered by the raiders, tall blond men riding Roman cavalry horses and speaking an unknown language. What were Saxons doing in Britannia?

Thus begins Britania -The Wall, an historical novel which has excitement, a good amount of brutality and gore, as befits the times, and wonderful historical detail and content. The authors have created an accurate world of Britannia at the times: the tribes and their characteristics, the organization and leadership both within the Roman army and the settlements, the gods and religious practices, as well as the living conditions. They are especially effective in the description of ancient Londinium, which would evolve through the centuries into the London we know.

The soldiers discover that the destruction of the raid was actually carried out by an army made up of many tribes, using Roman fighting techniques, and led by a giant of a man wearing a distinctive silver helmet, who is called Valentinus. There is a mystery running through the story of how these four soldiers became heroes of the Wall, how the Wall is rebuilt, how Londinium is fortified against attack: who is this elusive, charismatic leader? And when will Valentinus and his unholy alliance of Picts, Saxons, and Scots attack again?

This is a book for an audience of male readers of historical fiction; while I enjoyed it, it is not something a woman would pick up at first glance unless she was enamoured of that time and area, as I am. The major drawback to the novel is the Latin terms used are not defined. I took four years of Latin and even translated a portion of Caesar’s Gallic Wars, but I still had to look up a lot of terms along the way, which took me away from the story. I strongly suggest a glossary of terms, which will open the book to a larger readership.

The authors have created real and engaging characters in the four soldiers and provide us with lyrical and colourful descriptions of the times and society in which they live. I do recommend this book as an historical novel of substance, and I look forward to the next volume in the series.

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Jessie reviews The Wrath Inside by RR Gall

Today we have a review from book review team member Jessie. She blogs at http://behindthewillows.com

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Jessie chose to read and review The Wrath Inside by RR Gall

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Here is Jessie’s review.

Often it starts with a setting that interests you, then the characters paint their lives full and rich, the plot hooks you for good and there you are engrossed in a good book.

As a story set it AD 15 The Wrath Inside certainly interested me and perhaps that was the problem. I was so busy being analytically interested I never became emotionally involved. So much of my inner dialog was saying things like; “Ha- of course teenagers were still smart alecs.” “Is that what their houses are like?” “Are those wood working tools really as old as all that? I wonder what they looked like?”  ” Wait, what are they eating?” “Should I know this person?” “How much of this is real?” I was Googling, and defining and learning… and completely missing getting wrapped up in the character and plots.

I missed connecting with the young boy who was sucked into schemes he knows little about and the angry Roman commander who has come to take the census of his town. And as for the many plot lines that were being woven, well, I was too busy wondering over cooking tortoises to puzzle over any mystery. Finally when the different plots started weaving together near the end, promising more action in the following book, I was surprised at all that had been going on while I was marvelling over roofing design!

Would I recommend it? The book was interesting but not captivating. Of course, that said, I’d like to read the next one. I think I need to know what happens next!

This honest review was given in return for a free copy of the book from its author.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Guest Author R.R. Gall

Today our guest is Richard, R Gall, author of yesterday’s book The Wrath Inside, here is a link to the post if you missed it. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-51U

RR Gall

Let’s find out more about Richard and his writing.

