Monday, 24 June 2013

DNA Helps Get a Leg Up On Medieval Leprosy

Anyone who reads history books or historical fiction, or watches documentaries and movies with a historical theme, would have their own visuals of what leprosy is and what its place was in Medieval Western Europe. Sores and scabs. Parts of the body dropping off. Monks tending them in hospitals. Colonies of forlorn and wretched folk held together by bandages and propped up on crutches. Victims sent to islands where they would live out their days seperate from society. It is a brutal disease most commonly associated with Europe or the Middle East up until the late middle ages, even though there are still 200,000 cases of leprosy diagnosed worldwide every year.

From early Sixteenth century there was an abrupt decline in the disease throughout Western Europe. What was once a common disease that warranted dedicated hospitals and treatment facilities, became a rare disease with fewer and fewer cases presenting.

Nobody really knows why leprosy began to vanish in Western Europe, but of all the potential reasons being promoted amoung specialists it seems that the likely answer is that it was eliminated through a combination of a genetically developed resistance and natural selection.
In a recent study done by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, DNA was taken from the bones of five medieval leprosy cases who had died at various times between the Tenth Century and the Fourteenth Century.
Found in museum collections these skeletons had been originally buried in Sweden (Sigtuna), Denmark (Odense and Refshale) and England (Winchester). From this DNA they then tracked down Mycobacterium leprae- the bacterium responsible for leprosy. And, startlingly, it was discovered to closely resemble the modern leprosy pathogen.

A bacteria that can remain intact for centuries in its victims, M leprae was examined and found to have most likely survived due to its thick cell walls dense with fatty acids that can hold strong against attack and through which water does not easily penetrate. It was a tough little pathogen, but indicators in its pseudogenes show it was also not prone to evolving. So while Europeans evolved a gradual resistance, along with the practice of quarantining in the Middle Ages, Western Europe was able to move away from the disease and out breed it.

Evidence from other famous diseases will also be evaluated through the dna found in organic matter dating back hundreds of thousands of years. Through items like medieval teeth, bones, hair samples, faeces and plant material, microbiologists will be able to navigate traces of diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, plague and even the Potato Blight and other plant diseases that could one day affect world wide supply of important starch rich foods.

The discoveries being made by these microbiologists are only the beginning of a fascinating journey to unlock disease in dna and learn from it. This knowledge can then be used to develop strategies to prevent strains of these diseases from devastating our populations and food sources again.

For more information:
The Research Report which was recently published in Science journal.
Genome Comparison in medieval and modern M. Leprae
An article on the report from the LA Times.
Leprosy, an Ancient Scourge, Largely Unchanged in the Modern Era

- MM

Monday, 17 June 2013

Lightning Strikes Twice: INSURRECTION by Robyn Young

Insurrection by Robyn Young
There was a book I read this year, not Insurrection, a different one. The first lines of the review for that book went something like this “these are the kinds of historical fiction books that I dream of finding”.  And I meant it even though I gave that other book 4 stars and found it a little flawed.
It is hard for me to explain how I can rave about a book and give it 4 stars instead of 5. Perhaps it is this...The historical fiction books I dream of finding appeal more to my taste in writing skill and scene description and have less to do with action and entertainment factors. To me, high excitement and human drama is not everything.
Other authors have thrilled me with that near perfect or perfect combination, but they don't always come in abundance.
I did not think then when I found the earlier book, that a few short months later I would find another book of my dreams only this time it would be a 5 star read for me and I would be telling others that it is "my perfect book".
As an avid reader, perfect books are as rare for me as lightning striking twice in the one place. In this case, the second bolt of lightning came with Robyn Young's Insurrection. The first book in her Insurrection trilogy. An epic read. Grandiose, thrilling, addictive. Like all classy epics should be.

I have seen Young's books around over the years. Picked up Brethren (the first in her Brethren Trilogy and her first novel) once in a bookstore and put it down again and never revisited the author again. I do not know why I overlooked her for so long, but I have found her now and I plan on reading every historical fiction she produces. I am hooked to her wonderful style and have not felt this way about an author of an historical fiction series since discovering C.J. Sansom's wonderful Matthew Shardlake Series. His books I treasure for the same reasons that I now treasure Insurrection.
Like Sansom, Insurrection is layer upon layer of atmosphere. A descriptive depth that I always respond to with great admiration because it is not easy to do well. For many authors it can become waffle or can be classed as dragging on, but Insurrection was not one of those to me. Maybe it is for others? Who knows. But for my taste it was exquisitely worked detail and I will eat that style up all day and night.

