Friday, 29 March 2019

#BookReview — ILONA - Wolf Queen: The Civilis Saga Book #2 by Peter Baggott #HistoricalFiction #AncientRome @baggott_scot

ILONA - Wolf Queen
The Civilis Saga Book #2
By Peter Baggott

Two warnings to return home, drive Artorius Civilis northward. Torn between duty and family he must resolve the Legate-less 2nd Augusta before he can return to Rome. Lost in a snowstorm it leads him to a chance meeting and an unknown prophecy he must fulfil. The purge of Sejanus’ supporters continues and with only the Civilis family left to identify him, Victus Claudian must eradicate them all. An informant, an ambush, a final meeting in a snowy forest, Artorius is the first step, but in Genua, Naomi hides a growing secret. Abandoned with only his spatha, Artorius faces a life or death scenario as wolves smell his blood. A two-legged wolf becomes his saviour, changing his life forever. Marcus and Tia’s love flourishes as they raise the family estate from slaves to a village. With the New Year, the annual plague crawls like a snake from the poisonous Tiberis exacting death on all it touches. Out of duty and honour, Artorius’ friends seek the truth of his final days. A last resort leads to a small hut where a seer and her daughter, the Wolf Queen, live, therein lay the answers and many new questions. Power and greed will lead one to betray Artorius’ family, but another will offer her life in that betrayal, to win what she seeks. Two sons, born of two families, from two worlds on a collision course, where survival is paramount. Lainth the Etruscan goddess of death picks her subjects.

“Prepare yourself, daughter — the weather brings your man to our door. His life is about to change forever, and painfully so. Only you can repair his tortured soul and give him hope…”

Ilona has always heeded her mother’s wise counsel, for Rosevetha is a seer, an extraordinarily powerful one. However, Rosevetha is not the only one with gifts. Ilona is the Wolf Queen — she can talk to wolves, hunt with them, without any fear of being hurt. Wherever she goes, her wolves are not far behind. But, even Ilona could not have possibly comprehended the lengths she would have to go to if she is to save the man she loves.

Centurion Artorius Primus Pila Civilis had sought shelter from the elements in the home of Rosevetha and her daughter. However, he got a little more than a comforting fire and hot food. Instead, he is issued with two warnings — beware of the man with a “V” in his name and return to Rome with all haste.

Artorius knows well the man with a “V” in his name, for they are old enemies, and he has every intention of returning to his family in Rome as soon as there is a break in the weather. However, fate plays a cruel hand, and his journey is delayed. The seer was right. The consequences are indeed, life-changing.

From humble beginnings to life as the partner of a Camp Prefect in the Glorious 2nd, ILONA - Wolf Queen: The Civilis Saga Book #2, by Peter Baggott, is a historical fiction triumph.

Well, Baggott has done it again. ILONA — Wolf Queen, was everything I expected and then some. Filled with non-stop action, and an incredibly impressive narrative, this is the kind of story that hooks you in from the opening sentence and does not let go until the very last full stop. I do not exaggerate when I say the pages practically turned themselves and time ceased to matter while I lost myself in the world that Baggott has created. Baggott has crafted a tale that is every reader’s dream — it is a book you can very willingly lose yourself in.

I was expecting big things from this book after reading Victus: The Civilis Saga Book #1, and I am pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed. At times the tension was almost unbearable as one tragedy after another strikes the House of Civilis. I was left gasping in disbelief as Baggott struck down his characters with all the drama one usually finds in the books penned by George R. R. Martin. Was no one safe? This series certainly needs to come with a warning — do not get attached to any of the characters, there’s a good chance they won’t make it! This is no criticism. The story warranted the deaths — it is just that I did not want them to die! 

Within the pages of this remarkable book is a desperately heroic struggle between the House of Civilis and the evil, despicable and disgraced, Victus Claudian. Victus is an incredibly dangerous man who is determined to kill every last member of the Civilis family. Nothing can seemingly stop him. He is a character that made my skin crawl. Victus has absolutely no regard for life, he rapes and murders, without mercy. His actions could be mistaken as that of a madman, but Victus knows exactly what he is doing. Baggot deserves the highest praise in his portrayal of this truly terrible antagonist.

