Wednesday, 30 November 2011

HISTORICAL FICTION: Sworn Sword - James Aicheson

Release Date: 04/08/11


January 1069. Less than three years have passed since Hastings and the death of the usurper, Harold Godwineson. In the depths of winter, two thousand Normans march to subdue the troublesome province of Northumbria. Tancred a Dinant, an ambitious and oath-sworn knight and a proud leader of men, is among them, hungry for battle, for silver and for land. But at Durham the Normans are ambushed in the streets by English rebels. In the battle that ensues, their army is slaughtered almost to a man. Badly wounded, Tancred barely escapes with his life. His lord is among those slain. Soon the enemy are on the march, led by the dispossessed prince Eadgar, the last of the ancient Saxon line, who is determined to seize the realm he believes is his. Yet even as Tancred seeks vengeance for his lord's murder, he finds himself caught up in secret dealings between a powerful Norman magnate and a shadow from the past. As the Norman and English armies prepare to clash, Tancred begins to uncover a plot which harks back to the day of Hastings itself. A plot which, if allowed to succeed, threatens to undermine the entire Conquest. The fate of the Kingdom hangs in the balance ...


To be honest having read quite a few books set around the time of the battle of Hastings I was wondering what James would bring to the table to make his title stand out. What unfurled for me was definitely Cornwell in the Norman Period, it had great characters, plenty of battles and prose carefully mixed with pace that kept you going throughout.

Add to this a wonderful sense of style, a meticulously researched historical background and some of these gems added without it looking like an info dump that kept the whole thing ticking over nicely. I’ll definitely be reading James’ next title and hope that it continues to meet this high standard.

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