Review of David Barbaree’s The Exiled

Author Bio: David Barbaree’s debut work is the first volume in a historical trilogy. Deposed is set in Ancient Rome, ten years after the downfall of the emperor Nero. It is a novel of breath-taking scope, showcasing meticulous research and commendable erudition, as well as consummate writing skill and carefully crafted, vivid characters. It was published by Bonnier in May 2017.

Review:

I was provided an ARC through Bonnier Books, my thanks to them for this excellent novel!

This novel is one of those bittersweet endings that does not end up in a happy tale. It is a tale of tragedy, loss and betrayel.

It is also a story that is so immersive, that you are immersed into the world of Ancient Rome. The novel in my opinion has its strengths when it focuses on the individual characters through each chapter. By the end, I had grown a certain fondness for Pliny and Ulpius, who I will not reveal. It is best that you discover who Ulpius is. There are many viewpoints throughout the novel, though I had more sympathy for the Parthian’s point of view. David has done a tremendous amount of research for this novel.

I applaud David for breaking the conventional rules and showing each viewpoint through their point of view. It felt like a memoir, a diary of sorts. I was listening to the HBO soundtrack while listening to this. Its not easy to summarize a novel like this. The story structure is different and the pacing is unusually different. While the novel may feel at the start as a standalone, I would disagree with this. It is a different style that I cannot describe in a simple sentence.

The prose of the second person is David’s great strength in the novel. At many points you’ll laugh, chuckle and feel sadness. Some of the weaknesses held with Gaius, who I felt could have needed more scenes in the book. I feel we did not get to spend enough time with him. Likewise, the relationship between Domitilla and the Batavian needed a more deeper connection, I would have liked to seen more interaction between the two. And Titus’s opposition to this relationship. It is there, but to improve the stakes for this could also have been a more powerful cliff-hanger.

With Barlaas, I think he could have been given more of a motivation to run his ambitions to escape Rome. However, this is my general thought. Over-all, this novel is a complicated but enjoyable novel. When I mean complicated, think of it like looking at a 400 page hardcover of a new fantasy book, if this was a fantasy novel, I can gurantee you this would be a excellent debut.

This is definitely one of the best novels I’ve read on Rome, and this tops the rest. Compared to the other authors, this is AMAZING!

I enjoyed this novel, and my rating is 4.5/5

Review of Priestress of Ishana by Judith Starkson

Image result for priestess of ishana

Author Profile:

Amazon Link :https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1732833923?tag=amz-mkt-fox-uk-21&ascsubtag=1ba00-01000-a0050-win10-dsk00-nomod-uk000-pcomp-feature-scomp-wm-5&ref=aa_scomp

Goodreads link:

Review:

Priestess of Ishana is one of those novels that features a small incident and turns it into a rollicking three-four hundred page of adventure, misery, betrayal, and politics. In a basic nutshell, a shepherd and his son flee from a cave rumored to carry the curse of the underworld, and King Hattu is arrested by Grand Votary Pintep on the suspicion that he caused the curse to happen.

During this book, I felt thoroughly immersed with the main character, Tesha. She is bright, young and intelligent. Not too mention very beautiful. I found her character development strong and steady during her novel. I did feel since she was young, she makes many rash decisions that make the consequences of her choices impactful. This is rarely done since she possesses the power of Ishana, the Goddess, she is made to face the consequences…

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Review of Priestress of Ishana by Judith Starkson

Image result for priestess of ishana

Author Profile:

Judith Starkston has spent too much time reading about and exploring the remains of the ancient worlds of the Greeks and Hittites. Early on she went so far as to get two degrees in Classics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cornell. She loves myths and telling stories. This has gradually gotten more and more out of hand. Her solution: to write fantasy set in the exotic worlds of the past. Fantasy and Magic in a Bronze Age World. Hand of Fire was a semi-finalist for the M.M. Bennett’s Award for Historical Fiction. Priestess of Ishana won the San Diego State University Conference Choice Award. Judith has two grown children and lives in Arizona with her husband. For a free short story set in her Bronze Age historical fantasy world (and a cookbook of foods in her novels), sign up for the newsletter on her website.

Amazon Link :https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1732833923?tag=amz-mkt-fox-uk-21&ascsubtag=1ba00-01000-a0050-win10-dsk00-nomod-uk000-pcomp-feature-scomp-wm-5&ref=aa_scomp

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42865572-priestess-of-ishana

Review:

Priestess of Ishana is one of those novels that features a small incident and turns it into a rollicking three-four hundred page of adventure, misery, betrayal, and politics. In a basic nutshell, a shepherd and his son flee from a cave rumored to carry the curse of the underworld, and King Hattu is arrested by Grand Votary Pintep on the suspicion that he caused the curse to happen.

During this book, I felt thoroughly immersed with the main character, Tesha. She is bright, young and intelligent. Not too mention very beautiful. I found her character development strong and steady during her novel. I did feel since she was young, she makes many rash decisions that make the consequences of her choices impactful. This is rarely done since she possesses the power of Ishana, the Goddess, she is made to face the consequences of each choice she makes, whether it deals with magic or summoning the Gods.

In terms of improvement, I feel we didn’t get enough time to spend with Tesha’s mother, as I feel she would have been more inquisitive about her daughter’s actions during the novel. With Hattu, I felt as if he was Peter the Great. Both Hattu and Peter the Great realized that their kingdom and empire needed reform and a rebranding of their image. I would have liked to seen Hattu plotting new schemes because he is a smart cookie. He’s a very intelligent young man, and I think the chemistry between Tesha and Hattu worked good. I’m wondering how their chemistry will work in the second novel, seeing as their relationship will mature.

