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HELLMOUTH: A novella

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Bohemia. 1370. A lost soul named Galien leads a band of hardened mercenaries on a mission for Mother Church. But in the dark forests of central Europe, a darker secret awaits. Bestselling author Giles Kristian (Lancelot, The Raven Viking Trilogy) takes us on an unnerving ride into fear and paranoia, bloodshed and redemption.


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Bohemia. 1370. A lost soul named Galien leads a band of hardened mercenaries on a mission for Mother Church. But in the dark forests of central Europe, a darker secret awaits. Bestselling author Giles Kristian (Lancelot, The Raven Viking Trilogy) takes us on an unnerving ride into fear and paranoia, bloodshed and redemption.

30 review for HELLMOUTH: A novella

  1. 4 out of 5

    William Gwynne

    Thank you to Giles Kristian who provided me with the audiobook edition of Hellmouth. This did not alter my opinions on Hellmouth, or my review. All opinions shared are honest. Giles Kristian is known for his historical fiction, from Arthurian inspired Lancelot, to The Rise of Sigurd in 8th century Scandinavia. In Hellmouth, Giles Kristian deviates to a style of historical fiction with a twist of horror, which is executed equally well. This is a fantastic novella. Thrust into the shoes of a mercena Thank you to Giles Kristian who provided me with the audiobook edition of Hellmouth. This did not alter my opinions on Hellmouth, or my review. All opinions shared are honest. Giles Kristian is known for his historical fiction, from Arthurian inspired Lancelot, to The Rise of Sigurd in 8th century Scandinavia. In Hellmouth, Giles Kristian deviates to a style of historical fiction with a twist of horror, which is executed equally well. This is a fantastic novella. Thrust into the shoes of a mercenary band in Bohemia, 1370, the reader is greeted by blood-pumping action, lyrical prose, interesting characters and an engaging plot. The story diverged from what I expected when initially starting, but that by no means demeaned the enjoyment. In the short space of this novella, Giles Kristian simultaneously builds an authentic feeling world that is gritty and tough, whilst also creating a memorable band of warriors led by leader Galien, who is forced into carrying out a mission for the Mother Church. In this, we see the band fall out of their depth and see how they adapt in attempt to deal with what approaches them. Giles Kristian engages with a dark, brutal and tense mood and atmosphere that whilst being authentic like his other works, relies much more on tension and suspense, which personally I loved. The audiobook is narrated by the fantastic Philip Stevens, who I would say is one of the best narrators out there. The sheer variety of tone and delivery is what elevates him above most. Whatever tone that Giles Kristian appears to be aiming for, Philip Stevens adapts the delivery and pace to suit and deliver. Wonderful to listen to. Also, this is the first time I have ever actually felt scared by an audiobook. So, if you’re up for an interesting dose of fear in your read as well, this is the one for you. Overall, Hellmouth is an incredibly well-crafted novella in which Giles Kristian expands and explores different themes and tones with much success. Routed in a historical authenticity set in Bohemia, 1370, Giles in this creates a fantastic, engaging story that is brought to life by poetic prose narrated by Philip Stevens. I would recommend this short read to fans of fantasy, horror and historical fiction alike. 5/5 STARS

  2. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    Amazing. Giles' writing is bone-crunchingly good, and Philip Stevens' narration is intense. Like Black Death meets Doom. Amazing. Giles' writing is bone-crunchingly good, and Philip Stevens' narration is intense. Like Black Death meets Doom.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Micah Hall

