Category Archives: Historical

The Palace of Heavenly Pleasure – Adam Williams

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Originally published: May 27, 2014
Original Title: The Palace of Heavenly Pleasure
Author: Adam Williams
Page count: 641 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (May 27, 2014)
Genre: Romance, Adult
Language: English

 

Northern China, 1899. As the Boxer Rebellion erupts, a cast of innocents, fanatics, sinners, and lovers are drawn to the Palace of Heavenly Pleasure – an infamous brothel that overlooks an execution ground – where the fury of the East will meet the ideals of the West and all will face their destiny. Adam Williams’s first novel is a historical tour-de-force and a triumphant return to traditional storytelling on a truly grand scale.

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The Gift of Rain – Twan Eng Tan

The Gift of Rain by Twan Eng Tan
The Gift of Rain
by Twan Eng Tan

 

Set in Penang, 1939, this book presents a story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love.*

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The Pillars of Rome: Republic – Jack Ludlow

The Pillars of Rome
The Pillars of Rome

With barbarians at the gate and enemies within, two men must fight for the soul of the Republic and the greatest empire in the world. A cave hacked out of the rock, lit by flickering torches…two young boys appeal to the famed Roman oracle for a glimpse into their future. The Sybil draws a blood-red shape of an eagle with wings outstretched. An omen of death. As they flee from the cave in fear, Aulus and Lucius make an oath of loyalty until death. An oath that will be tested in the years to come. Thirty years on and Aulus, now Rome’s most successful general, faces his toughest battle. Barbarian rebels have captured his wife, and are demanding the withdrawal of Roman legions from their land in return for her life. It is unthinkable for Aulus to agree, and he fears her life must be forfeit to Rome. Meanwhile, Lucius has risen to high rank in the Senate; a position he uses and abuses. But when Lucius is suspected of arranging a murder, the very foundations of the Republic are threatened. Lucius and Aulus soon find themselves on very different sides of the conflict perhaps the prophecy of the eagle will come true after all. History and adventure, brutality and courage combine to powerful effect, making The Pillars of Rome an outstanding opening to the Republic series.

 

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Caligula – Douglas Jackson

Caligula – Douglas Jackson
Caligula – Douglas Jackson
A major new historical epic in the tradition of Conn Iggulden combines impeccable research and historical detailing with the power and pace of a great thriller
As a young slave, Rufus grows up far from the corruption of Caligula’s imperial court where excess, huge building projects, the largest gladiatorial battles Rome was ever to see—men and animals killed in the hundreds—conspiracies, assassination attempts, and sexual scandal were the norm. But when Rufus’ growing reputation as an animal trainer and his friendship with Cupido, one of Rome’s greatest gladiators, attract the cruel gaze of the Emperor, Rufus is bought from his master and taken to the imperial palace as the keeper of the imperial elephant. Rufus soon sees that life here is dictated by Caligula’s ever shifting moods—he is as generous as he is cruel and he is a megalomaniac who declares himself a living god who simultaneously lives in constant fear of the plots against his life. But Caligula’s paranoia is not misplaced, and Rufus and Cupido find themselves unwittingly placed at the center of a conspiracy to assassinate the Emperor.

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The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown

In this stunning follow-up to the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown demonstrates once again why he is the world’s most popular thriller writer. The Lost Symbol is a masterstroke of storytelling that finds famed symbologist Robert Langdon in a deadly race through a real-world labyrinth of codes, secrets, and unseen truths . . . all under the watchful eye of Brown’s most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, D.C., The Lost Symbol is an intelligent, lightning-paced story with surprises at every turn.  This is Dan Brown’s most exciting novel yet.

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The Godfather – Mario Puza

The Godfather - Mario Puza
The Godfather – Mario Puza

More than thirty years ago, a classic was born. A searing novel of the Mafia underworld, The Godfather introduced readers to the first family of American crime fiction, the Corleones, and the powerful legacy of tradition, blood, and honor that was passed on from father to son. With its themes of the seduction of power, the pitfalls of greed, and family allegiance, it resonated with millions of readers across the world—and became the definitive novel of the virile, violent subculture that remains steeped in intrigue, in controversy, and in our collective consciousness

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The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

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The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
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The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
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The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne (Side)
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne (Side)
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne (Side)
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Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield

Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae - Steven Pressfield
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield

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Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield
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Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield (Side view)
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield (Side)
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield (Side)
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield (Side view)
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel Of The Battle Of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield (Page view)

Synopsis: In 480 B.C., two million Persian invaders come to the mountain pass of Thermopylae in eastern Greece, where they are met by 300 of Sparta’s finest warriors. The Greek loyalists battle for six days in a prelude to their ultimate victory. “Pressfield brings the battle of Thermopylae to brilliant life, and he does for that war what Charles Frazier did for the Civil War in “Cold Mountain.””–Pat Conroy.

