Some Reviews for Secret Brethren

As I shared my recent reviews for my children’s book Tales from Rosebush Garden yesterday, I thought I would also share some recent reviews I’ve had for my historical thriller, Secret Brethren.

Also, Secret Brethren is currently #2 in the kindle book store for Historical Thrillers which is very exciting!

Here are some of my recent reviews:

“Secret Brethren, a historical fiction, tells the tale of the dutiful Templar Knights during the blood thirsty crusades and their promise to deliver a mysterious copper scroll to the new pope. This scroll is reported to be the gospel of Mary Magdalene and has the power to shake the grounds of Christianity irrevocably. Anthony Holden manages to blur the lines between present and past as we follow the journey of the scroll all the way from Christ’s crucifixion, the late 13th century crusades to modern day war-torn Syria.

History has always been one of my favorite subjects, along with literature, so Secret Brethren came as a very welcome read. The crusades are a time period I have yet to learn much about, but reading this novel has helped me develop an insight into the turmoil during that time and how religion affected different countries profoundly. It is clear that the author went to great lengths to carry out extensive research on the time period, right down to exactly what the different cultures wore and ate. The entirety of this novel felt like an exciting way to learn the history of the time and truly emphasize with the multitude of events that took place.

Blending the crucifixion, the crusades and modern day wars into the same novel felt very poignant and I believe the author was trying to show how closely related the events are. Jesus Christ was crucified due to an inability to accept his faith or testament to being the son of God. The crusades occurred due to two different religions fearing one other, thus, another instance of faiths not accepting one another. Furthermore, modern day wars, especially regarding the recent Islamic state, have begun because one faith cannot accept another, once again. I believe this is the authors way of showing how history always repeats itself.

The novel is well-written and an easy read, despite being quite long. Although the dialogue is relatively simple, the description is well done and ensures the action does not get lost in over-wordiness. The variety of different stories within the novel keep it exciting and makes you want to read more to see how all these different adventures relate to one another. The mystery of the scroll also retains the tension throughout, and I really enjoyed trying to figure out what its contents may be as I read the novel. It is not until the epilogue the ground breaking secret is revealed, and rest assured, it is one worth waiting for.

I really enjoyed reading this novel and I’m sure anyone with an interest in history will too!”

“Secret Brethren is a tale that jumps across time, mingling historical events with the curiosity of the twenty-first century. I loved being able to dive into the thirteenth century, following the knights across Europe as they embark on their quest. And being able to see the story play out while simultaneously explore the discoveries of modern-day was enthralling. Anthony Holden’s eye for detail made the landscape jump out of the page, and the action kept my attention throughout.

It was so beautifully explored. From the beginning of their venture to the very last page, I was gripped, feeling the ferocity of the storms, the gore of the battles and the aftermaths, and the analysis of items rediscovered in 2015. The story spans across centuries, the importance of the scroll and the knights’ journey pulled forward through time to be explored again. I loved the jumping perspectives and Holden’s ability to leave a cliff hanger in just the right place before plunging you into the next storyline, making sure to keep you hooked until the very end.

Besides the exploration of Christian belief and the history of Mary Magdalene, I was fascinated by Holden’s views of other cultures and religions. From the horrible battles between races early in the book and the interest of modernised cultures, it was a really in-depth characterisation. I really enjoyed learning more about those religions from someone else’s point of view, especially with the fictional aspect to the story.

I’ve always loved fiction that explores religion, culture, and history, and this book reminded me of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. It was very informative and enjoyable, and Holden’s spin on Christian history was remarkable. I was very pleased with this book and would recommend it to anyone with similar interests in literature.”


Some Recent Reviews for Tales from Rosebush Garden

Hi everyone,

I’ve received a few reviews over the past couple of weeks for my new children’s book Tales from Rosebush Garden so I thought I’d share them all with you!

“Tales from Rosebush Garden is a beautiful little book of adventures, perfect for reading to younger children, or even to yourself when you’re feeling a little nostalgic.

This book reminds me a lot of the books I read when I was younger and manages to convey the warm and safe feeling you receive reading old children’s books. Each tale has a lovely moral, such as working together as friends and being kind to one another. They are also all short enough to keep the attention span of younger readers and accompanied by pretty and colorful images, which I’m sure younger readers would also enjoy.

