Burning Angels by Bear Grylls

Burning Angels by Bear Grylls

A prehistoric corpse entombed within an Arctic glacier, crying tears of blood.

A jungle island overrun by rabid primates – escapees from a research laboratory’s Hot Zone.

A massive seaplane hidden beneath a mountain, packed with a Nazi cargo of mind-blowing evil.

A penniless orphan kidnapped from an African slum, holding the key to the world’s survival.

Four terrifying journeys. One impossible path. Only one man to attempt it.

Will Jaeger. The Hunter.

It was about this time last year that I’d had the opportunity to read Ghost Flight (Will Jeager #1) by Bear Grylls and I remember the book fondly. The book was entertaining, thrilling and the action non-stop from start to finish – Burning Angels is more of the same. If you like your action heroes knowledgeable, tough and determined then read on, Burning Angels is for you!

The book follows on immediately after Ghost Flight and although this can be read as a standalone I would advise you to pick up the first book in the series to get a flavour for the series and its main protagonist. Burning Angels does standalone well but upon reading I was certainly glad that I already knew a lot of the backstory. Bear imparts this information well throughout and it never felt like repetition but to get the most out of this adventure you should go back to Ghost Flight, I don’t think you’ll be sorry!

Will Jeager is back with a vengeance, back with a bang and still on the hunt for his missing wife and son. Following pictorial evidence there is no longer any doubt that they are still alive, it’s more a matter of what condition he’ll find them in and if they can be found. Held captive somewhere in Africa we follow Will’s desperate adventure to save his family and save the world from a Nazi hell-bent on changing the world forever, killing thousands and thousands of innocent people with a super virus and following Hitler’s own vision for the future.

When I reviewed Ghost Flight last year I remember writing :

Held captive on a remote island in one of the world’s worst prisons, renowned for its brutality and an authority determined to inflict severe torture on enemies of the state, Will Jaeger is facing certain death. But let’s face facts, we know he’ll escape or there wouldn’t be a story but the opening chapters are so engaging that I had a vested interested in the protagonist.

And to be honest as soon as I picked up Burning Angels I was immediately transported into Will’s world, he’s such a likeable character. The same can be said about his team in this book, although we don’t spend a great deal of time with the rest of the gang, it’s mainly Jeager and Narov this time around and one thing I did like was the way Grylls had softened Narov ever so slightly. Adding a new dimension to her personality has worked well and has made her a little more endearing! I still wouldn’t cross her mind, she’s one tough cookie who stands for little or no nonsense but her back story is filled out well and certainly made their relationship that more enjoyable.

With a combination of high octane adventures, Bear’s own unique experiences and characters you’d end up wanting to fight alongside – even if only fictionally – Bear has another hit on his hands with Burning Angels. Incredibly quick to read with a flowing narrative, I can’t wait for the next in the series. There’s bound to be another one isn’t there?!

  • Hardcover:416 pages
  • Publisher:Orion (2 Jun. 2016)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1409156850
  • ISBN-13:978-1409156857
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The Prisoner's Gold

The Prisoner’s Gold

THE HUNTERS
If you seek, they will find…

The travels of Marco Polo are known throughout the world.

But what if his story isn’t complete?

What if his greatest adventure has yet to be discovered?

Guided by a journal believed to have been dictated by Polo himself,
the Hunters set out in search of his final legacy:
the mythical treasure gathered during Polo’s lifetime of exploration.

But as every ancient clue brings them closer to the truth,
each new step puts them in increasing danger….

Damn you Kuzneski, why do you write adventure stories that are impossible to put down? I mean, it would be nice to have a breather every once in a while but with gripping storylines, amazing characters and the obligatory twists and turns, The Prisoner’s Gold is another prime example of superb construction and terrific writing that is frankly impossible to resist!

Incredible stuff, an author who continues to push the boundaries and enhance the action thriller genre, Kuzneski is one of my dependable authors, a man who delivers time and time again and long may it continue.

Characterisation is impressive with Jack Cobb once again leading the merry band of misfits! A motley crew, they act as one, one for all and all for one if you like – now where have I heard that before?! Dependable, highly skilled and determined to find the treasure, very little is allowed to stand in their way but as with all adventures things don’t always go to plan. Forced to think on their feet the crew, now sporting a new member – historian and linguist Maggie – meticulously plan for all eventualities but as this adventures is anything but A to B, things tend to go awry and Cobb shows the leadership skills that are crucial for its success.

