Archive for May 18th, 2016

The Wolf Britannia

Title: The Wolf of Brittania, Part 1
Author: Jess Steven Hughes
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Pages: 321
Genre: Historical Fiction

First Century AD Britain is a fragmented land of warring Celtic tribes, ripe for invasion by the juggernaut of imperial Rome. Knowing this, a young warrior, soon-to-be-legendary, Prince Caratacus, must unite the southern tribes if they are to survive. This is an enemy more cunning and powerful then either he or Britain has ever faced.

Standing by him is his wife, Rhian, a warrior princess who takes no prisoners. She is the first woman he has truly loved. With her support and that of other allies, Caratacus must outsmart a traitorous brother who is determined to take the throne, aided by a conniving Roman diplomat and a tribal king in the pockets of the Romans.

Caratacus must save his country not only from the pending Roman onslaught but from his own peoples treachery.

Or else die trying.

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Chapter 1


Caratacus’s wicker chariot bucked and hurtled across every dip and rise in the track. Two lathering ponies strained at their harness as the young prince urged them ahead. Man-sized wooden targets sprinkled the course. Caratacus struck each through the heart with his casting spears. Now he raced for the finish line in a swirl of chalky dust, blue eyes ablaze with excitement.

Tawny hair whipped about his sunburned face. He sweated profusely in a woolen short-sleeved tunic and tartan breeches, dust muting their colors. A gold collar burned his neck, but to rip it off would bring bad luck. The earthy musk of horse sweat blotted out all other odors.

Behind him clattering wheels and thudding hooves roared in his ears. Four other chariots steadily gained on him. His horses responded to the stinging touch as he slapped the reins. Caratacus leaped from the flimsy cart onto the center drawbar between his team when another chariot nosed into the lead. He struggled for a foothold and looped the dragging reins about his wrists. Barefooted, he deftly edged his way forward on the jouncing bar and catapulted onto the back of his favorite beast. Kneeling on the bay pony, he bellowed encouragement, calling for even greater speed.

Sucking dust and screaming, urging the racers to ever greater strides, throngs of men, women, and children circled the large rutted, oval which served as a race track below the great hill fortress of Camulodunum.

A small boy chasing a dog darted from the crowd and crossed in the front of Caratacus’s path. A woman screamed. He sucked in his breath─Damn! In a flash he kicked the pony’s side, sharply swerving the team, barely missing the child. The chariot bounced, arcing one wheel off the ground and back to the earth with a thud. Violently wrenched from the beast’s back, Caratacus grabbed its yoke collar and yanked himself up on the withers. A throbbing pain shot through his loins from where he caught the horse’s knotty backbone between his legs.

For an instant, Caratacus glanced at the jostling throng. He caught sight of flaxen-haired Rhian, daughter of the king’s champion. The young woman screamed encouragement. His team leaped ahead and stampeded towards the finish.

Caratacus heard a pop and then a rumbling noise. He turned and saw the left trace rein on his other pony had snapped loose from an iron holding lug. It whipped back and forth along the animal’s side. The mare squealed, terrified by the bridle’s lashing. She strained at leather bands around her girth and neck, trying to lurch free of the yoke collar.

Upset by the squealing of the frightened, chestnut mare, the little bay bucked and kicked at the weaving cross-bar. Holding all the reins in his right hand, Caratacus jumped to the mare and gripped the animal’s sides with powerful legs. Other riders gained on him. He grabbed the trace rein and steadied his mounts.

Hanging by his legs, Caratacus reached down his pony’s side and stabbed his free hand towards the flying bridle. It snapped across his face, sending a painful shot through his eyes. For the length of a heartbeat he recoiled, trying to shake off the blinding pain that blurred his vision. Again he attempted to retrieve the other rein. The chariots rounded the last turn of the wheel-plowed course. Fist-sized clods pelted the cheering crowd. Another rider was almost upon him. Caratacus held onto the primary reins as he lunged again and snagged the end of the strap between the fingers of his perspiring left hand. As his sight cleared, he reeled in the rest of the reins. He tightened them around his left hand and held the primary reins of both animals in his right.

Caratacus guided the lathering mare back towards the center of the yoke pole and steadied her galloping to a smooth, flowing rhythm. As if on command, his bay settled down and matched the chestnut mare stride-for-stride. He kicked the side of the chestnut, exhorting the ponies to greater speed. They raced away from the other charioteers.

He crossed the finish line between two hardwood poles topped by bleached human skulls, at least six lengths ahead of his closest competitor. Horns blew. His brother, Tog, led a tremendous cheer. The riotous crowd rushed toward his chariot. A dusty, sweating Caratacus leapt from the car and tossed the reins to an awaiting groom. Grinning at one another, he and Tog clasped each other’s wrists and vigorously shook them.

“Well done, brother, victory is yours!” Tog exclaimed, “Well done! Here, take a drink,” Tog urged. He thrust a large earthen bowl of corma beer into Caratacus’s hands. Gratefully, he gulped it down. Hundreds of tribesmen surrounded them. It was the Harvest of Lughnasa, the first week of August. The chariot races culminated five days of celebration for the Catuvellaunian and Trinovantian Celts, at their capital on Britannia’s southeastern coast, Camulodunum.

