Blood of the Wolf – Forest Lord 4 by Steven A. McKay

Hoover Book Reviews have given their verdict on Blood of the Wolf, take a look!

Historical Fiction reviews

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Robin has been pardoned, he is no longer an outlaw; indeed he is even working for the law now.  He is reunited with his wife and son.  Life is good, Robin should be a happy man.  But alas, conflicted feelings about his job and how harmful the enforcement of the law can be and increasing  tension at home rears over his job as well.  The finale of this engrossing set of tales brings together Robin and what’s left of his old gang to pursue and destroy an enemy who is out for revenge against them.  Plus there is another old score waiting to be settled by a most loathsome churchman.  Taut, tense and full of action and surprises, Mr. McKay gives the reader an entertaining and fitting end to his Robin Hood series.  My only, well, make that two complaints, is that the tension in some spots is such that…

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My small collection of historical and fantasy weaponry

I’ve been a fan of historical and fantasy fiction since I was a teenager so, when I got my own house as a nineteen-year-old  (twenty years ago) and I found a website called BattleOrders, I realised I could fulfil my fantasies and own all sorts of awesome swords and stuff. And at that time there were no legal restrictions, it was awesome!

I never really got into it much after that initial enthusiasm though, since I was just a young lad with a mortgage, then kids came along… I only have a small collection compared to guys like Ben Kane, Anthony Riches and Christian Cameron who you should badger to show you their stuff. It’s much better than my meagre lot. I’m quite sure many of you have lots of fantastic weapons and armour so please share it here with us!

The one thing I’d like to add would be a realistic replica of Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum but that’s never going to happen in the UK. We’re not even allowed air guns over here which I have no argument with.

Anyway, here’s my small collection…

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Sting, Excalibur, Sword of the Witch King, medieval arrows, SS Officer’s dagger, Roman Senator’s dagger.

STING

Sting was, of course, Bilbo’s sword which would glow blue when evil Orcs or Goblins were around and he passed it on to Frodo who carried it in the excellent films. Mine never glows but it is a really nice copy of the short sword you can see in those LotR movies. Most replicas I’ve come across have a dull edge to the blade but this thing is razor sharp!

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The Sword of the Witch King

This is the sword that belonged to the Lord of the Nazgul. This one is a massive piece, comes right up to my shoulders from memory. This was the first sword  I ever owned and my girlfriend (now wife) bought it for me. It’s an exact licensed replica of the one used in the LotR movies.

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Excalibur

This is an exact replica of the real sword King Arthur was given by the Lady of the Lake.

Hahaha, nah, of course not, that would be ridiculous!

It’s an exact replica of the sword Arthur pulled from the stone around AD 480.

 

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SS Officer’s dagger

Let’s just head this one off at the pass: I’m not a neo-Nazi despite my shaved head. I’m just bald, and the Nazis were pure evil.

A real one of these would sell for a lot of money (Lemmy owned a few)  but this is quite a crude copy. I don’t even think they sell these in the UK any more, presumably because people found them offensive which is fair enough. It’s not something I’d display openly. I’m sure Battle Orders used to sell these with gold or silver trim and I just bought this silver one because it was really cheap.

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ROMAN SENATOR’S DAGGER

This thing was billed as a “Roman Senator’s dagger” but I don’t think that’s very accurate. It’s a nice little dagger that would do some real damage but I have no idea where the design might come from. Anyone got any ideas? Let me know!

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Now comes the favourite – and pointiest – part of my small collection!

My Jackson Kelly guitar alongside the medieval arrows my friend Chris Verwijmeren made for me. Look at the size of those things! Imagine one of them fired from a warbow, slamming into your chest….I have to say, the guitar is amazing too – Megadeth fans would love it.

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So, readers – do you have any weapons or armour? Are you a re-enactor with a load of nice kit? Share your links with us, either here in the comments or share your links to my Facebook page!