Baggott also deserves acclaim for not only his enthralling narrative but for his confident historical detailing. Here we have an author who knows the history of this period inside out. Baggott brings this era back to life in all its glorious, as well as its abhorrent, detail. Baggott certainly has a novelist gift for understanding what makes history worth reading.

There is a large cast of characters in this book — at least in the beginning — which Baggott has a masterful control of. He also has an intuitive understanding that no man is perfect, and even the most moral sometimes fall from grace. Such insight means that he has written a cast of not only highly appealing characters but more importantly, believable ones. 

I cannot praise this book enough. From the tender moments between a man and a woman to the horrors of the battlefield, there is something for everyone between the pages of ILONA - Wolf Queen: The Civilis Saga Book #2. I cannot wait to get my hands on Book #3 and find out what is to become of the House of Civilis.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
ILONA - Wolf Queen
(The Civilis Saga Book #2)

Peter Baggott

Peter Baggott is a debut author with a deep interest in Roman history. He has served in three uniformed employments and is very familiar with Roman tactics which are still used in everyday life: shield tactics and skills – testudo being much used in the Police and Prison Service.

Peter chose for his writing this historical genre because of his innate interest in the subject and having been born in the Roman city of Lindvm, modern day Lincoln.

In his teens, on a daily basis, while delivering newspapers, Peter traversed the exposed Roman remains from The Steep to the Newport Arch, the only full Roman archway in Great Britain.

While working in a local hotel close to the ruins he utilised this knowledge to become a self-appointed guide to visitors from far and wide and has continued to keep up to date with local finds. There are many stories surrounding the infamous Legio IX Hispana, who were based in Lindvm, their disappearance has inspired his continuing interest in all things Roman.

Peter has also visited numerous Roman sites, both in the UK and in Europe and has used original Roman historical sources of Tacitus, Suetonius and Dio, Google Maps for distancing and location, Wikipedia and several archaeological online sources. Thus, he tries to keep abreast with new finds upgrading his work accordingly.

Connect with Peter: Website • Twitter

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

#BookReview — The Girl from Oto(The Miramonde Series Book 1) by Amy Maroney #HistoricalFiction

The Girl from Oto
(The Miramonde Series Book 1)
By Amy Maroney

A Renaissance-era woman artist and an American scholar. Linked by a 500-year-old mystery…

The secrets of the past are irresistible—and dangerous.

1500: Born during a time wracked by war and plague, Renaissance-era artist Mira grows up in a Pyrenees convent believing she is an orphan. When tragedy strikes, Mira learns the devastating truth about her own origins. But does she have the strength to face those who would destroy her?

2015: Centuries later, art scholar Zari unearths traces of a mysterious young woman named Mira in two 16th-century portraits. Obsessed, Zari tracks Mira through the great cities of Europe to the pilgrim’s route of Camino de Santiago—and is stunned by what she finds. Will her discovery be enough to bring Mira’s story to life?

A powerful story and an intriguing mystery, The Girl from Oto is an unforgettable novel of obsession, passion, and human resilience.

“Fortune favours the bold…”

The House of Oto bears only sons. However, there were whispers of daughters, left in the woods for the wolves to feast on. The night Pelegrín was born, Ramón de Oto, Baron of Oto in Aragón, celebrated his good fortune. However, unbeknownst to Ramón, another baby had been delivered of Marguerite de Oto, Baroness of Oto’s womb. Marguerite is determined that her husband would be forever ignorant of the daughter she had conceived. Locked away in a Pyrenees Abbey, Miramonde (Mira) must never know who she is or where she came from. 

Sister Beátrice, the Abbess of Belarac Abbey, has been charged with Mira’s keeping and education. She is determined that Mira will, when she is old enough, take her vows and spend her life in quiet contemplation. However, the life of a nun is not for the likes of Mira. Mira has a gift. She can draw, and with the guidance of a master, Mira could become a great artist. And yet, Sister Beátrice cannot help but fear for the child. If the Baron of Oto discovered that he had fathered a daughter, then Mira’s life would be forfeit.

