Servant of the Crown by Paul J.Bennett

Servant of the Crown by Paul J.Bennett is an epic dragons, swords and Sorcery, Fantasy Action Adventure story. It features an unlikely hero named Gerald Matheson who fought in the Northern Wars, until the day he nearly died defending King Andred IV from raiders and is Sent to the capital for healing. Now he now yearns to get back and serve the Baron of Bodmin.

Then, Gerald is sent to serve in the garrison. However fate intervenes while he is in the slums of the capital, changing the course of his life. Caught up in a failed military action, Gerald becomes the scapegoat of the ensuing massacre. Saved from death by his mentor, he is instead banished from the capital, sent into obscurity at a forgotten Royal Estate. As he struggles to adapt to his new lot in life Gerald uncovers a secret the king has carefully hidden away from prying eyes which could have far-reaching repercussions, changing the fate and future of the entire kingdom.

Roald Dahl

British novelist, short story writer, poet, fighter pilot & screenwriter Roald Dahl sadly passed away on 23rd November 1990 at the age of 74 of a blood disease, myelodysplastic syndrome, in Oxford, and was buried in the cemetery at St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England.Born 13 September 1916 in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales. He was named after the polar explorer Roald Amundsen. Dahl first attended The Cathedral School, Llandaff. Thereafter, he transferred to Saint Peter’s Boarding School in Weston-super-Mare, and in 1929, he attended Repton School in Derbyshire, During his school years He was never seen as a particularly talented writer , although He excelled at sports, and was made captain of the school fives and squash teams, and also played football. As well as having a passion for literature, he also developed an interest in photography and often carried a camera with him. During his years at Repton, Cadbury’s, would occasionally send boxes of new chocolates to the school to be tested by the pupils. Dahl apparently used to dream of inventing a new chocolate bar that would win the praise of Mr. Cadbury himself; and this proved the inspiration for him to write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and include references to chocolate in other books. His first job of selling kerosene in Midsomer Norton and surrounding villages in Somerset, south West England is also a subject in Boy: Tales of Childhood.

After finishing his schooling, he went hiking through Newfoundland with the Public Schools’ Exploring Society and in July 1934, joined the Shell Petroleum Company, & after two years of training, he was transferred to first Mombasa, Kenya, then to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. In August 1939, as World War II loomed, plans were made to round up the hundreds of Germans in Dar-es-Salaam. Dahl was made an officer in the King’s African Rifles, commanding a platoon of Askaris, indigenous troops serving in the colonial army. In November 1939, Dahl joined the Royal Air Force as an Aircraftman and was promoted to Leading Aircraftman on 24 August 1940. Following six months’ training on Hawker Harts, Dahl was made an Acting Pilot Officer. He was assigned to No. 80 Squadron RAF flying obsolete Gloster Gladiator biplanes, but did not receive any specialised training in aerial combat, or in flying Gladiators. Sadly during one mission, he was forced to attempt a landing in the desert because he was running low on fuel and night was approaching, unfortunately the undercarriage hit a boulder causing the aircraft to crash, fracturing his skull, smashing his nose and temporarily blinding him. luckily He managed to drag himself away from the blazing wreckage and passed out and was rescued and taken to a first-aid post in Mersa Matruh, then taken by train to the Royal Navy hospital in Alexandria.

After his recovery, Dahl took part in the “Battle of Athens”,On 20 April 1941, alongside the highest-scoring British Commonwealth ace of World War II, Pat Pattle.In May, Dahl was evacuated to Egypt and flew sorties every day for four weeks, shooting down a Vichy French Air Force Potez 63 and a Ju-88, but he then began to get severe headaches that caused him to black out, so He was invalided home to Britain. Though at this time Dahl was only a Pilot Officer on probation, in September 1941 he was simultaneously confirmed as a Pilot Officer and promoted to war substantive Flying Officer.

Dahl began writing in 1942, after he was transferred to Washington, D.C. as Assistant Air Attaché. His first published work was “Shot Down Over Libya” which described the crash of his Gloster Gladiator. C. S. Forester also asked Dahl to write down some RAF anecdotes so that he could shape them into a story. After Forester read what Dahl had given him, he decided to publish the story exactly as Dahl had written it. The original title of the article was “A Piece of Cake” but the title was changed to sound more dramatic, despite the fact that he was not actually shot down. Dahl was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in August 1942. During the war, Forester worked for the British Information Service and was writing propaganda for the Allied cause, mainly for American consumption.[33] This work introduced Dahl to espionage and the activities of the Canadian spymaster William Stephenson, During the war, Dahl supplied intelligence from Washington to Stephenson and his organisation known as British Security Coordination, which was part of MI6, where he worked with other well-known officers such as Ian Fleming and David Ogilvy.

