Tues. 8th March: a rival and a friend!

When I was in Edinburgh recently for the Ireland-Scotland rugby match, I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow Roman author and friend, Douglas Jackson, for lunch. Over one or two beers πŸ˜‰ we discussed Rome, the legions, his incredible ability to write TWO books at the same time, and rugby. Doug’s in the privileged position of having two books – a Roman novel, and his first thriller – come out on the same day, August 18th. I’ll be doing my bit, and buying both! Please do the same. If Doug’s Roman books are anything to go by, his venture into crime writing will be well worth reading.

Doug also writes a mean blog. Check it out here.

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  1. John Salter
    Posted 9 March 2011 at 12:22 | Permalink

    Thanks for the Sworn Sword info Ben on the previous blog I’ll keep an eye for it. It’s an interesting subject the Norman Invasion especially when you consider that Harolds army had travelled to and beaten the Viking threat merely days before and all the way up north at Stamford Bridge. How different histroy may have been if not for that battle!

    Douglas Jacksons’ books are great, his our next to yours in one of my books shelves. I’m really looking forward to his next installment, think I got through his last one in two days. I didn’t know he was writing a thriller as well, good news. Another one to look for!

    16 days until The Eagle lands! ;o)

  2. benkane
    Posted 9 March 2011 at 14:40 | Permalink

    @John: Yes, English history would have be sooo very different if Harold hadn’t had to see off some Vikings first. (It’s one of the early examples of striking when one’s enemy has other troubles – William knew about the Viking threat, I believe, which is why he acted when he did. Either that, or the Vikings knew and invaded because they knew that Harold was worried about William. I can’t remember which!)

    Speaking of new books – I’ve also got Shield Wall by Justin Hill to read, which looks very promising…

  3. Posted 9 March 2011 at 14:46 | Permalink

    Ben: I found Shiledwall interesting but at time a bit of a history lesson. That said i will be buying a copy to go with my proof, and will be telling others to buy. Its a very interesting book and way of understanding the details that led up to how England was the way it was at the time of 1066.

    One i will really recommend as a real Bernard Cornwell style cut and thrust book is Stewart Binns Conquest, that was great fun and i ripped through the book in no time what so ever, and it really left me feeling proud to be english, to be able to understand who we are a bit more and how some of our dogged english spirit was formed, without all these different cultures there would have been no empire, no great explorers etc..

    Dougs books are great, his last on was my fav, and im looking forward to the next, it will be interesting to see how he translates to thrillers.

  4. benkane
    Posted 9 March 2011 at 14:54 | Permalink

    @Parmenion: I’m expecting Conquest in the post any day! Stewart Binns has joined the HWA, and he only lives down the road, so I thought I’d show willing. Plus I love the time period!

  5. Posted 9 March 2011 at 15:03 | Permalink

    Doug’s thriller will take place in Germany. πŸ™‚ Though I didn’t know it will come out this summer already. I have no idea how authors manage to write two books a year; I can’t manage even one (and I know that’s not a good thing should I ever get published). But the crown goes to Fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson who not only managed to have two books out last year, but two 1000 page monster books at that. I suspect he has some clones to help with the writing. πŸ˜€

  6. benkane
    Posted 9 March 2011 at 15:08 | Permalink

    @Gabriele: Brandon Sanderson – not heard of him, but then I’m so far behind when it comes to fantasy. 1000 pages? That makes my head feel funny! I’ve read Joe Abercrombie’s first two, and thought they were great! Just need the time to read the third. Have you read him?

  7. Posted 9 March 2011 at 15:39 | Permalink

    Sanderson is the guy who finished the ‘Wheel of Time’ opus and has written books of his own before and besides (Mistborn trilogy. fe). TOR is building him up as something like the next Jordan, so he started a huge Fantasy series last year for which he already had done a lot of worldbuilding and some writing as well. It’s planned as ten 1000 page whoppers or something. Well, it can be done, Steven Erikson has proven it with his ‘Malazan Book fo the Fallen’ series that IS finished.