 

Audiobook Reviews October 2016

Here’s my regular round of reviews from my recent Audible purchases. A couple of fantasy books and a couple of true classics, with a kids book at the end! But are any of them worth your time and money? Read on and find out…

 

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First up is The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. This is the sequel to The Name of the Wind which I raved about not long ago as it was the best fantasy novel I’d read/ listened to in years. And, for the most part, this second book continues the series in similar, great fashion. It is insanely long (42 hours!) so you are getting quite incredible value for money if you use a monthly credit for this thing and, like the previous story, the narration is perfect. Rupert Degas has a huge repertoire of voices and accents and he’s just a pleasure to listen to. The best narrator I’ve ever heard? Yes, I think so!

The story is a good one, with our hero Kvoth now a bit older, a bit more settled in himself and he has some great adventures in this tale. However, I found myself becoming a little bit irritated this time around as our hero is a master at EVERYTHING. From playing his lute to bedding women to fighting like a samurai to throwing magic around like a young Gandalf (yes, he’s still a teenager)…it becomes ever harder to suspend disbelief. By the time he’s seduced a Goddess and she’s found him the best lover ever you start to remember this is just a book, Kvoth isn’t a real man, and it’s hard to remain lost in the world Rothfuss has so diligently crafted.

But overall this is still a five star listen and highly recommended.

Rating – 5/5

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Another fantasy book, this time from the Dragonlance mythos. I always thought the mage Raistlin, and his big, dull-witted twin Caramon were the best characters in the whole series and this particular trilogy is ideal as it follows them on an adventure through time. My biggest issue with 80’s fantasy is how twee it often is – when people are dying there’s always some element of slapstick or silly one-liners that destroy any suggestion of realism and make them seem like more of a children’s story. Time of the Twins isn’t as bad as some of the Forgotten Realms books in that regard, and Raistlin is a nice, dark character, utterly selfish and nasty but, irritatingly the kender, Tasslehoff Burfoot (even his name is twee!) tags along and brings that annoying element of misplaced humour to proceedings. Occasionally the authors use the kender in a more interesting way – when bad things happen and the childlike character is upset it really does add an extra edge of horror. In general though, I wish fantasy authors would forget the comedy characters.

I loved this book when I first read it as a teenager and to be fair it’s still a good story. Certainly worth a listen even if the narrator misprounces words and names  which is not his fault as someone should have been proof-listening and pointing out the many errors.

Rating – 4/5

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Now to the first of the stonewall classics – Sherlock Holmes! This is another long one representing enormous bang for your buck at FIFTY EIGHT HOURS!

I’m a huge fan of the Jeremy Brett TV series from the 80’s and 90’s and, for me, Brett is and always will be the real Holmes so I wasn’t sure how I’d like someone else’s voice reading the dialogue but I needn’t have worried. Simon Vance is perfect and runs Rupert Degas close as one of the best narrators I’ve heard yet. He has that refined, upper class accent that works so well with the setting and he has just enough voices to make it all hugely entertaining. I actually stopped listening to this at one point because I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t want it to ever end! Although in saying that, I have found myself not enjoying the later stories to the same extent but I’m not sure if that’s fatigue or because Doyle’s latter-day Holmes stories simply weren’t as good as the earlier classics.

Still, for such a long book, read so well and featuring two of the best characters ever created, this is one of the best Audible buys around.Do yourself a favour and use one of your credits for this!

Rating – 5/5

dune

The next of the true genre-defining classics is set in a far different time and place to Holmes’s London but I was really pleased to realise it’s also read by Simon Vance! There’s some other voices who chime in here and there making this something of a more lavish production, but overall it’s just Vance and he does a fine job again.

Dune is a strange book – I first read it when I was about 15 and thought it was a boring pile of crap. Then I tried again a couple of years later and it blew me away. I returned to it once more in my thirties and again loved it. The rest of the series isn’t so great, especially the later books, but this first novel is so good if you’ve never read it before please give it a try.

I suppose the hero, Paul Atreides, is similar to Kvoth in the way he’s so good at just about everything but here it seems natural. I have already used my latest credit to buy the sequel, Dune Messiah, so look out for my review of that in due course although at only 9 hours it’s much shorter than Dune which clocks in at around 21 hours.

The book inspired an excellent Iron Maiden song – “To Tame A Land”, check it out HERE where it’s backed by parts of the not-so great movie…Frank Herbert HATED heavy metal so wouldn’t let them call the song “Dune”, unlike Patrick McGoohan who was happy to allow them to call another song “The Prisoner”.