The worldbuilding was one of the best I’ve read. Judith has done her research as explained at the end of the novel. I’m really glad she did this, and this is a product of hard work and labor. I listened to the Scorpion King soundtrack while reading this. It fits the book! I wish more authors would pick the Bronze Age and do historical fantasy for this. The dialogue was excellent, and the setting itself was immersive. Congratulations on doing such a wonderful job of bringing a civilization alive that we do not know about.

I want to see more with Hattu and Tesha. I cannot wait to read more.

Top Two Books: Every Thursday!

Hello all fellow readers of the Al-Alhambra Book Blog!

I’ve been a fan of fantasy and historical fiction from the start. Here are my reccomandations on what I believe are exceptionally good reads. If you want a good book this summer, look no further! Enjoy!

The City of Silk and Steel

by Mike Carey (Goodreads Author), Linda Carey, Louise Carey

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17403672-the-city-of-silk-and-steel?from_search=true

The City of Silk and Steel by Mike Carey is one of the best fantasy novels I have read. It does not have a good vs evil story, and it does not feature a heroic story. Instead its about the destruction of a Kingdom, and how the Sultan’s Concubines attempt to surivie in this new world. This is a very under-rated novel. I would give this 4/5.

Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

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Dark Shores features a Roman fantasy that is very relatively under-explored. If you like sea monsters, frightening descriptions and triemes making their way through the ocean, then you are in for a treat. In a way it does feel like that this novel is a bit of a set up. For what its worth, it has a lot of content packed into it. But it made me want to read more. I’d give this 4/5 for a solid debut.

Review of the Valley of Kings by James Arthur Anderson

I found this novel while browsing through the Kindle Unlimited Store, and I was impressed with the cover and the writing. I decided to take a look at this and I was easily immersed into this world.

The novel features some of the best depictions of the Gods. I was glad to be reading a historical fiction story set in Ancient Egypt that treated the Gods with respect. It’s not a complicated story by any chance, with demons and political pursuit and assassination. It’s more of a story of human emotion and desire reflecting how our greed leads to our demise.The novel features some of the best depictions of the Gods. It’s not a complicated story by any chance, with demons and political pursuit and assinations. It’s more of an story of human emotion and desire if need be.

The characters in this novel are also often faced with obstacles that come in their path. Sentaph is an engaging character who you will hate at first. But over time, you begin to grow a sense of admiration from him. Whereas with Kanhai, his brother, I’d say to reserve your judgment.The characters in this novel are also often faced with obstacles that comes in their path. Sentaph is an engaging character who you will hate at first. But overtime, you begin to grow a sense of admiration from him. Whereas with Kanhai, his brother, I’d say to reserve your judgement.

The novel also features some of the best dungeon scenes I have seen in a while. However, my issue with this novel was the pacing. I felt this story could have been 200-300 pages long. There were grammatical errors, and within page 87 I noted that one of the characters was called a Hittite, and in the next couple of pages that had the name changed to Persian.

Nevertheless, English isn’t my first language. For a native English, the reader may be able to find and spot errors, I would still take this book and read it for enjoyment. The Vizier in the story, Menruka needed more development in the character stage as the villain. I think there needed to be more reason behind his political scheming.

Overall, it is a rare treat to read a book on Ancient Egypt. I throughly enjoyed it and would give this a 3/5 for now. I do hope the author returns to make a good book out of this and I would urge him to fix some errors with the spelling and puncutation. If there is a sequel, sign me up!

Links: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Valley-Kings-James-Anderson-ebook/dp/B00MGYXVMW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?keywords=valley+of+the+kings+novel+james+arthur&qid=1563444761&s=books&sr=1-2-fkmr0

Profile:

James Arthur Anderson is a Professor of English at Johnston and Wales University in North Miami, Florida, USA.

Review of The Sword and Dagger by Robert Cochran

Robert Cochran is the co-creator of the series 24 and is an Emmy Award winning writer. His profile can be found here:

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/39863306

The Sword and the Dagger features an entire adventure plot featuring three characters. A Princess, a Knight and Assassin embark on the most epic journey of their lives meeting with the Old Man of the Mountain, the Sultan of Khwazariam, and the great Genghis Khan himself.

What I really loved about this book was the fact that you felt like this was not a novel, but an epic movie set on the scale of Kingdom of Heaven. The dialogue in this novel is not complicated, but it is easy enough to understand. It fits the theme perfectly.

Rashid, Elaine and Conrad are the three perfect ensemble characters. Though they are divided by hate, religion and barriers, in the end they begin to realize they have a lot more in common with each other. Rashid is a headstrong Assassin sent to kill the Princess, yet it doesn’t work out. I shall not reveal the rest of the story, because taking this book in your hands is like reading the next blockbuster to be made.

I honestly believe that this should be a Netflix series. It has one of the best scene settings, and we get to see Conrad and the gang go to meet Genghis Khan himself. This novel itself could take forever to review, but the reason I say this, because if you are a fan of Arabian fantasy, Aladdin, and the Arabian Nights, this novel is for you.

I felt this is my type of novel. The ones where you don’t need to bother about the detail, but know just enough.

I really really enjoyed this. It had the vibes of the Mummy, the Scorpion King, the Prince of Persia, and Sinbad.

I really would reccomand you buying this. Its worth every penny.

Links: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0765383837/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738