Blood Forest
'A bloody page-turner' Mail on Sunday They call him Felix. A lost soldier without a memory and now a brutal battle to win. For fans of Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane and Conn Iggulden, a spectacular debut where honour and duty, legions and tribes clash in bloody, heart-breaking glory . . . AD 9. Fifteen thousand battle-hardened Roman legionaries strike deep into dense forest. Awaiting them are deadly, hostile Germanic tribes. In a clearing they find twelve massacred and strung-up legionaries.Is this a threat, or a warning?There is just one bloodied, broken survivor. He has no idea who he is. Only that he is a soldier.And now he must fight. As the legions are mercilessly cut down, the nameless soldier joins a small band of survivors trapped in the forest. If they fight together they have a slim chance of staying alive. But whose side is the soldier on? And is it the right one? 'Gives Rome's legionaries a contemporary voice - brutal, audacious and fast paced' Anthony Riches, author of Empire series'Historical fiction written by a real war veteran who knows all there is to know about blood and bonding in battle. An earthy and powerful read' Sport'Blood and guts, but also a clever exploration of the moral ambiguity of war and loyalty to a flag' Mail on Sunday

Blood Forest Details

TitleBlood Forest
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 6th, 2017
PublisherPenguin
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

Blood Forest Review

  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    Powerful, intense novel on Teutoberg Forest Massacre, 9 AD, as told from a legionary's viewpoint, rather than the officers'. They are only tangential to the story, except for Arminius, who drives the action, and to a lesser extent Prefect Caeonius, whose actions bear on the protagonist, Felix, several times and whose final decision concerns the whole army. Although the Teutoberg incident has been recounted several times in novel form recently, it's always interesting to see how each author tells Powerful, intense novel on Teutoberg Forest Massacre, 9 AD, as told from a legionary's viewpoint, rather than the officers'. They are only tangential to the story, except for Arminius, who drives the action, and to a lesser extent Prefect Caeonius, whose actions bear on the protagonist, Felix, several times and whose final decision concerns the whole army. Although the Teutoberg incident has been recounted several times in novel form recently, it's always interesting to see how each author tells the tale. A wounded soldier is found in a grove, his companions all having met ghastly deaths at the hands of the Germans. He claims to have remembered nothing beforehand. Rescued, he is sent to Legion XVII as a battle casualty replacement and is given the name Felix, meaning "Lucky". The story concerns him and his contubernium [called herein a "section."] The novel smolders until the final conflagration--battle with the Germans near a defensive wall of withy branches the Germans have erected and the shattering conclusion at the marching camp. Through the novel, we get tantalizing bits of Felix's past and how he came to be there until the final reveal. At the marching camp, he has a choice to make that will affect the rest of his life.The action was gruesome and blood-saturated all through but nothing felt gratuitous here. The author went overboard on the profanity, and I wish it could have been toned down somewhat, e.g., f-word as gerund over and over. I did get a view of a common soldier's life back then in all aspects: in garrison life and group dynamics, on the march dodging Germans' hit-and-run tactics, traps, and obstacles, as well as battle. I also got into the soldiers' heads--their thinking, psychology, and emotions. The members of Felix's section fit the stereotypes of a group of soldiers: the brute and bully but de facto leader; the raw recruits; the disillusioned, dispirited old soldier; the super-religious and ultra patriot; the loving family man; and others. The story easily could have been moved to another era, say, World War II. The author lays out the possibility of a sequel, but I feel the story could have ended here. The writing was top-notch and the cover fantastic. The figure of the crow on the cover and its symbolism become apparent on reading the story. I felt the whole prologue was a waste and added nothing to the story, which could have begun easily with Chapter One, dispensing with the prologue entirely.Highly recommended.