When King Cunobelinos appeared, a hush fell over the crowd, which immediately opened a pathway for Caratacus’s thick-chested father. Long, gray hair swept down the king’s powerful back over his purple linen cloak. Cunobelinos wore a scarlet-and gold- threaded tartan tunic with matching breeches and a gold torc around his vein-corded neck. Bracelets of copper and gold circled his biceps and wrists. Sunlight danced off his long sword, made of rare and costly Damascus steel encased in a jeweled scabbard hanging from his waist.

Caratacus’s uncle, King Epaticcos, tribal leaders, and members of the Druid priesthood followed. Behind them ambled Caratacus’s older brother, Adminios. Tall, ebony hair falling down to his shoulders, his pocked-marked face was flushed, dark eyes watery. He had his arm around the waist of a well-known, round-face trollop, dressed in bright-green, plaid long tunic, girdled around the midriff with a gold-fringed sash. Adminios turned and pulled her close, and with his sensuous lips gave her a moist kiss. A few seconds later, she pushed him away and giggled. He laughed. The two staggered to a halt by the edge of the throng, a mixture of nobility, warriors, craftsmen, and peasants, dressed in their best tartan clothing or threadbare homespun.

All of them silently watched the King stop before Caratacus. Tog stepped behind his brother.

“You do us great honor,” Cunobelinos said, addressing his son. “Your victory pleases us.”

“Yes, it does,” Adminios said in a loud, slurring voice behind him. A vacuous grin widened on his thick lips. He stepped towards the king, leaving the woman’s side.

Cunobelinos gave the eldest son a withering look. “It is not your place to speak for the king.”

Adminios, his eyes going wide, looked about. His female companion shot a hand to her mouth. He bowed his large head and stepped back to the woman’s side. A low murmur spread through the crowd.

Caratacus broke the tension. “The honor is mine, Great King.”

The king nodded approval that his son had referred to him correctly.

Behind a sober face and clenched teeth, Caratacus hid his hatred for their forced formality and the humiliating way his father treated Adminios. Then again, his older brother had been drinking and womanizing as usual. Adminios tossed his head, shrugged, and tossed a hand as if he thought the entire scene was trivial. You should have waited until later to celebrate, brother.

Cunobelinos motioned a servant forward to present Caratacus with a large, silver drinking cauldron. The cup was inlaid with intricate carvings of boar heads, wolves, and deer. The prominent relief depicted the braided head of the warrior-goddess Andraste.

Caratacus refrained from smiling as he watched his father’s expressionless, ruddy face and searched the old, lined eyes for signs of approval. As expected he found none. “This is much more than I expected, Great King.”

A voice bellowed from the crowd, “Give him a drink! Let him drink from the cup!” The crowd joined the shouting, “Aye, let him!”

The king nodded. A servant hustled forward holding high a silver cup filled with Samian wine from Greece. Caratacus grasped the two handles and held high the trophy with both hands. “Although I am son of the Great King, I am still his loyal subject,” he called out loudly. “I am victorious today only because he did not race against me. For surely he would be drinking from this cup of glory rather than I.”

The crowd cheered wildly. The king nodded to his son, his mouth a thin line. Tog shook clasped hands above his head in approval. Holding the heavy cup, Caratacus tilted his head backwards and drained it, as custom demanded. Uncut by water, the wine dizzied him, but he finished without reeling or stumbling.

Caratacus handed the cup to the servant and wiped his mouth on his forearm. He noticed his father glaring at him. I know that look. Da expects more out of me. I’m only seventeen summers, what else does he want?


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Sean DowSean Dow is a pulmonary and critical care physician in Great Falls, Montana. He started writing thriller novels in 2011, and has three titles, one of which, Debridement, is in its second printing and is being made into a feature film.

Sean was born in Iowa City, but was raised on a small farm in Kansas before leaving for medical school, and the adventures beyond. His career was largely in Klamath Falls, Oregon, a town that still feels like home. He did a brief stent in Las Vegas before moving to the paradise of Montana. When not working or writing, Sean can be found in the kitchen perfecting his New York cheesecake, or on the mountain streams with Bailey, his beloved (and perfectly behaved) Mastiff and his favorite 2 weight fly rod-a parting gift from a dear friend and patient.

His latest books are A Leafy Green World and Al-thar.

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About the Book:

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Title: A Leafy Green World
Author: Sean Dow
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Pages: 449
Genre: Thriller

A Leafy Green World is a fast paced, action packed thriller set in the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Brent Holcomb has moved to Portland in hopes of resurrecting his life and his career. There, he meets Robyn-the girl from his dreams. All is going smoothly until he realizes Robyn and her friends are not what they seem. Now, wrapped up in the murder of an innocent man, and with nowhere to turn, Brent forms a bold plan-a plan that will put him on a dangerous course, aligning himself with domestic terrorists and ultimately, a deeply hidden cell of Islamic terrorists.

