18 February 2019

A Discovering Diamonds review of Assassination in Al Qahira James Boschert


"This third Book of Talon is a spine-tingling, edge-of-your seat thriller ."

#3 of a series

Fictional saga / thriller
13th century

Forced from his home in France and on his way to Palestine, Talon de Giles senses something is amiss after fourteen days at sea. The tempest overhead pounds the vessel and excess water on board does not bode well. He wakes his fellow Templars, but they can do little. The vessel strikes razor-sharp rocks and the four men are tossed into the turbulent froth. Only Talon, Max, and Montague wash ashore with their lives and the clothes on their backs. With no idea where they are or which direction to go, they make do as best they can until opportunity presents itself.

Months later a caravan on its way to Al Iskandrîyah stops for the night near where the Templars camp. Talon’s training as a kidnapped child of the Assassini serves him well and he steals camels, weapons, food, and silver without anyone being the wiser. He also discovers that Alexandria is not far, so the three unkempt, bearded, scarecrow-like men head to the Egyptian city to arrange passage to the Holy Land. But the Templars are betrayed, Montague is slain, and Talon and Max are imprisoned on accusations of being Christian spies. Rather than reveal his true identity, Talon adopts the name of Suleiman and spins a tale that keeps them alive. For now. Emir Abbas Abdur Rahman ibn Athir Faysal, the man in charge of the prison, distrusts Suleiman and his story, so until he discovers the truth, Talon and Max will remain prisoners.

To remain in their cell means certain death, so the two friends watch, wait, and plan until the day arrives when they can escape…

This third Book of Talon is a spine-tingling, edge-of-your seat thriller that centers around a man who covets another man’s wife and property and will do whatever he must to rid himself of his enemy. Interwoven into this tale are exotic locales, palace intrigue, assassination, betrayal, and a fascinating look into the underground world of Al Qahira (Cairo). Throughout the story there are scenes where the tension runs high and you forget to breathe. They culminate in a heart-thumping final battle on the Nile. As always Boschert drops readers into the midst of the action, spinning an intricate tale that snatches your imagination and doesn’t let go until the book ends. Even then, he leaves us with a tantalizing twist of what is to come in Talon’s next adventure.

© Cindy Vallar

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16 February 2019

Browsing the Blogs : February 16-17th

Twitter: #DDRevsBrowsingBlogs
interested in having your blog post listed?

Click HERE for submission details

Lauren Gilbert : Who Was Queen Victoria's Cook?
The English Historical Fiction Authors Blog

"I have been enjoying the series Victoria on PBS. (It was so exciting that series 3 premiered in the U.S. BEFORE showing in the UK!) One character I particularly like is Mr. Francatelli, the chef in the palace. While it is true that Queen Victoria’s household did include a cook named Francatelli, there is a big difference between the way he is depicted in the television series and the known facts about him."

Alice Poon : On this day (January 27) in 1688, a pivotal historical figure from the Qing Dynasty passed away....

"On this day (January 27) in 1688, a pivotal historical figure from the Qing Dynasty passed away. This person was a Mongolian princess named Borjigit Bumbutai, better known as Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, who was the progenitor of all subsequent Qing Emperors. She is the protagonist of my novel The Green Phoenix.

The life and deeds of this Mongolian princess were critical to Chinese history in that she was directly responsible for preventing disintegration of the fledgling Qing Empire in its early days......"

John F. Millar: Small State Big History (Rhode Island blog) The founding of a pirate republic in Madagascar pirates William Mayes and Thomas Tew . Contrary to the popular image of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow character as an amiable buffoon, pirates in their day were usually cruel thugs, petty criminals, and international terrorists. Pirates had an easy relationship with colonial Rhode Island because the colony’s elected governor would frequently grant privateering commissions in exchange for large fees paid personally to the governor, with few questions asked.

Newport House is just outside Colonial Williamsburg, 
(highly recommended!)

* * * 

click here for details 

15 February 2019

Mid-MonthExtra - February

Next in our  mid-month series 
about novels that come as a series

by Richard Tearle

Richard Sharpe. There can't be many who don't get an immediate visual image of Sean Bean in torn uniform, dark powder marks on his cheeks and then stopping to look behind him as he rides from one victory and on to another adventure.

Sean Bean may be the man who is most associated with the character, but Bernard Cornwall is the man who created him. Set during the Napoleonic wars, Sharpe is a soldier, a rifleman, a sniper and skirmisher in a time when muskets were the preferred weapons and therefore Sharpe is at the very front of the battle.

It's formula writing at its very best: at some point in every book Cornwall has to give a brief explanation of the relationship between Sharpe and his comrades, how he got promoted or his beginnings in the rookeries of London. But more of that bit later. 

