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Events in the next few weeks

Quite a few of you have been asking about events that I’ll be doing around the release of Clouds of War. Apologies for not putting this up sooner.
I’ll be appearing in Cardiff, Peterborough, Chatham, Leamington Spa, Solihull and Taunton. More details below, and more locations to appear soon. I hope to see some of you somewhere! 😉

Sat. 8th March – Waterstone’s Cardiff, 12.00 onwards.

Wed. 12th March 2014 – Peterborough Library evening event, 7.00 p.m. With Manda Scott and Ruth Downie. Book £5 tickets here.

Thurs. 13th March 2014 – Chatham Library evening event, 7.30 p.m. Book  free tickets here.

Sat. 22nd March 2014 – Waterstone’s Leamington Spa (10.30-12.00) and Solihull (1300-14.30).

Wed. 26th March 2014, in the morning ― Taunton Library. For details, telephone: 0845 345 9177.

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Less than two weeks until the new book – Hannibal: Clouds of War is released

That time of year has come around already. My new book, Hannibal: Clouds of War, is released in the UK on the 27th February. It continues the story of the characters from the first two books, as the war moves to the island of Sicily. You can pre-order it from Amazon here, and from Waterstone’s here.

If you live in Australia, the book comes out on March 3rd. Order it here. In NZ, I’m afraid you  have to wait until the 2nd of May. Order it here. South Africa, I couldn’t find details on the Random House website, sorry. Canada: February 27th – yay! Order it here.

If you live in the USA, and don’t want to wait until it comes out there, in 2016, your best bet is to use Amazon Canada or The Book Depository. Sorry, but the publishing schedule in the States has nothing to do with me.

Read the first chapter of Hannibal: Clouds of War.

I gave up trying to finish the characters’ stories in three books some time ago, so you might be pleased to know that there will be at least two more volumes. You might have to wait a while for them, however, because I am about 1/3 the way into a new novel, Eagles at War, which is set in 9 CE/AD, in Germany (is that enough of a clue?!). More about that soon…


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A book review? Why not?

For some time, I’ve wondered about reviewing books that I’ve read on here. I thought I’d give it a go, and see what you thought.

The Legate’s Daughter, by Wallace Breem

It’s been a number of years since I read Breem’s first class novel, Eagle in the Snow – EITS. That book ranks in my top five historical fiction novels, alongside titles such as The Lantern Bearers by Sutcliff, Hawk Quest by Lyndon and Tyrant by Cameron. While I didn’t expect The Legate’s Daughter to be as good as EITS – no one can maintain brilliance consistently – I did expect it to be better than it was.

It’s the story of two individuals, Curtius Rufus and Criton, both men who for one reason or another, live near the bottom of the social scale. Breem paints wonderfully vibrant scenes of their existence in Rome – better than almost any other writer I can think of. Theirs is a world of innkeepers and shop owners, government officials, charioteers and slaves; the high and mighty appear from time to time, but only to reinforce Rufus’ and Criton’s feelings of helplessness in the face of overwhelming odds.

What’s not to like then? Well, in a phrase, it’s the lack of editing. Page after page of dialogue is wrecked by word repetition (two cases of ‘endless’ in the same paragraph is one instance) and the extreme overuse of adverbs. I’m no stranger to these words as an author, but when characters are, for example, saying ‘lightly’ and then within a sentence or two, saying ‘bluntly’, it all becomes too much. There was even one instance of a man inclining his head ‘silently’. As my editor once asked me, how else does someone incline their head? The editor’s pen appears to have passed far too lightly over this novel.

As reviewers on other sites have commented, there’s a lot to commend in the book – I particularly liked the uncertainty of the ending. To me, however, it feels like a draft of a novel that needed several more sweeps and rewrites before being ready to publish. It’s a shame. Three stars out of five.

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Nearly time to go to Australia

It seems an age since I was asked to co-tutor two writing retreats in Tasmania in February this year. Now that time is almost here. Thankfully, I’ve gained a foothold in my new novel, which is called Eagles at War. It’s the first part of a new trilogy, about the men who were involved in the so-called Varian or Kalkriese disaster. This defeat, in 9 CE, saw Rome lose three entire legions in the wilds of Germania. It was a massive humiliation to an empire that had expanded vastly under the first emperor, Augustus. One of the main results was that Rome gave up on trying to conquer Germania, a decision that sent repercussions right down to the current day.

I’ll be in Australia for all of February, but will endeavour to keep up with your comments here on the site, and to post some thoughts from the writing retreat, and pics of me training for the Romani Walk 2014…which will take place at the end of April, in Italy…

Don’t forget that my new novel, Hannibal: Clouds of War, is released in the UK on February 27th. You can pre-order a copy here or from Waterstone’s, which is cheaper, here. I hope that you enjoy it! It releases soon afterwards in Australia, NZ, Canada and S. Africa. Sadly, if you live in the USA, you’ll need to order it from overseas, as it won’t be out there for about 2-3 years. This is due to the different publishing schedule of my US publisher, over which I have no control. Sorry, and thanks for understanding.

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