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  • Renata
    January 1, 1970
    I so "enjoyed" Blood Forest? I'm not sure if that's the right word. I admired the writing, found the story brutal, gritty, moving and surprising (despite the commonly known history). I literally felt by the end as if I were one with the Roman section and 17th legion, fighting bloody step by bloody step through the German forest, facing hostile rebelling tribes, and unremitting wind and rain. Most books I read within days, this book took me longer. I had to absorb it slowly, or become somewhat ov I so "enjoyed" Blood Forest? I'm not sure if that's the right word. I admired the writing, found the story brutal, gritty, moving and surprising (despite the commonly known history). I literally felt by the end as if I were one with the Roman section and 17th legion, fighting bloody step by bloody step through the German forest, facing hostile rebelling tribes, and unremitting wind and rain. Most books I read within days, this book took me longer. I had to absorb it slowly, or become somewhat overwhelmed.The book delivers on its bloody title, the battle scenes through the German forest are convincing and from what others have said on A&M (I know very little about Ancient Rome) accurate to the story from 9 AD. Below the blood however, Geraint Jones's soldiers struggled with their loyalties to each other, to their section chief, the nobles commanding the legions, and attendant reciprocal loyalty (or lack thereof). The relationships between the soldiers, their Centurion, section chief, the mysterious central soldier "Felix" and the only truly recognizable historic character given full character, Arminius, form the heart the story. Further, Jones reveals crucial information about the central character's pasts, their motivations, loyalty and morality only slowly as the story evolves through each desperate situation. Throughout the book Jones maintains the tension between daily more horrific battle scenes and the building of closer bonds of brotherhood. This loyalty forged at war brings the men courage, comfort and "family" - yet leashes them tighter to the Legions. Ultimately, Jones shows that while Soldiers and Rebelling German tribesmen could throw off loyalty to Rome itself, the ties forged in battle between brothers in arms were not so easily broken. Paradoxically the relationships with each other kept the men sane and sometimes saved their lives, but also could spell their doom. "Blood Forest" is almost painfully brutal to read on some levels, but I thought it was excellent. Highly recommended.
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  • Sherry
    January 1, 1970
    Most of this novel takes place among a contubernium of eight men of the Seventeenth Legion, deployed across the Rhine in not-quite-pacified Germania. It all begins when a scrawny, naked man covered in blood is discovered lurking at the site of a horrible massacre of a Roman detachment. He tells the rescuers that he doesn’t remember his name or where he came from, although he is clearly desperate and on his own. The cavalry commander, a charismatic allied German called Arminius, treats him kindly Most of this novel takes place among a contubernium of eight men of the Seventeenth Legion, deployed across the Rhine in not-quite-pacified Germania. It all begins when a scrawny, naked man covered in blood is discovered lurking at the site of a horrible massacre of a Roman detachment. He tells the rescuers that he doesn’t remember his name or where he came from, although he is clearly desperate and on his own. The cavalry commander, a charismatic allied German called Arminius, treats him kindly and dubs him “Felix” (lucky).Unluckily for Felix, his sandals give him away as a former legionary. Arminius takes him to the Roman camp, where he is assigned to a tent unit with six other soldiers dominated by the fearsome veteran Titus. This tight-knit group is far from pleased to have Felix thrust among them. It’s increasingly evident that he harbors a secret, but perhaps not one he will fully admit to himself, let alone to others.The mystery of Felix’s origins takes BLOOD FOREST to a different level than most swords-and-shields sagas. For those who are unfamiliar with events of 9 AD, I won’t spoil the story by relating more of the plot. Suffice it to say that everything he experiences made me believe, “Yes, it probably was just like that.” Geraint Jones, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, clearly knows how soldiers think and talk. Their profanity and brutality sound true to life, and all eight men and their centurion, Pavo, come across as real, sympathetic characters. Considering that this is the author’s debut novel, he deserves high praise for his achievement.By the end, the reader will understand a complicated man who must reconcile his honor with his humanity--and whom, I hope, we will meet again in a sequel.