This is a book of espionage, political intrigue, betrayal, conniving, vendettas, grudges, rivalry and clandestine meetings in dark wooded Glens. Do not expect a book built around battles and action because you won't get it. This book is built around the stunning land of Scotland and the people of power who helped to tear it apart and put it back together, only to tear it apart again. It is not a story of romance and personal relationships. It is a story of the secret schemes and dreams of the men who found themselves caught up in the dawn and early days of the Wars of Scottish Independence.

There are two techniques that the author used that I must applaud. One is the way she wrote battles. They are some of the most stylishly graphic battle scenes I have ever read. Magnificently written battle overviews that put you sometimes at the end of the battle first, where the dead lay strewn two deep across the field or sinking in the sucking mud of the burn, the rivers full of bodies, the air rank with the stink of war. You are shown what man can do to each other in battle and in hand to hand combat, before they have even done it on the page. I thought this was brilliant.

The other technique I liked was to give the reader snapshots of some strangers' lives, deaths, survival. Characters who are nobody in the story and pop up to give you a glimpse inside the minor player. They are given names, friends, personalities. They could be thirsty, frightened, unamoured Scottish footmen, bracing their spears as a line of mounted and armoured knights charge, only to then see a wall of Welsh archers form up behind them. Or the soldiers on watch at a remote keep that is overrun by enemy under the cover of darkness. I loved these moments in time. These vignettes of the common man or woman as they react and respond to territorial skirmishes that they had no choice in.

I simply can not wait to read the next book in this series, Renegade, and I have everything crossed that lightning will strike a third time. 

- MM

Please note -  I did an Author Interview with Robyn Young on this Blog in late May. To read the interview please go here;

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Blog Interview with Author MICHAEL JECKS

Michael Jecks has something to be excited about this June, 2013. It is a month of relaunches, books signings throughout the UK and a new release. But this is not any old new release. This new release is a Prequel. A prequel to the entire Knight's Templar Series as you know it. A book that comes in before #1 in the series. A book that paves the way for the whole story to date.
Which makes it a treat for fans I'm sure, and a temptation for those readers who have never read Michael Jecks before. Now they can read this new book, Templar's Acre, and know nothing has previously transpired that will make things harder to understand by coming in late. Because nothing came before it. It is the book that will set the scene for those other 31 books already in print. 

I have read #1 in the series before. The Last Templar, but 31 more books just seemed so daunting to me. Where would I find all those others? What if I cannot find them in order? Can I pick up any one of the series and read it without having read all the previous books? I know I am not alone with these questions. That many others ask them too.  Well, thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia I was recently sent the three books that precede Templar's Acre, for reading and reviewing. And I found out for myself that you can truly pick up a book later in the series and follow it. I started The Oath (#29) and was instantly hooked. Hope to finish it and have a review up on the blog by the end of June.
I thought recently, that it might be nice to interview Michael Jecks. To hear what he has to say about such things as readers picking up books from anywhere in the series, but I also thought you may just want to know a little about Michael Jecks as a person. So I have sprinkled the interview with many varied questions. I hope you get some answers to some of your own queries through this interview and in the process, perhaps you will learn a little something about Michael Jecks the person as well as Michael Jecks the author.

Firstly, congratulations on two counts. Not only is the new book Templar's Acre now out, but your earlier editions are being reissued too. With a relaunch of The Last Templar, The Merchant's Partner and A Moorland Hanging on 6 June 2013 along with the new book. Simon and Schuster have also signed rights to the first 13 titles. All to be reissued with new covers. This proves that all those books later, the publishing industry still has faith in your series' relevance and reader appeal. That must be a good feeling for you?
The last few years have been enormously tough for about every author. The mid-listers were always the big profit makers for publishers. Mid-listers were paid tiny advances, they never received marketing budgets or book launch parties, or suffered temper-tantrums, they just worked hard and sometimes brought in fortunes which were then paid (or squandered, depending on your viewpoint) on celebrity memoirs of a spotty youth or washed up ex-comedian.