The adventures contain a lot of humour, which I thought was delightful. The scene of Wally Wasp popping a balloon every time he bent down to pick one up was very funny and endearing. Although the characters do not have a massive depth, each one is likable and has different personality traits which young readers could relate to.

Tales from Rosebush Garden explains the ecosystems in nature and allows children to develop a full appreciation for all different kinds of life they share the planet with. I think tales like this are important, especially in the modern day, to provide children with an understanding of how special this world is and why they should protect it. The characters allow the children to empathise with the insects and animals in their garden, and hopefully, should teach them to look after these environments in the future and ensure that their friends from Rosebush Garden can continue to play happily ever after.”

“Tales from Rosebush Garden is an adorable collection of short children’s stories. I loved the inclusion of different wildlife creatures and their witty names, and the fondness of which Anthony Holden writes makes it the perfect book to teach young children about the various creatures found at the bottom of our garden. It explores a wonderful community of animals and the application of human interactions like parties and games and trips make them just that more loveable.

Each character has its own personality that relates perfectly to the traits of each animal; the slow-thinking snail who forgets its birthday, the wasp who tags along so he can nibble at jam sandwiches, even a hedgehog that gets too dizzy after lots of walking. It’s these little touches to the creatures and their stories that makes it all the more fun to read.

This book is perfect for people wanting to teach their young kids both about animals and morals. Holden places these animals in everyday occurrences, or situations, to show the best way to communicate and deal with difficult circumstances. From the very first tale, we see a group of individuals working together to help someone in need, trapped by the evil witch and kept from his job. By combining the moralistic teachings with fantasy elements, Holden creates a series of tales that children will quite easily enjoy and learn from.”

“As a child, I remember adoring Enid Blyton’s short story collections – I read them over and over again, both as a bedtime story with my mum or dad, or by myself when I was a bit older (even when I should really have outgrown them!). I loved the short stories because they were so simple and yet so wholesome for me. Tales from Rosebush Garden has exactly the same kind of atmosphere to it. The stories and characters within are like a breath of fresh air – simple, sweet adventures that any child will love to hear about.

I especially like the educational aspect of the book – for example how the author carefully explains that although the garden animals prefer Sammy Sun (who doesn’t?), it’s important for Robin Rain to visit once in a while – he’s the reason the grass is green, the flowers grow, and the animals can live. There is also a lovely sense of the seasons, with stories set at all times of the year, meaning that the chapters can be read all in one go or one at a time at the corresponding time of year. The adventures that Franky Fox, Sydney Snail, and co get up to are never too thrilling, but fun to hear about nonetheless. Children will love to hear about their seaside trip, fondly remembering their own experiences at the beach, and no doubt will be desperate to run outside for a snowball fight when they read about the epic one between the garden animals!

Most of all I love that the book helps children to get to know the kind of animals they might find in their back gardens and hopefully will encourage them to watch out for them and get to know more about their ways.”

A Fictional Interview with One of My Characters from Secret Brethren

The heating was on full and, with my Christmas decorations and lights, the lounge of my home was unusually hot and the cold outside failed to penetrate into the room.  As I sat reading critic reviews of Secret Brethren, although they made excellent reading, my eye lids became heavy and the plight of the Templar Knights started to fade from my mind as my eye lids began to droop.  Suddenly, a whirling vortex opened in front of me where my TV was situated.  I looked inside and spied one of my knights as he sat drinking from a cool, slow flowing stream, on the edge of a forest deep in Anatolia.

I stood and moved towards the vortex and, as I got closer, I felt a type of gravitational force on my body and before I could move away I was drastically sucked into the swirling hollow.

I felt no pain, no sense of travel and yet, suddenly, I was knelt beside the Knight Templar as he drank the cool water.  My joggers and T shirt were gone and I was clothed in the course garb of the late 13th Century. But strangely it felt natural; so very natural.

“Good day sir Knight” I said clearly; “You are my fictional character Sir William de Holdan I believe?”

After spending so much time writing my novel, which was mostly set in the Middle Ages, I found myself reverting to the language of the time.

“That is true kind sir,” he replied in his English accent. “And I am thinking that you are my creator, my author, Tony Holden brought back in time to talk with me?”

I smiled as we hugged and kissed the sides of each other’s cheek; Mediterranean style.

As we sat down on the bank of the stream I allowed my legs to dangle in the cold mountain water although the bottom of my brown breeches also went in.  I cared not.