    Yes, I’ve read and enjoyed Abercrombie’s trilogy. I’ve his new one, ‘Heroes’ sitting on my TBR pile as well. His stuff is pretty dark (definitely darker than Sanderson’s) but a writer who can make you sympathise with a torturer certainly does something right. πŸ™‚ Have you read Brian Ruckley’s ‘Godless World’ trilogy (starting with ‘Winterbirth’). He’s a Scot too. His new one is going to be a steampunk urban fantasy set in Edinburgh.

    Oh, and ‘A Dance with Dragons’, the fifth book in GRR Martin’s series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, will come out this summer. It’s definitely a good year for readers. πŸ™‚

  8. benkane
    Posted 9 March 2011 at 15:45 | Permalink

    @Gabriele: Wheel of Time? Now my eyes glaaazzee over. At the behest of my brother, I tried book one of that many years ago. I got to about page 100 before deciding that the book was better used as a doorstop, or to light the fire, than to finish. Equals I won’t be going anywhere near Brandon Sanderson any time soon either. Sorry!

    I’ve heard amazing things about the Malazan books, but their size puts me off (see above!) They seem too much of a good thing?

    Ah yes, Sand dan Glokta! A wonderful character, no? I haven’t read the Godless World trilogy, no. Will go and have a look at them, thanks. ‘Steampunk urban fantasy’? What in the name of all the gods is that?

    Not read GRR Martin either…

  9. Posted 9 March 2011 at 15:49 | Permalink

    Ah george R Martin Song of Ice and Fire…basically the War of the Roses set in a fantasy world…it truly makes Lord of the rings pale as an example of fantasy writing.

    The TV HBO series starts in April with Mr Sean Bean playing ned stark, it is set to be a huge hit, the trailers look AAAmazing.

    Another fantastic fantasy writer of the moment is Patrick Roothfus.. brilliant Name of the wind is the first book and the wise mans fear thats just come out… excellent books vert well written.

    The best fantasy writer of all time though…David Gemmell… if you have not read his work you need to, there is some truly amazing stuff there.

  10. benkane
    Posted 9 March 2011 at 15:56 | Permalink

    @Parmenion: hmmm, GRR Martin sounds interesting then. Is that TV series the Game of Thrones starring Sean Bean I’ve seen advertised recently?

    Have I read David Gemmell? Hey, I read Legend when it came out in 1984! Stayed up all night to finish it. I have to disagree with you about him being the best fantasy writer of all, though. No way, sirree. I stopped reading Gemmell’s books after Jon Shannow. They were getting repetitive, IMHO. I have recently been interested in his Troy ones, though…

  11. Posted 9 March 2011 at 16:04 | Permalink

    Yes thats the series….

    Re Gemmell: if we all liked the same then it would be a poor poor world. I will admit that gemmell has a structure his used and stuck with, its passages in his books for me that showed how good he was…Like the passage in waylander.. where he chucks a pebble asking it to be caught, and then asks the person with him what they have achieved (dont know if you remember that scene) every time i go back and read it it seems to hold meaning for me.

    Also i had a bit of an issue with reading when younger (like you i got Legend back in 84) but books took me an age to read, it wasnt until Lion of Macedon, i read it and read it and read it… until i could almost quote it, i have a form of word blindness, or a did, i would skip words just not see them. Now and since that book, i have learned to focus much more, so i also feel i owe so much more to him and his work. you can guess thats where Parmenion comes from, as it had a massive impact for me, as well as being a great book.
    It helped take me from a poor reader to now being a test / beta reader, having been an agent for a few books (managed to get 3 published, before passing them on to a real agent) and just generally loving books.

    Back to GRRM… the one thing is that each book is a beast…1000 pages + and this is book 5 coming out and its not the last, and every one of them has been late out… his fans gnash and wail every year for the next one… i have not read 4 yeat because im waiting for the rest to come out and then will start from book one and read the whole thing again.