It was the summer of 2015 when art historian, Zari Durrell, arrived in Oxford to attend The Renaissance Art Conference, in a bid to continue her research into the life and work of Cornelia van der Zee. However, underneath the paintwork of what was presumed to be painted by van der Zee is another name — Mira. In her search for Mira, Zari will travel to all the great cities in Europe. Unfortunately, the more Zari learns about Mira, the more questions she has. Who was this woman? And more importantly, what happened to her?

From 15th Century Aragón to the 21st Century, The Girl From Oto (The Miramonde Series Book 1) by Amy Maroney is the shamelessly compelling story of an accomplished artist and the woman who hopes to discover the truth.

From the opening sentence, I was utterly enchanted. Maroney has painted a dazzling portrait of two very different times in history — the 15th Century and modern day. I did wonder, to begin with, how the two very contrasting eras would rub along, especially when I was so intrigued by Mira’s story. However, I soon became thoroughly enamoured in Zari’s tale as well.

I adored the characterisation of Mira. When we first meet Mira, she is a defenceless baby, but through the course of the book she grows up into a very determined young woman. Running alongside Mira’s story is that of her family — the infamous Oto’s. Ramón de Oto is a cruel and often violent man. His treatment of his wife is absolutely deplorable. In comparison, Marguerite is a wonderful, courageous lady who is resolved to protect her daughter from her vile and dangerous father. Marguerite has a quiet strength which made her a very compelling secondary character.

Mira longs for the world outside of the Abbey’s walls. She is totally unaware of how unsafe such a life is for her. Growing up, her only solace is the time she spends with the Nomadic healer, Elena de Arazas, but even then, Mira does not understand why Elena is so determined to teach her how to defend herself. All Mira wants is the freedom to travel and see the sea, along with an all-consuming desire to make her living as a painter. Mira’s naivety and her longing for adventure really helps to drive the story forward and keeps the reader engaged.

The historical detail has to be commended. It was as if I was peering through a looking glass — a magical portal through time. I thought Maroney really captured the era that her book is set in. The Girl from Oto is not only luxuriantly detailed, but the story itself is addictive to the extreme. It has enough heroes and villains to keep the reader engaged throughout. The pages practically turned themselves.

I loved this book so much. It had such an authentic feel to it, and the characters were highly appealing. I can’t wait to read Book 2!

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of The Girl from Oto 

Amazon • Kobo • iBooks • Nook.

Amy Maroney

Amy Maroney lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. She studied English literature at Boston University and public policy at Portland State University, and spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction before turning her hand to historical fiction. She’s currently obsessed with pursuing forgotten women artists through the shadows of history. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, drawing, dancing, traveling, and reading. She’s the author of The Girl from Oto and Mira’s Way, the first two books in the Miramonde Series. The third book in the series will be published later in 2019. To receive a free prequel novella to the series, join Amy’s readers’ group at You can find her on Twitter @wilaroney, on Instagram @amymaroneywrites, and on Facebook.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

#BookReview — Reschen Valley: Season 1 - 1920-1924 - Box Set, by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger #HistoricalFiction @ckalyna

Reschen Valley:

Season 1 - 1920-1924 - Box Set

By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

She wants her home. He wants control. The Fascists want both.
1920. Former Austrian Tyrol.
When Katharina Thaler, a young Tyrolean farmer, finds a wounded Italian engineer in the mountains of the Reschen Valley, her decision to save his life thrusts both of them into a labyrinth of corruption, prejudice and greed.
Angelo Grimani, a civil engineer, knows the details of a project that may destroy Katharina’s valley. Not in favour of it himself, he returns home to fend off the forces that envision the biggest reservoir in Italy, headed by Angelo’s own father.
As the Tyroleans gear themselves to fight for their land, the Fascist party gathers power and momentum. Katharina and Angelo must each decide what to protect: love or country?
Dive in and discover the gripping saga based on a history you never knew. This box set contains the first three of six books: No Man’s Land: Part 1, The Breach: Part 2, The Smuggler of Reschen Pass: The Prequel and bonus material including, From Jutta’s Kitchen: 12 South Tyrolean Recipes to bring the Reschen Valley series closer to homeSave now on the regular individual retail price!
“They can take your land, they can take your weapons, but they cannot take the fight out of you…”

