Five men and women in Ancient Greece are set on a dangerous journey of self-discovery during the bitter conflict of the Peloponnesian War.
Fifty years after King Leonidas of Sparta and his brave 300 fought to the death against Xerxes' Persian hordes at Thermopylae, a long and bloody rivalry erupted between the new superpowers of the era. The world of Ancient Greece in 480 B.C. was evolving into a new landscape. The isolated, socialist regime that grew from their king's sacrifice soon found itself at a vital crossroads with the democratic empire of Athens. The Peloponnesian War was not just a battle for political ideology but a brutal military campaign pitting the world's strongest army against the most powerful navy that ever sailed the seas. The fallout from this consummate struggle would change the course of human history forever.
Amidst the battlefields, ordinary men and women continue to work together behind walled cities and open farmland in order to survive. The Olympic festivals honor the gods with their renowned athletic contests and one woman finds herself in a deadly gamble when she must make an agonizing choice. A young helot slave longs for freedom while a new wife imperils herself to stand by her husband and home. When a wealthy aristocrat finds his world turned upside down, he must learn what true sacrifice and honor are all about. A Spartan officer who has lived by a strict code of tradition must discover new ways to cope in an unconventional war.
Five people from different walks of life must adapt to their changing world while remaining true to themselves. Who will survive the war and what will their lives be like when it's over?
War brings a great opportunity for some — death for others.
The year is 432BC and as the spectators gather to honour the gods and to witness the might and grace of the Olympic Games, the threat of war continues to rumble. For Kallipateira, her only concern is for her son, Peisirodos. She has trained him well, but only time will tell if he will follow in his ancestors’ footsteps and win the coveted Olympic laurel.
For Brasidas, a heroic Spartan general, this coming war will be a test of not only his leadership but also his cunning. The Spartans are a force to be reckoned with on land but on sea… It is the Athenians who rule the waves.
Matthaios needs no war to tell him what suffering is. He is a helot slave. His life does not belong to him, it never had. But when fate comes knocking with the whispered promise of liberty, he would be a fool not to at least try to win his freedom, no matter how forlorn that hope may be.
Evania is a woman who longs for adventure and an end to the monotonous life she now leads. While the Spartans lay siege to her home city of Plataea, Evania has never felt so free, or so needed.
From the slaughter of the Spartan army at the Battle of Thermopylae to the fragile truce between the Spartans and the Athenians after a long 27 year war, Gifts of the Gods: Iron and Bronze By Thomas J. Berry is the remarkable story of five people whose lives are interwoven and changed by the terror that became known as the Peloponnesian War.
From the opening chapter, I was left in no doubt that Berry is a vivacious storyteller. He writes with both elegance and authority. I lost myself in this spell-binding epic retelling of the events that led up to the Peloponnesian War and the war itself. This remarkable book captures both sides of the battle-lines.
Berry’s lucid historical insight gave this book authenticity, and the fast-paced narrative kept me turning those pages. Gifts of the Gods: Iron and Bronze is an example of historical fiction at its very best. Filled with memorable characters, adventure, war, love, hate, retribution, and forgiveness, there is certainly something for everyone within this book's pages.
The battle scenes were skilfully done. As a reader, I experienced the anticipation, the fear, the horror as well as the exhaustion of those involved. The realities of what a soldier's life was like was not brushed over with fancy prose. It was gritty and harsh. In other words, it was very real in the telling.
This book explores both the darkness and the lighter side of human nature. There are vile deeds but also brave endeavours. The plight of the helots was profoundly moving. Matthaios was a character that I was rooting for. I so wanted him to be free of his shackles and the fear that the helots lived in every day. The hunting of the helots, as if they were deer, by the Spartans was particularly terrible. I am not going to give away the plot, but there is another incident that left me reeling. Moreover, I found myself asking how someone could be so cruel to a fellow human being? However, this is a different time, and to the Spartans, the lives of the helots were of little consequence. Their lives were as insignificant as the lamb’sas it is led to slaughter.
I adored the characterisation of Evania. Her life is one tragedy after another and I shed a few tears for her. Like all the other characters in this book, Evania was well drawn and so believable.
The drawing of Pericles was particularly well done, as was the terrible plague that ransacked Athens. Berry has to be commended for the amount of research he has done to bring this ancient world back to life. The story is vast and yet utterly dazzling. Gifts of the Gods: Iron and Bronze is a historical triumphant.
Thomas Berry received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from St. Bonaventure University. A lover of history and literature, he has found his true passion in writing historical fiction. When not writing, he enjoys long distance running and has completed several marathons. He currently lives with his wife and five children in New Jersey.
