I’m excited to be taking part in The Wolf of Kings series by Richard Cullen blog tour #Oathbound #ShieldBreaker #TheWolfOfKings

OATH BOUND:

The champion of a dead king has nothing left to lose… And nothing more to fear.

Hastings, 1066. Styrkar the Dane stumbles wounded and delirious from the corpse-strewn battlefield of Senlac Hill. He has watched his king butchered at the hands of foreign knights, seen his countrymen defeated in battle, and he will not stop until there is a reckoning.

Styrkar embarks on a bloody quest to avenge his dead master, becoming an outlaw in the wilds and earning a fearsome reputation.

When a Breton knight seeks to track down this fugitive and make his own name, he can little envisage the task he has set himself. For Styrkar, the Red Wolf, last surviving housecarl to King Harold Godwinson, will carve the story of his vengeance in Frankish flesh… or die in the attempt.

My Review for Oathbound

Oathbound starts with a vivid and well-sketched scene in the immediate aftermath of the battle of Hastings. From there, we’re taken back in time, to Styrkar’s childhood in Denmark, and told how he came to England – an important detail as Styrkar is a Dane, housecarl to the half-Danish Harold Godwinson, and he should never have come to England’s shores. But it is to Harold Godwinson that Styrkar is oath bound at the battle of Hastings.

The following tale is well told, as we follow Styrkar in the aftermath of the English defeat at the battle of Hastings. It’s not long until he is butting heads with the Franks from Normandy, and making himself both a powerful enemy, and a less than friendly ally.

I’m intrigued by how this story will develop in book 2. Styrkar is a complex character, thrust into a world where nothing is at it was, and he’s not above fighting for what he feels is right, but equally, sometimes he just wants to fight and doesn’t consider the consequences. With the build-up for book 2 an important part of the ending to book 1, it’s very clear that our main character (I’m not sure he’s a hero) is really going to be placed in a compromising position throughout Shield Breaker.

Oath Bound is a fascinating start to a new series exploring England after the Norman Conquest, pitting Norman/Frank against a Danish/Saxon, essentially two men for whom England isn’t their home, and yet who must make their lives there, all the same.


And here’s the blurb for the sequel…..

SHIELD BREAKER:

Styrkar the warrior sails to dangerous lands in this thrilling new historical adventure from Richard Cullen. The sequel to Oath Bound, longlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize 2022.

England, 1068: a land gripped in the iron fist of Frankish invaders. But the Conqueror does not sit easily on his fledgling throne. Rebellion is rife, and the flames of uprising have been ignited in every corner of the kingdom.

Thrown back into this crucible is Styrkar the Dane, former housecarl of the slain King Harold. Forced to travel to Ireland by his deadliest enemy, he must risk the fates of his brothers-in-arms in order to protect the one thing he loves.

So begins a journey that will take Styrkar to the royal court of Dublin, and the frigid climes of the north of England, for loyalty, love and vengeance. He will be tested, beaten and broken, but can any man keep the Red Wolf chained for long?

Meet the Author

Richard Cullen originally hails from Leeds in the heartland of Yorkshire. Oath Bound, his debut historical adventure novel, was longlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize 2022. As well as being a writer of historical adventure, he has also written a number of epic fantasy series as R.S. Ford. If you’d like to learn more about Richard’s books, and read free exclusive content, you can visit his website at follow him on Twitter at, or join him on Instagram.

Pre-order link

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3OmPNtx

Follow Richard Cullen

Twitter: @rich4ord

Instagram: @thewordhog

Website: wordhog.co.uk

Follow Aries

Twitter: @AriesFiction

Facebook: Aries Fiction

Website: http://www.headofzeus.com

Don’t forget to check out the review blog tour for Oathbound and Shieldbreaker with all of the fabulous hosts.