    Knightmare 4.5/5 Many of my goodreads friends have read some Giles Kristian in they're 'read' shelves and have given his books stellar reviews. After reading this, I'm not sure why I waited so long to get to this one; its one of my favorite reads this year. Kristian is known as a historical fiction writer and that may have been what held me back...I'm a dullard who needs that sff sweetner (kidding). The story is set in the 1300s in the confines of the Czech Republic wilderness, following a band of Knightmare 4.5/5 Many of my goodreads friends have read some Giles Kristian in they're 'read' shelves and have given his books stellar reviews. After reading this, I'm not sure why I waited so long to get to this one; its one of my favorite reads this year. Kristian is known as a historical fiction writer and that may have been what held me back...I'm a dullard who needs that sff sweetner (kidding). The story is set in the 1300s in the confines of the Czech Republic wilderness, following a band of mercenaries to capture a heretic for mother church. Their search is a fascinating one, filled to the brim with evocative prose, mindful scene setting, creeping dread, black humor, well rendered action, mystery, and quality horror. In my mind, Giles deftly handles these various modes with masterful aplomb; not to mention its only around 50 pages. I need more! The best comparison I can think of is blending of Dark Souls, Between Two Fire by Christopher Beuhlman, cultish aspects of Hereditary and Midsommer, and horror/mystery/dread found in Annihilation or The Witch. Very impressive and would LOVE for more to occur in this world. As a side note, a large portion of the story is based off of the Houska Castle in the C. Republic which is said to be haunted and has some eerie history and folklore associated with it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    A novella (available as a cheap ebook) by a new author to me, recommended by friends. The story follows a band of mercenary knights in medieval Bohemia. It’s starts in an historical fiction mode, a bloody skirmish and drunken aftermath that familiarises you with the important characters, and is very well done. The next phase in the story is rather different - a task for the band with supernatural, occult aspects. A rather gruesome one at that! I can see it’s appeal for modern horror readers. It’s A novella (available as a cheap ebook) by a new author to me, recommended by friends. The story follows a band of mercenary knights in medieval Bohemia. It’s starts in an historical fiction mode, a bloody skirmish and drunken aftermath that familiarises you with the important characters, and is very well done. The next phase in the story is rather different - a task for the band with supernatural, occult aspects. A rather gruesome one at that! I can see it’s appeal for modern horror readers. It’s atmospherically constructed, with plenty of tension, but the occult direction in the story wasn't quite to my taste. A shame it was so brief a story as I’d only just got into the characters and their world, which I thought had more scope for exploration but I’ll have a look at this author’s back catalogue which I believe is historical fiction.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gregory D.

    I haven't read Mr Kristian's other work, but this will get me to do so, for sure, though my understanding is that this supernatural/horror/grimdark tale is a departure from his normal his-fic writing. Bohemia, 1370, a mercenary band, mostly of Franco-German men (and women) is in the midst of an ugly, mud-soaked fight; the kind where people end up dead and nothing is changed because of it. This is the blood-pumping beginning to a chilling story, written in lyrical prose. I don't normally care for I haven't read Mr Kristian's other work, but this will get me to do so, for sure, though my understanding is that this supernatural/horror/grimdark tale is a departure from his normal his-fic writing. Bohemia, 1370, a mercenary band, mostly of Franco-German men (and women) is in the midst of an ugly, mud-soaked fight; the kind where people end up dead and nothing is changed because of it. This is the blood-pumping beginning to a chilling story, written in lyrical prose. I don't normally care for the conceit of present tense, but here it works perfectly. In the short space of this novella, Giles Kristian simultaneously builds an authentic feeling world -- even though, as someone who spends a lot of time studying the 14th century, his effort is mixed in its success. Kristian knows his armour and weapons, but gets little details wrong (painted visors are not a thing of this period, nor is painted armour in general -- this being what is literally called the "All-White" period at the end of the transitional phase). Likewise, his French characters have wonderful names that unfortunately belong more to the Norman-Angevin era 200 years earlier than the 14th c. I state this, because it is clear that the era is new to the author, but what he manages to achieve is a sense of place despite that -- Bohemia of this period is both the center of imperial politics, and yet a strange place tied to both Western and Eastern Europe. You feel that in this gritty story of Galien, a local, but dispossessed knight who, having returned home, is forced into carrying out a mission for the Mother Church on behalf of the Cardinal who largely helped ruin him. The mission takes them to a real place, Houska Castle, a strange fortress built a century earlier, where the fortifications face inward, and the castle is nowhere near water, trade routes or any strategic location. Why build such a thing? Read the story then look up Houska on Wikipedia -- if I tell you more I will ruin the story. Suffice it to say that the band of hardened warriors are in no way prepared for lies ahead, and whaat begins as gritty historical fiction turns into grimdark fantasy, if not outright horror. A nicely done piece!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark Redman