After the war Dahl held the rank of a temporary Wing Commander (substantive Flight Lieutenant)in August 1946 he was invalided out of the RAF. He left the service with the substantive rank of Squadron Leader. His record of at least five aerial victories, qualifying him as a flying ace.After the war Dahl went on to become one of the world’s best-selling authors, writing works for both children and adults and has been referred to as “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century”. In 2008 The Times placed Dahl 16th on its list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″. His short stories are known for their unexpected endings, and his children’s books for their unsentimental, often very dark humour. Some of his notable works include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Twits, George’s Marvellous Medicine and The BFG. In the 1986 New Years Honours List, Dahl was offered the Order of the British Empire (OBE), but turned it down, purportedly because he wanted a knighthood so that his wife would be Lady Dahl. Dahl is the father of author Tessa Dahl and grandfather of author, cookbook writer and former model Sophie Dahl (after whom Sophie in The BFG is named). The latest film adaptation of the BFG has also recently been released on DVD.

Boris Karloff

English actor Boris Karloff (William Henry Pratt) was born 23 November 1887. Karloff is best remembered for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939). His popularity following Frankenstein was such that for a brief time he was billed simply as “Karloff” or “Karloff the Uncanny.” His best-known non-horror role is as the Grinch, as well as the narrator, in the animated television special of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966).Karloff grew up in Enfield & attended Enfield Grammar School before moving to Uppingham School and Merchant Taylors’ School, and King’s College London where he studied to go into the consular service. He dropped out in 1909 and worked as a farm labourer and did various odd jobs until he happened into acting. His brother, Sir John Thomas Pratt, became a distinguished British diplomat. Karloff was bow-legged, had a lisp, and stuttered as a young boy.

He conquered his stutter, but not his lisp, which was noticeable all through his career. In 1909, Pratt travelled to Canada and began appearing in stage shows throughout the country; and some time later changed his professional name to “Boris Karloff”. Some have theorized that he took the stage name from a mad scientist character in the novel The Drums of Jeopardy called “Boris Karlov”. Karloff joined the Jeanne Russell Company in 1911 and performed in towns like Kamloops, British Columbia and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. After the devastating Regina, Saskatchewan, cyclone of 30 June 1912, Karloff and other performers helped with cleanup efforts. He later took a job as a railway baggage handler and joined the Harry St. Clair Co. that performed in Minot, North Dakota. Once Karloff arrived in Hollywood in 1918, he made dozens of silent films, such as The Masked Rider (1919), The Hope Diamond Mystery (1920), King of the Wild (1930) and The Criminal Code (1931), a prison drama in which he reprised a dramatic part he had played on stage. Another significant role was an unethical newspaper reporter in Five Star Final, a harshly critical film about tabloid journalism which was nominated for an Oscar as Best Picture of 1931-32. However it was His role as the Frankenstein monster in Frankenstein (1931) which made Karloff a star. A year later, Karloff played another iconic character, Imhotep in The Mummy. The Old Dark House (with Charles Laughton) and the starring role in The Mask of Fu Manchu quickly followed. These films all confirmed Karloff’s new-found stardom and In 1933, he went back to Britain to make The Ghoul.

Karloff appeared in other films besides horror. including the 1932 film Scarface and the 1934 John Ford epic The Lost Patrol.However, horror remained Karloff’s primary genre, and he appeared in many 1930s Universal horror films, including several with Bela Lugosi, his main rival as heir to Lon Chaney, Sr.’s status as the top horror film star. After earning fame in Frankenstein, Karloff appeared as the Frankenstein monster in two other films, The Bride Of Frankenstein in 1935 and The Son Of Frankenstein in 1939, with the latter also featuring Lugosi. Karloff also starred as the villainous Dr. Niemann in House of Frankenstein (1944). Karloff returned to the role of the “mad scientist” in 1958′s Frankenstein 1970, as Baron Victor von Frankenstein II, the grandson of the original inventor. The long, creative partnership between Karloff and Lugosi produced some of the actors’ most revered and enduring productions, beginning with The Black Cat. Follow-ups included Gift of Gab (1934), The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1936), Black Friday (1940), You’ll Find Out (also 1940), and The Body Snatcher (1945) & Tower of London (1939). From 1945 t0 1946 Karloff also appeared in Isle Of The Dead, The Body Snatcher, and Bedlam.

He returned to the Broadway stage in the original production of Arsenic and Old Lace in 1941. He also appeared as Captain Hook in the play Peter Pan with Jean Arthur. He was nominated for a Tony Award for his work opposite Julie Harris in The Lark, by the French playwright Jean Anouilh about Joan of Arc, which was also reprised on Hallmark Hall of Fame. In later years, Karloff appeared in a number of television series, including, Out Of This World, and The Veil & the British TV in the series Colonel March of Scotland Yard. He also appeared in The Comedy of Terrors, The Raven, and The Terror, the latter two directed by Roger Corman, and Die, Monster, Die! He also featured in Michael Reeves’s second feature film, The Sorcerers, in 1966. Karloff also guest starred along with horror actor Vincent Price in a parody of Frankenstein, with Red Skelton as the monster “Klem Kadiddle Monster.” In 1966, Karloff also appeared with Robert Vaughn and Stefanie Powers in the spy series The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. That same year he also played an Indian Maharajah on the instalment of the adventure series The Wild Wild West titled “The Night of the Golden Cobra.” In 1967, he played an eccentric Spanish professor who believes himself to be Don Quixote in a whimsical episode of I Spy.In 1968, Karloff starred in Targets, a film directed by Peter Bogdanovich about a young man who embarks on a killing spree. The film starred Karloff as retired horror film actor, Byron Orlok, a thinly disguised version of Karloff himself. It was his last film shot in the United States.In 1968 he played occult expert Prof. Marsh in a British film called The Crimson Cult (Curse of the Crimson Altar), which was the last film to be released during Karloff’s lifetime.

Karloff ended his career by appearing in four low-budget Mexican horror films: The Snake People, The Incredible Invasion, The Fear Chamber, and House of Evil. He also starred in Cauldron of Blood, in 1967 alongside Viveca Lindfors.Boris Karloff lived out his final years in England at his cottage, ‘Roundabout,’ in the Hampshire village of Bramshott.Sadly After a long battle with arthritis and emphysema, he contracted pneumonia, succumbing to it in King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst, Sussex on 2 February 1969. He was cremated, following a requested low-key service, at Guildford Crematorium, Godalming, Surrey, where he is commemorated by a plaque in the Garden of Remembrance. A memorial service was held at St Paul’s, Covent Garden (the Actors’ Church), London, where there is also a plaque. However, even death could not put an immediate halt to Karloff’s media career. Four Mexican films for which Karloff shot his scenes in Los Angeles were released over a two-year period after he had died. Karloff also lent his name and likeness to a comic book for Gold Key Comics based upon the series. After Thriller was cancelled, the comic was retitled Boris Karloff’s Tales of Mystery. An illustrated likeness of Karloff continued to introduce each issue of this publication for nearly a decade after the real Karloff died; the comic lasted until the early 1980s. Starting in 2009, Dark Horse Comics started to reprint Tales of Mystery in a hard bound archive.

Doctor Who

The first episode of British science-fiction television programme Doctor Who entitled “An Unearthly Child” was broadcast 23 November 1963. Doctor Who depicts the exciting and often dangerous adventures of a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey—a time-travelling humanoid/alien known as the Doctor. He explores the universe in a time-travelling spaceship called  TARDIS (acronym: Time and Relative Dimension in Space), a sentient time-travelling space ship which is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, which he “borrowed” from The Time Lords. Its exterior is supposed to change to match the surroundings however it got damaged and now appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faced a veritable rogues gallery of villainous foes, including The Master, Omega, Sutekh, Rassilon, The Valeyard, The Autons, Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarens, Silurians, Ice Warriors, Sea Devils And Zygons

During its original run, it was recognised for its imaginative stories, creative low-budget special effects, and pioneering use of electronic music (originally produced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop). The show is a significant part of British popular culture; and has become a cult favourite, influencing generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series. The programme originally ran from 1963 to 1989 and featured William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as various regenerations of the Doctor

There are also two Doctor Who feature films featuring Peter Cushing: Doctor. Who and the Daleks, released in 1965 and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. in 1966. Both are retellings of existing television stories (specifically, the first two Dalek serials, The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion of Earth respectively) with a larger budget and alterations to the series concept. The Cushing version of the character reappears in both comic strips and a short story, the latter attempting to reconcile the film continuity with that of the series.

Sadly The programme was cancelled in 1989 following the Sylvester McCoy episode Survival, which featured Sophie aldred as Ace and Anthony Ainley as The Master. However A number of films were proposed to revive the original Doctor Who including many attempted television movies and big screen productions before a television movie starring Paul McGann as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor Was finally made. After the film, he continued the role in audio books and was confirmed as the eighth incarnation through flashback footage and a mini episode effectively linking the two series and the television movie. John Hurt also played The War Doctor in an episode with David Tennant and Matt Smith, linking events between McGann and Christopher Ecclestone retrospectively.