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  • Kirsty Hanson
    January 1, 1970
    A debut novel set in the Roman Empire and fictionalises the battle between the Romans and the Germans... It sounds epic. It sounds amazing and it sounds bloody. It was definitely bloody. It is AD 9. In Northern Europe, an army is dying, and an empire is being brought to its knees.The Roman Empire is at the height of its power. Rome's soldiers brutally enforce imperial rule, and its legions are the most efficient and aggressive fighting force in the world. Governor Varus leads 15,000 seasoned leg A debut novel set in the Roman Empire and fictionalises the battle between the Romans and the Germans... It sounds epic. It sounds amazing and it sounds bloody. It was definitely bloody. It is AD 9. In Northern Europe, an army is dying, and an empire is being brought to its knees.The Roman Empire is at the height of its power. Rome's soldiers brutally enforce imperial rule, and its legions are the most efficient and aggressive fighting force in the world. Governor Varus leads 15,000 seasoned legionnaires north to subdue the Germanic tribes. To Rome, these people are savages, ripe for conquest. But the Romans know little of this densely forested territory governed by fiercely independent chieftains. Rome's supposed ally, Arminius, has unified the disgruntled tribes, leading the would-be conquerors towards a deadly trap. As the army marches deeper into enemy territory, one small band of soldiers must face the deadliest of foes, alone.The first half of this book did nothing to capture my attention at all. I didn't find myself gripped by the story or the characters, which was a massive shame because the first half of the book had so much potential! I think the characters didn't grip me because there were just so many of them to keep track of in the beginning and so I kept getting their nicknames all mixed up. Plus, because our protagonist tells the army that he can't remember anything about his past, I couldn't really connect with him about anything. He was just... there.It was a sort of mystery book though because event though Felix tells his comrades that he can't remember anything, we as the reader knows that he does because he keeps letting out little hints to us about how he remembers certain things. We don't actually find out about his past until the very end, and even then, it just seemed really far-fetched and confusing. To be honest, the ending itself gave me whiplash. One minute, he decides something, then goes back on it, the changes his mind again and again. Like... seriously? No. At the end though, I was content with his decision but he still really annoyed me. I had grown to like his character but he kind of let me down towards the end. "At times, I was at peace with my place in the world, feeling not a care for my past, or my future. At other moments, I felt as if a boulder was on my chest, crushing me with the weight of my depression... If not already broken, I would say that my mind was breaking."- Geraint Jones, Blood Forest The second half of the book is where things really get going. I think I was at about 46%(?) when I started really binge reading because I was so into the story. It's also around this point where Felix starts to bond with the other troops and starts to care for them and because of this, I felt myself also bonding with the characters (but still not really liking Felix). I mean, come on, how could you not like Chickenhead and his kitten?!The second half was fast paced, action packed and full of feels. We saw bodies get chopped up, rage fill every single troop in the army and we also witness a stealth mission through a dangerous forest. I loved it. If it wasn't for the second half, I would have given up completely.This book is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It is full of vicious killings that are described in graphic detail and there is pretty much every swear word ever known to man in the book so yeah... if you're not a big fan of those things, you definitely shouldn't read this book. Otherwise, go for it and jump straight in. Just be weary of the first half because it drags.Overall, I do recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a gory Roman read. It's an ok book for a debut and I look forward to reading what Jones comes up with next.Side note: I know I've rated this book 2 stars but my real rating it 2.5Warning: this book contains triggers for death, suicide and war. Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest reviewReleased 27th June
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  • Lindsey Roberts
    January 1, 1970
    Original Review HereAnything set in the Roman era instantly grabs my interest. I was looking forward to reading Blood Forest by Geraint Jones!The first thing to say about this book is it is not for the squeamish, or if you dislike swearing. Films have ratings on them and this book made me think that the same should be true for novels. There were some graphic, gory scenes scattered throughout that would not be appropriate for younger readers.The story is told from the first-person narrative by a Original Review HereAnything set in the Roman era instantly grabs my interest. I was looking forward to reading Blood Forest by Geraint Jones!The first thing to say about this book is it is not for the squeamish, or if you dislike swearing. Films have ratings on them and this book made me think that the same should be true for novels. There were some graphic, gory scenes scattered throughout that would not be appropriate for younger readers.The story is told from the first-person narrative by a soldier the reader only knows as Felix. After being found at a scene of carnage, Felix is taken in by the army. But he doesn’t remember who he is, or how he came to be at that site in the first place.At least, that is what the characters are led to believe. From the reader’s perspective, we know he remembers more than he is letting on. But, just like his friends, we’re left in the dark about what haunts him.While this is an effective technique – you want to keep reading just to discover what Felix is hiding, never mind everything else! – it also means that I struggled to connect with the characters. When you know the main character is hiding something big that terrifies him every night, it’s hard to relate and connect to him.Partly due to Felix’s reluctance to get to know his new comrades and partly because of their nicknames, it also took me a while to figure out who was who out of everyone else. For at least half the book, I felt detached from the story because I didn’t feel anything for any of the characters.The second half of the book is stronger. Despite his intentions, Felix does start to bond with the men. Not only does this make him a more relatable character, it also clarifies the personalities of the others.The majority of the book is either the camp marching from one location to the next, or a battle. Or, rather, the army being harassed and loosing! When I think about it, there isn’t a lot more to the plot than that, despite Felix’s mysterious past. Once you get to know the characters, however, the battle has more weight because you’re willing these men to survive. The second half certainly gripped me more than the first!It isn’t the level of violence that I found uncomfortable in this book, it’s the intimacy of it. The men who are supposed to be the good guys are prepared to commit acts as atrocious as the bad guys. Again, this makes it hard to relate to the characters and empathise with their plight.The ending left me bemused. Without spoiling anything, you do find out Felix’s past. But I personally found it so far-fetched with everything else that was happening, I was bemused rather than shocked by the revelation.An enjoyable read that was too heavy at times to be considered entertainment.