When Italy had joined the Triple Entente, they had been promised much. However, such promises seemingly meant nothing when the Great Powers met at Versailles. Instead of the land they had been promised when they signed the secret Treaty of London, Italy would have to be content with the territory of Trentino and the Tyrol, a permanent seat on the League of Nations, and a massive debt to a nation they had rapidly lost all respect for. So much for their French and British allies and their promises. So much for America and their loans.

Captain Angelo Grimani knew all about the war. He had fought at the Battle of Marmolada under the command of a Colonel who was not fit to serve. Good men had died and for what? Greed? Power?

Katharina Thaler is as content as any woman could be after the end of a war which claimed so many lives. But now, on top of everything else, those in power had decided to annex Tyrol to Italy. Italian soldiers were now patrolling the newly attained border. Life, as Katharina had known it, would never be the same again.

When I was asked if I would like to review Reschen Valley: Season 1 - 1920-1924 - Box Set by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger I jumped at the chance. The box set contains the first two books in the series as well as the prequel: 

No Man’s Land
The Breach
The Smuggler of Reschen Pass: A Reschen Valley Prequel.

I am going to approach this review the same way I approached the box set — one book at a time!

No Man’s Land

Italy is ready to embrace industry, but to do so, they need electricity. Their newly acquired land could hold the answer. As soon as the annexation has been signed off, they can start work on their planned dams.

Katharina Thaler lives in one of the proposed sites for a dam, but for now, she is oblivious to their plans, and besides, even if she did know, Katharina has more pressing issues to worry about. She is pregnant and the child‘s father has abandoned her.

Captain Angelo Grimani had been sent to the Reschen Valley to survey the land. However, while he was there, he was attacked. If it were not for Katharina, he would be dead. He likes Katharina, and in another time and place then maybe they could have… But that was just wishful thinking, for Angelo is married and his life is far away from Reschen.

No Man’s Land is a beautifully woven story about two very different people and a land that calls to them both for very different reasons.

Lucyk-Berger has not only created a very enthralling novel but one that is utterly engrossing. She has painted a vivid picture of a hard-up, but incredibly resilient community, in which she has placed her spirited heroine. Katharina is a character that I instantly adored. She is a strong-willed but passionate young woman who finds herself in a challenging situation. She risks everything for a forbidden love and on the face of it loses.

In comparison to the farming community of Reschen and Katharina, is the very sophisticated Italian Captain, Angelo Grimani. Angelo finds himself in the most terrible of situations — no matter what he does, he loses. He is faced with impossible choices. Angelo knows the difference between right and wrong, but sometimes there is a blur between the two. Angelo wants to see Italy become great. He is a very loyal citizen, and yet, he does not want to destroy long forged communities to see that change. At times I did not want to like him, but as Katharina found out, he is very hard to resist. He certainly isn’t the antagonist in this story, far from it. However, he does create problems for himself by trying to pacify everyone. His wife asks him to choose her side of the argument, his father ask the same, and he doesn’t know how to balance both of their desires with his own. It is no wonder that he discovered a moment of peace in Katharina’s arms.

Lucyk-Berger has created a very convincing historical backdrop for her characters and has set them up for what promises to be a must-read series.

The Breach

A great deal has changed in Katharina’s life. She is now a wife and a mother. Her husband, Florian, has never asked who the father of her daughter is. Instead, he has accepted her daughter as his own. No one must know the truth. Ever.