With every good guy comes a bad guy, a bit of Ying for your Yang, and in Feng He, the leader of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, a secret organisation, we have a despicable bad guy! He is ruthless and violent. He sports a determination to keep all Chinese treasures in the country and a hatred of all things Western. There’s one particular scene where he enters a room and hands out – you’ll get that pun once you’ve read the book – his own punishment and boy is it severe. Feng and his second in command are great characters and if it is possible to like a bad guy then he’s your man!

Another character I really enjoy is Josh McNutt – sniper – and his attitude, comedy and one lines are a breath of fresh air. He does have a tendency to be rather uncouth at times but I enjoy him more every time he pushes the boundaries and makes people squirm.

The Hunters is a great series and here’s hoping it goes from strength to strength. Great dynamics, superb writing and intriguing storylines I can’t wait to see what Kuzneski comes up with next. If you’re a fan of Scott Mariani’s then you’ll definitely enjoy this one. Do read them in order to get the most out of the series but each one stands alone for those who don’t have the time to explore the back catalogue – but if you do you’ll definitely be rewarded!

  • Hardcover:384 pages
  • Publisher:Headline (8 Oct. 2015)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0755386590
  • ISBN-13:978-0755386598
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Ghost Flight by Bear Grylls

Ghost Flight by Bear Grylls

Haunted by his wife and son’s brutal abduction and murder, ex-soldier Will Jaeger runs to the ends of the earth to recover and to hide. But even there he is found, and compelled to undertake one last mission, and to confront a savage past he can barely even remember.

Jaeger agrees to lead an expedition into the Mountains of the Gods in the remote Amazon jungle. At the dark heart of this real life Lost World lies a mystery WWII warplane, one that harbours a secret so explosive its very discovery may tear the world asunder. Terrifying forces are hell-bent on keeping the warplane forever hidden. Unwittingly, Will Jaeger is going in against them.

But as Jaeger joins a team of former elite warriors – including ice-cool Russian operator Irina Narov – he senses that the air wreck also harbours the answer he so longs to uncover: the identity of his wife and son’s murderers.

In the first of a brand new adventure/thriller series Bear Grylls introduces Will Jaeger, a smart and charismatic ex-soldier who just happens to have a few things on his mind and it will come as no surprise to anyone that survival is uttermost in his thoughts. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Ghost Flight!

Held captive on a remote island in one of the world’s worst prisons, renowned for its brutality and an authority determined to inflict severe torture on enemies of the state, Will Jaeger is facing certain death. But let’s face facts, we know he’ll escape or there wouldn’t be a story but the opening chapters are so engaging that I had a vested interested in the protagonist.

The narrative is easy to read and the story flows well, there were a few repetitive paragraphs but I stress I’m reading a very early proof of the book and any inconsistencies will I’m sure be ironed out before publication later in the year. They certainly do not detract from what is an incredibly enjoyable and fun read. A cross between Indiana Jones and a whole plethora of action figures such as James Bond and Jason Bourne, Will Jaeger is a complex character who as the series develops, will no doubt grow but from the very opening salvos. We have the makings of a terrific action hero.

Jaeger is smart and clearly knows his stuff and as a team leader he exudes confidence. Stuck in the middle of an Amazonian jungle, he and his small group of ex-soldiers have to fight their way out of numerous tight corners using guile, wit and a well-developed survival instinct. They come face to face with spiders, piranha fish, huge caymans and the obligatory group of extremely nasty Nazi’s. It all lends itself for a gripping read and I for one wasn’t disappointed, this really is boys own stuff.

If you’re looking for an entertaining and easy read, a good story and a how to survive the most challenging of conditions then this is definitely the book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and can’t wait to see what happens next as Bear leaves the door open at the end and you know full well that something’s about to happen in the future.

 

  • Hardcover:464 pages
  • Publisher:Orion (4 Jun. 2015)
  • ISBN-10:1409156818
  • ISBN-13:978-1409156819
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The Hunters

The Hunters

The Hunters: Financed by a billionaire philanthropist, this elite team – an ex-soldier, an historian, a computer whiz, a weapons expert, and a thief – is tasked with finding the world’s most legendary treasures.