Every book produces a bitter enemy, mostly in the opposing camp, such as Guy Loup or Phillipe Leroux, but he has equally deadly foes much closer to home, most notably in the form of Obadiah Hakeswill and Sir Henry Simmerson. And there is always Ducos, the French Intelligence officer.

Almost by accident, Sharpe comes to the notice of Wellington himself (in fact, Sharpe saves his life) and is promoted 'in the field': “You did me a good turn, Sharpe, and now I'm going to do you a damn bad one.” For rising from the ranks was almost unheard of and Sharpe experiences enmity and jealousy from almost all: the officers despise him because he is not 'a gentleman' and the common soldiers because Sharpe is clearly 'above his station'. He is assigned to command a small company of men of the 95th Rifles – a fictional company which is later attached to the equally fictional South Essex Regiment commanded by Simmerson.

The books cover the years 1793 to 1821, enabling Cornwall to place Sharpe at every major battle or event during that period, including both Trafalgar and Waterloo! I believe there is a precedent here, which makes Sharpe one of possibly only two men to have been present at both battles. The books, however, were not written in chronological order – a deliberate decision by the author – yet each one can be read independently without making the reader wonder about the past. Each novel of the 24 (so far) has a snappy two word title of which one of the two words is always 'Sharpe's …'

With the intent of only writing about eight or nine Sharpe stories, enter Sean Bean. There can be no doubt about Bean's ability to play the part: a man's man, tough, ruthless and single-minded. Yet something was wrong! As previously noted, Richard Sharpe was a Londoner, a cockney Londoner in all probability and Sean Bean a confirmed and proud Yorkshireman. I doubt few of us fans would have cared too much about this anomaly, but not so Mr Cornwall: in view of the success of the TV programmes he relocated Richard Sharpe to Yorkshire at the age of about 15. That, I think, illustrates the esteem in which he holds the actor.

So far I have hardly touched on the regular characters n the books. Always beside Sharpe is Patrick Harper. Despite a bad start, the two soon become inseparable and Sharpe presents Harper with his signature six-barrelled Navy gun. Members of Sharpe's company come and go – Isiah Tongue, a bible sprouting man with no known background; Daniel Hagman, ex-poacher from Cheshire, musician and purveyor of home remedies, “Paraffin oil and Best brown paper...” Former teacher, drunk and debtor Harris is the brains of the company – he can  not only read, but read and speak French as well! Young Ben Perkins was a drummer boy, but became a Chosen Man when he shot the man attempting to shoot Sharpe. But one of my favourites is Francis Cooper whose former occupation was 'dealing in other people's  property'. Cooper  has a dry, cynical wit and an answer for everything, but he also delivers one of the best lines in this or any other series: “It's hard to trust a man who wants to borrow your pick-locks ...”

Of course, being the strong, handsome, no nonsense hero that Sharpe is, there is no shortage of women for him. From the feckless and faithless Jane Gibbons to the love of his life, Teresa Moreno, Sharpe's tally of bedpost notches mounts up, including the beautiful Lucille who was the fancy of his friend, the battle scarred 'Sweet' William Frederickson.

The Sharpe stories are not just random adventure tales: the situations may be contrived, but the action is very real, excellently researched and wonderfully told. We really do get the feel of Badajoz, Salamanca and the horrors of Waterloo. Nor are any of the characters weak. Not one of them. Every man and woman has their place, their role to play whether that be to help and support Sharpe or to hinder him and try to engineer his demise. There are far too many to mention in this short appraisal, but amongst the more memorable are Lennox, the inspiration for Sharpe's Eagle, Ross, Nairn and Hogan (Wellington's spy masters who invariably involve Sharpe in their schemes),   William Lawford and so on. Cornwall follows the expected route of incompetent, foppish officers and low life soldiers: “Our army is composed of the scum of the earth...” Yet not all officers are so drawn by the author, nor all common soldiers either. Many, more often in the former category, are portrayed as brave and loyal men, real men with sympathies and passions, a clear sense of duty despite the orders of those who should know better.

So, at the end of the day, we have a massive series of books which can be read individually or in chronological order. We have heroes and villains, rivalries and friendships, great deeds and cowardly acts, love and hatred. Above all we have history and a wonderful insight into what life in the British army was probably like in the very early part of the 19th Century.

And, if we have seen the TV series or the ensuing DVDs, we have John Tams beautiful rendition of an old folk song with its simple but telling line: 

“King George commands and we obey, Over the hills and far away...” 

Mid-Month Extra Previous : Susan Grossey's Constable Sam Plank series