The mid-listers used to be brought in early in their career and nurtured. In the last ten years, especially since the advent of ebooks, that has largely ceased. Now authors are only ever as good as their last couple of works. If the sales dry up, the author loses the contract and another new writer is brought in. There is no space for sentimentality in publishing. It’s a much harder market.

So, yes, I am delighted that my new publisher wanted to buy my future books, but still happier that they are confident enough in me, and in my readership, to want to buy up the backlist too. It’s a great feeling to know that the series will continue to be published. I just hope that the sales of the older copies will grow again, with the investment Simon and Schuster have put in. Every book is to receive a new cover, each has been meticulously proof-checked, and Simon and Schuster’s sales teams are having a high time sending me all over the country to sign copies in bookshops from Truro to Carlisle and even into Scotland. It is all a proof of their commitment.

For someone who wants to try the series, do you believe your books can 'stand alone'? Someone can pick any book in the series off the book store shelf or the shelf at the library and still enjoy the story?
It is absolutely vital that anyone can select any of the books and read it on its own. All my contracts have insisted on this, and made it clear that I am expected to write stand-alone stories so that the novice can quickly understand the main aspects of the characters and their motivations.

To an extent, I think it’s a function of the way I write, in any case. I’ve never wanted to write first person text. I always have multi-stranded novels, in which I can look at the world through the eyes of a number of different characters. It’s half the delight for me in writing, this ability to get into someone else’s mindset. I think that this all stems from my background. I was a callow brat at school, and decided I’d be an actuary, because I heard that it was the highest paid profession, and I was good at maths. However, the definition of an actuary (I later learned) was someone who found accountancy too exciting. I didn’t, and neither did I qualify!

Instead I became a computer salesman, working with Wordplex and Wang Laboratories amongst other firms. And the key aspect of a salesman is first and foremost to understand the client. I could, because I could imagine myself in his or her shoes, and look at the world from his or her perspective. Only by doing that could I construct a sales case that would appeal. And now, I am doing a similar job, seeing their world through their eyes.

It’s a different world from my mind, but based on very extensive research, so the details are correct. I’ve been researching my period all my life, and in great depth a huge amount for the last twenty years. To me, it’s a little like watching a DVD, and relaying the soundtrack and describing the scenes to an audience. But yes, I think that casual readers buy into the series because, although they may pick up a book from the middle of the series, they can still identify with the characters. And that, really, is what makes a series work: the involvement of the reader with the lives of the characters depicted.

Do you have any other writing projects - such as the Medieval Murderers which you have contributed to - or other projects in the works that you are thinking about starting?
As a self-employed writer, I’m always looking for the next idea. Medieval Murderers came about because I met with Bernard KnightSusanna Gregory and Ian Morson and found that they were all interesting and fun to work with. After a while I persuaded them all to meet up, and we created our performance group of authors. It was only after a couple of years of performing in front of appreciative audiences that I suggested we should look at writing together as well, and that resulted in the first of the Medieval Murderer linked novellas, in which we took one consistent theme or storyline, and then developed it over the centuries. It’s worked really well, and now we’re writing the tenth anniversary edition, which is great fun. A novella of 20,000 words gives us so much more space to develop ideas than a short story, and it makes for a much more involving read.

But I’m not only working on the Medieval Murderer stories. I’ve made two collections of my short stories: For The Love of Old Bones, which includes all my medieval stories, and No-one Can Hear You Scream, which has all my other shorts, from Roman England through to the present. They have surprised me and sold really well. At the same time, I’ve written Act of Vengeance, which is a spy thriller, sort of a cross between Tinker Tailor and the Bourne Identity! My very first book I wrote was called The Sniper, which was a modern thriller too, and had lots of bombs, bullets, sex and drugs, because it was all about the IRA. It was accepted over the phone with great excitement by a lovely editor- and rejected the following week, because the IRA had agreed their first ceasefire, and the book was redundant!

Some years ago I helped Conway Stewart pens to create a new range of fountain pens, the Detection Collection, and I’m currently working with a firm I know in Devon, Cult Pens ( to write a diary blog about the life of a writer, which is great fun. I’m also working with some friends and the excellent Evesham Hotel to develop a new Literary Festival in that ancient town. That is enormously exciting, because we’re working to a different model compared with most festivals. Instead of getting a load of people crammed into a small town for a weekend, we’re getting smaller numbers every week. Authors will come for two days and speak and run workshops, and the audience will enjoy a more leisurely atmosphere, with more involvement with their favourite authors.