Angelo Grimani has a recurring dream in which a dam, of his making, bursts in the Reschen Valley, fooding everything and taking something very precious away from him. Only, he does not know what it is that has been taken. Not that it matters. It is just a dream. And besides, there are more important things to think about. As Italy becomes more and more enchanted with Benito Mussolini and his promises, Angelo must make a decision. Will he stand with his father and the Partito Nazionale Fascista or will he stand with his wife and the people of Tyroleans.

The Breach is one of the most enthralling historical fiction stories that I have ever read.

Taking up where the No Man’s Land had left off, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger has penned a book not only vibrant in its narrative but also one that is rich with authentic historical details. Lucyk-Berger’s compelling style pulls you right into the story from the first sentence and does not let go of you until the last full stop.

I did not pause for breath between finishing No Man’s Land and starting The Breach. I was desperate to know what was going to happen next. I am pleased to say I was not disappointed. This book had everything I desired and then some. Lucyk-Berger has lavishly evoked the land that she has set her story in. The rise of fascism in Italy during this era has been painstakingly researched and alongside some very appealing characters, made this book impossible to put down.

Although our wonderful protagonists do not meet again in this book, they are very much in each other’s thoughts. I really felt for Angelo, and although some things he does are deplorable, he is still an incredibly likeable character. He makes mistakes, and yet he learns from them, at least, he seems to. His relationship with Signora Gina Conti added an exciting twist to the story! It certainly complicated his life even more than it already was. 

There are some fascinating supporting characters in this book as there was in No Man's Land. Jutta Hanning and her son stole my heart. She is a single woman who is dedicated to her child and the inn that she runs. When everything, at last, seems to be going the right way for Jutta, fate then deals her a horrible hand. She is a very brave and courageous woman, whom I could not help but admire. Another supporting character that I adored is Katharina’s husband, Florian. He is such a lovely man, Katharina could not wish for a kinder more loving husband. He is incredibly patient with her, and even though he is longing for her to confide in him about the father of her daughter he does not press her for information. However, it is hard for him to compete with someone he doesn’t even know the name of. 

I thought The Breach was really rather marvellous. Wonderfully addictive. Lucyk-Berger is a born storyteller.

The Smuggler of Reschen Pass:
 A Reschen Valley Prequel

Fritz Hanny has friends, money, and a future. Marrying Cecilia, a young woman from the neighbouring village, would make his life complete. However, Cecilia’s father has other plans for his daughter that does not involve Fritz. Fritz is not the type of person to give up, but one drunken night changes the course of his life forever. Now he has a wife who does not love him and a child who is disabled. Life has become a bitter disappointment.

I was really looking forward to finding out the backstory to Jutta. The Smuggler of Reschen Pass: A Reschen Valley Prequel was a magnificent addition to the series.

Lucyk-Berger has a masterful style the pulls you right into the heart of the story. I thought this novella was brilliantly executed. Fritz Hanny is not the most likeable of characters. He does some truly terrible things, especially to Jutta, and I loathed him for that.

Lucyk-Berger has explored the darker side of human nature in this tale, and she has done so with great skill and splendour. This story appalled, impressed, and fascinated in equal measures. It is wonderfully told and impossible to put down.

If you are looking for your next historical fiction series, then do not pass by Reschen Valley: Season 1 - 1920-1924 - Box Set by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger. This is a fantastic series. A real gem.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.  

Pick up your copy today!
Amazon UK • Amazon US

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is an American author living in Austria. Her focus is on historical fiction now. She has been a managing editor for a publishing house, has worked as an editor, and has one several awards for her travel narrative, flash fiction and short stories. She lives with her husband in a “Grizzly Adams” hut in the Alps, just as she’d always dreamed she would when she was a child.

Connect with Chrystyna: Website • Facebook • Twitter.  

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Book Review — Jacob the Trumpeter, by Robert Barclay #CoffeePotBookClub #HistoricalFiction

Jacob the Trumpeter
By Robert Barclay

My name is Jacob Hintze. I may be an innkeeper now, but I will always be a trumpeter. That was my profession for a good portion of my fifty-two years. Fifty-two isn't a bad age to get to when you think of the total shit storm of the Thirty Years' War, especially if you were right in the middle of it as I was, watching your comrades being blown to pieces around you. But sounding signals on the battlefield isn't the half of what I was called to do. You see, you don't see a duke giving a lowly cavalry trumpeter like me the living of an inn on the post road unless he's done something special to earn it. And earn it I did; musician, courier, emissary, spy, those are the things I did for my duke, and more besides. And now it's time to write it all down. When you're under a sentence of death, as I now am, it makes you want to tell your story and I just hope I can get it done before it's too late.

