20 March 2014

BEER REVIEW: Trooper beer by Iron Maiden & Robinsons Brewery

Released on 20 June 1983 was the song "The Trooper" by British metal masters Iron Maiden. The song was originally inspired by ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ about the Battle of Balaclava in 1854 during the Crimean War when 600 British cavalry courageously charged the massed Russian artillery. The song has become a signature for Maiden over the years, and in what seems to be a natural connection, ale fan and history aficionado Bruce Dickinson, Maiden's vocalist, worked with Robinsons Brewery to craft this premium beer. And they've done well.

I managed to get my hands on a half-dozen 500ml bottles of Trooper, and after letting one chill for a good few hours in the fridge, cracked the cap. Immediately I noticed a quite broad malty aroma with a hint of caramel and a definite hops tang. The pour into the glass reveals a cloudy ale with only a small amount of bubbles, which is what I expected being an English ale. After letting it breathe in the glass, a noticeable honey bouquet comes to the fore and further encourages one to get right to it and have a decent draft. The flavour comes in initially as quite mild, but then the sharp hops bite sets in on the back of the throat and stays while the ale glides easily down. A slightly citrus aftertaste lingers which is rather pleasant, and that honey aroma seems to linger also. I did enjoy the noticeable (what I refer to as) 'eyeball rattle' that it provides and this seems to be a little more than a 4.7% alcohol content would normally produce. However, I'm not complaining, and overall am impressed with Trooper beer even though this kind of beer is not my normal style. Well done to Iron Maiden and Robinsons, who've added yet another facet to the band who produce what are easily the most interesting songs ever written.

Up the Irons!

17 March 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth

The Dogs of WarThe Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a remote corner of Zangara, a small republic in Africa, lies Crystal Mountain. At certain times of the day the mountain emits a strange glow. Only Sir James Manson knows why. The mountain contains ten billion dollars worth of the world's most valuable mineral, platinum. 

Now the only question is, how to get hold of it. Sir James knows how. Invade the country with a band of savage, cold-blooded mercenaries. Topple the government and set up a puppet dictatorship. Unleash the dogs of war.

I've read this book a few times now and have really enjoyed it every time. It's up there with the best novels that I've ever read, and it's definitely one of the best works of action/thriller fiction ever written. It's simply superb.

The plot is excellent and quite believable, where a rich mining company has a desire to overthrow a small third world African government using a band of mercenaries, and then set up a puppet government that will allow them to exploit minerals that they have discovered there. The story of setting up the private army and how they go about getting hold of the weapons, etc. is fantastic and makes you wonder how the author knows so much about it.

Great ending too that would be a spoiler if I went into it any further, but I will say that it's kind of 'bittersweet' but rather satisfying and brings the story to a satisfactory close.

All in all, a fantastic book and one that I'll probably read a few more times yet.

View all my reviews

02 March 2014

Free eBook: THE WOODS by Stephen Leigh

Phoenix Pick continues their free eBook promotion this month with The Woods by Stephen Leigh.

There is a certain magic growing up with life-long friends. The charmed existence became almost dream-like with two young boys growing up in a small neighborhood surrounded by an old, dense forest.
But what happens when fantasies start becoming all too real? Grotesque and bloody rites give rise to a fey and magical girl who threatens to destroy the last remnants of the boys’ idyllic childhood existence…whose mere presence may set the jealous boys at each other’s throats.
Hidden among the trees they know so well, Rob and Mark confront a grim, violent solution to their problems. This is a story of choices, a tale where the wild, romanticized dream-scape of youth intersects the gray world beyond, where fantasy collides and merges with reality.
“I was blown away by The Woods…The magic in this story is both beautiful and disturbing… Leigh’s prose is elegant, his plotting tight, his character work outstanding.” – David B. Coe, Crawford Award-winning fantasy author

Instructions and download links can be found on Phoenix Pick’s catalogue page. The Coupon Code for the free eBook this month is 9991321 and is only good between March 2 through March 31, 2014. So grab it now!