1) Where is your home town?
   I live in Dumfries, Scotland.
2) How long have you been writing?
   As I’m getting on a bit now, it’s been quite a long time. I’ve dabbled away since my twenties but only started properly when the big 50 hit me for 6.
3) What genres do you enjoy writing?
   Usually murder/mysteries: the crime giving a peg to hang everything on.
4) Where did the idea for The Wrath Inside come from?
   It started by wanting to know what life was like at that time. Just basic things like: what they ate, how they made a living, their views, and how much, or, indeed, how little they knew of the world. With that in mind, I decided to set the story in a small, ordinary town.
   Also, as part of the research, I read old and modern translations of The Bible and was surprised by how the resonance changed with the language. So I tried to write something that would feel contemporary: hopefully showing that people have changed little through the years and that events in the book are no different to ones going on in places round the world today.
5) Tell us some of the historical background to the area which this book is set in at the time of AD 15
   There had been many different conquerors over the years (Persians, Greeks, etc) and now The Romans were in charge. But unease was growing – people wanted to be free from oppression. Revolts flared up, only to be sharply quashed.
6) What illnesses were both Ezera’s parents suffering from?
   There is more in the next story.
7) What jobs did Ezera and his friends have in their day to day life?
   In the area where the story is set, most would have worked the land. There would be set chores in the home as well. They would also be expected to study Scripture and Law.
8) Joseph Caiaphas had a lot of power over the people, how would Rome have dealt with this threat?
   I doubt if the Romans would have been all that bothered by the priest – as long as he did not overstep the mark. Similarly, High Priest Annas wielded great power for a long time but was only deposed after taking things a bit too far – perhaps sentencing people to death. However, he remained influential, in the background, for many more years to come.
9) Tell us about your trilogy.
   The Dumfries Detective Trilogy is a murder/mystery set of stories. It consists of: The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit, The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts, The Case of the Hermit’s Guest Bedroom.
   As the titles suggest, there is supposed to be some fun in them but, also, enough thrills and spills to keep the tension going right through to the last book.
   Unusually, this amateur detective, Jin Johnstone, is not very good at what he does – although he is well-intentioned. Nevertheless, as the trilogy progresses, it is possible to see him improve as a detective, and, almost as importantly, as a man.
   All the action takes place in and around the Scottish town of Dumfries – taking in its sights and its colourful characters.
10) What are you working on at the moment? Do you have an expected publication date for fans?
    I’m writing a (slightly different) police procedural murder/mystery, set in Glasgow. It will be out at the summer.
The Wrath Inside
Find a copy on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

The Wrath Inside by RR Gall

The Wrath InsideThe Wrath Inside by RR Gall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Wrath Inside is set in the town of Nares, Palestine in AD15. Roman occupation of the land and the aggression of the Roman soldiers add to the hostile attitudes of the nation. The people of Nares lead a simple life, their highlight is the traders who pass through on the road to Jerusalem.

The book centres around 15 year old Ezera, his home life, his friends and his upbringing. These are all set into turmoil when a stranger attacks Ezera with a knife while he sleeps, falsely accusing him of kidnapping his children. Ezera helps the man called Khalil to find his children, on route they discover a cohort of Roman soldiers not far from the village.

The Romans demand a census takes place in the town, but a scuffle causes a soldier to be wounded and the situation becomes more threatening. Ezera and his friends become embroiled in the conflict. The morals of the town are put into question when they allow an innocent man to die as revenge for the Roman soldier.

When an important priest and his entourage arrive in town the Roman power authority is lessened, highlighting some of the trouble there was at the time between the religious leaders and the occupying forces. Yet the leader of the Romans has come to this town for more than one reason.

Find a copy on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Author Richard Gall will be our guest here on the blog tomorrow.

Romancing September author Camelia Miron Skiba (Day 27)

Day 27 of the tour and our guest author today is Camelia Miron Skiba. She’ll be answering questions about her book “Born in Vengeance” then giving her views on writing romance in today’s society over with Stephanie in a few hours time.

Camelia Miron Skina

1) Where is your home town?

I live in Chandler, Arizona, but was born and raised in Bucharest, Romania.

2) How long have you been writing?

Since 2009.

3) Have you always written romance?

I’m a sucker for all things romantic so the answer is yes.

4) “Born in Vengeance” is a historical romance, can you tell us where and when it is set?

BORN IN VENGEANCE is set in old Dacia (the land of Romania today), approximately around 117 A.D.

5) What made you choose this time and setting?

