A perceptive and erudite man, Aaron, has written a crisp review of Sword of Marathon, on Amazon.com:
Jack England has written an exciting tale that keeps the reader gripped to each page.
In doing so he has accomplished the difficult task of creating a fantastical world that is at the same time believable.
The reader is drawn into this vibrant landscape that intertwines the magic of ancient legend with the eternally familiar themes of commerce, struggle, violence, loss and new beginnings.
This all set against the backdrop of genuine historical events that have shaped the world as we understand it today.
Marathon, to my mind, is the key battle of ancient times, which helped create the modern world, for good or ill. The ‘glorious defeat’ of Thermopylae was of course important too, and much more romantic, but without Marathon, Thermopylae would never have been necessary. By then, Sparta would have been an island under constant Persian assault, probably crumbling later rather than sooner, but still crumbling nevertheless. Fortunately, in Book Beta, we’ll get to Thermopylae, to figure out what really happened. By the way, Aaron, Xerxes has just left Sardis, and the Athenians are just about to work out whether to stay in Greece or to leave for Italy. It’s starting to get exciting again! 🙂
An eclectic, bold, and adventurous reader, Soz, has reviewed Sword of Marathon on Amazon.co.uk:
I was looking to try something a bit different to my usual reading genre, so I thought I would give this book a try – by page 5, I was hooked!
The story is a really great romp – following the fortunes of the leading characters, Luke and his younger brother Hal. Somewhat by accident, they find themselves travelling to the political heartland of Greece. The journey proves dangerous and educational and there are understandable amounts of blood and gore along the way. What I particularly enjoyed though, was the transformation of these two from adolescents to young men. Whilst Hal maintains a steadfast gung-ho approach to everything, Luke matures into a true hero inspired by the various colourful characters he meets.
Eventually, Luke and Hal find themselves embroiled in the battle at Marathon. The ‘histories’ of Herodotus were the basis for this account, and it’s done very well. There are several nasty deaths (some, if I’m honest, a little too graphic for my taste!) and ingenious military manoeuvres.
As far as my limited knowledge of ancient history goes, it seems pretty accurate in its general setting. The English is rich and there are good layers of complexity. Full of war, history, violence and sex, I think this book will appeal mainly to male readers, however, I’m not a bloke and I can say one hundred percent that I loved it! I understand that a sequel is planned and I will eagerly await its’ release. Can’t help thinking this book would make a great film or mini-series.
As Stephen King relates in his book, On Writing, the unconscious mind often throws up the most graphic, rude, or unpleasant images and feelings. However, if a writer is to be true to himself or herself, they must transcribe these scenes to the reader, especially if they are essential to the story, otherwise the novel stops being ‘true’ and something is lost. However, thank you Soz for persevering through some of these gruesome bits and for writing this review.
After much to-ing and fro-ing in the review stages, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, Sword of Marathon is now available in both paperback and Kindle versions at an Amazon site near you.
For those new to this site who want to get a further flavour of the book, here’s the editorial description:
Luke, a Gothic prince of Angland and a shaman’s pupil, sets out to prove himself worthy of kingship by finding traders for his people’s amber jewels. His journey leads him south through treacherous waters and murderous barbarians. With younger brother Hal at his side, and trust in his sword, Luke finds a new and unexpected destiny.
In Greece, Luke finds manhood too, with the voluptuous and beautiful Agariste. She reveals a rotten secret at the heart of Athens, which draws the brothers into a vicious war against the Persian Empire. King Darius the Great, with his vast navy fleets and army legions, is bent on destroying the Ionian city of Eretria, and then Athens, with its fledgling democracy and its persistent refusal to bow to tyranny.
As leader of the toughest seafaring mercenaries in Greece, Luke gathers vital intelligence for the General of Athens and rescues the future mother of Herodotus, the world’s first historian.
Luke’s quest also reveals Misia, an alluring young Carian princess, who betrays him, yet captures his heart. Confronted with superior military force on the plain of Marathon, Luke, Hal, and the Greeks engage the Persian army in bloody combat, in one of the most important and epic battles of all time. Its outcome will decide the future of the entire world for decades and millennia to come.
After his first reading, a friend of mine tells me the novel is rather like a rollercoaster. The characters are carefully built, then the tension builds, and then it becomes unrelenting, climaxing in the battle itself, before settling accounts, near the end, in preparation for the second novel in the series. I hope that kind of format appeals to Hollywood movie directors, as I would love to be on set as an adviser, when they shoot all of the various scenes. If they actually ask me for any advice, rather than just occasionally handing me the odd piece of dark chocolate or the odd glass of Pinot Noir, then I will be doubly pleased! 🙂
In the meantime, here are the links to several of those Amazon sites where the book is now available. Kindle versions are available in all territories, however sometimes you have to search these out separately, as I’m currently working with the Amazon people to get the paperback and Kindle versions properly linked in the UK, France, Italy, and Spain. They are properly linked in the US and in Germany.
You can read the first few chapters, as a preview, at each individual Amazon site, which is the Kindle-text preview:
If you do pick up a copy, all reviews on your local version of Amazon are gratefully appreciated, as well as copies of these reviews on your own web and blog sites. Depending on your religion, this may fail to achieve automatic entry into heaven, however I am convinced that it will go a long way to do so.
Being more of a person who prefers to live mentally in a world looking more like ‘The Wind in the Willows’, than this modern 21st century age, a friend has helped me make the leap towards becoming connected. What will follow will be occasional posts on the progress of my series of novels starring Luke and Hal, two Gothic princes from the northern Kingdom of Angland, who somehow find themselves fighting for the Greeks against the Persians in the struggles made popular by Herodotus in his Enquiries (or as they are more popularly know, his Histories). I hope you enjoy these posts, as I share the tribulations of writing these novels, whilst also trying to hold down a day-job and maintaining a sane family life. I also hope you enjoy the novels, as they are produced.
And if it’s the last thing I ever do, I will complete them all, or die trying.