Rating – 5/5 again!

I’ve listened to some excellent audiobooks in recent weeks although I also bought the Forgotten Realms “classic” Pools of Radiance which I always fancied as a kid but never got around to reading.

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I’m not even going to bother with a review for it but I won’t be trying any more from the series. It was like watching someone else play a bad computer game. Anyone a fan of this series?

 

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Finally, something a little bit different! My 9-year-old daughter loves books too and has started listening to Audible which I buy extra credits for. I must admit, being a thrifty Scot I rather grudge using a credit for a kids book as they generally last for about 1-2 hours! But my daughter has really enjoyed some so I asked her to write a little review for her favourite so far.

The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams

Reviewed by Freya McKay

The narrator (David Walliams) spoke very clearly and had good expressions in his voice. It was disgusting when the boy picked his nose and made it into something even more disgusting! My favourite character was one of the girls who always did naughty things and blamed it on her wee brother. They are all very naughty! This book is very interesting  and I sometimes wonder how the writers comes up with such good stories.

 

So there you go, I hope you’ll check out some of these and enjoy them as much as Freya and me. If you are waiting to use a credit on the fourth and final book in my own Forest Lord series, Blood of the Wolf is in production right now. Nick Ellsworth returns to voice Robin and John and the rest of the crew and I cannot wait to hear it!

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“The Rescue” and Haunted Mortham Tower

 

You may recall my brand new FREE short story (sign up HERE to get it) “The Rescue”. I found the cover art in Wikimedia Commons but I had no idea what it was – it just looked atmospheric and “medieval” so I used it. I have since asked my regular cover designers to tweak it with better fonts and I also found out the place is Mortham Tower in Rokeby, England.

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Mortham isn’t in the story, but it IS in North Yorkshire so it’s actually pretty close to the action which takes place in Wakefield. The building was listed for sale last year and I might have thought about putting in an offer if it hadn’t been £3,000,000!

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Photographed by Elijah Yeoman (1849-1930)

Built some time around 1500 the place is reputedly haunted by Mortham Dobby, a headless lady in fine dress, trailing a piece of white silk, who was apparently murdered. Bizarrely, she was said to have eyes, nose and a mouth in her chest and hair trailing from her shoulders. Now that sight would freak anyone out! A parson supposedly banished this poor spectre beneath a nearby bridge but a flood in 1771 destroyed the structure and she was freed.

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Image copyright Durham County Council, 2003

Whatever the truth, Mortham Tower is a beautiful building and made a nice cover image for “The Rescue”. Don’t forget to get it HERE – enjoy!

 

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The original image, by, I believe, John Buckler and engraved by Alan Robert Branston.

 

 

Blood of the Wolf by Steven A. McKay – Review

Another new review for Blood of the Wolf. Take a look!

David's Book Blurg

Title – Blood of the Wolf
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length –  386 Pages
Publication – 14th October 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

ROBIN HOOD RETURNS!
And this time the legendary wolf’s head is working for the sheriff…

After winning his freedom in Rise of the Wolf, Robin – with his faithful lieutenant John Little at his side – now spends his days travelling around northern England dispensing King Edward II’s justice.
When a new band of outlaws appears in Barnsdale, Sheriff Henry de Faucumberg sends Robin and John to deal with them. Before the lawmen can track them down though, Will Scaflock is attacked and another of their old companions murdered in his own home by the outlaws whose leader seems to have only one thing on his mind:
Bloody vengeance!

Will Robin’s reunited gang be enough to defeat this savage new threat that seeks to…

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Blood of the Wolf – the end of a long journey

My fourth and final book in the Forest Lord series, Blood of the Wolf, will be published in just a few short hours. It will be flowing down your telephone cables, bouncing off orbiting satellites and being delivered by postmen worldwide!

This isn’t just the end of the series – this is the end of a most amazing chapter in my life. It seems like only yesterday that I sat in a street in Glasgow wondering what I should write about, only to settle on Robin Hood when I saw a house named “Sherwood”. Then, a couple of years later, when I published Wolf’s Head, I dreamt of seeing it  on my bookshelf as part of a full, complete series.

