Sequel to ‘Abandoned’ and the second book in Walker’s ‘A Light In The Dark Ages’ series, this book brings to life Ambrosius Aurelianus, the man who united the Britons and became their king after the withdrawal of the Romans, and who led them in the defence of Britain against the invading Angles and Saxons.
The story is dynamic and interesting, full of action, political strategy and war, reflecting the turbulent nature of a time dominated by tribal loyalties and vigorous competition for control of the land that the Romans left behind.
Walker breathes life into characters that, while they existed in history, are often only shadowy figures known for particular feats of war or achievements in government. That the reader can visualize them, become familiar with them, take an interest in their personal well-being and success, and feel loyalty to them is testament to the talent and skill of the author in recreating places, scenes and events from the past.
’The Binding’ is a tragic and compelling historical fantasy story of unlikely alliances, forbidden love, and the power of memories. The writing is beautiful and the story is superbly crafted. The narration by Carl Prekopp is a joy to listen to, as he gives life and voice to the characters and enchants the listener into feeling as though they are actually there as the events unfold.
The story explores timeless themes including patriarchy and the abuse of power, particularly in terms of social class but also when it comes to the way society as a whole viewed same-sex relationships in the past. Because all of those prejudices still exist in society today, albeit to a lesser extent, the story is powerfully relevant.
The characters, particularly Emmet and Alta, are developed so fully that the audience feels as though they know them intimately, which creates an emotional investment in their lives. This depth of feeling heightens the tensions of the complications and challenges they face, and makes the twists and revelations of the story more impactful.
‘The Binding’ is available in ebook and novel as well as audio.
The third book in Martin Jensen’s ‘King’s Hounds’ medieval historical mystery series, ‘A Man’s Word’ is an intriguing murder mystery set in the village of Thetford. The mystery is complex and challenging, presenting a variety of possible suspects and motives which are further obscured by the transient population visiting the town for the court sessions and the markets.
Like ‘The King’s Hounds’ and ‘Oathbreaker’, the narrative is enriched with local colour and characters who add further dimensions to the story, and with historical detail that brings the context and setting of the story to life. Being immersed in the story causes the reader to consider the facts and develop theories about investigation, which increases their engagement and investment in the plot while Winston, Alfalfa and Halfdan conduct their inquiries and develop and test their theories.
This is a most enjoyable and satisfying mystery read.
This is a captivating historical fantasy retelling of the story of Robin Hood and his outlaw band, set during the traditional time period of the reign of the largely absent Richard I, the Lionheart.
The characters of legend are brought to life again, their backstories and antics told anew in a well-crafted, exciting narrative. The imagery and the action of the story immerse the reader in the company of outlaws, creating a sense of familiarity and bonding with Robyn and his companions.
In addition to being a great story, this book serves as a vivid reminder of how hard life really was for the common folk in 12th century England, especially those who were excluded from society because of circumstances that were often beyond their control. It is easy to see why figures like Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Guy of Gisbourne were resented and despised by so many, and why men like Robin Hood became the stuff of English legend.
A work of historical fiction, although based on the life story of one of the author’s forebears, this is an interesting story that is probably quite realistic about the prospects of a younger daughter of a prominent family during the early years of the reign of James I.
I confess I almost stopped listening as early as the prologue, in which a man speaking as though he were present when the young Princess Elizabeth was taken into the Tower of London was still alive as its Keeper in 1617. I returned to the beginning and listened again, decided the way in which that section was phrased was ambiguous, and continued with the story.
The main character, Lucy, seems at times to be almost too virtuous to be quite believable, although she does have her moments where her flaws and human nature are revealed, in which she seems more relatable. For some readers, her tale will evoke deep sympathy, while others may feel she spends too much time engaging in self-pity and decrying her lot in life as the victim of the selfishness and vanity of various other people.
The most believable characters are the hateful ones: Lucy’s sister Barbara, Aunt Joan, and Frances Howard. These characters exemplify the worst of human nature, along with a certain young man who is fickle at best and heartless at worst. It is in disliking these characters that the reader feels the most empathy with Lucy.
The narration is most enjoyable, with lively expression and very good use of tone, voice and accent to bring the characters to life.
Overall, it is a fairly good story, expertly narrated.
Adventure, danger, intrigue and new horizons all await Michael McNamara as he begins a new phase of his life.
The story travels from Bristol to Jamaica, Lisbon, and back again as McNamara takes to the high seas, sword in hand and ready to meet whatever challenges life holds in store for him.
This is an action-packed and highly engaging story full of turns and twists that surprise Michael as much as they do the reader. The author makes great use of suspense, both at key moments where the reader finds their heart in their throat and their breath being held, and in the development of the storyline as a whole.
The characters are lifelike and vividly drawn, presenting fascinating contrasts in human nature and reminding the reader that it is impossible either to determine integrity by appearances or to truly know what is concealed in a person’s heart.
‘The Brotherhood Of The Black Flag’ is a most enjoyable read.
The third book in Goodwin’s The Forensic Genealogist series, ‘The Orange Lilies’ is a shorter story that focuses on Morton’s own history and the family secrets that have obscured it for so long.
Equally interesting and intriguing as the first two books in the series, this story is different in that it is far more intensely personal for Morton, and does not involve an exterior case that Morton is called upon to investigate. This story brings some well-crafted resolution to the questions Morton has harboured as a sub-plot that runs throughout books one and two, and returns him to a position of strength and resolve, from which he can approach the future and future investigations more confidently.
Morton’s exploration of his family history takes the story back to the opening months of World War I and his great-grandfather’s service as a soldier. While the discoveries he makes are fascinating, some questions regarding his great-grandfather and extended family still remain, giving a satisfying sense of continuity to the overall narrative of the series, and providing healthy anticipation for the next book.
This is an excellent read, and the series as a whole is brilliant. If you enjoy historical fiction and mystery, do not overlook this book and its companions in The Forensic Genealogist series.