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  • Keith Currie
    January 1, 1970
    A tale of treasonEagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem set the standard for Roman army battle novels about forty years ago and I have struggled to find any which come close in quality. Breem combined excellent Classical knowledge with a gritty integrity and story-telling ability. In addition his world was believable. His soldiers behaved like soldiers, not like Hollywood constructs. In Blood Forest, I felt once again some of the magic of reading Eagle in the Snow all these years ago.In a rapidly ex A tale of treasonEagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem set the standard for Roman army battle novels about forty years ago and I have struggled to find any which come close in quality. Breem combined excellent Classical knowledge with a gritty integrity and story-telling ability. In addition his world was believable. His soldiers behaved like soldiers, not like Hollywood constructs. In Blood Forest, I felt once again some of the magic of reading Eagle in the Snow all these years ago.In a rapidly expanding sub-genre of Roman historical fiction, Jones captures the catastrophe of the Roman betrayal and defeat in the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9 from the standpoint of the ordinary Roman legionary. Roman nobles, officers and governors play only a background role in this story – with one exception, the architect of the Roman defeat, the German Arminius. The narrative focuses closely on the legionary soldiers, as they are led in ignorance into a dreadful trap, and on their resilience in the face of impossible odds. The narrator, a soldier with a mysterious past, given the name Felix, as well as his tent mates are all granted interesting and convincing back stories. The slide into disaster begins at the edge of the soldiers’ consciousness, building to an unstoppable momentum. Best of all, the author in a novel with a known historical result, packs plenty of surprises, most of them entirely believable. The dark depths of the forest, the wind and the rain all contribute to the bleak tone of the narrative.There are flaws. I nearly gave up on the novel with the prologue, which throws the reader straight into the carnage of the Teutoburg Forest, as a sort of taster of things to come or bait for the impatient reader. Like Gregory Solon’s Three Legions, which explores the same territory, this novel builds up to its explosive climax. The language is very strong, the violence is visceral, but I never once thought it was gratuitous.At its apocalyptic close, the author allows himself space for a possible sequel. I would certainly read it, but wonder if the ending would be best left where it is.
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  • Nick Green
    January 1, 1970
    A good and entertaining novel from Geraint Jones, which deals with the time when the Romans are invading Germany. The main core of this book is focused around Felix - a character who I simply love (even the other characters too) - and how he is a suspected traitor but manages to convince his way into the army, and during the book he does this several times. I really enjoyed the whole first-person narrative in this book and the use of 'I', where most Roman based books tend to took of the army as A good and entertaining novel from Geraint Jones, which deals with the time when the Romans are invading Germany. The main core of this book is focused around Felix - a character who I simply love (even the other characters too) - and how he is a suspected traitor but manages to convince his way into the army, and during the book he does this several times. I really enjoyed the whole first-person narrative in this book and the use of 'I', where most Roman based books tend to took of the army as whole - and how it focuses in on the mind of the solider and how fragile it can become. Given that this was his debut novel, I felt that during that middle part the plot could've been made quicker and the key phrase is 'write less, say more'. It's good to know, from the Author's Note - that there will be more stories: "With Arminus a threat, and Felix a slave, there's a lot more blood to be shed".