It’s my turn on the new release blog tour for The Capsarius by Simon Turney #AriesFiction #BlogTour

Here’s the blurb:

Warrior and combat medic, Titus Cervianus, must lead a legion and quell the uprisings in Egypt in a new Roman adventure from Simon Turney.
Egypt. 25 BC.

Titus Cervianus and the Twenty Second Deiotariana have been sent to deal with uprisings and chaos in Egypt. Yet the Twenty Second is no ordinary legion. Founded as the private royal army of one of Rome’s most devoted allies, the king of Galatia, their ways are not the same as the other legions, a factor that sets them apart and causes friction with their fellow soldiers.

Cervianus is no ordinary soldier, either. A former surgeon from the city of Ancyra, he’s now a capsarius – a combat medic. Cervianus is a pragmatist, a scientist, and truly unpopular with his legion.

Marching into the unknown, Cervianus will find unexpected allies in a local cavalryman and a troublesome lunatic. Both will be of critical importance as the young medic marches into the searing sands of the south, finding forbidden temples, dark assassins, vicious crocodiles, and worst of all, the warrior queen of Kush…

Amazon Link:

Review

I really enjoyed The Capsarius. I’ve read some of Simon Turney’s Roman fiction in the past, but this book, without its focus on Roman Rome, is a little different, and very enjoyable.

I didn’t read this book quickly – rather I enjoyed it slowly, taking delight in reading a small amount each day over an extended period. It’s a story rich with detail, as our main character, The Capsarius, travels through a land he is clearly excited to visit, being so very strange to his birth lands, and yet one he understands is filled with danger. The heat, the lack of water, and the need to stay close to the great river Nile, bring into play some very dangerous enemies, the crocodiles of the delta.

The Capsarius is not your usual Roman warrior. He’s a skilled and widely read individual, keen to hold on to the ideals he has as a medic in the Roman army, even though he’s pitted against just about everyone in the legion, and his superiors really don’t seem to like him a great deal – not that it worries him. He’s a man of reason, and yet one who’s thrust into a strange land, with even stranger gods, and gods who seem to speak to him. The interplay between the reasoned man forced to question his beliefs because of the pervading Egyptian religion is skillfully drawn.

This is a slow burn, which rewards the reader with two really quite different battle scenes in the second half of the book when our Roman hero finally encounters his elusive enemy, and I’m already looking forward to book 2.

A wonderful read – with just the right amount of humour and peril – set in a wonderfully drawn land of intrigue and danger.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my review copy, and for inviting me onto the new release blog tour.

Meet the author

Simon Turney is from Yorkshire and, having spent much of his childhood visiting historic sites, fell in love with the Roman heritage of the region. His fascination with the ancient world snowballed from there with great interest in Rome, Egypt, Greece and Byzantium. His works include the Marius’ Mules and Praetorian series, the Tales of the Empire and The Damned Emperor series, and the Rise of Emperors books with Gordon Doherty.

Follow Simon
Twitter: @SJATurney
Instagram: @simonturney_aka_sjaturney

Website: http://simonturney.com/

Don’t forget to stop by the other reviewers on The Capsarius new release blog tour.

headofzeus.com@AriesFiction

Not convinced yet? Do check out my other reviews for Simon Turney’s Roman era books. Commodus, Sons of Rome, Masters of Rome, Emperors of Rome.

Today, I’m delighted to share my review for Gods of Rome, the final book in the Rise of Emperors Trilogy by Gordon Doherty and Simon Turney

Cor, I’ve loved all three of these books. But before I get to the nitty gritty of the review for book 3, here’s the blurb:

For one to rule, the other must die.

312 AD is a year of horrific and brutal warfare. Constantine’s northern army is a small force, plagued by religious rivalries, but seemingly unstoppable as they invade Maxentius’ Italian heartlands. These relentless clashes, incidents of treachery and twists of fortune see Maxentius’ armies driven back to Rome. 

Constantine has his prize in sight, yet his army is diminished and on the verge of revolt. Maxentius meanwhile works to calm a restive and dissenting Roman populace. When the two forces clash in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, there are factors at work beyond their control and soon they are left with carnage. 

