Thursday, 19 April 2018

Great Ending to the Trilogy: Wings of the Storm by Giles Kristian

Wings of the Storm (The Rise of Sigurd, #3)Wings of the Storm by Giles Kristian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great fun throughout and the ending certainly impresses. There are some nice twists to the plot and how Sigurd builds his army is great fun. The author has a devious mind. I really enjoyed the series and the description of the period felt very real. Life was hard and those that went Viking, raiding, certainly lived on a knife edge. It was very easy to raid poor farmers at little cost to life and limb, but the rewards were clearly limited, so Vikings had to aim higher. This comes across very well in this tale and I particularly liked it when Sigurd's crew raided a poor farmstead and then ended up defending him against a more malevolent crew.

The ending is not clear cut and the fighting is very hard which makes for a good tale.


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The Viking Saga Continues; Winter's Fire by Giles Kristian.

Winter's Fire (The Rise of Sigurd, #2)Winter's Fire by Giles Kristian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 1 ended with Sigurd's depleted crew having achieved a significant aim in their quest for vengeance. There are some really good characters in this novel and they all seem to have a part to play. The period comes alive with a very imaginative description of Viking times. Some readers have complained about the fight sequences being unrealistic in that bodies cannot be cut in half but forget that, the battle scenes are highly enjoyable and leave you on the edge of your seat. I have handled a Dane axe and have watched documentary programmes about these, and they can do serious damage, however, the period is a little early for these monsters of destruction.

Sigurd gets into many scrapes and manages to get out of these by being Odin favoured. The nice thing about that is it is just words, but Sigurd unsettles his enemy just by the stating he is Odin favoured and the more scrapes he survives the bigger the legend. Sigurd goes to extremes to ensure his reputation as being Odin favoured is increased.

The tale is a little slow to start with and then progresses nicely. This is fun writing and great tale.


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Viking Treat - God of Vengeance: Giles Kristian

God of Vengeance (The Rise of Sigurd, #1)God of Vengeance by Giles Kristian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are short of fantasy to read then is a cracker of a substitute. Plenty of action, sword and axes galore. Well written with an easy to read narrative. I really enjoyed this tale. Book 1 is full of woe and everything goes wrong in Sigurd's life and he swears vengeance against a King and a Jarl (Danish chief) for the betrayal of his father and clan. The description is very grim and bloody with a lot of action followed by a relatively slow period. The writing style is sufficiently good to keep the reader engaged. The author's knowledge of the period is good enough to give a convincing read. The Vikings are driven by Odin/Thor to the exclusion of all else. That may be unrealistic in normal life but with the blood oath it certainly makes a good read. Great fun.


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Saturday, 7 April 2018

Writing a book. Using Life Experiences. Part 2, Fighting.

For many years I was a Saxon/Viking re-enactor in Regia Anglorum https://regia.org/. This has really helped my fantasy writing. It gave me first hand experiences of using a sword, spear, bow, shield etc. All our weapons were metal and weighed the same as weapons from the period. We weren't seriously injured, but I did get fractured fingers and cracked my ribs twice so it wasn't for the faint-hearted.

One of the most useful experiences was fighting in all the armour of a Saxon warrior. Chain mail is heavy and weighs about 40 lb. With the helmet, shield and other accouterments it certainly adds up and on a hot summers day it can be very daunting. A padded jacket (gambeson) is worn beneath the armour otherwise you feel every blow. The gambeson absorbs much of the shock and prevents the chain mail links jabbing into flesh which would seriously hurt. The downside of a gambeson is that you heat up even more in battle. Being several layers of wool, you don't half sweat.

With all this weight and heat, men fighting in armour need to be rotated out of the front line fighting to rest. This is very hard to do in the heat of battle and would normally happen between clashes, should that happen. Shields add to the burden and are also used as a weapon. Inadvertently, in my training days, my shield was occasionally shoved into my face and that hurts. In battle this would have been deliberate. A shield clash in itself is very scary and can break a defensive position.

Rarely was anyone bloodied in our fighting and that has to come from imagination. Someone once pointed out that cutting an artery causes blood to spurt, so spears/swords, axes would have caused horrific injuries and the air would have been filled with a fine mist of blood. Having bitten my tongue I know the taste of blood and it is often described as metallic in taste Imagine, then, the air literally filled with a fine mist. It must have been truly awful. Tales of King Arthur and his knight portray a noble fighting which is very far from reality. Add the screams of wounded and dying men and a battle must have been a dreadful experience.

I have also faced a cavalry charge. The horses were meant to stop in front of our shield wall, but one horse skidded and hit a man in the line. The horse's momentum propelled the unfortunate man about twenty feet backwards through the air...and that was unintentional! If the charge had been maintained then people would have been smashed from the line and bodies flung far and wide. Horses won't naturally charge a line of people but spurs raking their flesh and a compact line of horses will break a shield wall.

I have also faced archers and that is not a threat...initially. Arrows fired into the air can be countered by a raised shield. However, in the chaos of battle with spears coming at you from any direction, the threat from cavalry etc an archer can be overlooked. Archers were to be feared and in later battles when the bow draw strength was typically 100 lb and with a bodkin tip, armour and shield were no longer proof against an arrow.