    Hellmouth by Giles Kristian is a short novella featuring a fallen knight called Galien. Set in Bohemian (Czech Republic) in 1370. He leads a small band of well hard mercenaries on a mission for the church to battle unknown-dark forces. We get a little tantalising glimpse of Galien’s backstory as he’s manipulated into a decision he may regret. I have to say upfront this is a dark and visceral read. There was plenty of blood and action throughout and a diverse mix of mercenary characters. It is a Hellmouth by Giles Kristian is a short novella featuring a fallen knight called Galien. Set in Bohemian (Czech Republic) in 1370. He leads a small band of well hard mercenaries on a mission for the church to battle unknown-dark forces. We get a little tantalising glimpse of Galien’s backstory as he’s manipulated into a decision he may regret. I have to say upfront this is a dark and visceral read. There was plenty of blood and action throughout and a diverse mix of mercenary characters. It is a engaging read, short enough to fill one hour. What a time I had. I was swept away to the haunted dark forests of Bohemia. The atmosphere created was perfect. Galien and his mercenaries tackle horrors, each other and hell itself. A mixture of Dark Souls and a little bit of The Witcher. There will be consequences, read it to find out what happens. Brilliant and I can only hope we get a sequel or a prequel.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Said

    Such an epic and nightmarish ride that was through the woods of Bohemia! Giles, sir, you are the man. Well, I have long wanted to read each historical fiction series that Giles has written as they had great reviews by people that never disappointed me. And this short novella, even though a bit different than his usual stuff, was a perfect introduction for me. The prose is perfect, the plot is grim, and grossly entertaining, and the characterization is so well done. I love works of Bernard Cornwe Such an epic and nightmarish ride that was through the woods of Bohemia! Giles, sir, you are the man. Well, I have long wanted to read each historical fiction series that Giles has written as they had great reviews by people that never disappointed me. And this short novella, even though a bit different than his usual stuff, was a perfect introduction for me. The prose is perfect, the plot is grim, and grossly entertaining, and the characterization is so well done. I love works of Bernard Cornwell, and Giles' narration is like his but more flowing and vivid, colorful. That being said, it is highly recommended for the fans of brutal historical fiction. And I will surely start reading his other books.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Swords & Spectres

    Giles is one of my favourite authors so, even though I felt the price for a 50 page novella was a bit steep, I auto-bought as I would pretty much anything he puts out. This one didn't quite hit the high notes for me but I'm still glad I read it as, for every part that wasn't for me, there was plenty that was.  All in all, I just felt it was a bit of a mixed bag. My main gripe was that it was written in the present tense, something I don't really get on with. Kristian's 'The Rise of Sigurd' trilogy Giles is one of my favourite authors so, even though I felt the price for a 50 page novella was a bit steep, I auto-bought as I would pretty much anything he puts out. This one didn't quite hit the high notes for me but I'm still glad I read it as, for every part that wasn't for me, there was plenty that was.  All in all, I just felt it was a bit of a mixed bag. My main gripe was that it was written in the present tense, something I don't really get on with. Kristian's 'The Rise of Sigurd' trilogy was one of my all-time favourite trilogies and the writing in this just didn't feel like it was from the same author. What did stand out in the writing were the descriptions, especially those of a darker nature. That is something that, in any tense, Kristian excels at. Another slight downside for me was that I never really felt attached to any of the characters other than Galien. I'm not sure if it was a casualty of the tense choice or just because Giles only had fifty or so pages to make us care about them. Whatever the reason, Galien's crew felt like names on a page to me, which is a shame as I like the 'band of brigands' style character group. This, as with all good historical works, was based on an actual place and the actual folklore that surrounds it. It's given me the urge to get my history hat on and learn more about the place in general. One more slight downside for me was that I felt things got a tad hard to keep up with when nearing the end. I think that was more a negative on my part than the book's due to my really not getting on with the present tense aspect of storytelling.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    A (long) short story is how Hellmouth is described by the author which is apt since its not quite a novella but certainly has more scope than most short stories. A small ragtag company of 14th century warriors, led by seemingly disgraced Knight Galien are tasked by Rome with a journey into the forests North of Prague to retrieve a heretic preacher. Things, of course, are not quite as they seem and this short story doesn't half take some twists and turns along the way. It's a dark, gory, visceral A (long) short story is how Hellmouth is described by the author which is apt since its not quite a novella but certainly has more scope than most short stories. A small ragtag company of 14th century warriors, led by seemingly disgraced Knight Galien are tasked by Rome with a journey into the forests North of Prague to retrieve a heretic preacher. Things, of course, are not quite as they seem and this short story doesn't half take some twists and turns along the way. It's a dark, gory, visceral read full of disturbing but effective imagery that blends Kristian's wonderful descriptive prose with a haunting setting somewhat reminiscent of Dark Souls. Only real complaint is that I wanted more of it to flesh out the characters within the company more.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Graeme