There is only one way Constantine and Maxentius’ rivalry will end. With one on a bloodied sword and the other the sole ruler of Rome . . .

Gods of Rome is a stunning climax to the Rise of Emperors trilogy. The reader has followed the lives of Maxentius and Constantine in the two previous books, through their childhood friendship and adult rivalries, which have resulted in them being firm enemies. In this non-stop and thrilling climax, there is all to play for, and don’t Doherty and Turney manage to ramp up the tension to unbearable heights.

I’m no expert on Roman history, and certainly not on the period leading up to AD312, but the authors manage to convey the chaos of the ruling elite without ever getting bogged down in the minutiae of all the internal power struggles. It’s a light touch that I certainly appreciate. The focus is on Constantine and Maxentius, and the men and women who stand at their side. And this is a particular strength of the book. It would be quite easy to forget about the men’s wives as the book focuses so much on warfare but Fausta and Valeria are given their own storylines, standing firm beside their men, even if they don’t always approve of what they’re doing, and not above some treachery themselves.

Maxentius and Constantine are two very different characters, grappling for the same thing, and the reader never tires of their internal monologues as they goad themselves onwards.

From about 50% through the book, I had to force myself not to turn to the back to read the historical notes, and to find out what ‘truth’ this story was based on.

I have adored this trilogy of books. It is my type of historical fiction – people who lived and breathed, brought to life and made to live their lives as opposed to authors focusing on the inevitability of what would happen, and presenting it as a fait accompli.

I can only hope that Simon Turney and Gordon Doherty are able to collaborate once more. After all, they have a lot of Roman era history they could delve into. (Hint, hint, nudge, nudge).

About the authors

Simon Turney is the author of the Marius’ Mules and Praetorian series, as well as The Damned Emperor series for Orion and Tales of the Empire series for Canelo. He is based in Yorkshire. 

Gordon Doherty is the author of the Legionary and Strategos series, and wrote the Assassin’s Creed tie-in novel Odyssey. He is based in Scotland.

Purchase link

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3EtqBgF

Follow Simon

Twitter: @SJATurney

Instagram: @simonturney_aka_sjaturney

Website: http://simonturney.com/

Follow Gordon

Twitter: @GordonDoherty

Instagram: @gordon.doherty

Website: https://www.gordondoherty.co.uk/

Follow Aries

Twitter: @AriesFiction

Facebook: Aries Fiction

Website: http://www.headofzeus.com

Extract from Gods of Rome

1
CONSTANTINE
The Cottian Alpes, 27th January 312 ad

We moved through the mountains like winter wolves. The ferocious blizzard sped southwards with us, carried on the famous bora winds, singing a dire song. For days we marched through that driving snow, seeing nothing but great white-clad peaks either side of us; rugged, inhospitable highlands which in these frozen months soldiers were not meant to cross. All around me the gale screamed, boots crunched endlessly through the successively deeper drifts of white, men’s teeth chattered violently, mules brayed, exhausted. It felt at times as if we were wandering, snow-blind, to our deaths, but I knew what lay ahead… so close now.

I called upon my chosen men and a handful of their best soldiers – a group of thirty – and we roved ahead of the army like advance scouts. The blizzard raked through my bear cloak, the snow rattling like slingshot against my gemmed ridge helm and bronze scales as I scoured the valley route. Yet I refused to blink. When the speeding hail of white slowed and the murky grey ahead thinned a little, I saw them: a pair of stone and timber watchtowers, northern faces plastered in snow. Gateposts watching this passage between two realms. I dropped to my haunches behind the brow of a snowdrift and my chosen men hunkered down with me. I gazed over the drift’s brow, regarding the narrow gap between the towers and the valley route beyond, on through the winter-veined mountains. Thinking of the land that lay beyond these heights, my frozen lips moved soundlessly.