The mission: Fearing a German victory in WWI, the Romanian government signed a deal with Russia to guarantee the safety of the country’s treasures. In 1916, two trains full of gold and the most precious possessions of the Romanian state – paintings, jewellery, and ancient artefacts – were sent to the underground vaults of the Kremlin. But in the turmoil of war, the treasure was scattered – and lost. Almost a century later, the haul is valued at over 3.5 billion dollars. Despite hundreds of attempts to find it, its location has remained a mystery… Until now.

Can the Hunters find the treasure and succeed where all others have failed?

What do you get when you combine an Indiana Jones type adventure, a Russian Monk known for his madness, the Carpathian mountains in Romania, the “A Team”, a group determined to succeed at all costs and a dash of history thrown in for good measure – easy –The Hunters by Chris Kuznesky.

The Hunters marks a brand new series from the bestselling author and man is this one an impressive read! Incredibly compelling the book urges you to turn the pages and when one chapter ends you find yourself willing the next one to begin so you can continue on the journey -this is one special journey that’s for sure. I’ve not had the pleasure to read anything by Chris Kuzneski before – and can’t comment on his previous novels – but if you’re like me then this is the perfect place to begin! I do know that I now want to experience his back catalogue!

A multi layered plot with more than enough twists and turns to satisfy the most discerning of adventure lovers the book reads at a dramatic and rapid pace. Blending two main storylines the author somehow manages to keep the reader glued to the pages and the combination of history telling and adventure works well.

Apart from strong characterisation – I’ll get to that in a second – the thing that captivated me more than anything was the atmospheric and dramatic scenery the author introduces the reader to throughout the book. I truly felt part of the brutal and unforgiving mountain scenery, the woodland and all the secrets it held and the harsh and deserted Romanian streets in 1916. I felt part of the book and found myself daydreaming about travelling along the very tracks our intrepid group of adventurers found themselves travelling. I could close my eyes at any point and imagine I was enveloped in the harsh landscape and at the same time prisoner to the chilling temperatures – you can’t ask for more than that in a book.

Friday, December 15, 1916

Iaşi, Romania

The biggest theft in modern history didn’t occur at a bank. It happened in a train station in the dead of night, under the watchful gaze of armed soldiers.

Amazingly, no one knew it was a robbery until years later.

And by then, the treasure had vanished again.

It was miserably cold as Béla Dobrev left the three-story building where he and his wife lived in a small, second-floor apartment. The streets were empty at this late hour, and the wind from the northeast carried the damp, dreadful smell of the Prut River. He pulled his new wool scarf higher on his face, over his full moustache to the bridge of his nose. He was grateful his wife had given him this Christmas gift early. The winter was unforgiving, the odors of sewage even worse. At least in the summer the winds tended to blow from the south.

Characterisation is key in any book, especially in one that heralds in a new series and in The Hunters the author certainly does that. The protagonist – Jack Cobb – is a former soldier with a leadership quality few possess. Commanding an elite group consisting of an historian, a computer whiz, a weapons expert, and a thief is no mean feat but he manages to get everyone working as a finely tuned unit despite the fact they’d never met.

It’s hard not to like these characters and there wasn’t one I found superfluous to the story and apart from Cobb there was one character who stood out for me – the aging Andrei Dobrev – who really adds something special to the book. Suffice to say I won’t divulge any secrets but he adds so much depth and passion for his craft to the book that you can’t help liking him!

The ending is open ended as you would expect from the first in a new series but it is accomplished, solid and very well done. It certainly leaves you wanting to know what happens and what the next adventure holds. Before I forget props for the jacket cover, I simply love the cover and its texture – the gold coin a wonderful touch!

A remarkable book The Hunters is quite clearly one of my favourite books I’ve read in the last few months. It’s books like this that makes me glad I love adventure thrillers, a genre that is fast becoming my favourite! I for one can’t wait for the next adventure.

The Hunters is available in hardcover and kindle format.

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (3 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755386477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755386475
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The Emperor’s Tomb

The Emperor’s Tomb by Steve Berry

When I grow up I want to be Cotton Malone!