“Legend, painting and song tell one story, but here is mine…”

Death comes to us all. Jacob Hintze never thought he would live to be an old man. He had lived through deprivation, wars and plagues. And he had crossed the sea and visited countries he had never thought to visit. During his lifetime, he had witnessed many changes. Some good, some not so good. Jacob believed that God watched out for him, and he still maintained that outlook. How else could it be explained that despite it all, he was still breathing at the age of 52? However, Jacob’s body was beginning to fail him, just like it had done for his father and his grandfather. It was only a matter of time before his heart stopped beating, which was why he thought seriously about what his eldest son, Michael, had suggested. Perhaps he should write down his memoirs — he certainly had a story to tell. So, Jacob picked up his quill and allowed the memories to come…

Jacob could still remember the first time he fell deeply in love. He had been ten when he heard the majestic metallic sound of a trumpet, and he knew that his life would never be the same again. Alas, there were laws regarding who could play and who could not play the trumpet. Jacob fell into the latter. He was no Duke, Prince or King. His father owned their farm, and although his father had some influence in their little corner of Mecklenburg, it was not enough for his son to play the instrument of his choice. And yet, the trumpet still called to young Jacob. So, under the watchful eye of Stadtpfifer, Jacob dared to learn to play the instrument. From that moment on, Jacob knew that playing the trumpet was his destiny. No matter what anyone said to the contrary.

But his skills with the trumpet did not go unnoticed, and his life was to change fundamentally because he could not resist the pull of the music.

Jacob the Trumpeter, by Robert Barclay is the unforgettable story of a little boy from a farm who against all the odds, became a staff trumpeter for Adolf Friedrich, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

There are some books which pull you in and mesmerise you from the opening sentence to the very last word. Jacob the Trumpeter is such a book. Barclay’s compelling narrative set against not only the backdrop of The 30 Year War but also the English Civil War, made this story not only an epic adventure, but also a monumental work of scholarship. Barclay’s historical understanding of this era shined through the pages of this book. His dedication to bringing about an authentic setting for his characters has undoubtedly paid off.

I adored the interpretation of Jacob Hintze. Jacob is a historical character that I have never heard of, and yet, his story was begging to be told. Barclay has chosen to tell Jacob's story in the form of a memoir which worked incredibly well. We are introduced to a very young Jacob who has heard the sound of a trumpet for the first time. This prelude is the start of a love affair with the trumpet which will last the whole of Jacob's life. As Jacob grows and learns how to be a soldier, his enthusiasm for the instrument does not waver. However, this story is so much more than Jacob’s passion for the trumpet. It is a story of war, intrigue, torture, friends, enemies and one true love. There is something for anyone who loves historical fiction between the pages of this remarkable book. 

The story is written with a great deal of energy — there is not one slow moment in this book. Barclay has done an incredible job at keeping the pace engaging, and he has taken great pains to stick to the historical facts of the time, and although there are times when Barclay has used fiction to fill in the gaps, there is an integrity in the writing. As for the historical characters that we come across in this story, Barclay has breathed life back into them, and he seems to have a visceral understanding of human nature. All men, even our heroic Jacob, are flawed, and I think that gives the reader a keen sense of realism.