“So where are Sir Antoine de Cour and Sir Richard Muller?” I asked my knight as we settled back on the damp, dew covered, grass.

“They are foraging within the forest for fruits, berries and nuts sir.”

“Unlike you Sir William, I am not a knight, so please feel free to call me just Tony”

“Very well Just Tony.  I have a question – why did you give me the name ‘de Holdan’?”

I gazed at his weather worn face for a second before replying.

“I once researched my name, Holden, and I discovered that the first recorded mention of Holden dates back to the 11th Century when a knight named William de Holdan reached the shores of England during the Norman Conquest.  The knight married and the de Holdan family slowly spread throughout England.  Eventually de Holdan was shortened to Holden.”

William smiled at me as he spoke;

“So I am indeed your ancestor?”

“Yes Sir William that is probably true.”

“Is that why you named me as you did in your story? Because we are distantly related?”

“Yes Sir Knight we are distantly related; very distantly. Over seven centuries of time distance actually.”

Sir William de Holdan shifted his position on the grass as he removed his sword belt and scabbard and laid them on the ground beside him; sword still reposing in the leather scabbard.

“So as my creator, Just Tony, you will know if our quest is going to be successful or are we going to die in this God forsaken land?”  The Templar Knight frowned as he spoke the question.

“Yes Sir Knight, I know; however the answer is not for the telling.  That must remain my secret until much later in the novel.”

“I understand the reason for your silence Just Tony; and, in truth, I prefer not to know my own destiny.”

“How is your injured arm?” I asked changing the subject.

“It still pains me greatly but the wound is clean and will heal.” He answered as he swung his arm around to show me he had good mobility in the joints. “Fortune favours me” he continued “as it is not my sword arm and I am sure many Saracens will die beneath my sturdy blade before my brother knights and I reach The Holy Roman Empire with the scroll if that is to be your will.”

We both remained silent for a moment, thinking, before Sir William spoke again.

“So tell me Just Tony; what caused you to write about the Holy Crusades?”

“I have always had an interest in world history,” I replied “such as the Aztec and Mayan cultures, Ancient Egypt, the Mongol Empire and, of course, the Crusades.”
“I do not know of these Aztec and Mayan people you speak of but ah! The Mongol Hoards.  Genghis Khan was truly a magnificent warrior and leader.  We are fortunate that the Mongols hate the Saracens more than they hate us.”  He laughed as he spoke his wit.  “It may be that it will be the Mongols that will save the day for The Holy Land.” He continued, “but of course your mind knows the outcome already Just Tony.”

“Tell me Sir” I asked, “how have you found your quest; is it to your liking?”

“That sea voyage and raging tempest was a fearful experience;” came the thoughtful reply, “and I was much saddened by the loss of all those poor Christians on board.  The Saracen massacre on the beach was an unholy sight to behold and even more so that my brothers and I could do nothing to help.  Tell me Just Tony; why did you put us all through those stories?”

“Because,” I replied, “the whole novel needed adventure, intrigue and mystery to capture the attention of the reader; and these are bad times that you and your fellow Templars are going through.  The novel contains a lot of historical facts but, never the less, it is just a novel.  It is not a history book.”

Sir William thought for a moment.  “Yes I understand now.  These Crusades are full of pain, hunger and blood shed but they must be fought in an attempt to reclaim The Holy Land even though thousands perish on both sides.”

“Yes and history does not always portray the Crusaders in a good light,” I said as I felt the sadness of the times creep slowly into my mind.

“I know that you have partaken of the hospitality of some Mongols Sir knight; how did you find their demeanour?” I asked.

“To our surprise we found them most kind, and even though they were but just poor peasants they willingly shared their food and even gave us steeds to ride,” the Knight of the Cross replied.  “And that alcoholic airag drink was a wonder to behold.  Made from fermented mare’s milk I believe?”

“Yes” I replied, “during the foaling season the Mongols lead the foal to their mother allowing the foal to drink naturally.  The mare is then milked by a herdsman and placed into a leather bag where it is hung up inside the ‘ger’; which is the round tent of the Mongols.  It is traditionally turned 1000 times and the fermentation begins; finally creating the airag that you so enjoyed.”

“That is fascinating to know,” replied Sir William, “thank you Just Tony for imparting that to me.”

It was at that moment we heard the galloping of steeds from the direction of the forest; announcing the return of the other two Knight Templars.  Before I could reply the vortex appeared in front of me above the stream and I suddenly felt the pull on my body again as I was sucked inside.