Dr. Gwyneth Franger, a renowned expert in early medieval England, is set upon learning the truth about the death of Lord Erik, the last descendant of the powerful House of Wareham. Her quest becomes an obsession, a condition that began with the discovery of a portrait of the tall and valiant warrior. Digesting troves of mildewed scrolls and source documentation only enhances her belief that Lord Erik was brutally assassinated by a cabal of traitors in the pay of William the Bastard, shortly before the onslaught of the Norman Invasion.
On an archeological dig in Southern England, Dr. Franger finds herself transported back to the Dark Ages and at the side of the noble Lord Erik who commands an army of elite Saxon warriors. Witnessing the unrest firsthand, Gwyneth senses that her instincts had been right all along, and she is determined to learn the identities of the treacherous blackguards hiding in the shadows, villains who may well be posing as Lord Erik’s friends and counselors.
Gwyneth knows it is wrong to stop the assassins, but isn’t sure she can find the strength to walk away and watch her beloved Erik die. Will she intervene, change the course of history and wipe out an entire timeline to save the man she loves?
A love story across the centuries…
Unrequited love takes on a whole new meaning for medieval historian, Dr Gwyneth Franger. But her love is no ordinary love, for it is a longing from deep within her soul. Gwyneth is drawn inexplicably towards Lord Erik, an 11th Century Anglo-Saxon noble. Infuriatingly for Gwyneth, the sources of this time are few and far between. However, Gwyneth has discovered that Erik was brutally murdered just before Edward the Confessor’s death. Like a detective, Gwyneth is determined to discover who ordered Erik’s assassination and more importantly, who carried it out. Gwyneth’s research takes an interesting twist when she finds herself transported to 11thCentury England where, much to her delight, she finds Erik waiting for her. Now that she is here, maybe she can solve the riddle and save the love of her life from a gruesome death.
The Briton and the Dane: Timeline (The Briton and the Dane, Book #5) by Mary Ann Bernal is a passionate, yet sweet romantic story about a true love that transcends time. The premise of the story was fabulous. Two souls seeking each other out through the centuries is enough to get any romantic heart fluttering. When Gwyneth falls through time and finds herself in the very era that she has spent years researching I had high hopes that her dream would come true and she would finally meet the man who she is so hopelessly in love with. Gwyneth is a fabulous protagonist. She is a single-minded and strong woman, who I could not help but admire. Bernal has obviously spent a lot of time imagining how a very modern woman would react to a medieval way of life. Gwyneth reacts, as one would expect. I thought Gwyneth was wonderfully portrayed and I enjoyed reading about her.
This story is set firmly in historical fantasy, but Bernal has decided to follow the timeline of this era to give her readers a magnificent backdrop in which to place her characters. This worked incredibly well, especially when tied in with the time-travel theme. Gwyneth was not hampered by a lack of understanding with the Anglo-Saxon tongue, and the narrative was perfect for a modern reader who may find many of the historical details and customs of this era somewhat foreign. Bernal is very good at crafting tension, and this book is full of it. Like Gwyneth, I wanted to know who was behind the plot to murder Lord Erik. The enemy always seemed to be one step ahead of them, which I think made this story compelling and it certainly kept me turning those pages. Running alongside this is the beautiful romance between Gwyneth and Erik. This is book five in the series. I have not read the other four books, but this did not hinder my enjoyment one bit. The Briton and the Dane: Timeline stands firmly on its own feet. The ending was fabulous and as wildly romantic as the rest of the story. If you are looking for a romantic historical fantasy, where anything is possible, then this is the book for you. I Highly Recommend. Review by Mary Anne Yarde. The Coffee Pot Book Club.
Mary Ann Bernal Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009. In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series. Her latest endeavor is a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire. Originally hailing from New York, Mary Ann now resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska. Mary Ann loves to hear from readers, you can find her: Website •Whispering Legends Press •Twitter.
Thunder claps roar and Odin’s ravens fly. Dragonships set sail – and the kingdoms of Western Europe hold their breath. Warriors of Thor are on the move.
By the mid ninth century, Danish raids on Anglo-Saxon kingdoms have escalated. Several bands even dare to overwinter on the coastal islands, particularly those at the mouth of the Thames, where the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia border each other.
The kings of these lands must put past enmity aside and take the first steps towards unity; steps they see as vital in the face of this newfound threat to their lands . . .