The programme was relaunched in 2005 by Russell T Davies who was head writer for five years. From 1989 it was produced by BBC Wales in Cardiff. Series 1 in the 21st century, featuring Christopher Eccleston as the ninth incarnation, was produced by the BBC. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), co-producer series 2 & 3. Doctor Who also spawned spin-offs including Torchwood (2006–11) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007–11), both created by Russell T Davies; K-9 (2009–10), the four-part video series P.R.O.B.E. (1994–96), and a single pilot episode of K-9 and Company (1981).

Actors who have portrayed the Doctor include William Hartnell, Peter Cushing, Patrick Troughton, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Richard E.Grant, Paul McGann, John Hurt, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. The transition from one actor to another is written into the plot of the show as regeneration, a life process of Time Lords through which the character of the Doctor takes on a new body and, to some extent, new personality, which occurs after sustaining injury which would be fatal to most other species. Although each portrayal of the Doctor is different, and on occasions the various incarnations have even met one another, they are all meant to be aspects of the same character. The new series of Doctor Who launches in 2018 and features Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor alongside Bradley Walsh as Malcolm, with a Doctor Who Christmas Special being broadcast Christmas 2017.

The show has received recognition as one of Britain’s finest television programmes, winning the 2006 British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series and five consecutive (2005–2010) awards at the National Television Awards during Russell T Davies’s tenure as executive producer. In 2011, Matt Smith became the first Doctor to be nominated for a BAFTA Television Award for Best Actor. In 2013, the Peabody Awards honoured Doctor Who with an Institutional Peabody “for evolving with technology and the times like nothing else in the known television universe”. The programme is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world and as the “most successful” science fiction series of all time. Unearthly Child wasn’t the only episode broadcast 23 November either. A number of other Doctor Who stories have also been broadcast on that date to mark the anniversary, including Dragonfire, Silver Nemesis and The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.

The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

I would like to read The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. This novel is an intelligent homage to the Golden Age of Crime writers like Agatha Christie. It features Susan Ryeland, a forty something editor at a publishers named Cloverleaf Books who finds herself involved in a murder after she is given the latest manuscript of the Atticus series from an author named Alan Conway.

The Atticus series is set in the 1950s. Atticus is a German refugee, who has assisted the police in a number of murder cases. He has an assistant, James Fraser, and is dying from terminal cancer. This is to be his last case. Atticus finds himself in Saxby on Avon, helping Inspector Raymond Chubb in what appears to be two murders, a cleaning woman, Mary Blakiston, and the beheading of Sir Magnus at Pye Hall. There are a host of suspects ranging from the vicar to the sister of Magnus, Clarissa. Mary Blakiston is a busybody who made herself privy to the secrets of many in the village. Magnus is loathed, and he has sanctioned the development of Dingle Dell which has created uproar locally. Atticus uncovers a web of deceit, fraud, and secrets galore.

Initially she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

However The more Susan reads the more she becomes suspicious particularly when the author, Alan Conway, is discovered dead, apparently having committed suicide, however Susan is convinced that Alan has been murdered, He was an unlikeable character and many have possible motives to kill him. Then the novel ends abruptly at the point where Atticus is about to reveal the murderer, with three chapters missing. Susan becomes convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript and more than one mystery. So Susan turns amateur detective and goes in search of the missing chapters and Alan’s murderer. Susan concludes that the missing chapters contain clues to Alan’s killer, and finds numerous connections, cryptic clues and references in the rest of the Atticus novel, as she tries to find out who killed Alan and discovers a real-life story of jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Knights of the Black and White by Jack Wyte

Having read Conn Iggulden, I would like to read the exciting historical novel Knights of the Black and white by Jack Whyte. It is the first part of the Templar trilogy followed by Standard of Honour and Order in Chaos. It begins in 1088. During this time many French nobles were attempting to occupy a violently hostile England. Amidst this backdrop one young knight, Hugh de Payens, is inducted into a powerful secret society called The Order of Rebirth in Sion which draws its membership from the ranks of some of France’s most powerful families, with only one son from each generation eligible to be selected, and its members’ loyalty to the ancient brotherhood transcends loyalty to both Church and state. When the new Pope calls for knights to join his Crusade to redeem the Holy Land, Hugh is commanded by the Order to go along and he finds himself in hellish battle in Jerusalem.

Sickened by the slaughter of innocents and civilians and appalled by the savagery of his fellow Christians, Hugh appeals to the Order to allow him and a few of the brotherhood to follow a different path. Determined to remain true to their own beliefs, they become the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ, a unique order of fighting monks, and use the skills honed in battle to defend and protect pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem.

However the Order has a different plan, and soon the brethren are charged with an outlandish and dangerous task—a seemingly impossible mission to uncover a treasure hidden in the very center of Jerusalem, a treasure that might not only destroy the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem but also threaten the fabric of the Church itself.