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Book Excerpt:

Upper Dir valley, Pakistan

“How well do you trust him?” asked the voice over the encrypted satellite phone.

Farouk was always amazed at the technology that allowed him to have a clear conversation with someone halfway across the world. It was an honor to have been put through—he was speaking to Saadullah Abul Ka-beir himself, the imam who was guiding the war against the great Satan. He was a merciless warrior, a genius, and a master of planning—the best hope Islam had ever had of ridding the world of the Jews and of bringing in the glorious caliphate, and Farouk was actually being allowed to speak directly to him!

Even with the encryption, he had been instructed not to mention names or give any salutations that could be used to identify the man on the other end. The Americans were always finding ways to listen in on their conversations. The only truly secure communication was by courier, and the time delay involved in that was often unacceptable. Going in person to see the imam was out of the question. It would take almost two days to fly to Peshawar, and from there it was another grueling six hours to reach the blessed valley in Upper Dir where the council was sheltered.

“Six hours, that is, in the daylight,” thought Farouk. Travel now had to be at night. The daytime skies were filled with silent death. So many heroes had died before their appointed time and with nothing to show for their deaths. The Americans struck wherever they pleased; there was no sovereignty, no shelter. Even in his own country, his leaders were forced to live like animals, cowering in damp caves and afraid to show their faces, lest the devils strike from the sky. It was an abomination, but it was also reality—Farouk prayed on a daily basis that he would live long enough to dance upon the graves of the infidels who forced the great leaders to live in such a demeaning manner.

In the meantime, satellite phones had become a necessary risk. They were effective, but information still had to be kept to a minimum, conversations as short as possible, and specifics avoided. No one knew if the enemy could listen in, but even if not, it would probably be only a short time until they could.

“I trust him completely, Sheikh,” Farouk said. “Enough to insist on a chance to bring this information to you. We have the opportunity to achieve the dreams of our people, and in our lifetime. This man is high in the ranks of a group that has lived for years amongst the devils, fighting them constantly, and they have never been penetrated.

“I also worked with his father, a man of great integrity whose efforts are largely responsible for my financial independence. I can say with certainty that this man can be trusted.”

“You realize what will happen to you and your family if you have been deceived?”

“Yes, Sheikh. As always, I put my life in your hands. We are searching his past and will watch everything he does, but I sense the beneficence of Allah in this man.”

“Very well. We will discuss this. In the meantime, continue your vigilance but do not go any further. You have already taken a great chance talking to him. You will find the fires of hell to be a welcome relief if your actions bring any damage to our cause.”

The call ended. No Salam alaikum, no Allah ysalmak, just silence. Silence and a feeling of dread. What if I have let pride interfere with my judgment? Farouk worried. Have I let the lion in the door?

Al-TharTitle: Al-thar
Author: Sean Dow
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Pages: 466
Genre: Thriller

In Al-thar, (Arabic:revenge) Brent is living a tranquil life on the peaceful Philippine island of Masbate. But the FBI’s witness protection plan is not enough when you have destroyed the plans of the world’s most feared terrorist group-an assassin is on the way, and his plans are far worse than a simple bullet in the head.

With the violent destruction of his new island home, Dr. Holcomb is once again thrust into danger, this time on an international level. There are only two outcomes in this new high-stakes match, Brent’s painful and public death and the destruction of America’s, or the death of Saadullah Abul Ka-beir, and his council.

Brent brings together his cast of memorable friends from A Leafy Green World as he devises the greatest deception ever imagined. The action goes at a break-neck pace from the Philippines to Washington, D.C., and from a remote valley in Pakistan to the jungles of Sierra Leone in this novel that has been described as almost too real, and too timely.

For More Information

  • Al-thar is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.


Would you call yourself a born writer?

Yes, I started writing poetry in grade school, and have always enjoyed telling a story.

What was your inspiration for A Leafy Green World and Al-thar? I am intrigued by the success of the various domestic terrorist groups in evading capture-getting an informant into one of these closely knit groups would be the Holy Grail for law enforcement.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I like a fast moving story that makes the reader think a little, as they are being entertained.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It took a year of writing, then several months of editing and polishing.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Sadly, I am not the most disciplined writer, often succumbing to temptation to pursue my thousand other hobbies, such as fly fishing and cooking. A typical writing day will find me rising early and getting in an hour or so before work. There is always a cup of coffee by my writing chair, and now, my Mastiff puppy, Bailey.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Researching the terrorist groups without going to web sites that would put me on too many federal lists.

What do you love most about being an author?

Without a doubt, the best part is hearing back from readers. Knowing that my stories have given someone a few smiles makes my day.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

After researching what other authors have gone through trying to get a publisher, seeing how many hundreds of rejection notices go out before a book is accepted, I decided on self-publishing. I am very happy with that decision, as it allowed me to focus my efforts on writing my next story, rather than spending months trying to convince a publisher to take a chance on a new author. There are quite a number of self-publishing options out there to suit any need, from someone whose goal is simply to see their work in print, all the way up to those who want a serious writing career with distribution to major book sellers.

Where can we find you on the web?



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