And of course I’m working with the Royal Literary Fund, helping students at Exeter University to write their essays and dissertations. So I am keeping busy!

For readers with an interest in the Templar's Acre historical setting, the Mamluks feature in this new book don't they? What are your thoughts, personal or in response to your research, on their resistance with no more than archery, sword and basic warfare against armies, such as the Ottomans, who were starting to utilise more modern artillery such as cannon?
I’m writing about the fall of Acre in 1291, so it’s a few years before the advent of cannon. That only really began to be exploited in Europe in the middle 1300s, when Edward III took some with him into France and used it at Crécy.

The Mamluks were a terrifying force. They had a commitment and dedication that must have been appalling to the Christians, because although certain Christians could be utterly fanatical (the Templars, the Hospitallers, the Teutonic Knights, the Knights of St Lazarus etc), the Christians had only small groups of such men. In the case of the Mamluks, they could gather together hordes of men and matériel in vast armies that swept over entire cities like locusts, leaving nothing in their wake. They killed all the people of Tripoli, even chasing after those who escaped to a small island, and slaughtering them all. For some while after, the stench from that island was appalling, we are told.

And then the largest army of all was mustered against Acre.
It was a fascinating time, and I found it thrilling to research and write - I suppose because in part this tale was the jumping off point for the whole of my series, and it’s been in my mind for many years. A time of excitement, terror, horror, and hope. And although the events were shocking in the extreme, I like to think that the aftermath was still worse, with famine, war and plague all striking Europe within fifty years.

I am sure you are asked this by every man and his dog, but let's go again. How many more books in the series?
No one’s ever asked me that before. I lie.

I was once on a stage with a good friend, who stated categorically that no series could ever stretch beyond about ten or eleven books. The author would have dried up his subject, no one could maintain a decent balance of characters beyond that, or have the enthusiasm to carry on, he said. I said in a very loud stage whisper that I had just finished my twenty first.

At the end of the day, while there are exciting things to write about, the series will continue. I like the idea of continuing into the days of the Black Death and beyond. On the other hand, I like the idea of going back and looking at Baldwin and his life after the end of Acre, too, and seeing what happened to the Templars after their arrest and torture in 1307. There is a lot of mileage in that series. After all, the strength of my series is less the specific times and how they impacted people, but much more the murders and how they affected family and friends. I tend to make use of coroner’s rolls and the courts of the time, but I also always look out for modern cases, and use them extensively to give colour to my books.

So, how long? I don’t know, but longer. Mind you, my next book, Fields of Blood, is a digression. I’m writing two books about the Hundred Years War, looking at how the war was perceived by the English and how the soldiers fought. That has been great fun, and I’m looking forward to getting on with the second in that series, too.

How important is social media to you as an author?
Ach! Social media is the best, most appealing way for any author to waste time. We tell ourselves it’s a form of marketing, when in reality it’s mostly a displacement activity. And yet it does maintain an author’s sanity sometimes.

I use Twitter from preference, and Goodreads, because I can keep an eye on the world and on books from those two. Sadly I also have to be on Facebook, which is a dreadful time waster, I think. Twitter and Goodreads both give me a chance to reach out to readers and writers alike, and generally make new friends, but all social media are interruptions. To be a good novelist, you have to be able to immerse yourself in your stories and write. Social media gets in the way of that. It’s like trying to concentrate on a plot and having someone walk in and try to chat. It stops work. So now I am trying to set aside social media time. In the morning, first thing, at lunch, and at night, I’ll use it. The rest of the time I won’t allow myself the distraction!

Do you have a favourite figure in history and why?
My current favourite is probably Sir Guillaume de Beaujeu, the Grand Master of the Temple at Acre. He was a great leader, as is shown by the papers left from his time, but he was also a shrewd political operator. He probably could have saved Acre for a while, had the people been prepared to listen to his ideas. And he was a fierce fighter, not a leader who held himself at the back, but a bold warrior who stormed into the fray. He was inspirational to his men at the time, and I think inspires still.

Mind you, if I were to go for a fictional hero, it would always have to be Flashman, George MacDonald Fraser's brilliant invention. Coward, rascal, cad, and brilliant!

