Friday, August 19, 2016

New Book Review -- Between Two Fires, by Mark Noce




I've had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of Mark Noce through blogging, and the equally good fortune to get an advance reading of his debut novel, Between Two Fires. Mark is on a blog tour now, and -- lucky me -- I had the good fortune even again to get an interview with Mark. Next week I'll be posting that interview, so please do return to learn more about him, his book, and his writing process. 













Meanwhile, here is the review of his book I posted on Goodreads yesterday:



I love a good mystery, and I love fiction that takes place in historical times. I’m also hooked on stories set in Celtic Britain. So these are three great reasons to be delighted with Mark Noce’s debut novel, Between Two Fires.

The book opens in the year A.D. 597—post-Arthurian times, when Wales is in disarray from the invading Saxons. The Romans are gone. Arthur’s Camelot is distant history. Christianity coexists with remnants of the old Druid religion. Fragmented Wales is riddled by power struggles between kings want to be sole ruler of Wales, if it can ever be united enough to withstand the Saxons. The ambitious King Vortigen of Dyfed has decided to marry his illegitimate daughter Branwen to King Morgan of Caerleon and Caerwent, also known as the Hammer King. Illegitimate or not, it’s to Morgan’s advantage to breed sons by Branwen for the future, and it’s to Vortigen’s advantage to have his daughter strategically placed to spy on Morgan. Yes. It’s that kind of world, full of intrigue and counterplots set in motion by those who have other plans for Branwen.

At first, sixteen-year-old Branwen, smart but dutiful, is resigned to her destiny. Then several attempts on her life force her to make her own destiny, one very much at odds to the future her father had planned. Choosing love over duty, using healing skills she learned from her mother, trusting her own natural leadership, Branwen becomes a legend throughout Wales. The story is told throughout through her eyes in present tense, which gives a sense of immediacy to every scene. Subplots abound, all of them well-resolved. From the opening line (Today I will marry a man I have never met), the main story’s builds tension, and each chapter ends on a page turner.


The story takes place over a three-year period, during which Branwen evolves into a revered figure the people call Mab Ceridwen, with the love of her life by her side. I can’t tell much more of the storyline beyond this without spoilers. But this is a book to settle into, as you become immersed in history, legend, and a great love story.

You can learn more about Between Two Fires and the author HERE. And you can preorder the book HERE  (I did, and I can hardly wait for it to arrive, so that I can take it to his book signing in Sacramento next month -- September 3rd).

How about you? Have you had the opportunity to get a book signed by an author you like? Do you like historical fiction? If so, what period of time and what setting? 

14 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I really enjoy books set in Celtic Britain too. Glad you enjoyed this. Congrats to Mark!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Natalie, yes, there is something so evocative about Celtic Britain. I do't know what it is -- it seems so full of legend, of mythical times, it has an aura about it. Maybe it's the Merlin and Arthur effect.

Rosi said...

I seem to like all the same things you like. I will be looking for this one. I have had a book signed by the author -- in fact many, including yours!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Rosi, he's going to be at Avid reader on September 3rd, 2:00 pm. I'll be going. Do you want to meet up?

Mark Noce said...

Thanks for the awesome review, Elizabeth! Looking forward to seeing you at the Avid Reader in a couple weeks:)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Mark, yes, I'm looking forward to meeting you in person. Also, Lee McKenzie's going to be there. We're blog friends, so it will be nice to meet her in person, too.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Congratulations To Mark. I have read the book twice, once in its manuscript form and now for reviewing it for two Indian papers. I am super happy for Mark.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rachna, yes, I am too. I remember years ago when we all were new into blogging and were working on manuscripts. And I think you are also one of his group of beta readers. Like you, I'm very happy for him. It's quite a book!

Lynda R Young said...

a big congrats to Mark! I do love that time in history.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Lynda, thanks for stopping by. I think Mark did a great job of capturing that period of history and making it come alive.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Congratulations to Mark! Wales is one of my favorite places in the world and that time period is always fascinating.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks for stopping by, Joanne. Wales has always fascinated me, too. I was a great fan of several books dealing with King Arthur and Camelot and had always been left wondering about what came after. This books is a nice follow up to the Arthurian era. Really interesting reading.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview. Interesting about the references to a queen. Congrats to Mark on his book. It sounds great.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Natalie. It's really a good read. I'm looking forward to getting my copy signed Saturday. I hope you had a good summer. I'm glad you're back. I always enjoy your blog.