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REVIEW OF HISTORY IN ENGLISH WORDS BY OWEN BARFIELD

Blurb

For more than three-quarters of a century, Owen Barfield produced original and thought-provoking works that made him a legendary cult figure. History in English Words is his classic excursion into history through the English language. This popular book provides a brief, brilliant history of the various peoples who have spoken the Indo-European tongues. It is illustrated throughout by current English words whose derivation from other languages, and whose history in use and changes of meaning, record and unlock the larger history. “In our language alone, not to speak of its many companions, the past history of humanity is spread out in an imperishable map, just as the history of the mineral earth lies embedded in the layers of its outer crust…. Language has preserved for us the inner, living history of our soul. It reveals the evolution of consciousness” —Owen Barfield.

My Review

Owen Barfield wrote this book in the 1950s, but as it deals with the way words have come down to us through the ages, it remains relevant to this day.

This fascinating book takes us through the history of words. Barfield begins with the Greek and Latin words that have been incorporated into our language, and the changes that have come about in them. He then goes on to discuss how we can trace the travels of many peoples across Europe by looking at the way words have changed, and the words that were in common use.

I find it impossible to distill what Barfield is saying in a few words. It took him a whole book! But it shows how people’s thoughts and perceptions developed through the ages.

This book is a valuable handbook for those of us who write historical fiction. It tells when various words came into use, thus helping us not to write about clocks striking before they were invented, or as is said in the forward, writing about Dr Johnson (of dictionary fame) speaking on the telephone.

Those are obvious things, but there are words that we use today that are fairly modern.

An example is found in the words, pity, gentle and mercy.
Pity comes from ‘pietas’, meaning piety, gentle, from ‘gentilis’, meaning of the same family, or later, of noble birth, while mercy comes from ‘merces’, a reward, probably later, a reward in heaven for good works on Earth.

None of these words were known before the 13th century, so in a Viking Saga, a writer should not use them. This applies to many other words, as well as the obvious ones coming from scientific research, and show how human thinking has developed throughout the ages.

This is not an easy read, but a fascinating one, nonetheless. I give it 5*

Have you come across words that are used in historical fiction that are out of place? It’s easily done, believe me. I’ve probably done it myself, although I hope not! Let me know in the comments.

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review of the tigress and the yogi by shelley schanfield

Overview.

This book is in the genre Historical Fantasy. In this genre, the author takes some history and juggles it around a bit. They might add magic, change a person’s gender, talking animals, something about the setting or anything else that will make it fantasy. This book is set in the India of The Buddha, around 500BC.

Blurb

A talking tigress.
A wandering yogi.
A young woman’s harrowing journey through an ancient land where chaos threatens gods and mortals alike.

A tigress speaks to the outcaste girl Mala, and as she flees in terror, she stumbles upon an irascible old yogi. Though she is an Untouchable and her very shadow may pollute the holy man, she offers him hospitality, and he accepts, repaying her kindness with stories that awaken her hunger for forbidden spiritual knowledge. Soon after he leaves, she is brutally orphaned and enslaved, but the Devi, the Mother Goddess, appears as the warrior goddess Durga and offers her hope. As time passes, Mala, with the Devi’s help, gains the courage and strength to fight for her freedom.

Thus begins her quest for liberation, on which she meets gods and goddesses, high-born Brahmins and lowly keepers of the cremation grounds, outlaws and kings, and young Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who is prophesied to become the Buddha.

The Tigress and the Yogi is a historical fantasy that brings to life the vivid mythical world of ancient India and transports the reader to the Buddha’s time in a story filled with love and fear, anger and desire. This visionary novel creates a memorable portrait of a powerful woman, her extraordinary daughter, women, and the men they challenge and inspire. It examines the yearning for spiritual transformation and inner peace, and the ways in which the pursuit of wisdom and compassion can go terribly wrong.

Story

Mala is a very young girl when we meet her for the first time in her encounter with the tiger and the yogi of the title. Little does she know how her life is going to be affected by this chance meeting.
We learn about how her life as an Untouchable affects her, and follow her through sorrow as her lover and child are taken from her.
She commits terrible deeds on her life’s journey, until she finally comes back to the old yogi from her childhood.
Can she become enlightened and forgive herself? And can she let go of her longing for her daughter?

