Read and review!

This marvellous review of Tobias came my way from the USA this week on


Tobias, the book and the character are thrilling and a bit mysterious. One word description: magical. My recommendation for reading this big view of a little man as a strong example of loyalty is made with hardy enthusiasm. Here is why…

Several weeks ago I got my Kindle copy and planned to read it on a blustery cold weekend. That is not what happened. In order to explain my review it is my pleasure to say a few words about the author Prue Batten.



Months ago I asked Christian G. Cameron, the exceedingly praise worth writer of historical fiction, if he would share some tips for writing books in the genre. He asked if I had read any of Prue Batten’s work. I had not.

“She is among the best,” he said. “Find out how she does it.”

I started to do my research as Batten was finishing ‘Tobias’. Her drive and professional dedication are enhanced by the highest essential qualities and capabilities necessary for a successful writer of historical fiction. Also, Prue has a most alluring writing life, which she lives on the island state of Tasmania. I was hooked and decided a thorough study of ‘Tobias’ would be an enjoyable way to learn how she does it.

Prue Batten’s writing radiates the heat and energy one could have found years ago in a steam locomotive’s burning coal box. Her education as a historian and practical experience as a journalist are obvious assets. She capitalizes on the use of these tools and the result is superb research. In addition, she is devoted to family and friends. She knows and loves people. Prue is a sheep farmer and avid flower gardener. This lady writer is just as happy with dirt on her hands as she is with sand in her shoes walking the beach with her beloved dogs. She is handy with a needle and thread and can tie a bowline on a rain swept wooden deck on a moonless night at sea.


Tobias, the man, is a spy tasked with a mission we would call “industrial espionage” today. He is not an ordinary spy by any means. Are any spies ordinary? Prue excels in developing realistic and believable characters uniquely suited for this medieval adventure. Tobias is a likable character with endearing personal characteristics. I suspect there is no accident that the initials for Tobias and his adult twin Tommaso, the cantankerous one, are ‘T & T’. Soon after their departure from the safe environs of their employer Guy of Gisborne’s large and splendid home we see a fuse is burning so as to threaten an explosive rupture between them.

The infiltration for the two brothers to the target operational area (Constantinople) is a thriller. Their vessel is obviously followed. Batten brews up a ferocious storm. I can still taste salt in my beard. Poor Tobias has to shake it from his robes when he can at last dry out.


Only a true sailor can write about the sea like she has done here. This medieval infiltration by sea by Tobias and his band of spies is not surreptitious. Daggers are drawn from boots on moon light nights, blood is spilled, pirate sea captains (Arab) smile, and an enchanting slave woman Zoe joins the mission group. Each character encountered by Tobias is special in that they are prefect for the medieval role they play. They fit.


Tobias and his operational group of spies do make it to Constantinople. Batten uses her phenomenal and fine honed skills as a journalist and historian describe the architecture and the medieval city environment. I felt comfortable in the city and could see Tobias on the streets and desperately climbing the aquaduct at night.

The dynamic tension between the two brothers was well played by Batten. The kind of relationship that is extremely dangerous on a mission of this sort. Will T & T blow the mission apart? What happens to Zoe?


I really like this book. Not only is it filled with swashbuckling action it has the just right degree of tension. In my introduction I mentioned that my original plan to read ‘Tobias’ over the weekend did not work out. In fact I took time to read and study how Prue Batten sewn this plot together. Time well spent, the book is extremely well written, exciting, and is a marvelous example of the art of historical novel writing.’ Wyman E. Shuler, III on December 11, 2015

From what I understand, the reviewer is a US colonel, and I am guessing he understands the word ‘secret mission’ more than most. I am delighted that the excellent writer, Christian Cameron, sent this reader toward me and my books…

…A wonderful Christmas present.


Now all that remains is for Peter Dinklage to see the novel, read it and decide he just has to play the dual roles of the twins in a movie…