    Wow As soon as I finished reading Hellmouth I had two thoughts. One, this story could have easily been written by HP Lovecraft, or is an untold Solomon Kane tale by Robert Howard. The second thought, I want more Hellmouth tales from Giles Kristian. Originally read as a kind of palate cleanser before reading Blood Eye, after reading a Viking novel by another author. Can safely say, it deserves to be read in its own right. A brilliant read, from an author I hadn’t experience before. Highly recommende Wow As soon as I finished reading Hellmouth I had two thoughts. One, this story could have easily been written by HP Lovecraft, or is an untold Solomon Kane tale by Robert Howard. The second thought, I want more Hellmouth tales from Giles Kristian. Originally read as a kind of palate cleanser before reading Blood Eye, after reading a Viking novel by another author. Can safely say, it deserves to be read in its own right. A brilliant read, from an author I hadn’t experience before. Highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tina Tharpe

    Excellent as always Giles Kristian delivers yet again. A beautifully well written albeit delightfully disturbing tale. He doesn't so much as write as he opens a door to another world and gleefully shoves you into it. This story is creepy, unsettling, and absolutely perfect. Things are not as they seem, and your stomach will turn in this horror story that is so much more. Enjoy by a fire. But maybe not alone. Excellent as always Giles Kristian delivers yet again. A beautifully well written albeit delightfully disturbing tale. He doesn't so much as write as he opens a door to another world and gleefully shoves you into it. This story is creepy, unsettling, and absolutely perfect. Things are not as they seem, and your stomach will turn in this horror story that is so much more. Enjoy by a fire. But maybe not alone.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Benny Books

    Wow this was dark. I don’t read much horror but maybe I should. This is a short read but was fully fleshed out with characters that you come to care about. Essentially this book it a dungeon quest to find a heretical priest but quickly becomes a violent bloodbath through a haunted castle. The atmosphere was thick with tension. Anyone who enjoys the occult or anything demon related will love this. Think dark souls with a bit of Blair witch.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roel Vinckens

    Master at work From the brutality of the very first sentence over the surroundings that are so efficiently described for all our senses to the characters that immediately seem old friends, it's clear we've entered the realm of Giles Kristian's imagination. There's enough here to leave me wanting more. Looking forward to see the results of that screenplay project! Master at work From the brutality of the very first sentence over the surroundings that are so efficiently described for all our senses to the characters that immediately seem old friends, it's clear we've entered the realm of Giles Kristian's imagination. There's enough here to leave me wanting more. Looking forward to see the results of that screenplay project!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    The very stuff of nightmares. Gripping, Gory, Gruesome... I loved it despite the images now in my head that will haunt my dreams for months! Story weaver what are you doing to us! This is Giles revelling in all the blood soaked nightmares ... Not for the feinthearted but I think Black Floki would relish it and it is as ever glorious.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Isaac T Van Patten