Characters

The character of Mali is well drawn. She is a complex person, and we can understand her loves and hates. She develops through the book in both good and bad ways, but we are always rooting for her.
Her daughter, Kisra, is also well drawn. We see a young girl gradually coming into womanhood, with all the changes that implies.
Siddhartha Gautama, who eventually becomes The Buddha, is a young man in the story. Actually, he’s a boy when we first meet him. He has extraordinary powers, but we can’t help but like him.
I cannot go into all the characters here, but one I must mention. That’s not a person, but the setting. Ms Schanfield has successfully brought us to the India of 500BC. She describes the monsoons, the heat, the cooling waters of the river and the magnificent palaces. We could almost imagine ourselves there. I would have, perhaps, liked a little more description of the towns, though.

Writing

The writing is excellent. Grammatically correct and well spelled. The words are used correctly.

Conclusion

This story is hanging about in my brain. It’s a beautiful tale, and there is much we can learn from it. There are examples of the philosophy of the times, much of which can still be applied today.
I’m glad I read it in ebook format, though, because there are many Sanskrit and Hindu words throughout. Being on the Kindle App, I could highlight them and their meaning came up.
I am definitely going to look for Book 2 in the trilogy. I want to know what becomes of the characters.

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When Maria and Jack move into a 16th century house, they wish to furnish it with period furniture and so they buy a table from that century.
That night, Maria hears a strange crying sound. On investigation, she finds it is coming from the table.
Fearing it might be haunted, and that they’ve brought a ghost into their home, they turn to a medium, only to find it isn’t a ghost.
If not a ghost, then what? The truth is stranger than either of them could have imagined.

Jealousy of a Viking ~ #Historical Norse & Icelandic Fiction ~ @vm_sang ~#Review

Thanks to Anita Dawes for this great review.

Our Thoughts

This unusual medieval story of one woman’s quest for love, reminded me of so many other star-crossed lovers throughout history. The author has cut away most of the myths surrounding the Vikings, revealing their wisdom and their beliefs. A far cry from the blood thirsty tribes we see all the time on TV.

a review of a chilling revelation by paul cude

Overview.
This is the second book in Paul Cude’s White Dragon series. It follows on after the events in book 1.
If you’ve not read any of his books before, I will tell you that the concept is an original one.
Dragons live below the ground in a complex society. They have houses, monorails and many other things we have. The one thing they can do which we can’t is use magic.
Dragons use this magic in order to protect and help humankind. In order to do this, they take human form and live amongst us.

Blurb
Treachery from the sands of Egypt to the plains of Antarctica.
Following on from the harrowing events of ‘A Threat From The Past’ (Book 1), a new found friendship with the dragon king is forged.
Soon though, young and old alike are unwittingly drawn into a deadly plot, when a straight forward meeting with the monarch sees them helping an injured dragon agent, straight back from his mission in Antarctica with news of a devastating encounter with another ancient race.
Blackmail, intrigue, forbidden love interests, a near fatal mantra gone wrong, a highly charged rugby match in which Tank takes a beating, combined with enough laminium ball action to please dragons the world over, stretch the bonds of the dragons’ friendship like never before.
New friends and ancient enemies clash as the planet braces itself for one of the most outrageous attacks it has ever seen.
Lost secrets and untold lore come to light, while sinister forces attempt to steal much coveted magic.
Explosive exploits, interspersed with a chilly backdrop and unexpected danger at every turn, make for an action-packed, electrifying adventure.

Story
The tale begins in the distant past, with an exciting chase. A dragon, in human form is trying to help prevent a meeting between Ptolomy and Alexander the Great, for the good of Humanity.
We then learn that this is a story being told to young dragons in the ‘nursery ring’.
Peter, Tank and Ritchie, from Book 1, are again featured.
Peter has struck up a friendship with the dragon king after he visits with Peter in the hospital at the end of Book 1. He and his friends are invited to visit the king. While they are there, some terrible news breaks and they become involved in solving a dastardly plot from Antarctica.
The story was exciting, especially at the end.