There I’ve said it – I feel better now – now that I’ve been true to myself – I am Spartacus – I am Cotton Malone! If only life was that easy and exciting! The world would be a better place and I’d go to work satisfied that I’d made a difference!

Long before I opened Steve Berry’s “The Emperor’s Tomb” I knew I wanted to read it! Not only did it sport an incredibly seductive and colourful book jacket (UK version infinitely better than the US version) but the subject matter was just up my street – adventure, danger, spies, double crossing, an infinite amount of travel and a second hand bookshop owner – not necessarily in that order – what more could a guy want?!

My interview with Steve Berry Here

“Hearing that his old friend Cassiopeia Vitt is in trouble, Malone follows the few clues he has and realises that they are in the middle of something huge, involving Russian and US oil interests and a centuries-old secret. After stumbling across two dead bodies and into the crosshairs of his former boss, Malone finds himself in a race to unravel the mystery of an emperor’s tomb, a sinister society, and a deadly battle between two ruthless men for supremacy in China – and the world.

My first introduction to the master of suspense – Steve Berry – I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but by the time I’d finished the enticing Prologue I knew I was in for the ride of my life – I was well and truly hooked. Crossing a rickety bridge in the middle of nowhere, our protagonists meet danger head on when disaster strikes. The bridge disintegrates and Cotton Malone is left clinging for dear life – reminding me of a predicament Indiana Jones also found himself in in “The Temple of Doom” – it certainly made me smile.

The world has been fascinated by the terra-cotta army ever since its discovery by three farmers, out digging holes to find water, in 1974. Berry utilises this fascination to great effect in “The Emperor’s Tomb” with a wonderful descriptive narrative that places the reader deep within the terra-cotta chambers in Xi’an, Shaanxi province in China – close your eyes and you can almost feel Qin Shi, China’s first Emperor’s,  presence in the afterlife. It’s hard to believe that Berry, in the writer’s notes at the end of the book, confesses he’s never been to China due to time constraints.

The narrative is sharp and evocative, part one setting the scene with a thorough and detailed examination of China’s history and although Berry appears to leave no stone unturned, he somehow manages to avoid the trap of text book overindulgence where statistics rule the roost. With a well-balanced blend of fact, fiction and adventure – not to mention scrupulous research – “The Emperor’s Tomb” is both educational and captivating.

“The Emperor’s Tomb” is available from The Book Depository (Free Worldwide Postage)

With a debate that has raged for over 3,000 years Berry tangles with Confucianism and Legalism – a question of benevolence versus oppression where we discover Mao Zedong was a legalist and most certainly not a Confucian – very much like Karl Tang, one of the leading characters in the book. Until I read this book I’d never considered the difference between the two but the more I read, the more I wanted to learn – great how some books can hook you in like that – I widely referenced Google throughout the read to separate fact and fiction.

“Governing China seemed like flying a kite on a windless day. You could adjust the tail, change the design, run faster, but without a breeze to sweep the thing skyward nothing would happen. For decades Chinese leaders ignored that there was simply no breeze. Instead they tinkered and tinkered, trying to force the kite upwards, always failing.”

I must say that I found Berry’s characterisation flawless.  In a book of this depth it was inevitable that we would be introduced to an eclectic bunch of players – ministers, premiers, Emperor’s, adventurers, spies and eunuchs – yes eunuchs – all with a role and destiny to play. I never once felt short changed – good and evil well represented – Indiana Jones is to snakes what Berry is to rats!

The relationships are well thought out as is the interaction between the main characters and supporting roles. In fact labelling certain characters as “supporting” is a little unfair. Berry does such a great job of overlapping, no one character steals the show – not even Cotton.

The Emperor’s Tomb” is Steve Berry’s sixth book to feature Cotton Malone, a bookshop owner in Copenhagen – having not read the previous five novels one wonders if Cotton has actually served a customer in his shop! The only problem with finishing a book of this quality is the agonising wait for the next novel – but then I do have the other five to discover!

Cotton Malone is the thinking man’s Indiana Jones – highly recommended “The Emperor’s Tomb” is one of the books of 2011.

Published by Hodder & Stoughton “The Emperor’s Tomb” is available from The Book Depository (Free Worldwide Postage)

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