Italia…

Land of Roman forefathers. Home of the man I had once considered my friend… but that territory was rightfully mine. Mine! My surging anger scattered when I spotted movement atop one of the two towers: a freezing Maxentian scout blowing into his hands, oblivious to our presence. Then the blizzard fell treacherously slack, and the speeding veil of white cleared for a trice. I saw his ice-crusted eyebrows rise as he leaned forward, peering into the momentary clarity, right at us. His eyes bulged, mouth agog.

‘He is here!’ he screamed to be heard over the sudden return of the storm’s wrath. ‘Constantine is h—’

With a wet punch, an arrow whacked into the man’s chest and shuddered there. He spasmed then folded over the edge of the timber parapet and fell like a sack of gravel, crunching into a pillowy snowdrift at the turret’s foot. I glanced to my right, seeing my archer nock and draw again, shifting his bow to the heights of the other tower, his eyes narrowing within the shadow of his helm brow. He loosed, but the dark-skinned sentry up there ducked behind the parapet, screaming and tolling a warning bell. At once, three more Maxentians spilled from the door at the base of that rightmost tower, rushing south towards a simple, snow-topped stable twenty paces away, in the lee of a rocky overhang. This was one of the few gateways through the mountains – albeit the least favoured and most treacherous – and it was guarded by just five men? Instantly, suspicion and elation clashed like swords in my mind. We had no time to rake over the facts. These watchmen could not be allowed to ride south and warn the legions of Italia. They had to die.

Competition time – enter to win a paperback copy of Odin’s Game by Tim Hodkinson (UK only)

To celebrate the release of The Whale Road Chronicles in paperback, I’m pleased to be able to offer one lucky (UK) reader a FREE copy of the paperback of Odin’s Game (direct from the publisher).

Click here to enter, via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s the rules:

  1. follow @AriesFiction on Twitter (you can follow me as well if you like – but it’s not a necessity @coloursofunison)
  2. no giveaway accounts
  3. UK only
  4. 1 winner gets 1 paperback copy of Odin’s Game
  5. Competition runs from 05.10.21 to 10.10.21
    Once the giveaway finishes I will announce the winner on Twitter and get in touch to let you know how to claim your prize.

Good luck everyone!

If you’ve not heard of The Whale Road Chronicles, check out the blurb here:

Not everyone will survive, but who will conquer all in Odin’s game?

AD 915 In the Orkney Isles, a young woman flees her home to save the life of her unborn child. Eighteen years later, a witch foretells that evil from her past is reaching out again to threaten her son. Outlawed from his home in Iceland,

Einar Unnsson is thrown on the mercy of his Uncle, the infamous Jarl Thorfinn ‘Skull Cleaver’ of Orkney. He joins forces with a Norse-Irish princess and a company of wolfskin clad warriors to become a player in a deadly game for control of the Irish sea, where warriors are the pawns of kings and Jarls and the powerful are themselves mere game pieces on the tafl board of the Gods. Together they embark on a quest where Einar must fight unimaginable foes, forge new friendships, and discover what it truly means to be a warrior. As the clouds of war gather, betrayal follows betrayal and Einar realises the only person he can really trust is himself.

Odin’s Game is the first book of The Whale Road Chronicles. The first 4 books are available now.


About the Author:

Tim Hodkinson grew up in Northern Ireland where the rugged coast and call of the Atlantic ocean led to a lifelong fascination with Vikings and a degree in Medieval English and Old Norse Literature. Tim’s more recent writing heroes include Ben Kane, Giles Kristian, Bernard Cornwell, George R.R. Martin and Lee Child. After several years in the USA, Tim has returned to Northern Ireland, where he lives with his wife and children.

@TimHodkinson 

www.timhodkinson.blogspot.com

To give you an idea of what you can expect from the books, here’s a photo of Birsay, Orkney that I took last week on holiday! If you read the books you’ll find out why it’s so relevant:)

Birsay, Orkney (photo taken by me October 2021)