Characters
Peter, although the main character in the story, is the least well-drawn. He has very few outstanding characteristics. He’s a ‘nice’ young man. He works for Croptech, a company involved in the production of the metal, laminium, that is very important in the dragon world. Here, he is in charge of security.
Tank, on the other hand, is a kind-hearted dragon. He does seem to have more about him than Peter, especially when he stands up to his boss. He works in a shop selling and researching spells (called mantra).
The last of the trio is Ritchie. She is a feisty young woman, and often gets herself into trouble for ignoring rules.
Tank’s boss, Tee Gee is my favourite character and the most well-drawn. He is an ancient, irascible dragon who hides a kind heart beneath a grumpy exterior.
In this book, we are introduced to Flash, a member of the King’s Crimson Guard, an elite force. In many ways, Flash is an innocent of human and dragon society, having spend much of his life working alone.

Writing
Sadly, like the first book, the writing leaves much to be desired. Mr Cude hops from head to head. One minute we’re looking at the world from Peter’s point of view, then the next from, say, Ritchie. On at least one occasion, he changes viewpoint in the middle of a sentence.
Many of his paragraphs are overlong. I assume he got carried away with the story.
There are occasional wrong words used.
He seems to think the readers have poor memories, and he keeps reminding us that dragons have eidetic memories, that Ritchie, is small, etc.
And the sports. There were 31 pages devoted to a hockey match at one point. This match was not essential for the plot, nor did it add anything to our knowledge of the characters. I skipped it.
One final thing that I found irritating was Mr Cude’s seeming reluctance to tell us who a chapter was about until at least a page and a half in, using the pronouns, ‘he’ and ‘she’.
I got the impression that Mr Cude got to the end of the book, wrote The End, sighed with relief and pressed ‘Publish’ without reading it through again.

Conclusion
This was an excellent, and exciting story. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but the writing lets it down. This is a pity. My feelings about the series are mixed. I want to know what happens next (this book ended with a cliffhanger), but will I be able to cope with the amateurish writing?
I’m giving it 4*, in spite of the writing, because it’s a good story.

review of a threat from the past by paul cude

Overview.

This is an original story. Dragons are the protectors of humanity. They live below ground, in the main, but some live among us in human form.
This is the story of how one young dragon foils a plot which would have devastating effects on humans.

Blurb

Can you be heroic and naive?

For one young man, the answer is yes, despite his magical birthright.

Blissfully unaware of what’s going on around him, for the most part Peter remains fully focused on blending in and keeping a low profile.

But fate and plain bad luck have other designs on him.

Not so bad, you might think. Until you discover the TRUTH!
Just like his friends, he is a… DRAGON!

Thrust into a life away from the underground dragon domain, disguised in a new, awkward human form in an effort to guide and protect humanity just like the rest of his race, all he has to do is uncover the diabolical deeds playing out around him.

With the help of his two young friends, a master mantra maker and a complete dragon stranger with more than a little history attached to him, will Peter manage to thwart the dark, devious scheme long in the planning?

Ever wondered how dragons use their supernatural gift to travel below ground at almost the speed of sound?

Want to know how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes?

Learn the true story of George and the Dragon, see if a prehistoric grudge turns into murderous revenge, and find out what to do if you meet a giant arachnid grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile.

Lose yourself in this unputdownable fantasy adventure NOW!

Characters

The main character is Peter, a very young dragon who works at the factory producing a very important element for dragons. He is naïve and somewhat gullible at the beginning, but he learns much and at the end he is a great hero, thwarting a devastating plot with the help of his two friends.

Tank is a large dragon, and in his human form, an equally large rugby-playing human. He is likeable and a gentle giant.

Ritchie, is a female dragon. She is feisty and not averse to breaking the rules. (Like showing off her superhuman strength by arm wrestling two rugby players at once.)

I liked both of them.

Writing

The writing is amateurish, to say the least. I got the impression the author had got to the end of his story, did a spell and Grammar check and left it at that.

There are innumerable (several on each page) uses of ‘just’ and ‘that’. He uses a number of clichés, and repeats descriptions many times. For example, he describes dragons as ‘prehistoric’ on numerous occasions. There are also a number of instances of using words wrongly, and horror of horrors, several strings of multiple exclamation marks (a well-known no-no).

