Empress and Solider – Book Review

I don’t know about you, but I love a good historical fiction story. It gives me my historical fix and usually throws in a pretty entertaining story. Empress and Solider by Marian Thorpe are particularly delightful. Following a girl turned Empress and the son of a merchant turned spy, this intriguing story follows the lives of two different people from two different first-person perfectives. Seeing this ancient drama from an imperial and peasant mindset allows us to see points of view that one aspect of the wartime drama would not have allowed.

Marian Thrope gives us two points of view in Empress and Solider are those of Druisius and Eudekia. Each is a very different character who, through most of the story, has only briefly seen each other and thought of only a few times. This makes sense, however, as the lives of the two are exceptionally different. This ancient Roman-like world that Thrope has given us is a sprawling globe of other countries and people. How could two people from very different aspects of life meet anyway?

You may wonder, is this some out of their league romance story? Yes, and not but not in the way you would think. The main characters have their own lives, so avoid avoiding this book if you are worried about reading the same-old-same-old love story. If you are a fan of historical fiction in original settings, I strongly suggest you pick up this fantastic novel. I will be checking out Thrope’s other books soon!

The Sword of Saint Isidores – Book Review

The Sword of Saint Isidores: The Circles of Time: Book 1 by David Tomas Kay is an intriguing historical fiction work. What comes off first as simply a history of an assumed cursed sword, turns into an epic spanning generations of an extended family as they learn to cope with ill luck that seems to be handed to them, by the sword or created by fate. The history of the Sword of Saint Isidores is covered from the time of its creation, its theft, and the deaths of many who held its ownership.

The world and time of the story are well researched. The conflict between Norse and Christian beliefs and how those who followed either religion coped with being in different circumstances of the time is certainly believable. It is clear that the author did his fair share of research in order to bring this slice of history to the readers. This results in a well-rounded and realistic historical fiction work, avoiding the nasty and common issue of an overly clean and romanticized history. The Sword of Saint Isidores is a must-read for historical fiction fans and I certainly intend to pick up the rest of the series soon.

The Lion of Skye by J.T.T. Ryder – Book/Series Review

Every now and then you come to the end of a story you wish could go on for many more books. Sure, every story must reach a solid ending, but that does not mean you want it to end. The Bronze Sword Cycles has been one of those series for me. While I loved Hag of the Hills, The Lion of Skye really brought the story together. The amazing story of Vidav as he continues his journey to free Skye from the dreadful Queen of the Hillman and free his people and home from the hand of a dark tyrant.

The story is solid and picks up right where Hag of the Hills leaves off, so thankfully you are not presented with some unknown time skip that often happens between novels. This allows us to dive right back into the action, which is great as The Lion of Skye is a fast-paced novel that keeps you on your toes. While The Lion of Skye is certainly brought to a fantastic end, the ending in question leaves you wanting to read more of this wonderfully researched and executed historical fiction work.

I suggest this book, and of course the first in the duology, for any historical fiction fan, particularly those fond of tales taking place before the written word.

My review of Hag of the Hills can be found here.

She Who Rides Horses – Book Review

She Who Rides Horses: A Saga of the Ancient Steppe by Sarah V Barnes is an exciting historical fiction adventure taking place some 6,000 years ago in which a teenage girl decides that instead of simply using the wild horses as food, she wants to ride one. From a modern perspective, the idea that anyone would find riding horses odd is a hard concept to follow. That is just what we do with them after all, but someone had to have come up with the idea at some point. Sarah V Barnes does a wonderful job of telling us the story of the domestication of horses while also giving us exciting characters and a thrilling adventure of near-death experiences, otherworldly visions, and romance.

She Who Rides Horses: A Saga of the Ancient Steppe by Sarah V Barnes as stated above is an exciting story. However, the story is also filled with colorful characters and well-researched aspects of the time the story takes place. How the people live in a historical fiction work is often as important as the story, as knowing how the day-to-day requirements of people work allow us to feel more for the characters as we understand their world better. Let’s be honest, the average reader hasn’t researched how life was 6,000 years ago, as such Barnes’s descriptions are spot on in helping you to understand the world as it was at the time her fictional story would have taken place. I will warn you though, that this story ends on an intense cliffhanger, leaving you champing at the bit for the continuation of this tale.

The Numbers Game – Novella Review

The Numbers Game by Miles Watson is a novella following Maurice a RAF pilot during World War II. While he is a capable pilot, Maurice is more interested in numbers and figures. A mathematician to an almost oppressive point, he takes comfort and depends entirely on these numerical facts. Disregarding the other variables in life, such a luck. 

Feeling himself secure in knowing when everyone, even himself, will finally die in the complicated war, he finds himself in an odd place when things do not work out exactly as expected.

The Numbers Game is a great novella, worth picking up if you have a few hours to kill, or just in general looking for a great read. The main character’s obsessive fascination with numbers feels real. Who would not be clinging desperately to whatever they can hold on to during one of the bloodiest wars in history? Even in times a peace, people in hard times need something to cling to.

Pick up The Numbers Game if you are interested in historical fiction. This WWII tale will keep you interested till the end.

Web Of Humanity – A review

Web of Humanity follows Anna Venu as she tries to make sense of her grandmother’s complicated and unknown family past. On the death of her grandmother, Anna’s grandfather finds an old birthday card with a child’s handwriting. This card from an unknown person opens a floodgate of curiosity that sends Anna on a jet setting tour of Austria, Germany, and France where she encounters family, love and moral conflict.

Web of Humanity is one of very few books that can be said to be genuinely hard to put down. From the very start of this novel you find yourself wondering the answers to the questions posed. And even when those answered are given, you find yourself, much like Anna, posed with even more. The answers to these questions pour in slowly as memoirs written by Anna’s relatives, carefully filling each hole in the story until you have presented with a wonderfully equal tapestry of history and fiction to sit and consider.

The author Maria Turchin has combined what is, to many, little known historical fact, alongside her own wonderfully created tale surrounding her characters. The tie between history and fiction is done seamlessly allowing you to enjoy the story without the complications that often come with a work of historical fiction. There are no large holes leaving you wondering how characters are connected, as Turchin has made sure to tie up all the loose ends perfectly. The historical individuals covered in this novel are well researched, and if you are the type that needs to, can be easily fact checked to see the author did her research. The fictional characters in Web of Humanity are another wonderful aspect of the story. Each one is wonderfully described both physically and regarding their personality, making them easy to imagine as you read through their tales.

There is one trigger warning, there is a short rape scene mention in one of the memoirs Anna reads, though it makes perfect sense historically and to the development of the character it involved, it could make some people uncomfortable.

All in all, Web of Humanity is a wonderful novel, and any fan of historical fiction should pick it up. This is a wild ride of emotions you feel with Anna as you travel with her.

You can find out more about Web of Humanity here. https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/web-of-humanity-maria-turchin#review

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