    Outstanding!! I don't write reviews but this, this absolutely requires that I write one. This story was awesome. From the characters and historically accurate armor and weapons to the creepy as he'll imagery. This was my first Giles Kristian work but I will definitely now be reading his others. I only hope , pray and beg that he writes something like!e this again!! Outstanding!! I don't write reviews but this, this absolutely requires that I write one. This story was awesome. From the characters and historically accurate armor and weapons to the creepy as he'll imagery. This was my first Giles Kristian work but I will definitely now be reading his others. I only hope , pray and beg that he writes something like!e this again!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Coles

    One hell of a ride. Fantastic read, couldn't put it down, what a page turner. Bloody battle scenes, great camaraderie between Galien and his band of mercenaries . Very atmospheric , and pretty gruesome . I loved it ! Hope there's more to come . One hell of a ride. Fantastic read, couldn't put it down, what a page turner. Bloody battle scenes, great camaraderie between Galien and his band of mercenaries . Very atmospheric , and pretty gruesome . I loved it ! Hope there's more to come .

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I must admit i started this book at 4 stars based purely on it being Giles Kristian and Philip Stevens. Love their previous work. I enjoyed it very much, something a little different from Giles’ usual work. I now feel the need to go google this haunted castle near Prague.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nigel Kotula

    Hell mouth Anyone who knows the world of Giles Kristian will appreciate this book. Difficult to put down and full of very well described action. Great characters, great story. My only complaint would be it ended too soon. Highly recommended

  19. 5 out of 5

    David Smith

    Non stop action. Medeival, battle, blood shed, knights, mysterious castles, all mixed with in with the supernatural...what's not to like. And it's by a Great author...Giles Kristian. Non stop action. Medeival, battle, blood shed, knights, mysterious castles, all mixed with in with the supernatural...what's not to like. And it's by a Great author...Giles Kristian.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jon Trainor

    Loved it!! What a rag tag Motley Crew! Imagine the Medieval version of the Inglorious Basterds tripping on magic mushrooms! More please!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Godfrey

    Wow!. I want more of this.

  22. 4 out of 5

    GeneralTHC

    3.25 stars I liked his writing more than his story.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Slater

    Enthralling from the start. I'm so looking forward to related future projects Enthralling from the start. I'm so looking forward to related future projects

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    Story: Hellmouth by Giles Kristian is a work of historical fiction set in 1370 Bohemia. The time and place for the story was somewhat new and interesting while maintaining the general familiarity of medieval Europe that is frequently seen in historical fiction and even more often drawn from in fantasy. The realized setting and gritty, dirty way it’s written ground the story not in what historians think may have been happening in 1370 Bohemia, but in something that 1370’s Bohemian people may thems Story: Hellmouth by Giles Kristian is a work of historical fiction set in 1370 Bohemia. The time and place for the story was somewhat new and interesting while maintaining the general familiarity of medieval Europe that is frequently seen in historical fiction and even more often drawn from in fantasy. The realized setting and gritty, dirty way it’s written ground the story not in what historians think may have been happening in 1370 Bohemia, but in something that 1370’s Bohemian people may themselves have believed in. Those non-historically accurate elements revolve around the author’s take on Christian mythology and are closer to horror or fantasy than historical fiction but fit the setting so well that it’s easy to see them being believed at the time. Without getting into the plot too much as this is a short work, it concerns a knight and his men condemned and exiled by the church being given a chance of redemption by doing a horrific, hellish job that nobody else can. Overall Thoughts: I am a big fan of the blending of horror and either historical fiction or fantasy and the author does a good job of bringing all of them together while being true to the setting. Though, the horror elements of the story do lean more towards building atmosphere than anything particularly scary. One of my only complaints is about the writing itself, Giles Krisian’s prose, specifically when it comes to description, can be a bit muddy and difficult to follow at times. This could have been remedied by a longer form story - giving him more time to describe and flesh everything out. Overall I don’t think this was best suited as a short story, there was a big enough idea here to write as a novel and the author’s economy of words occasionally made things hard to follow in an otherwise great story. Rating: This is an easy recommend to anyone who likes horror elements in either historical fiction or fantasy. 4/5

  25. 4 out of 5

    Phil On The Hill

  26. 5 out of 5

    J W

  27. 5 out of 5

    Simon Williams

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kruz

  29. 4 out of 5

    JR

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jan Pavlů

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