Battle of Brothers

Battle of Brothers

by Robert Lacey

A Book Review by Abby Lane

Battle of Brothers is a biographical masterpiece of two brothers and their royal family. At the novel’s root, it’s a history lesson; the naughty prince who highlights the morning pages of the daily news, and the nice prince who stands in the background, guarding a personal life and kingly future, his earlier behaviors seemingly unnoticed by the press.

Robert Lacey writes a respectful accounting, drawing the reader into the narrative and keeping them connected with each diligently written word. The author has an impressive track record as a British historian and consultant to The Netflix series, The Crown. His words render emotional, sometimes humorous responses, such as “Major ‘Poker’ Bowles”, and other times poignant, depicting a portrait of care and compassion for the royal sovereigns, which include the wives, the family, and “The Firm”. I’ve always had a fascination for the inside story of the royal family, so it’s a pleasure to read a book that acknowledges a family’s history in an insightful, professional, and graceful manner.

Five stars for this brilliant novel!


Finding Freedom

Finding Freedom

by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand

A Book Review by Abby Lane

Authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand deliver an evocative commentary in “the making of a Modern Royal Family” with their keen observations of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in the royalty biography, Finding Freedom.

The cooperative narrative draws “on hundreds of hours of conversations and interviews with more than one hundred sources (Finding Freedom, Authors Note),” potentially compromising boundaries in royal protocol, which at times the narrative reads in such a personal and private nature, the authors effectively place the reader in the couple’s life from their first meeting, various travels, engagement and wedding day celebrations, the birth of Archie, their role as working royals; and an all-important meeting with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William.

The conversation personalizes this accounting, but is also suggestive, leading this reader to wonder if Harry and Meghan participated in the writing of this book, either knowingly or unknowingly. The narrative in “the book” sometimes feels as if too-close associations are being revealed, as the authors disclose private meetings and communicated knowledge that perhaps should not have been published in such a bookish manner, especially in a disclosure of Prince William, Prince Harry’s brother. However, Finding Freedom seems like an honest exposition of a couple’s struggles within the monarchy’s structure while enduring unjust criticism from media sources and Meghan’s own distant family.I enjoyed reading this thoughtful and well-written novel. While I ponder the novel’s true motivation, the queen’s released statement holds notable value: “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family.” One might reflect on the queen’s wisdom while also being supportive of a royal couple who hopefully will find new meaning for their lives within their newly found freedom.

Abby Lane weaves a colorful tapestry, intertwining her narrative with nostalgic threads that fantasy readers can relate to. She’s the author of the dark fantasy series A Reign of Blood and Magic and her novels are available at your favorite online and brick and mortar bookstores.


On a bitterly cold day

Chapter Two: King Lowell

On a bitterly cold day, lacking of warmth or human compassion, the kingdom of Velez faced the queen mother’s treachery. The people prayed a god might intervene to deliver them from her madness, thereby preventing Wodensday from dawning, but their prayers went unanswered and the morning dawned anyway, as mornings always do, although graver than expected.

A thick white haze crept in from the sea, smoking the lower hills and denying a shaft of sunlight from penetrating the eastern horizon. Perhaps the god of war didn’t understand the situation, as he had not done his part to grace the land with protective magic.

King Lowell didn’t welcome pagan gods and had ignored the Privy Council’s warning. Preparing himself for a sentence that must be carried out, he stood in front of a golden reflecting glass, appraising his shoddy appearance. A strained forehead, grizzled cheeks, and tense worry lines darkened the hollows beneath his steel blue eyes. He searched for the likeness of his father in the reflecting glass, considering the blue of his own eyes while remembering the emerald green of the former king. His father’s visage had begun to slip away, blurring with the passage of time, but the man’s opinions still carried weight.

If the choice were yours to make, Fatherwould you have decreed the same punishment?

Lowell supposed it didn’t matter what a former king may have reasoned; he was dead, helpless to support the actions of the new king either way. The opinions of his royal parentage or his king’s men—or anyone else’s, for that matter—shouldn’t concern him. He alone must face his reservations and live with the consequences.

Still, the deed he must bear witness to brought him no joy. He did not smile as he withdrew from the mercuric glass. Good humor would not find him smiling on this sickening day.

The Ebony Queen, book two in the series A Reign of Blood and Magic, is available for preorder and releases on July 14th, 2020.


A Preface from the series, A Reign of Blood & Magic

An author includes a Preface at the beginning of a novel to give the reader insight into why a book was written. I include preliminary descriptions in some books to honor the story. A story and/or character originates from a seed of an idea, but a story concept is not only shaped by an author’s imagination, but also by life experience. The Preface for The Scarlett Mark, the first book in A Reign of Blood & Magic series, explains the inspiration behind my dark fantasy series. I hope you enjoy it.


The Scarlett Mark was an abstract idea during the summer of 2012, in that a story hadn’t taken shape yet. At that time, I was employed as a bookseller at Indigo Books & Music, and though I had written several manuscripts, I wasn’t writing at this time. In fact, I’d given up on writing a book, let alone publishing one. Yet, I worked in the bookstore for years, waiting for inspiration to bear words. Participating in Harry Potter’s and then Stephanie Meyer’s book releases, always waiting, hoping, the muse would strike again.

And then: The first season of The Game of Thrones aired on HBO. The story hooked my imagination to such an extent, I was soon reading the series: A Song of Ice and Fire. I appreciated George R. R. Martin’s writing style, especially the way he shared his prose, offering up one character at a time. Now, some readers might be upset by a character’s demise, and I certainly was too, in some cases, but history proves that humanity is unkind, so what I see as a realistic approach to characterization or being true to one’s narrative, is what I admire most about George.

And then, bam! My imagination sprouted a seed of an idea.

A Reign of Blood and Magic (not the original series title) began with Scarlett, Ruby, and Rose. One day at work, I’m in the lunchroom and three names pop into my head. I’m mindful of the color red, from the beginning. It isn’t long before I’m writing their story. This story.

My favorite character to conceive is Cynara. The story begins with her and if she ever dies, the series will end with her, too. I love her capacity to act. To not accept strife from anyone. To go where no other woman has gone before, regardless of the consequences.

I published the first edition in 2015. An early reviewer and close friend said this book seemed as if it was written from a childhood heart, and I think that’s true. The author in me who love’s fairy tales, especially Sleeping Beauty and everything Disney, wants to connect with real life heroes and heroines in a fantasy way, wrote this story.

I hope you enjoy it!

If you’re interested in learning more about The Scarlett Mark, click here: