Anne Bonny #BookReview Dunstan by Conn Iggulden 4.5* #HistoricalFiction @PenguinUKBooks @penguinrandom One man. Seven Kings. England’s bloody throne. . .

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Dunstan by Conn Iggulden
My own copy
Synopsis:

One man. Seven Kings. England’s bloody throne.

Tenth century England: a divided and broken country of misrule. Yet King Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, seeks to unite the kingdom under one crown. By his side is Dunstan of Glastonbury – priest, soldier, visionary and, some insist, traitor – whose task is to steward seven kings through fire, war, murder and fury to see Athelstan’s dream come true. But what stain will it leave on his mortal soul?

My Review:

Dunstan is a fictionalised account of the life of Dustan of Glastonbury, although it is heavily based on historical accuracy/fact. Which given the era, must be an incredible task to undertake. I was a huge fan of The Emperor series, which I read back in 2006/7. My husband actually bringing them back from a tour of duty in Afghanistan for me to read. The Emperor series focuses on the life of Julius Caesar and if you were ever a fan of the TV show Rome. Then you will LOVE the series.

The prologue opens, with Dustan leading the narrative, he speaks as if in reflection of his life once lived. As he writes his story, you are aware death haunts him at every turn.

‘I have broken my vows. I have betrayed those I loved and those who loved me. I have murdered innocents’

‘There never was a sin I could not learn to love’ – Dunstan

Behold The Boy – AD 934: Part one
The novel then opens with Dunstan in his teenage years. His younger brother Wulfric, who he endlessly torments but is fiercely protective of. Their father Heorstan takes the boys to meet Father Clement – the abbot. It is a meeting, that will change all of their lives. It will certainly leave its mark upon Wulfric.

‘I always wanted to protect Wulfric, but some lives are touched by the dark’ – Dunstan

Upon arriving Dunstan is fascinated at his first sighting of a pulley. It is then you become aware of what primitive times the characters are living in.

‘There are many wonders in the world, if you look’ – Dunstan admiring a pulley.

The hierarchy of the era is fully explained. I personally had no clue, despite being a huge fan of multiple historical novels and TV dramas. The roles of the thane, bishop, earls, common men and slaves are explored.
But where does Dunstan fit into this social hierarchy?

When Abbot Clement agrees to take both the boys of their education, until Christmas. It will be a move that’ll change the boys lives and the last time they’ll ever see their father.

‘A father gives strength and makes a man. A mother tempers that iron with tears and love. Too much of either makes weakness’

The boys catch the eye of brother Casper, who brutalises Dunstan at every given chance. The physical punishments and beatings, have Dunstan plotting revenge.
Brother Encarius is only young and wishes to study Dunstan’s shakes that he irregularly displays. He conjures various potions and cures. Which keeps Dunstan safe from Casper, for now. . .

The boys go through a very brutal ‘coming-of-age’ experience. The death of their father and for Wulfric learning to overcome adversity. The choices they face in their youth, are in fitting with the era. But shocking on-par with today’s society.

‘We all make our choices: some for good and some that lead to destruction’

But Dunstan finds himself with a new opportunity. One of great advantage surrounded by Lords and Lady’s at the Kings courts.

Behold The Man – AD 936: Part two
Winchester – Aethelstan’s capital
‘Men are all the same, in their desire to follow. It is too simple a description, but men are either kings or slaves’

Dunstan enters the capital with a future promise of becoming the kings hand in a year. If he can just learn how to navigate the various figures of power and authority. At the Witan council, Dunstan gets his first glimpse of the life of royalty. The warring Lords and the imminent war. It isn’t long until he finds himself on the battle field.

Upon return from battle, Dunstan finds himself being watched and then freed from his oath to the king. The king declares that he will return to an Abbot’s life and not return to Winchester. A young Dunstan is devastated. But must learn to make the best of a bad situation, if he is to survive.

‘I had come back to Glastonbury with a King’s authority. There are worse homecomings’ – Dunstan

The novel continues to detail Dunstan’s life and the events that will shape him to be the man, he will come to be. Conn Iggulden brings alive historical figures on the page, with superb detail and it makes for fascinating reading. Iggulden is a must read of this genre. 4.5*

I am thoroughly looking forward to the next new release by the author, The Falcon Of Sparta. Which holds huge appeal for me, check out the cover and synopsis below.
TFOS
The Falcon Of Sparta by Conn Iggulden
Available 3rd May 2018

Synopsis:

In the Ancient World, one army was feared above all others.

401 BC. The Persian king Artaxerxes rules an empire stretching from the Aegean to northern India.

As many as fifty million people are his subjects.

His rule is absolute.

Though the sons of Sparta are eager to play the game of thrones . . .

Yet battles can be won – or lost – with a single blow. Princes fall. And when the dust of civil war settles, the Spartans are left stranded in the heart of an enemy’s empire, without support, without food and without water.

Far from home, surrounded by foes, it falls to the young soldier Xenophon to lead the survivors against Artaxerxes’ legendary Persian warriors.

Based on one of history’s most epic stories of adventure The Falcon of Sparta masterfully depicts the ferocity, heroism, and savage bloodshed that was the Ancient World.

CI
Conn Iggulden
Via Penguin
Via Penguin Random

Anne Bonny #BookReview He’s Gone by @_AlexandraClare 4* #CrimeFiction @ImpressBooks1 A missing child. A changed identity. A murder. . .

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He’s Gone by Alex Clare
Review copy
Synopsis:

How do you find a missing child when his mother doesn’t believe you have the right to even exist? When Detective Inspector Roger Bailley returns to work as Robyn, all she wants is to get on with the job she loves while finally being herself. When toddler Ben Chivers is snatched from a shopping centre on her first day back at work, Robyn has to find Ben and herself as she deals with the reactions of her police colleagues, the media and her own daughter.

My Review:

I loved the sound of this novel instantly. A transgender police detective, dealing not only with his own transition but the disappearance of a toddler. The synopsis had me intrigued and I wanted to learn more.

The novel opens on 18th July and the disappearance of a little boy named Benjamin from Meresbourne high street. He was out shopping with his nanny Gillian, after she becomes distracted in the pharmacist. Benjamin has vanished, panic ensues!

Across Meresbourne, Detective Inspector Roger Bailley is preparing for his return to work, dressed as and living as, Robyn. She has made the decision, to transition and is nervous and apprehensive about her return to work. How will her colleagues deal with the change? Will she be accepted? Will her change impact team morale?
Robyn is nervous.

Robyn is assigned the case of the missing child, as she is the most experienced detective they have. The team greet her warmly and she begins to believe, it may not all be as bad as she previosuly thought.

‘I’m not roger anymore – I’m Robyn’

At the scene Robyn quickly gets brought up to speed. The CCTV is mis-positioned, the security next to useless and the nanny in floods of tears. One possible lead is that the mother of the boy, Melissa has recently been on the receiving end of threats. Could the missing child be an abduction case? If so, is it linked to the mother’s threats? The CCTV footage is released online. . . .

‘Ben the unlucky one in the wrong place at the wrong time’

Robyn attempts to interview the boy’s mother. But is met with fierce resistance. She makes it apparently clear that someone ‘like her’ would only deflect attention from the case. She goes as far to call Robyn a deviant.
This is no easy case for Robyn to solve.

The mother is a difficult character, she is self- righteous and a control freak. She controls every aspect of her son’s life from his schooling to extra tuition and he isn’t even two years old. Is she raising a child or engineering a robot? Her attitude confuses the case at several turns. Her work life is occupied by dealing with the gentrification of the local docks area. Which indicates why she may have received personal threats. Especially when the docks have links to an organised crime family.

The novel is a police procedural and flows like a real-life case. You get to view the various developments of the case and sit-in on the interviews. But my personal favourite character, was Robyn. I just found her story fascinating. Imagine facing rejection by your family and having your career performance called into question, just due to your transition?
A change people can’t or won’t handle.

A tightly crafted plot with clever twists 4*

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Alex Clare
Website
Twitter

Next in the series. . . .
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She’s Fallen by Alex Clare
Synopsis:

A SUSPICIOUS FALL

Nineteen-year-old Shazia Johar has everything to live for. But when she is found critically injured after plunging from a hotel balcony, DI Robyn Bailley must determine why she fell. Was Shazia pushed or did she jump?

A BROKEN WOMAN

When Robyn’s team investigate the events that led to Shazia’s fall, they discover evidence of violence in the hotel room. What happened and who is responsible?

A DEATH

As Shazia’s life hangs in the balance, Robyn’s team discover the body of another hotel guest. With uncertainty and falsehood disturbing both investigations, Robyn must navigate the web of lies under continued criticism of her new identity from her ex-wife and her daughter.