He goes into great detail of a hockey match and of a match of a game played by dragons. There was no need to go into such detail. As, from reading his bio, Mr Cude is a hockey player, I understand why he would want to do this, but I skipped much of these descriptions.

There is also a section where he describes some of the fun ways of getting into the dragon realms below the ground. These added nothing to the story and could be left out with no problem. Some were fun to read, but we did not need so many in one chapter. They could have been spread out.

Finally, on the writing, the paragraphs were far too long, and he did not begin a new one where he should have. The same with sentences.
Long paragraphs of dialogue from one person (or dragon) could have been broken down with a few interjections or action beats.

Especially in the final battle he does quite a bit of head hopping. We are in Peter’s head, then suddenly, without warning, we are in his enemy’s head, then back to Peter.

Finally, when Peter is thinking, he says ‘he thought to himself.’ To himself is redundant. Who else would he think to?

It could certainly use a thorough edit.

Conclusion

If Mr Cude sent it to a reputable editor, or even had it beta-read or used a critique group, I think the book would be a much better read.

I did enjoy the story, but it was spoiled by the poor writing. Too much telling, too many filler words, too many repetitions (both of individual words in close proximity, and ideas).

Also he is unsure about comma usage.

I sometimes felt like saying ‘But you already told us that (several times). Or ‘Yes, I know. I can remember that dragons have eidectic memories’ on the third or fourth time he used it.

The story is worth reading, though, if you can get past the writing. I read a book called Story Trumps Structure, that said, basically, if you have a good story, that’s the most important part.

I will be reading the next part if only to see what happens next.

I love hearing your thoughts. Please leave a comment in the comments box and I’ll get back to you.

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review of everything, somewhere by David Kummer

Overview.

I was delighted to receive a review copy of the latest book by this talented young author. David Kummar has written mainly in the Horror genre up until now, but this book is very different. It is a coming of age story, but that does not tell us very much about it.
There are three teens in the book. Best friends.


Hudson is a troubled character. He is the only child of a couple struggling to make ends meet. His father has a job in one of the local factories, at the same time farming their small-holding. Hudson wants to leave the small town of Little Rush. At least that’s what he says. He also has thoughts of suicide, although he is unsure if he wants to do it or not.

Mason is his friend and the son of one of the rich property owners in the town. His ambition is to remain in the town and to take over his father’s business. A typical rich teen, the relationship between him and Hudson is somewhat difficult at times.

Willow is Mason’s girlfriend. She is beautiful, but from a broken home. Her parents live separately in the poorer parts of the town. She also wants to leave Little Rush as soon as she can.

The three get up to the usual kind of things teens will do, drinking and smoking and generally being a nuisance.

Their life changes when a popular film star decides to retire to the town. Everyone is excited, but is he all he seems?

Blurb

Little Rush is a sleepy town on the Ohio River. Bruce Michaels is a renowned Hollywood actor. The two should never cross paths, yet one summer everything changes. The actor, haunted by demons, chasing a ghost. The town, unaware. Until the two collide.

Hudson, Willow, and Mason are high school seniors with very different upbringings, but all on the verge of adulthood. As the sun sets on their final summer, questions abound. Will they ever leave the town? Is there a future here? As their plans waver, time is running out.

The struggle of mental illness.

As he loses his friends and sinks deeper into depression, Hudson forms an unlikely bond with the actor, Bruce Michaels. But the old man is a ticking time bomb. As Hudson relies on him more, the danger to them both grows.

When dark secrets are revealed, Hudson must confront the truth about his idol and himself. Bruce Michaels isn’t who he seems. Hudson is nearly lost. And in the end, they may be more similar than different.

The search for meaning.

Different paths, converging in a web of alcohol, fights, and romance. Worlds collide one summer in Anywhere, USA. The question is who will make it through.

EVERYTHING, SOMEWHERE is an ambitious, sprawling look at the stories, people, and places forming the nuanced landscape of rural America.

Characters

David Kummer has researched his topic well and shown us the despair of people suffering from mental illness.

The characters are all believable and real, with very human frailties. For such a young writer, he has empathised with them extremely well.

Michaels is tormented, as is Hudson, for different reasons. What is the secret Michaels conceals? The budding relationship between the old man and the young one is very real. Michaels can see himself in Hudson, and their conversations seem to be a help to the young man, but what will happen when Michael’s secret finally comes out?