  12. Posted 9 March 2011 at 16:25 | Permalink

    Lol, I’m not a fan of Wheel of Times, either. Managed to read the first three books but then gave up on it. Couldn’t stand all those Aes Sedai. A bunch of high school drama queen bitches, and there’s so friggin’ many of them. The only book by Sanderson I have read is the first of his new epic series, ‘The Way of Kings’. It was ok and a nice change to all the grittiness of Martin, Erikson, Abercrombie, Bakker etc – I was in the mood for something a bit lighter when I read it.

    You should definitely give ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ a try. There is some sort of closure after book 3, while book 4 and 5 belong together, so you should wait for ‘Dance with Dragons’ to be out until you read ‘Feast of Crows’ – since the books are doorstoppers, you may just get there in time (July 12) anyway. πŸ™‚

    Parmenion, I can’t watch that series in Germany and that REALLY SUCKS.

    I’ve read a lot of Gemmell’s books. Yes, there are some repetitive elements, but not so much that they got boring. Bernard Cornwell does the same in several of his books but I keep reading them nevertheless. He really can do battles.

    Erikson is a hit or miss for most readers. For one, he throws you into cold water – his world, that is – without explaining things in the first pages like most Fantasy writers do. You have to find out yourself. Things do become clear(er) over time. Second, his world is vast, geographically and historically, his characters could populate London, I suspect, and the magic can be very powerful. And when you’ve reached the end, you’ll have to reread the first five or so books to realise just how all those things you but half remember hang together. πŸ˜‰

    Parmenion, tastes differ, lol. I didn’t finish ‘The Name of the Wind’. Rothfuss writes well, I agree, but I just didn’t care for that coming of age and magic school stuff.

  13. Posted 9 March 2011 at 16:36 | Permalink

    Btw, Parmenion, you may try Scott Oden’s ‘Men of Bronze’. It got a nice Gemmell flavour and it’s not such a doorstopper, either. πŸ™‚ His new one, ‘Lion of Cairo’ is very good, too, but more lush, esp. in the descriptions. Some of Scott’s favourite wirters are RE Howard and Harold Lamb and it shows. In a good way, imho.

  14. benkane
    Posted 9 March 2011 at 16:38 | Permalink

    @Gabriele: ‘high school drama queen bitches’? ROTFLMAO!! πŸ™‚

  15. Posted 9 March 2011 at 17:18 | Permalink

    Here is a very different one for you Paul Hoffman the left hand of God, I really enjoyed it, even though the writing is bordering at times on the YA market. It was so very different from the every day fantasy novel.


    The Sanctuary of the Redeemers on Shotover Scarp is named after a damned lie for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary.” The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a vast and desolate place – a place without joy or hope. Most of its occupants were taken there as boys and for years have endured the brutal regime of the Lord Redeemers whose cruelty and violence have one singular purpose – to serve in the name of the One True Faith. In one of the SanctuaryÂ’s vast and twisting maze of corridors stands a boy. He is perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old – he is not sure and neither is anyone else. He has long-forgotten his real name, but now they call him Thomas Cale. He is strange and secretive, witty and charming, violent and profoundly bloody-minded. He is so used to the cruelty that he seems immune, but soon he will open the wrong door at the wrong time and witness an act so terrible that he will have to leave this place, or die. His only hope of survival is to escape across the arid Scablands to Memphis, a city the opposite of the Sanctuary in every way: breathtakingly beautiful, infinitely Godless, and deeply corrupt. But the Redeemers want Cale back at any priceÂ… not because of the secret he now knows but because of a much more terrifying secret he does not.

    Oh and Lion of Cairo is sat in my very extensive reading pile…if its comes out on Kindle it may have more chance of getting read, i seem to read faster on that thing on holiday…15 books a week on holiday …i was sat at the pool most of the time πŸ˜‰ … I miss florida!!

  16. benkane
    Posted 9 March 2011 at 17:31 | Permalink

    @Parmenion: that book sounds like The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness. That’s a brilliant book, IMHO, one of the best fantasy/ sci-fi books I’ve ever read, even though it’s YA.

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