Alfred of Wessex and Eadwulf of Mercia are the sons of kings, whose futures have been determined since birth. But the turbulent events in their childhood years change the natural progression of things – and shape the characters of the men they will become. Their roads to manhood follow vastly different routes, but both learn crucial lessons along the way: lessons that will serve them well in future years.
Discovering that they enemy is not always a stranger is a harsh lesson indeed; the realisation that a trusted kinsman can turn traitor is the harshest lesson of all.
The story takes us from the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex to the Norse lands stretching north from Denmark to the Arctic Circle and east to the Baltic Sea. We glimpse the Court of Charles the Bald of West Francia and journey to the holy city of Rome. Through it all, the two boys move ever closer to their destinies.
The dead cannot talk, but the living remember…
The Danes were coming. Beorhtwulf, the King of Mercia, knew about the Danish threat and he had made preparations. But what he had not been prepared for was his brother’s gross betrayal.
Eadwulf of Mercia was just a child when his uncle betrayed his father. Now he finds himself in a Norse slave market, waiting to be sold. Eadwulf has two choices. He can let his grief and his circumstances destroy him, or he can grow stronger because of it.
Alfred of Wessex is the youngest son of the great King Aethelwulf. He is a long way from the throne, but Aethelwulf can see that his youngest son has a gift and there is no doubt that Alfred is favoured by God. Only time will tell what God has intended for Alfred.
From the coldness of a Mercia winter morning to the horror of the slave market in Hedeby, Shadow of the Raven: Sons of Kings Book #1 by Millie Thom is the story of two boys, whose lives are irrevocably changed by events that were out of their control.
Thom has brought us not only a wonderfully compelling story but also one that has been so obviously painstakingly researched. The richness of the narrative and the exquisite attention to detail draws the reader into the mid-9th Century world that Thom has created. This story is so vivid in the telling that it was like watching the images flicker in front of my eyes. I could feel the coldness of the snow against my skin, the rocking of the boat as it sailed across the ocean towards a destination unknown. I could see the gilded buildings in Rome just as well as I could envisage the Hall of Ragnar Lothbrok and the Court of Charles the Bald. However, more importantly, I felt Eadwulf’s despair, his anger and his hate, but also his hope. Thom has a gift for bringing not only a time gone by but also the people who lived there, back to life.
There is a large cast of historical characters in this book, but this story is focused primarily on the two young protagonists — Eadwulf and Alfred. Eadwulf has to grow up very quickly. However, he is the son of a king, and although he finds himself in a terrible situation, he never gives up on the dream that one day he will find his way home. He does, however, have moments of doubt. He was born a Mercian, but grew up as a Dane. Eadwulf struggles terribly with his identity. He knows who he is, he just isn’t as sure as to where he belongs. I thought Eadwulf’s portrayal was outstanding. He matures in both body and attitude as the story progresses. At the beginning of the tale he thinks like a child, but by the end of this book he is most definitely a man. Alfred, on the other hand, experiences none of the horrors that Eadwulf faces, but he too has his share of death and grief. Alfred’s childhood portrays the kind of king that he will become. He is watchful, very clever, and he shows great empathy to everyone he comes into contact with. I thought both protagonists were wonderfully drawn and more importantly believable.
In Shadows of the Raven, we meet some historical characters who many readers will be familiar with thanks to Michael Hirst’s fabulous Vikings series. Due to circumstance, Eadwulf finds himself in the domain of Ragnar Lothbrok. It is Eadwulf’s relationship with Bjorn Ironside, Ragnar’s eldest son, where Eadwulf's story really comes into its own. Bjorn may well be a secondary character in this book, but I thought he was fabulously portrayed. He is a warrior, but he is also compassionate and understanding of Eadwulf desire to be free and to avenge the people he loved.
Thom has not romanticised this era at all. The Viking raids are brutal as are some of their sacrifices. However, Shadows of a Raven is not all blood and gore. Thom has a gift for describing everyday things, such as collecting water from the river, and the beauty of falling in love. I thought this book was masterfully written and I was utterly captivated from the beginning to the end.
Shadow of a Raven is impossible to put down. Thom has created an enthrallingly epic saga. It is thoroughly enjoyable, filled with battle scenes, family politics, love, and religion — what is not to like?
Millie Thom is a former geography and history teacher with a degree in geology and a particular passion for the Anglo-Saxon and Viking period. Originally from Lancashire she is a mother of six grown up children and now lives with her husband in a small village in Nottinghamshire, midway between the town of Newark and the lovely old city of Lincoln. When not writing, Millie enjoys long walks and is a serious fossil hunter. She is also an avid traveller, swimmer and baker of cakes!