History tells that Roman soldiers combined with Dacian women. I use “combine” on purpose because they didn’t marry them as they were beneath their status as victors, but rather enslaved them. I try not to think much about how the Romans took Dacian women by force, but I do know that, the exact moment when the first child was born out of such a union marked the birth of the Romanian nation. I had to put my own spin on this very historical moment.

6) In the story, Ilias is seeking revenge on the Roman’s, why?

Ilias’ father was King Decebalus, the last Dacian king before the Romans conquered Dacia. Not only does Ilias want to avenge his father’s death, but he wants his land back as well.

7) How did “Love” find Ilias and with whom?

Thirsty for revenge and eager to unshackle his people from Roman oppression, Ilias’ obsession to fulfil his oath has no bounds, even if that means kidnapping Nerva, the beloved daughter of Emperor Traianus, and his biggest enemy. What he doesn’t know is his own heart threatens to betray his conscience. Ironically he finds love in his thirst for vengeance.

8)The story doesn’t end with this book does it, can you drop a few hints about the sequel?

That’s correct. The story ends with a battle but the outcome of it is where the second book starts, BORN IN SIN, which is Zyraxes’ story and his quest for love. In BORN IN VENGEANCE the reader is introduced to Ilias loyal men, five of them, including Zyraxes. Each hero will have his own story and book. BORN IN SIN was released end of May 2013. BORN IN DARKNESS will come out in 2015. I don’t have titles for the rest of the stories but I do have the outlines.

9) Tell us about your other work that has a Romanian theme.

So far all my books have something Romanian, be it characters, places, settings, traditions, culture, etc. I’ve released 4 novels so far (HIDDEN HEART, A WORLD APART, BORN IN VENGEANCE and BORN IN SIN). The general public knows Romania either as the land of Dracula, the place where the world’s famous gymnast Nadia Comaneci was born, or because of Communism, but there is much more to that country. I like to believe that by incorporating my upbringing in my novels I give the readers an opportunity to learn about my beautiful homeland. Guilty – Nadia was pinned to my bedroom wall!

10) What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a contemporary romance (no title yet) set in the States and all characters are Americans (a first in my writing). The novel is a quirky and witty combination between Maid in Manhattan and When Harry met Sally.

Blurb:

Award winning model Lucas Oliver’s face and chiselled abs appear on thousands of romance novels, and he has an ego to match his fame. Meeting someone who doesn’t adore him is rare, but when it happens, he finds himself drawn to the one who refuses to fawn all over him.

A stickler for puritan values, makeup artist Jane Sullivan discovered the hard way that forever doesn’t exist, and letting go opens doors she’d like to keep closed. She’d rather keep her husband’s memory alive than worry about a dating pool full of sharks and piranhas.

The two meet when Jane’s dream of becoming an author suddenly becomes reality, and it’s hate at first sight. Lucas is everything she despises with arrogance to spare, but is there more to him than meets the eye? His confidence and courage are what she desperately wants … even though she won’t admit it. She is everything he thinks he doesn’t deserve. Can Lucas persuade the shy, uncompromising single mom Jane to give him a chance?

Born in VengeanceFind a copy of “Born in Vengeance” at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

WEBSITE:      LOVE. WTHOUT YOU       http://authorcameliamironskiba.com/

Thank You Cami and Good Luck with the new books and the rest of the Dacian Legends series. Don’t forget Stephanie’s half of the interview over at http://stephanie-hurt.com/  

Born in Vengeance by Camelia Miron Skiba

BORN IN VENGEANCE (Dacian Legends, #1)BORN IN VENGEANCE by Camelia Miron Skiba

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a short historical story set in the land which became Romania. It tells of the Dacian empire and Ilias,the son of the King, seeking revenge on the Romans for killing his family and taking over their land. Revenge, romance and an ending which will lead in to the next book.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/BORN-VENGEANCE-Dacian-Legends-ebook/dp/B00CPY8JWK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373817931&sr=8-1&keywords=born+in+vengeance

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