The book is set in the time of war, and there are some despicable characters that Jacob comes across. But none are quite like Joachim Wadegahte. Wadegahte is a historical character, but as Barclay tells us in his historical notes at the end of the novel, he is very elusive. Although, in the background for much of the story, Wadegahte is a shadowy, looming threat to our intrepid hero. Barclay portrayed a very unlikeable character in Wadegahte. Wadegahte blames the way his life has turned out on Jacob, rather than facing the consequences of his own shortcomings. Jacob’s relationship with Wadegahte is summed up very early on in the novel when Jacob says “…I did not make an enemy of him; it was he who made an enemy of me…”

There is no doubt that Jacob the Trumpeter is an enthralling epic. It is a wonderful story that is very elegantly told.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
 Jacob the Trumpeter

#BookReview — Children of the Chieftain: Bound for Home, by Michael E Wills #ChildrenBooks #HistoricalFiction #Vikings

Children of the Chieftain:
 Bound for Home
By Michael E Wills

After three years in the service of the emperor of the Greeks, Ahl and his Viking friends have become very rich. Now the crew longs to return home with their wealth, their problem is that the emperor will not permit them to leave. They make a daring plan to escape. The route home is perilous as they navigate uncharted seas. They must overcome robbers, storms and hostile strangers as they seek their way back to the Northlands with the riches which they have earned.


“Man the oars,” shouted Ahl. “We are bound for home.”

The Varangians have been in the service of the emperor of the Greeks for three years, and in that time they have earned a fortune. But the men are restless and they want to take their treasure and return to the colder climate of their homeland. Alas, the Greeks are reluctant to part with their Varangian allies. Ahl, the leader of the Varangian’s, has come up with a way to escape the hold of their Greek masters. It will be dangerous, and if they fail, they may well end up as slaves, but it is a risk worth taking. Nothing was going to stop the Varangians from going home — not even a Greek galley.

From the heat of the Mediterranean sun to the dangers of the open sea, Children of the Chieftain: Bound for Home, by Michael E Wills is a wonderfully engaging historical fiction story for children.

Children of the Chieftain: Bound For home begins with a delightful narrative hook, which draws the reader into the world of Ahl and his men. Wills’ keeps the language of the story simple for his younger audience, and he is careful not to overload his readers with large paragraphs of descriptive text. Instead, Wills gives just enough detail to set the scene and lets the narration of his characters drive the story forward. I thought this worked very well, and it is sure to keep the attention of his intended audience.

The journey the characters go on is fraught with danger, especially in the open sea, but Wills does not make the story too frightening. Wills mindfulness of his audience is apparent throughout this book. Wills does touch on the conflicting religious beliefs of the time, but again, he is very sensitive in his approach to this. 

I thought this book was a fabulous introduction to historical fiction for a younger audience. It is just the right length for even the most reluctant readers, but rich enough in the story for those children who like to lose themselves in a good book.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Purchase your copy of
Children of the Chieftain: Bound for Home

Michael E. Wills

Michael E. Wills was born on the Isle of Wight, UK, and educated at the Priory Boys School and Carisbrooke Grammar. He trained as a teacher at St Peter’s College, Saltley, Birmingham, before working at a secondary school in Kent for two years.

After re-training to become a teacher of English as a Foreign Language he worked in Sweden for thirteen years. During this period, he wrote several English language teaching books. His teaching career has included time working in rural Sweden, a period that first sparked his now enduring interest in Scandinavian history and culture - an interest that after many years of research, both academic and in the field, led him to write “Finn’s Fate” and the sequel novel, “Three Kings – One Throne”. Continuing in a Viking theme, in June 2015, Michael published, “Children of the Chieftain: Betrayed”, the first of a quartet of Viking adventure stories for young readers. The book was described by the Historical Novel Society reviewer as “An absolutely excellent novel which I could not put down.” The novel was long-listed for the Historical Novel Society, 2016 Indie Prize. The second book in the quartet, “Children of the Chieftain: Banished”, was published in December 2015 followed by the third book,“Children of the Chieftain: Bounty”, which was published in 2017. The fourth and final book in the quartet. “Children of the Chieftain: Bound for Home”, has just been published.

Today, Michael works part-time as Ombudsman for English UK, the national association of English language providers. Though a lot of his spare time is spent with grandchildren, he also has a wide range of interests including researching for future books, writing, playing the guitar, carpentry and electronics. 

You can find out more about Michael and the books he has written by visiting his

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