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Showing 1-10 of 361 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 390 reviews
on May 10, 2013
When I started reading this book, I wasn't overly impressed because it seemed like way too much time was spent creating the characters. My wife felt the same way later when she read the book. However, once we got past the introductions, and into the heart of the book, the reason for spending the extra time getting to know the characters became apparent.

This book ended up being one of the best I've read in the past year. I ended up buying the sequal so I could find out how it ended.
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on December 30, 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed this book until I got to the nonexistent ending. I understand the desire to get the reader into the next book in a series, but to trick the reader into it by waiting to the stopping of the story to do it is very frustrating. Just tell me up front that I have to get two books, or more - that is just being honest. This is the second time I have been fooled by this trick and I don't appreciate it. So, reader beware. Again, I enjoyed the story, but know that you will need to get a second book to have a satisfying conclusion.
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on April 16, 2013
Altdorf is the first book of the Forest Knights duology and is set during Middle Ages in Europe. J.K. Swift has done a fantastic jobs creating an interesting world with compelling characters and a fascinating story. Perhaps more fantasy than history compared to other historical fiction novels, I still found it a fantastic read. If your a fan of Angus Donald's Robin Hood series or Conn Iggulden's Emperor and Conqueror series than you'll be a fan of Swift's Forest Knights novels. Note: both books of the series (Altdorf & Morgarten) should be read together, i.e. one right after the other.
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on June 16, 2016
This was a hard book to review. It's well written, and the characters are interesting, but some of them are just so nasty! It's a tale set in Austria, when the Knights Hospitallers have been disbanded, and a group of them return to their homes in the countryside. Duke Leopold, a Hapsburg and a really not nice guy, essentially kidnaps locals and forces them to build a mighty fortress so he can command the trade route that the fortress sits on. Commit a very small crime? Next thing you know, you are slave labor on the fortress. Not only is the pay not great, but the food and working conditions suck too.

But all is not lost! A young man named Noll and his band of merry men are fighting the aristocrats for the freedom of their fellow man. And a young druid/healer sees the role Noll will play in changing the country they live in.

Altdorf is the first in the series, and does a good job of setting the stage. I only hope the second book is a little cheerier!
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on April 9, 2016
The book is written in a conversational tone making it a delightful read. The dialogues are engaging and the fighting scenes are vividly described. The characters are lovable. Thomas is an ideal protagonist, quiet, hardworking, an accomplished healer, first-rate fighter and a loyal friend. Seraina is an admirable woman, generous, brave and compassionate. Noll is inspiring, stubborn and fearless. My favorite is Pirmin, Thomas' brother-at-arms. He is funny, sweet and endearing. Even Leopold is a well-developed character, mean and loathsome. I enjoyed this book a lot and I'm looking forward to reading the second book.
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on July 5, 2016
I enjoy historical novels. They provide an enjoyable way to revisit or learn about different cultures.

This tale takes place when Christianity had a firm hold over all the kingdoms of Europe, & only a few of those who practice the old Druid religion; reverence of Mother Earth, remain.

A chokehold on all of the advanced knowledge in Math & Science, from Asia & the Middle East, has been stifled for almost 200 years. Those who have studied this knowledge must hold it close lest they be accused of witchcraft.

Out of hundreds of common orphan boys, rounded up & sold into the slavery of the church; four return home after twenty years of slaughtering men, women & children. Each believes that having served their masters with honor, in the Pope's first Navy, that they will have the freedom to choose, how they will live out the rest of their lives.

Returning to their homeland, they seek to reconnect, if possible, to family who might be still alive. However, there is a political storm on the horizon as Kings prepare to war over power & profits; while the common man begins to question the rights these lords have over any of them.
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on January 29, 2016
As I read a large amount of Science Fiction and Fantasy, at first I was disappointed in this book because I thought was more of that genre. However, it had been a while since I had downloaded it, so I had forgotten what the real story line was about. If you are looking for a book with witches and lots of fantasy action, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a story based in the Middle Ages in Europe, with all the issues of feudalism, the Holy Wars, and more true to life action, this is an excellent book for you.

I really settled into the story about chapter 5, when the author began to talk about the Knights Templar and Jacques DeMolay. This is a story that Freemasonry tells in its degrees for Knights Templar, and the Order of DeMolay for teenage boys uses a general account of his final trial in front of the Inquisition to teach solid virtues for young men. Since I am a senior member of that group, I was quite interested in that story, and at that point, the fact that this was no paranormal witches' tale finally hit home with me.

That being said, I am less familiar with the Knights Hospitaller and their background. I found the basic story to be very interesting, where one sees that even if people had been in such an exalted group at one time, they don't always stay that way. The feudalism aspect, where so many people were considered beneath others due to an accident of birth, is something that always frustrates me, and this story did not disappoint in that area. In a royal court, this book made me wonder how a Fool (Jester) could have more than a very short life, if they were as outspoken and cheeky as the one in this story.

This book carries these story lines very well, although the general pace is not very fast. By no means is this a book that will force you into reading a lot of extra time to finish.

I found the grammar, spelling, and structure of the story as being decent. While there were some minor issues, in no way did they detract from the book. The characters were largely well-developed, and brought their own challenges and tensions to the story. Character interaction was mostly well-done; only a couple of places did you have characters that were anything close to caricatures. Some characters you might find yourself emotionally invested in, so a few places cause some emotional angst, as a good book should.

Overall, this is a very good story of Medieval times in central Europe. The slower pace brings it down a little for me, but it does not drag. It is definitely worth a read.
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on July 14, 2015
I bought this because I've gone through all the books in the other medieval European series I'm following (e.g. Matthew Shardlake, the Hangman's Daughter, Bernard Cornwell, etc.) and am waiting for new releases If you like historical fiction about this era, I think you will enjoy this novel and its successor. It has memorable characters and is well plotted. Just a faint trace of the supernatural in this one differentiates the story from the other series I've mentioned, but thankfully it doesn't cross the line into the fantasy world of wizards and dragons. Unlike most of its competitor novels, this one isn't set in England, France, or Germany, but in the part of Europe that would become Switzerland, which I found to be a welcome geographical departure.
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on February 21, 2014
This book covers an era of European history which I know absolutely nothing about; the Hapsburg's.

The author admits to taking some liberties with factual/fictional characters/events.

I like the way the he was able to flip you back in time as a character was remembering the past & then seamlessly bring you back to the present.

The characters are rich & well fleshed out (and he's not afraid to kill off someone you've grown to like.)

I'd compare Swift's craftsmanship to that of Cornwell & Iggulden!

I hope he'll take a serious stab at more Euro historical fiction!!!
(Papal intrigues & warcraft would be really cool...)

I bought the 2nd book in the series & expect it to be every bit as good as the 1st...
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on October 11, 2015
Thomas Schwyzer, a Hospitalier soldier, returns from service in the Holy Land to his homeland in the Alpine countryside with several fellow warriors. He only desires to live a life of peace and quiet and adopts the life of a simple ferryman. He soon becomes involved with the plight of the local populace who are forced into virtual slavery to build a fortress for Duke Leopold to control the mountain pass used by merchants. An outlaw named Noll and a druid priestess oppose the duke and seek the freedom of their people and endeavor to engage Thomas in their cause.

There is good battle action in this novel. There is good dialogue and descriptions and the characters are believable. One can get a good idea of the way that life was in the early 1300s in the regions of Switzerland and Austria. I am more familiar with English medieval history. It was a bit hard for me to grasp the different regions and politics involved. Still, it was an interesting novel. I was disappointed that the book ended as only the first part of the story, the rest to continue in the next novel in the series.
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