The next I knew I was back in my warm, comfortable, lounge with the critics reviews scattered on the carpet beside me as if I had just wantonly discarded them.


It was then I noticed the bottom half of my joggers were soaking wet.

An Extract from Secret Brethren

Here’s an extract from my latest release, Secret Brethren.  I hope you enjoy reading it and if you did, you can pick up the full edition by clicking the image below!

No other aircraft could be seen or showed on the radar in front of Budd and Jack turned secret-brethren-cf-rgb-26-10-16the aircraft to starboard.  Many small towns whizzed by beneath them and several convoys of both American and British troops were following the highway south towards Baghdad.  A minute later the fallen city that had seen so many atrocities carried out under Saddam’s regime was beneath them.  The jet maintained a southern course for five minutes and then banked for a turn eastwards.

 That’s when tragedy struck.  Suddenly, unexplainably, the jet on the starboard side exploded into flames and the Hornet was thrown to the right and dropped steeply from the sky.  “I’ve lost it.  Eject!” shouted Jack as he reached for his ejection handle whilst managing to keep the plane on a level keel.  He waited until, two seconds later, he heard the explosion of his RIO’s ejection seat and he then pulled his own handle.  The roof of the cockpit flew away and his seat exploded beneath him and, the seat with Jack strapped to it, was blasted from the plane; the force of the ejection pressed his vertebrae together as he shot upwards.  His chute opened and he turned to look for Budd.  He breathed a sigh of relief as he saw his chute was open and the seat had been deployed away from him.  His survival kit dropped beneath him attached to a 25ft line floating down just below him. Seconds later Jack’s seat fell away from him and he floated gently down towards the sand below him.  

A fraction of a second later the hornet nosedived into the ground and exploded into a fireball as thousands of metal pieces were thrown far across the desert floor and a black plume of smoke shot into the blue Iraqi sky.

The two pilots floated gently down and both made a good landing as they remained upright.  Both removed the harnesses attached to them and walked towards each other.

“What the fuck happened Commander?” asked Budd after he had removed his helmet.

“God knows and he’s not going to tell us; seemed like one of the engines just blew up.  I saw some debris flash past us but I just don’t know man.”

The pair sat down on the sand and opening their survival kits they removed the water and both took a long drink.  They also removed the side arm and put it into their flight jacket.

They remained silent for a while before Budd turned to Jack and asked him if he ever had to eject before.  “Think a guy can only do that once Budd.  Your spine reduces an inch each time they say.”

Standing up LCDR Russell started to walk about the desert with a view to exercising his legs.  The remains of the Hornet was still in flames and the thickness of the black cloud was increasing as it rose and began spreading across the sky carried by the slight wind that moved across the desert but not low enough to feel it on the ground.

It was then that Jack first saw the old ruin a few hundred yards past the burning plane.  Strolling around the wreckage, at a safe distance in case part of it exploded again, he approached the large ruin partly buried in the sand.

Some of the aircraft wreckage had landed on the ancient structure, that at one time could have been a temple and a small town as it spread for a couple of hundred yards in a massive square.  As he wandered around the ancient site he came across part of a wing from the Hornet.  It had smashed into a small structure just a few feet tall and a small crater had been created.  He was about to turn and head back when he noticed something that looked out of place in the ruin; something other than the aircraft wing that was.

 He bent down and began to scrape the sand away from the black leather object; it was about nine inches in length and was attached to a long leather belt and he soon revealed what looked like an empty leather knife sheath.  He realised immediately that it was very old.  Without thinking too much about what he was doing he took a knife from his belt and cut the leather sheath away from its belt and put it in his pocket for a souvenir.  He continued to scrape away the sand around the area.  “Holy shit” he exclaimed loudly as he stood up.  Turning to Budd he shouted for him to join him and remained where he stood until Budd reached him.  “What’s up Commander?” he asked looking around.  At first he didn’t notice the hole in the sand where Jack had been digging.  Jack pointed to the ground.

“Fuck.  Is that what I think it is?” Exclaimed the RIO.

“Yep.  Sure is. That is a skeleton and judging by the condition it could be hundreds of years old.  We mustn’t disturb it any further.”

“That looks like metal” Budd said as he pointed to something poking from the disturbed sand a few yards away from the grave.” Kneeling down Jack gently scraped away some sand to expose more of the metal.  It soon became clear that it was the remains of a shield.  A very faded, red splayed cross, could just be made out.

