Best Alternate History of 2014

Best Alternate History books of 2014

When you think of Alternate History or at least when I think of Alternate History, the first thing that comes to mind are the Roman times. But there is of course much more to this than just the life and times of Julius Caesar. You can also think of the Victorian London or in a completely different direction. One that I found out last year. That of the Vikings era. Snorri Kristjansson introduced me with his Swords of Good Men last year already and completely managed to surprise me with his sequel Blood will Follow this year, a brilliant follow up. Age of Iron by Angus Watson is also a book that focus on this dark a gritty setting but with a different twist that Blood will Follow, all in all a great success. Anthony Riches, The Empire series has been going very strongly and unfortunately I haven't read the others but start this year with The Emperor's Knives which in many ways brought the gladiatorial spirit in my to the forefront. Another winner is the fourth book in the Agent of Rome series of Nick Brown, The Black Stone, this shows the Roman times but from a unique point of view that of the secret service known as the frumentarii. Quite something different amongst the Viking and Roman setting is D.J. Jacksons alternate history series Thieftaker Chronicles, taking place in the 1800s in Boston added to the history setting is rich display of magic and the supernatural and clever detective setting. 

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- Blood will Follow by Snorri Kristjansson, Jo Fletcher

Swords of Good Men was a very solid debut, and with Blood Will Follow Snorri Kristjansson has really outdone himself. I do have to say that the tone in Blood Will Follow is different from what I read in Swords of Good Men, where there was first a lot of action, Snorri Kristjansson now slows down the pacing of the story and takes him times to completely develop the premise of his story. But just as what I have come to learn from the first book, there is never a dull moment in the story. For this development of both the story and the characters Snorri Kristjansson took an interesting approach that made them grow in their own way giving you as a reader much more grip on them. Adding the third perspective from Valgard added a lot of new possibilities which I am eager to see how Snorri Kristjansson will develop in the third book. And just lastly Snorri Kristjansson shows Vikings are pretty damn awesome! Bring on the next, I am hooked.

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- Age of Iron by Angus Watson, Orbit

From the start of Age of Iron, Angus Watson got my attention. This was just the book I was looking for, I hadn’t read such a story in a long while, it’s dark, gruesome Epic Fantasy. Given the day and age wherein the story of Age of Iron takes place around 40AD this whole dark setting definitely works it’s wonders and made me see several scenes quite vividly, especially the fighting scenes. The build up of the story with focussing on every character individually then letting the story all converge into something much bigger was done in a clever way that with even though you were given a lot of information, about them all, it was all easy to digest, which was needed given the fact that it has a pretty high page count. Orbit has brought some very spectacular debuts over the last years and they can definitely add Age of Iron as another big success. The story has a great focus on the action scenes but Angus Watson also introduces those hints of betrayal and intrigue into it that gives a true sense of Epic Fantasy. With his debut Angus Watson has managed to hit the rights snares. I am eager to see that will follow in Clash of Iron. In the arc that I read there was already a few words. Look to be another great read.

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The Emperor's Knives by Anthony Riches, Hodder and Stoughton

The Emperor's Knives is a book right up my alley when it comes down to Roman fiction it has a lot of themes working in it's advantage. You have the political intrigue though it takes more place in the background in the earlier pages, it more comes to show in the ending of the book and reveal by it a great plot twists. It seems that people higher up the chain of command have had plans for Marcus's all along! This taken together with some mighty fine battles scenes both taking place in the confined spaces of houses and alleys as well as the majestic Colosseum, fighting against human opponents and bestial alike and a set of characters that Anthony Riches has been shaping and developing for over six and now seven books make this one book to add to your must read list. Did I mention to forget that ANthony Riches writing is one that is just spot on? It's engaging and addictive, you won't go wrong with The Emperor's Knives!!  

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- A Plunder of Souls by D.B. Jackson, Tor

A Plunder of Souls is a terrific addition to the Thieftaker Chronicles. D.B. Jackson shows once again that he knows how to pull all the right strings to create one creative story. As I have said if you though that Thieves Quarry was great wait till you get your hands on A Plunder of Souls, its even better, D.B. Jackson has really outdone himself. The story of A Plunder of Souls shows just how deadly conjuring can be but also shows how dangerous people can be when they are set out for revenge and when they don't shy away when it comes to sacrificing other for their gain. The alternate world wherein the Thieftaker Chronicles take place really has that historical sense working in it's favor, you can see the hardships of that time, just getting around earning enough money to live another day, it musn't have been a great time to have lived in. However the world isn't only painted with dark and grim strokes but there is also the joy and humor found in Ethan's character and his interactions with several other characters. A Plunder of Souls is a great book and features nicely as a standalone, D.B. Jackson has signed a four book deal so I am curious to see just where the fourth book will take us and in the meanwhile I will be rooting that it will be extended beyond the four books! Definitely a recommendation.

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- The Black Stone by Nick Brown, Hodder and Stoughton

So far Nick Brown has written four very solid stories in the Agent of Rome series and with each new addition, the series only keeps on getting better. Showing more of the Roman empire, different warring tribes and of course developing the character even more. These stories can be viewed as individual "case files" for Cassius to solve as you see with the popular detective series but if you read them as a whole the books get much more justice. 

One again Nick Brown has written a powerful story with The Black Stone, not only wanting to show the Roman times but also showing how people lives in that time, happy moments and bad moments. This isn't Roman fiction that centers around action alone but also on human emotional actions. Nick Brown has shown that he is a strong writer and his stories fall in the category of over to soon. Luckily for me there are 3 more books in the making and the next one is due out next summer. I must urge you to pick up these books asap they won't disappoint you.   

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