Hearing about an inner war being waged within Head of Zeus for the Champion of their three Historical Fiction recent releases we thought that we’d throw all three into the arena, give them their weapons of choice and see who would emerge victorius, however as ever, in following the whims of the crowd we thought that we’d allow each champion (Nic, Head of Zeus’ Digital Manager for Mayer, Geo, Production Editor championing for Royal and Mathilda, HoZ for Jane Finnis), the blank slates each to make the case through their authors. Here are what we thought to the books:
Release Date: 29/11/12
BRITANNIA, 91 AD: A raw, frontier province lying at the northern edge of the Roman Empire. Its fifty years since the legions invaded, but the land still simmers with tension, especially in the north. But in the Oak Tree Inn on the road to Eburacum, both Roman and Briton are welcome. Innkeeper Aurelia Marcella fled the devastation of Pompeii to build a new life here, and though her roots are Roman, her heart belongs to Britannia. Then a messenger is brutally decapitated outside her Inn, a crude message scrawled on his body: ALL ROMANS WILL BE KILLED. GET OUT OR DIE. An act of rebellion, or something more sinister, something more personal? Amid shadows and deception, Aurelia will have to face the possibility that someone she knows and trusts her and her family dead...
I love a book that not only takes me back in time but goes to show that the more we think that we’ve changed the less we actually have. This mystery from Jane Finnis is a book that was originally released in America in 2003 yet hadn’t made its way over the ocean to us until new publisher, Head of Zeus, brought it to us.
What unfurls within is a book of twists, murder. Mayhem and of course all a lead character that just steps off the page into the readers imagination. Whilst the book does take a little while to get into, when you do, you’ll be hooked. All round a great beginning and a whole set of adventures I can’t wait to embark upon.
Release Date: 29/11/12
MEDIEVAL MYSTERY: AD 1270. On a remote East Anglian coast stands Tyndal Priory, which belongs to the Order of Fontevraud where monks and nuns live and work in close proximity. Twenty-one-year-old Prioress Eleanor of Wynethorpe has just been appointed prioress by King Henry III over the elected choice of the priory itself. Young and inexperienced, Eleanor will face a grave struggle - in a place dedicated to love and peace, she will find little of either. THE WINE OF VIOLENCE: It is late summer in the year 1270. Although the Simon de Montfort rebellion is over, the smell of death still hangs over the land. In the small priory of Tyndal, the monks and nuns of the Order of Fontevraud long for a return to routine. Alas, the day after the arrival of the new prioress, a brutally murdered monk is found in the cloister gardens. Now Eleanor must not only struggle to gain the respect of her terrified and resentful flock but also bring a murderer to justice.
As a reader, I love a book that delivers the key ingredients that I’m looking for within a genre, in this case, twists, intrigue and murder most foul. Yet for wanting all this, the item that remains at the top for all my choices no matter the genre is a lead character that helps me not only adjust to the time in to which the story is set but gives me foibles and character traits that all me to not only associate with them but also means that they’re personable enough for me to want to hang around them.
What occurs within is a story that not only delivers what the reader wants but gives them a story that not only has you guessing throughout but also demonstrates how the newly appointed Prioress finds a way to make her own authority take hold of her new charge, it has great pace, some wonderful prose but for me the lead character is a woman of many shades who not only battles a mind of wits with the established of her charge but also has to fight a war of emotional turmoil as another new arrival twists her inner desires. All in a great story and one that I was more than happy to spend time with.
Release Date: 29/11/12
DEATH IN BYZANTIUM: At the heart of what is left of the Roman Empire, lies a city simmering with intrigue & treachery. Amid this maelstrom stands John, a slave who has risen to become the right hand of Justinian, the greatest of Byzantium's emperors. With violence and murder commonplace, it is John's skills as an investigator that the Emperor prizes the most. ONE FOR SORROW: It is AD 527 and when the body of a high ranking treasury official is found in a filthy alley behind a house of ill repute, John embarks on an investigation that will stir the ghosts of his past and threaten his life. Amid rumours of soothsayers and priceless holy relics, he will follow a trail that twists and turns through the splendour and the squalor of sixth-century Byzantium. Before he reaches its end, John will defy the Patriarch of Constantinople, risk the wrath of an unmerciful Emperor and incur the undying hatred of his infamous Empress, Theodora.
Do you love intrigue, double dealing, policitical machinations all wrapped around a life or death mystery? You do. Well look no longer, this book by ME Mayer really will hit the spot as it takes you back to ancient Byzantium where the Roman Empire hangs on with its fingertips against a world ranged against it.
Its quirky, it has some wonderful imagination but for me the real kicker here is a lead character that more than introduces us to this world of constant danger. Back this up with wonderful pace, some great twits which when backed with an author who loves to keep you guessing, all round makes this a book that was a solid title to read.
So to sum up, whilst all three books are of a high quality, for us, we had to side with Geo and Priscilla Royal as her lead character really gave us that extra bit of mystery, wonderful inner turmoil and of course generated an overall mystery that we just couldn’t put down. Cracking books all three so please, take the challenge yourself and see what you think.