On a personal note. I found it interesting to discover that you are a Morris Dancer. Is it alive and well in your area, with younger generations wanting to learn?
In my own area it’s thriving, with two large sides in Exeter, two on Dartmoor, and two in our village.

Morris is a great fun pastime. I love it because the guys I dance with are all great characters, and the dance is excellent aerobic exercise. Oh, and there is obligatory beer, of course.

But it’s also a fabulous tradition that was lost. During the First World War, in 1914 a load of small clubs joined up as entire units. Men from the volunteer rifle clubs, men from department stores, men from the railway companies, and, of course, Morris sides. All those men went through the training systems, and came out the other end just in time to join the “big push” on the Somme. I know my old rifle club in Surrey lost three quarters of its members in the first two weeks of that battle. The Morris sides were the same. The dance lost almost all the men who knew the music and the dance steps, and Morris was almost eradicated. It was only in the 50s and 60s that it began to recover, as some dance notation was rediscovered. Now, thank God, it’s becoming quite a growing pursuit. There are many youngsters joining, and the future is looking much less bleak!

And do you think there is still a healthy interest in local historic traditions across Britain amoung younger generations?
Here in Devon, the traditions are growing nicely. But I am fortunate, I live in a small village, and we are friends with the organisers of the Dartmoor Folk Festival, so perhaps my own circle is a bit self-selecting!

Ebooks or Paper?
It has to be paper for me. Ebooks are a pain to use. I like the feel of a book in my hands. I love the way I can go from one point to another in an instant. Rather than a percentage read, I like to see a page number. And as for those who say a book is “sooo” heavy - get a life!

For my research, I have about 3,000 books on my shelves. I can take them down, stick in a bookmark, or leave them upside down, open, and return to them when I need. If I’m working, I may have up to fifteen of them like that, and a dictionary too. Imagine, if I was using ebooks: I’d have to insert an electronic bookmark, close that book, open a new book, go to that bookmark, and so on. It would be a pain in the backside.

I have used ebooks. In fact I am now selling my HTC Flyer tablet because after two years of trying to make it work for me, I can see it’s not worth the bother.

There is one other side, too. There are too many pirated copies of books on the internet. People take ebooks, and then copy and put them onto download sites. For the reader, it’s great to find books for free (until they learn that their ID has been stolen, or their bank account emptied, because most of these sites make money in other ways, if they aren’t charging for the books) - but those sites are killing the publishing industry. Whereas in the past publishers would have a stable of newer, mid-list authors who were being nurtured, now they can’t. Authors are only as good as their last sales, and those who don’t achieve something quickly, are ditched quickly. And much of that is a factor of the ebook revolution.

So, for a number of reasons, I am not a fan of ebooks, no!

Thanks to Michael Jecks for giving of his time. Thanks also to Simon & Schuster for getting a few of the authors later books to me in time so that I could start to read one. It was much appreciated and gave me the opportunity to answer from my perspective whether, from a reader's point of view, Michael Jecks' books can and actually do stand alone. I feel now when I say that, I can say it with honesty and I look forward to reading more by the author.

Author Image sourced:

- MM


The Book of Broken Promises: PROPHECY by M.K. Hume

Prophecy: Clash of Kings by M.K. Hume
This is one of those books that I felt held so much promise within its ample pages. I have never read or come across any historical fiction that includes or is about the events leading up to Merlin's birth and then the childhood of Merlin. I was generally excited to find out what M.K. Hume's vision of these phases of Merlin's life were going to be like.

In fact, when it comes to the entire story surrounding the Arthurian myths I have read very few historical fiction books that include King Arthur and Merlin. Books on these figures of mythology tend to go down the fantasy path and mythological fantasy does not interest me at all.

There are books out there such as the Bernard Cornwell Warlord Chronicles (The Winter King, Enemy of God, Excalibur) and the Jack Whyte Camulod Chronicles (which numbers nine books now, of which I have only read one), that deal with the Arthurian saga in a straight, non fantastical manner. The way I prefer it. So when I came across the M.K. Hume books I was delighted to discover from the book blurb and from the lips of the author, that these too were purported to be straight historical fiction.  Only this was not true. The book technically should be classed as Fantasy Fiction despite its marketing as straight.
I had been assured Merlin has no powers, no magic, and what was there, such as the 'sight' could be rationalised by cynics like me who want a realistic version of Merlin that could have actually happened, or on the converse, believed by those who revel in the suggestive nature of myth and embrace all hints of the mystical and magical. The sight could not be rationalised however. It was done in a fantastical way and could not be rationally explained. So no, not straight fantasy free historical fiction at all.