Mason is a typical rich kid on the surface, but he has hidden depth. How can he keep the woman he loves from leaving the town? Will he have to give up his own wishes and go with her?

Willow is a confused young woman who desperately wants to leave the town, but not the one she loves. How can she reconcile her dilemma?
The other characters, I hesitate to say ‘lesser’ as they all play an important role are also fully formed. There is an unlikely friendship between Mason’s father and Hudson’s father. Two very different characters.

Writing

On the whole, the writing is good. One thing that I did find slightly jarring with is Kummer’s use of the word ‘just’. He does use it a lot, but that’s not a major problem. Many people wont notice it as it’s the way so many speak.

I had a clear picture of the town in my head from the way Kummer has described the town and its surroundings.

Conclusion

An excellent read. I found myself anxious to get back to it whenever I had to stop reading for whatever reason. The story is one that lingers in your head long after you’ve finished reading it. Well worth the money spent on a purchase.
I give it 5*.

The book came out on April 25th.

If you liked this review, please consider leaving a comment in the comments box.

Review of The Last Edge of Darkness, echo 4, by Kent Wayne

Overview.

This is the last of the Echo books and it is a mind-bending experience reading it. It takes Atriya to the final showdown, but along the way he must face up to who he is and what life is all about.

Blurb

The final volume in the Echo series chronicles Crusader Atriya’s time in Mandala City. As Atriya crafts his mind into a psionic arsenal, he realises that no weapon—no matter how fantastic—will be enough to defeat the Regent. The only way he stands a chance is by vanquishing the ignorance within himself.

Story

Atriya has finally found his way to the city of Mandala. Here he meets with Lazarus and Dake who take over from Verus in educating Atriya.
Dake is brutal in his teaching. If you think there is no action in this book, you are mistaken. Yes, it explores many aspects of life and religion, but without action it is not.
There are some difficult concepts laid out for Atriya (and the reader) to deal with.

Characters

Atriya’s development continues, and he is a well-drawn character. The others are also believable. If Dake is a bit violent, then he does what he does for the good of everyone. There is also someone who has got the wrong end of the stick, so to speak.

Writing

The writing is good and keeps the reader gripped. Mr Wayne still has problems with lay and lie, though, but that was not enough to send me screaming up the wall because the rest of the book was so rivetting.

Conclusion

I would recommend this book, but you must read the others first or you won’t understand it.

I give it 5*

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments box.

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review of the dialectic of agony, echo 3 by Kent Wayne

Overview.

Another extremely enjoyable book in the Echo series by Kent Wayne. This book picks up where book 2 ends and has a surprise towards the end.

Blurb

While Crusader Kischan Atriya fights to keep his life and sanity, his mentor Chrysalis Verus undertakes a perilous journey across the wilds of Echo. Their separate paths intertwine in the unlikeliest of places and across all borders, both psychic and physical.

Story

Atriya is in a bad way after his fight in Book 2. He has ‘boosted’ three times in 24 hours. The recommended number is 1 or severe brain damage might occur.
This book follows Atriya and his friend and mentor, Verus, across realms both physical and mental.

Characters

The characters are, as in the o ther books, believable. They have their flaws, especially Atriya. During this book he develops in many ways through his interactions with other characters and begins to see that his life as a Crusader is not what he thought it was.

Writing

On the whole, Mr Wayne’s writing is good and clear. He sets scenes that one can easily picture and draws you into the story with ease, so you don’t want to put the book down.

Conclusion

Another 4* stars for this one, largely because of things that slightly irritated me, like the way he uses ‘earth’ when he means ‘ground’. We are not on Earth.

I hope you enjoyed this review. These books are definitely worth a read. They are not simply adventure stories, although they are that, but they have a definite philosophical slant as well.

Feel free to reblog this post. The more eyes on these books the better it will be for Kent Wayne.

If you enjoyed this review, please leave a comment in the comments box.

a review of a taste of ashes (echo 2) by kent wayne

Overview.
I would first warn people that this book details a battle. As a result there is a lot of violence and swearing in it. This is not a criticism, though. In a battle such as the one Atriya and his collegues are in there would be both violence and swearing.
The book takes place over one day, and has a profound effect on Atriya.