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  • Breakaway Reviewers
    January 1, 1970
    Blood Forest by Geraint Jones3 starsThe Roman Empire as it really was. Warts and all.AD9, the Romans are in Germania Magna, trying to subdue the German tribes. A section comes upon a German army and is soundly beaten. A sole survivor, drawn by the smell of cooking meat, finds six bodies in wicker baskets suspended above fires. He knows they are Romans by the sight of their cross-hung leather belts. Six of their comrades are lying in a circle with their bellies slit and entrails piled upon their Blood Forest by Geraint Jones3 starsThe Roman Empire as it really was. Warts and all.AD9, the Romans are in Germania Magna, trying to subdue the German tribes. A section comes upon a German army and is soundly beaten. A sole survivor, drawn by the smell of cooking meat, finds six bodies in wicker baskets suspended above fires. He knows they are Romans by the sight of their cross-hung leather belts. Six of their comrades are lying in a circle with their bellies slit and entrails piled upon their chests.A fresh posse of Romans happens upon the bodies and the survivor hides until he knows it is safe to reveal himself. The leader of the small posse is Arminius, German-born but a Roman citizen. Arminius asks the survivor who he is ‘I don’t know’ came the reply.He is taken, cleaned up and sent to serve with Governor Varus’s army on the Rhine. They call him Felix. He is resented at first by his new comrades and has to find his own level in their company. Does Felix really not know who he is? What side is he really on? One thing is for certain, he is a professional soldier and cannot hide that fact, no matter how hard he tries.This book is written in the first person by Felix so we see everything from his perspective. From the very first page, it is a brutal and shocking insight into the times. No attempt has been made to soften the action and we see just how vicious, bloodthirsty and nasty the fighting was. There is also a liberal use of profanities scattered throughout the book. This is a tale of Roman soldiers told from the bottom of the pile. No use for political niceties here.Mr BumblebeeBreakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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  • Ian Langham
    January 1, 1970
    This is a debut from an ex-soldier. As a debut it maybe it is a bit raw in places, that aside it is a cracking read and a fresh take on the Roman defeat in the German forests, if told from the Roman side. An area which is becoming more popular as a location to set Roman Novels as opposed to everything set in Rome. As already mentioned the writer is an ex-soldier so he wisely stuck to his strengths and told the tale from the nitty-gritty viewpoint of the common soldier rather than the high comman This is a debut from an ex-soldier. As a debut it maybe it is a bit raw in places, that aside it is a cracking read and a fresh take on the Roman defeat in the German forests, if told from the Roman side. An area which is becoming more popular as a location to set Roman Novels as opposed to everything set in Rome. As already mentioned the writer is an ex-soldier so he wisely stuck to his strengths and told the tale from the nitty-gritty viewpoint of the common soldier rather than the high command and assorted roman nobilityThe book opens with a lone survivor of a group of soldiers being killed and he is discovered by the germanic prince Arminius. Being placed in a section/unit in the Roman Legion. The survivor is renamed Felix meaning lucky. As the story unfolds the legions head into the massive German Forests and into the unknown. Once into the forests they come under attack from the unrelenting and merciless German tribes. This book is both sweary and violent, but as soldiers are not shrinking daises its to be expected.Overall a blood soaked tale of soldiers fighting for their mates and very lives in the face of overwhelming odds. Of the novelsI have read on this (Roman viewpoint) battle. This stands alongside a trilogy by an ex-vet as the very best.
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  • Linda Humberstone
    January 1, 1970
    I was interested in reading this novel about the Roman defeat in the Teutoberg forest because I had some knowledge of it via my degree. The Romans would always remember the Varian disaster with horror but you cannot but admire Arminius, together with the planning and organisation, that was needed to make this a victory. The Romans did indeed hate forests as they found them frightening places and the Germans were very clever in their tactics unnerving the Roman army and drawing them towards them I was interested in reading this novel about the Roman defeat in the Teutoberg forest because I had some knowledge of it via my degree. The Romans would always remember the Varian disaster with horror but you cannot but admire Arminius, together with the planning and organisation, that was needed to make this a victory. The Romans did indeed hate forests as they found them frightening places and the Germans were very clever in their tactics unnerving the Roman army and drawing them towards them relentlessly. The author writes from a soldier's prospective and it is bloody and cruel but this is what war is like when you are fighting against the subjugation of your people. I think Geraint Jones has researched his subject extremely well, made his characters convincing and portrays the events realistically. I read this in a day and was sorry when finished.
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  • Niels Bergervoet
    January 1, 1970
    The book is promoted as a page turner, and it definitely is. I finished it in two days, and it only took me so long because I also had other stuff to do. The author creates a really convincing setting and characters, and I can truly imagine how it might have been for the Roman soldiers to fight in the battle of the Teutoburger forest.
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  • David Jones
    January 1, 1970
    A book that tells the story from the grunts levelA well written book, can't wait for the following book or books as this cannot be left as it is,
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