I have been writing on and off since I was a shy lad hiding under the bed and scribbling in an out of date diary (I think it was about my space travels). Most of my works have been either plays populated with grotesques who stumble around ruins and those odd places we forget about or epic tales of those last Roman legionaries as they falter and fall at the end of Empire.
Over the last three years, I have embarked on a series of plays which I have entitled 'The Ostraka Plays' and in which I am exploring that space where the irrational and the seductive collide. I remain fascinated by a poetics which allows an imagination to populate a forgotten nook in history outside our conventions and expectations. In these plays, the audience is invited into worlds which remain provisional and insecure - and where freedom is that release from convention.
The other side of my writings could not be more opposite - in these stories, the dying light of Rome flutters one last desperate time as I seek to follow the last of the Eagles down into their fates. Here, archaeological record, literary fragments, and my own invention intertwine to set a stage ripe for heroics and betrayal.
Deep along a ruined shore-line, waves of refugees stumble, one after the other, seeking escape or salvation or just an echo of who they once were. In their shadow moves an uneasy spectator who brings a New World and a new perspective which will have devastating consequences for them all.
Constantinople, once the greatest city ever known, has degenerated into a grotesque; a carnival of buffons and butchers who stumble with abandon and glee through this city's mazes and its endless riddles. In this play, the City is both a meditation and an escape – a dream in which the past imagines the present.
The Fall of Basing House during the last months of the English Civil War sees a night of violence, terror and phantasm released into its ruins. The survivors of that siege scramble amid the fires and the cracking stones seeking revenge, love and the awful performance of one last Masque covered in blood and tatters.
A young research assistant from Scotland arrives at the dusty manorial estate of a local Spanish grandee who whimsically calls himself 'Averroes' - and falls deep into the games and seductions played out between this eccentric and his daughter.
Ithaka - a forgotten island where myth and reality collide and an old warrior returns to a place he long thought lost. What happens when memory fades and all one is left with is a past that you can no longer trust?
A small archaeological team on a desolate alien planet stumbles into trouble when one of its members is found murdered. It is left to Special Operative Unwith to arrive and attempt to solve the deepening mystery. Time and the alien planet conspire to propel Unwith into a world unilke any he has encountered before.
This is a crisp smart short story which cracks along a a good speed. As a zombie fan I very much fall into the classic 'Romero' genre of zombie tales and Young's tale here of a SEAL team infiltrating a CD base falls very much into that genre. That writing is tense without being melodramatic and moves the reader along on a fine knife-edge between tensin and description. This is the first of the zombie short stories penned by Young - I am looking forward to reading the rest.
What can I say but echo the sentiments here in the review section? This is both a little gem of a book and jam-packed with informative ideas and tricks. This is a must book which will be referred to again and again as you epublish.
I am an avid reader of Roman fiction and have read Scarrow and Sidebottom among others so bring a certain critical frame to this novel set in the period when Caesar embarks on his career into Gaul. It is a long work and very detailed in its descriptions of the day to day life as viewed through the eyes of its main protagonist Titus Pullus. As he embarks on a life as a legionary he takes the reader deep into the routines and training and battles of the legion. At first I was daunted by the length but I have to say that I was gripped from the first page onwards. Peake is able to infuse a lot of detail into character interaction and drama and so the action and description never feels like a lecture or out of place. This is a tricky act to pull off and Peake does it superbly. Vary rarely was I aware of lengthy descriptions or details except to read of them in the context of the ongoing action and drama. As a result, I thoroughly recommend this work to anyone interested in the this period of the Roman history. There is a gritty realism to it which makes it stand apart from the works of Scarrow and Sidebottom, for example, as the latter have always struck me as being a little too anachronistic in their characters and events - more as if a nostalgic British Empire is re-dressed in togas and sandals! Much as I do like their work, Peake here has crafted a solid and bloody novel which really plunges you into the day to day life a legionary on the march - and as Pullus rises up through the ranks and the grades in the exercitus of Rome, so too do you.