Review:Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie.Thus reads an ancient stone at Thermopylae in northern Greece, the site of one of the world’s greatest battles for freedom. Here, in 480 B.C., on a narrow mountain pass above the crystalline Aegean, 300 Spartan knights and their allies faced the massive forces of Xerxes, King of Persia. From the start, there was no question but that the Spartans would perish. In Gates of Fire, however, Steven Pressfield makes their courageous defense–and eventual extinction–unbearably suspenseful.In the tradition of Mary Renault, this historical novel unfolds in flashback. Xeo, the sole Spartan survivor of Thermopylae, has been captured by the Persians, and Xerxes himself presses his young captive to reveal how his tiny cohort kept more than 100,000 Persians at bay for a week. Xeo, however, begins at the beginning, when his childhood home in northern Greece was overrun and he escaped to Sparta. There he is drafted into the elite Spartan guard and rigorously schooled in the art of war–an education brutal enough to destroy half the students, but (oddly enough) not without humor: “The more miserable the conditions, the more convulsing the jokes became, or at least that’s how it seems,” Xeo recalls. His companions in arms are Alexandros, a gentle boy who turns out to be the most courageous of all, and Rooster, an angry, half-Messenian youth.Pressfield’s descriptions of war are breathtaking in their immediacy. They are also meticulously assembled out of physical detail and crisp, uncluttered metaphor:

The forerank of the enemy collapsed immediately as the first shock hit it; the body-length shields seemed to implode rearward, their anchoring spikes rooted slinging from the earth like tent pins in a gale. The forerank archers were literally bowled off their feet, their wall-like shields caving in upon them like fortress redoubts under the assault of the ram…. The valor of the individual Medes was beyond question, but their light hacking blades were harmless as toys; against the massed wall of Spartan armor, they might as well have been defending themselves with reeds or fennel stalks.

Alas, even this human barrier was bound to collapse, as we knew all along it would. “War is work, not mystery,” Xeo laments. But Pressfield’s epic seems to make the opposite argument: courage on this scale is not merely inspiring but ultimately mysterious. –Marianne Painter

Review: “…GATES OF FIRE could not be mistaken for fine literature, but it has other qualities….As a narrator, above all, the author is highly skilful.”

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Firesong – Joseph Hone

 Firesong - Joseph Hone

Firesong – Joseph Hone

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Firesong – Joseph Hone
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Firesong – Joseph Hone
Firesong – Joseph Hone (Edge view)
Firesong – Joseph Hone
Firesong – Joseph Hone (Edge view)
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Firesong – Joseph Hone (Page view)

New Year’s Day, 1906. A family celebrates, skating on the ice of a vast lake, far north in Russia. Cousins of the Romanov Tsars, this is the Rumovsky family – Prince Pyotr, his wife Princess Sofia, their son Ivan and twins Yelena and Alexander, and their young Irish governess,

Miss Harriet. With them is the patriarch of the family, old Prince Mikhail, a strange, towering figure, a man from another century, with his fabulous Boyars’ court at the castle, a Tamburlaine of the snows…Behind the Rumovsky family and their mediaeval island castle lie 300 years of autocratic but peaceful rule. Ahead of them, the old Prince expects the same for his descendants. It is not to be. Firesong is the story of the Rumovskies – their lives, deaths and hazardous escapes in the nightmarish new Russia that soon engulfs them: a land stricken by famine, pestilence, war and death. A story both intimate and epic, reminiscent of Dr Zhivago, this is a dramatic saga of men and women who fight for their destiny, in love and peace, against all the odds of war and dissolution.

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Spartan – Valerio Massimo Manfredi

Spartan - Valerio Massimo Manfredi
Spartan – Valerio Massimo Manfredi

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Spartan – Valerio Massimo Manfredi
Spartan – Valerio Massimo Manfredi (Edge view)
Spartan – Valerio Massimo Manfredi
Spartan – Valerio Massimo Manfredi (Edge view)
Spartan – Valerio Massimo Manfredi
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Spartan – Valerio Massimo Manfredi
Spartan – Valerio Massimo Manfredi (Page view)

An epic story of passion, courage and adventure in ancient Sparta, by the author of the ALEXANDER trilogy. Herodotus tells us that not all of the three hundred Spartan warriors died at the hands of Xerxes, King of the Persians, in the battle of the Thermopylae: two were saved

bringing a life-saving message back to the city…This is the saga of a Spartan family, torn apart by a cruel law that forces them to abandon one of their two sons – born lame – to the elements. The elder son, Brithos, is raised in the caste of the warriors, while the other, Talos, is spared a cruel death and is raised by a Helot shepherd, among the peasants. They live out their story in a world dominated by the clash between the Persian empire and the city-states of Greece – a ferocious, relentless conflict – until the voice of their blood and of human solidarity unites them in a thrilling, singular enterprise.

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