A further issue I had not considered was how hard it is to kill a man in armour. Many of the skeletons discovered from graves near battle sites show wounds on their arms. It often took many blows to kill a person and broken bones were just as likely to kill given swords rarely punctured mail. Fighting was a hacking process with perhaps little finesse. The advent of the mace was exactly this, a weapon to smash bones.

Fortunately for us, once the battle was ended, there was a call for "Dead Arise" so we managed to survive each and every battle. I pity the poor unfortunates that didn't.




Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Author Trapped in Blizzard

Deep snow in Kent. Doesn't happen very often but when it does it is very pretty. Getting the car out is another matter though. Cleared the car and drive yesterday but today it is all under snow again. With the sun on the snow reflecting UV everything looks pristine with a hint of blue: gorgeous.


Saturday, 24 February 2018

Stunning Review - Legacy of the Eldric, Book 1 of the Prophecy of the Kings

This excellent review was posted on Amazon.com.ProphecyoftheKings



A&M
5.0 out of 5 starsOne of the top fantasy books i've ever readMarch 18, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition

One of the top fantasy books I have ever read!

Do yourself a favor and read this book! It is fast paced,

magical, and so captivating!




Monday, 29 January 2018

Another Excellent Review

Short but sweet review of Prophecy of the Kings

Reviewed by M.L Ruscsak1/27/2018
Five out of Five stars.
From the very first sentence of page one it grabs you. The attention to detail is amazing and the reader can immerse themselves into the world that is being created. Just the right amount of death, Magic intrigue.
Absolutely perfect from start to finish.

http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewwork.asp?id=31110&AuthorID=99036

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Excellent Review for Legacy of the Eldric :)

Great review for Legacy of the Eldric. Many thanks. Made my week.
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read
ByAmazon Customeron 11 January 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
"I found this book to be an exciting read, and better than The Inheritance Cycle books by Christopher Paolini. In fact, I was more than a little captivated by it and am now coming to the end of the second book in the Prophecy Of The Kings trilogy - Dragon Rider. I'm enjoying the read and escapism so much that I have bought all three books for a friend who liked Christopher Paolini's books. She is sure to like these. Well done David Burrows. I think you should write some more please!" Click HERE for review.


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Writing a book. Using Life Experiences. Part 1.

Many articles advise authors to write about what they know, and I am a firm believer in this. However, writing fantasy books can make this challenging. For example, how many of us have ever ridden a dragon or fought in a shield wall? So how does writing from life experiences help the tale? It is because of the realism this adds. This is very important especially in fantasy writing. Imagination is also hugely important, but by adding a sense of realism, wherever you can, this makes the fantasy aspects seem less surreal.

So what aspects of life did I pick, to aid my writing? I have been very fortunate to have had lots of hobbies, including mountaineering, camping, the territorial army, ice climbing, rock climbing, scuba diving, Saxon/Viking re-enactment, gliding and some I have probably forgotten about. So how do these help my writing? In part 1 I focus on how mountaineering has helped my writing.

I have spent many a weekend on snow-capped mountains, freezing half to death. I have been tired, wet and hungry after a long day's march. I have been in a cloud of midges where everyone was choking as the midges were so thick around us that we breathed them in. I have climbed mountains where each false summit was supposed to have been the last and felt the overwhelming despair this creates. However, I have also known the joys of reaching a campsite and washing from a billycan of lukewarm water with a sponge; the feel of grass under tired feet, having removed my boots; reaching a mountain top and seeing the glorious panorama below. It is amazing how much your spirits revive once you are fed and bedded down for the night.

These are the feelings that I tried to impart to my character. The agony of boots chaffing, blisters bursting and blood seeping through the leather. Wet clothes clinging to the body, sucking heat away from my legs. The impossibility of walking on marshland, sinking with every step and the sucking and tugging on boots to escape.

I once camped in the Peak District when it was -30 degrees Celsius - and to make matters worse I forgot my sleeping mat. We spent the evening in a pub, sitting before a roaring fire and drinking pints of ale. Having to go out into the frigid cold was one of the hardiest things I have ever done. I even had to dig snow around the sides of the tent to prevent the wind howling under the fly sheet. To compensate for the lack of a ground mat I took several newspapers from the pub and laid them on the ground. It was still so cold that I struggled to sleep. The following day, despite low spirits and being tired, we still managed to carry on and walk our intended route.

So, when Kaplyn and his friends find themselves climbing Ban Kildor in Legacy of the Eldric, my heart goes out to them. At least I could pack it in and go home to a bath and central heating, but my poor characters were banished to night after night in the wild with only wolves for company and often little to eat.

Authors are very hard on their characters and I sometimes wonder whether we create the world and the characters in which we write. If that is true, then I have a lot of apologising to do.


A View in the Peak District
Prophecy of the Kings - Believable Fantasy by David Burrows 
http://davidburrows.org.uk/

For tips on writing a book http://www.writingabook.ninja/2014/06/writing-book-part-1.html