Looking up at his RIO he said “I’m no expert but I have read Dan Brown’s De Vinci Code and if I’m not mistaken this is the remains of a Templar Knight.

My Blog


My Top Ten Favourite Novels

I enjoy reading a novel that has a mystery theme running through it and captures my imagination from the beginning.  There are some books that I just don’t want to put down and has twists and turns throughout and has a surprise ending.

The De Vinci Code is a typical example, but I also enjoy certain fantasy novels which is why my number one best read is:


  1. Lord of the Rings trilogy – JRR Tolkien
  2. The Hobbit. I read them in order but place Lord of the Rings as the better story. – JRR Tolkien
  3. De Vinci Code – Dan Brown
  4. Angels and Demons – Dan Brown
  5. All of Peter James Roy Grace novels but all twelve are as good as each other and I am unable to pick any in specific orders.
  6. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less – Jeffrey Archer.
  7. A twist in the Tail – Jeffrey Archer short stories.
  8. The Last Templar – Raymond Khoury (This is the book that first got me interested in The Knight Templars)
  9. Kane and Able – Jeffrey Archer.
  10.  Inferno – Dan Brown.


Thanks for reading! Let me know what your favourite novels are and why, too!

Also to get a copy of my latest novels inspired by my top ten, click the image below.


A Couple of Inspiring Figures


This is me with my daughter Tammy in Tenerife. Tammy was a big inspiration for Secret Brethren and the heroine in Secret Brethren was based on my daughter.


Pam Long was also a big inspiration and she is mentioned in the acknowledgments of Secret Brethren. She helped me edit the novel before it was sent to Rowanvale Books.

I couldn’t have done it without this inspiring pair so I want to thank them!

10 Reasons To Self Publish

  • Author has control over all of the publishing stages
  • I can only talk about Rowanvale Books but communication with the publisher is excellent
  • Royalties are a lot higher
  • Publisher suggests a selling price which is discussed with the author
  • Many stages of editing are gone through with the author to ensure everything is as the author wishes
  • Questions regarding the work are answered speedily by Rowanvale Books
  • The book becomes the property of the author NOT the publisher
  • Extra help is available from the publisher regarding book promotions on top of the norm.
  • Even a large number of top, established authors, choose to self publish.
  • On top of the normal 20 or so complimentary copies sent to the author they can purchase further books to sell themselves at a large discount.


Get your copy of my latest self-published books now by clicking the image below!

Thanks for reading! – Tony

How To Keep The Creative Juices Flowing

  • I often take ideas from other books, movies, tv etc with a view to possibly using it as a basic idea to adapt for use at a later date.
  • Using friends and family’s personality or habits, for example, my daughter Tammy who the character in Secret Brethren was based on especially her habit of finishing a sentence by saying ‘yeah’.
  • In a similar vein, other people’s looks and personalities can give me ideas for a character in my books.
  • Various incidents I sometimes expand on and create scenarios around it to include in my writings, as I did with some of the stories in my children’s book Tales from Rosebush Garden.
  • Another way that I kept the creativity going during writing Secret Brethren was to incorporate news items into the latter part of the story that takes place in Syria and the Russians carried out their first bombing raid. I inserted a brand new chapter to incorporate that incident; and from that, a new character, Samantha, was created as well.


If you’re interested in finding out more about my novels or to place a pre-order, click the image below:




Thanks for reading! – Tony Holden

10 Reasons I Know I am an Author

  1. I’ve had an interest in writing essays from an early age in school.
  2.  I’ve read certain books and then thought ‘I could write a novel’.
  3. I think and plan a theme for years before I put a pen to paper.
  4. I start a novel and then put it aside thinking ‘I do not like this story’.
  5. When I hit on an idea and then after thinking it over, writing down the bullet points of a story.
  6. When I am carrying out detailed research on my story topic.
  7. I gain ideas from other published writers and movies.
  8. When I start to write and find that the story flows and it is hard to put it to one side.
  9. When I get more and more ideas about where a story could go and I continue researching whilst I am writing.
  10. Having the feeling that ‘this is going to be good’ and running my ideas past my close friends and being encouraged.

If you’re interested in finding out more about my novels or to place a pre-order, click these links below:

Secret Brethren:

Tales from Rosebush Garden:


Thanks for reading! – Tony Holden