Blurb
Most of us change gradually—over the course of decades. For Crusader Atriya, it will happen in a single, agonizing day. On the edge of a decaying cityscape, Atriya struggles to hold onto his identity as he faces death from both enemies and allies alike. In the process, his old self is torn away, and he catches a glimpse of what he may one day become.

Twelve hundred years ago, humanity left Earth to settle on Echo. Despite hopes for a golden age, an era of darkness fell. Government and corporations merged into the Regime. The military and police merged into the Department of Enforcement. Over half the planet is covered by crumbling cityscapes and the elite live high above, removed and remote from the greater populace on the moon-city of Ascension. Hope lies in Atriya, but before he can break the cycle of darkness and ignorance on Echo, he has to do it within himself.

Story
During book 1, Approaching Shatter, Atriya has fallen foul of the Jury, a religious organisation.
Now he is sent on this mission to be killed. If he does not get killed during the mission, his superior officers have orders to shoot him.
He performs some amazing deeds during the battle, saving his comrades many times. Will his deeds persuade then to override their orders and allow him to live?

Characters
Wayne has built a cast of believable characters. Atriya is a man with many demons, good points and bad. He wrestles with these throughout the book during the battle. And he changes gradually during this encounter.
Clement is a thoroughly unpleasant character whom Wayne has built into a believable person. A bully and a coward. I hated him!
I did like the retrieval office, Liber, though. He had not lost all semblance of humanity as many others had. He does have some sympathy for others.

Writing
The writing is, on the whole, good. Mr Wayne builds the tension throughout the story.
There were one or two little places that grammar could have been improved, but, unless, like me, you are a member of the Grammar Police, I don’t think you’d notice. It’s not enough to warrant removing a star.
The descriptions of the battle are vivid (including the injuries and people being blown to bits). The story moves at a fast pace, as it should in such a time.

Conclusion
An excellent read for anyone who enjoys fast-action and adventure stories. Having said that, don’t read it before reading Book 1, Approaching Shatter.

I have awarded this book 5*

I hope you enjoy my reviews. I try to review all books I read. As an author myself, I realise how important reviews are to authors, and to readers, too, of course.

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Review of Down to the Needle by Mary Deal

Overview.

This book gripped me right from the beginning. Ms Deal ramps up the tension and doesn’t let go.

Blurb

From the day her five-year-old was abducted, Abigail Fisher vowed never to stop looking until her daughter was safely back home. But despite multiple searches, twenty-three years have passed without a trace of Becky Ann. When Abigail learns that death row inmate Megan Winnaker is the same age as her daughter, she begins to wonder if the kidnapper had Becky Ann’s face surgically altered to prevent identification. Megan Winnaker maintains her innocence, but faces capital punishment if she loses her final appeal. As Abigail launches her own investigation to find out if Megan is truly her daughter, someone wants to stop her in her tracks. Even when facing mortal danger, Abigail refuses to give up her investigation. But can Megan Winnaker really be her long-lost daughter?

Story

The story is complex. There is a sub plot involving Abigail’s partner which is equally intriguing, and impinges on Abigail’s desire to discover the truth about Megan. Is she really innocent as she insists?
If she is innocent, then how to prove it and get a reprieve in time.
Right up until the very end we are left on tenterhooks.

Characters

The characters were believable, with flaws as well as strengths. Abigail is a strong character, but has weaknesses, and several times falls apart.
Megan is confusing at times, as she is supposed to be. She is a girl who faces the death penalty for, as she says, a crime she did not commit. She has been in prison for some years, and has fought her own case through appeal courts. No wonder she’s confused and bitter.
Joe, Abigail’s partner, is well-drawn, with his own strengths and weaknesses, especially when it comes to his own sub-plot.
I loved the people in this book, and was rooting for Abigail all the way through, longing for Megan to be Becky, her lost daughter, but dreading it in case whe were put to death!

Writing

Apart from one or two typos, and incorrect use of ‘lay’, the writing was very good.

Conclusion

Because of the excellent plot, which kept me wanting to go back to the book quickly when I had to put it down, I have overlooked the typos and grammar, which was minor anyway, and given it 5*