Tomorrow, October 14th, that dream will become reality and it feels fantastic!

All four books have been well received and early indications from reviewers with advance copies suggest Blood of the Wolf is a fitting, exciting end to the series. I hope you all agree.

Thank you for supporting me over the past three years or so and, if you’re planning on reading Blood of the Wolf tomorrow – ENJOY!

Get your copy here if you haven’t already ordered it: getBook.at/BotW

And PLEASE, please share the news on your social media pages. There’s buttons at the bottom of this post where you can share it to Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ etc and, if you’re using Twitter, maybe use the #BloodOfTheWolf hashtag?

 

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Steven A McKay: Blood of the Wolf (Review)

The first review of Blood of the Wolf is in. Check it out!

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(In his own words)

My name is Steven A. McKay and I’m a writer from Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow in Scotland, heavily influenced by the likes of Bernard Cornwell, Douglas Jackson, Ben Kane et al.

My first book in the Forest Lord series, Wolf’s Head, was set in medieval England and it’s a fast-paced, violent retelling of the Robin Hood legends. It hit the number 1 spot in the UK “War” chart, reached the overall Kindle top 20 bestsellers list and is available on Kindle, audiobook and paperback from Amazon here:  http://smarturl.it/2636

As I write, in October 2016, I’m just about to publish the fourth and final book in the series, Blood of the Wolf. I think my take on the Robin Hood legend is quite different to anything that’s been done before – check out the reviews to see for yourself.

In total, including my two novellas, Knight of the Cross

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“The Rescue” – a brand new FREE short story!

“Your brother ain’t here lass,” the man spat, stepping towards her. “And this time you are going for a swim.”
There was a snap and a shocking blur of motion as an arrow tore from the thick summer foliage behind the girl and embedded itself in the approaching man’s thigh. The missile buried itself in the muscle so hard that it knocked him off his feet and he screamed in agony as the excited dogs began barking and straining at the ropes that tethered them to the big cart.
In contrast, the great brown bear in the cage looked on in silence.
“My brother is here, lad,” Marjorie hissed, eyes moving from the fallen man to his stunned companions. “And so are his friends.”
 
 
I’ve just sent out my brand new FREE short story, “The Rescue” to everyone on my Email List!
Sign up to read it NOW and please share with your friends!
 
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“The Rescue” – my new FREE short story

The short story (“The Escape”) that I was giving away for free to readers subscribing to my email list is no longer available. It’s gone off to pastures new and will be republished elsewhere within the next few months along with the other, brand new, Robin/Little John short story I just finished recently (“The Stapleford Prisoner”).
It means I have nothing to offer new subscribers to my mailing list.
That sucks, right? I mean, where’s the incentive for people to join?
So I’ve written another one!
“The Rescue” is set in 1325 and follows our heroes (not Robin or John this time) as they attempt to save a friend in mortal danger…
I will send it out to current subscribers within the next few days and everyone signing up from now on will get “The Rescue” instead of “The Escape” as a freebie.
Please share with your friends, and sign up here to get your copy if you haven’t already joined my mailing list:
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And don’t forget, the fourth and final Forest Lord novel, Blood of the Wolf is out on the 14th of October, pre-order available NOW for Kindle and paperback versions at the link below!
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Book Corner: Interview with Steven McKay

New interview with yours truly!

History... the interesting bits!

14527501_1508064435887266_874228221_nToday it is an absolute pleasure to welcome author Steven McKay to the blog. Steven has written the wonderful Forest Lord series, chronicling the adventures of everyone’s favourite legend, Robin Hood. With the final book, Blood of the Wolf, out this month, Steven talked to me about his writing, inspiration and what’s coming next.

Hi Steven, thanks so much for agreeing to be a guest interviewee on my blog, History…the Interesting Bits. So, here’s the questions …

What made you become a writer?

I always wanted to write stories, ever since I was a child. I would write little daft things in my school books and things like that. I think some people are creative and have a need to let their imagination run a bit wild be it through writing or art or music or whatever. I love to create songs on my guitars, and obviously write…

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