The promise I thought the book held within its ample pages, soon dwindled away and then flickered out completely. I could not finish it. It was not what I had expected and it did not suit me as a reader.
There are times when I did not feel that it was the cleverest of writing and some scenes seemed forced or were simply peculiar, awkward, rushed or overworked to fit the tale or timeline. From time to time I also had 'setting' confusion. On occasion it read like it was set much later than it was. For some reason I kept slipping forward to Sixteenth or Seventeenth Century.
But the book was written well enough. Overall, it is not awful writing, it was just, well, young. I do not know how else to say it. Like a Young Adult book. And the fact that the author was a woman was also very evident. I found the book to be strongly feminine. Even, if I dare, strongly feminist too. Not sure if that was intentional, or whether the author was unwittingly soaking through into her character development.

I can see how this book would gain fans and find appreciators in all walks of life and in many countries around the world. I think it is wonderful that someone is writing 'borderline' straight historical fiction, which can cross age boundaries, that is based on the Arthurian mythology. That here is a series with much to offer young adults and teenagers. A writer who can reach them and stir their imaginations whilst at the same time reacquainting and refiring the minds of adults too.

To my dismay, it was not for me. It did not reacquaint or refire anything in me. I give it 2 stars out of 5 and shall bid M.K. Hume's Merlin adieu.
- MM


Monday, 3 June 2013

Get Your Tickets for the Tourney: THE LION AT BAY by Robert Low

The Lion at Bay by Robert Low
Do you want the good news or the bad news?
I personally like bad news first so I can end on a better note with the good news, so how about I go in that order.

Bad news?  The Wars of Scottish Independence do not really excite and delight me. I don't know why exactly. I do have some ideas though. Listed here, but in no particular order.
History class in school: made it a chore not a pleasure to learn about it. Braveheart: was a disaster that scarred me for life and everyone was into it and talked non stop about it and they still do, so I overdosed. Saturation levels reached: between school, Braveheart and current, I have had the History Channel off and on for many years and have seen numerous documentaries, not all of them good, and so I am kind of over it.

Good news? There's room for more Wars of Scottish Independence in my life as long as it is quality and entertaining. Both of which, The Lion at Bay was for me. See, isn't it always nice to have good news after bad?

I am always open about my admiration for Robert Low. His Viking series, Oathsworn, is one of my favourite series'. In fact it is one of my 'top two' favourites, with Bernard Cornwell's Saxon series being the other. And yet despite my admiration and respect for the author and his Viking books, I still found myself having a lukewarm response to the idea of his Kingdom Trilogy. I sat back on my heels for a little while, psyching myself up after the release of book one in the trilogy, The Lion Wakes.
I am not one those people that will devour anything a favourite author produces. Especially if they write historical fiction, because there are always periods and events in history that I have little or no interest in. Eventually I took the leap and read The Lion Wakes last year. It was good. I liked it, but I have to confess, the combination of a certain style of writing used in that book, and my lacklustre interest in the period, was like hefting a brick of lead and I ended up only giving it 3 stars out of 5.

Then, along came The Lion at Bay. The same but different. Less disorienting for me. More meaty.
In book one I found that I distracted easily from the book. It was more rambling and hard for me to get into. But in book two, I was either in a better headspace, or the author did something subtly different and I was much more invested in characters, events and scene.

What I can give you out of my experience with The Lion at Bay is this. If, like me, you were not exactly in love with book one, but had not written the trilogy off completely, then I would encourage you to give it another go. It is only a trilogy after all. Not like you have a long series to follow on with. Try book two, The Lion at Bay and see what you think. All your favourite characters will be there for you to revisit. There is battle, and blood, and love and betrayal. And there is one awesome tourney individual combat scene in the first half of the book that may have you screaming from the cheap seats. Or not. Maybe that was just me.

I will be moving onto the last book in the Trilogy, The Lion Rampant soon. I trust this trilogy to only get better.
4 out of 5 stars for you, Lion at Bay!

- MM