Thursday, 28 March 2013

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Falcons of Fire and Ice - Karen Maitland

Release Date: 28/03/13
Publisher:  Michael Joseph


Karen Maitland, the author of the hugely popular "Company of Liars", has written a powerful historical thriller which takes you right back to the darkest corners of the 16th century. Intelligently written and meticulously researched, "The Falcons of Fire and Ice" is a real treat for all fans of CJ Sansom and Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose". "A tour de force: dark and woven with the supernatural". ("Daily Mail" 1564, Lisbon). The Inquisition displays its power and ruthlessly spreads fear. Heretics are tortured and burned. Any who oppose the Church's will realize that silence is preferable to a slow and agonizing death. Isabela, daughter of the Falconer at the Royal Court, is about to be caught in the Church's terrifying schemes. The slaughter of two of the King's precious white falcons sees her father arrested and imprisoned. As punishment he and his family will be killed unless the birds are replaced. Isabela, young and headstrong, decides that only she can save her father. These birds are impossibly rare, and she will have to travel far and into strange lands to find them to clear her father's name. It is a journey that will take her into a dark and dangerous world filled with menacing people driven by fearful beliefs. And, unfortunately for Isabela, the Church has sent a companion to ensure she never returns...Step back in time with Karen Maitland's "Dark Tales" and discover a world full of imagination in "The Falcons of Fire and Ice" - "A thrilling horrible vision of the Dark Ages". ("Metro"). Karen Maitland travelled and worked in many parts of the United Kingdom before finally settling in the beautiful medieval city of Lincoln. She is the author of "The White Room", "Company of Liars", "The Owl Killers" and "The Gallows Curse". The latter three titles are available as Penguin paperbacks.


For me, Karen is one of those Historical Fiction authors that can be enjoyed not only by the YA market but the adult as well. It’s clear she does her research, its clear she’s in love with not only the time that her characters inhabit but also the skills that they’ve acquired that help make them who they are. As with all her other stories, it has a solid premise behind the background and when you add to this characters that you just can’t help but feel you know, alongside an overall arc that keeps the mystery moving, you really can’t help but lose yourself within.

Add to this some wonderful prose, a great sense of timing which when added to the authors ability to carefully weave in the eldritch moment from the fears that plague the various cultures at the time and you know that it’s a book that is going to stay with you. All round a story that has woven its way into my heart and one I’ll read a good few more times when time allows, as I can guarantee that with hindsight alongside the way that the stories are created that you’ll notice additional details upon subsequent readings that you missed the first time. The sign of a great author.

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