My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well researched: a story well told.
Historical fiction has always been my favourite genre since I first read Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff when I was eight years old. I have my favourite authors in this genre and Michael Jecks has just added his name to my list.
He is a true master of historical fiction. And, having met the man, I can report that he is a modest master. He took the time to speak to me, as an equal, although I know that I am not, while we were both attending the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in 2016. That encounter has not influenced this review.
There are many murders in this gory story, yet it all seems very authentic and realistic. It is certainly very well researched. The author has put a lot of effort into getting it right.
Initially, it is difficult to get to grips with all the characters and their inter-relationships. There is political wrangling and, as per the modern day, the banks are very powerful. Even within the family-run bank, there is internal conflict.
True to history, King Edward II has recently been forced to abdicate in favour of his young son whose regent is his mother, advised by her lover, Sir Roger Mortimer.
Throughout the whole novel, we are set to wonder about the motives of those who seek to rescue Edward of Caernarfon, as the King has become, imprison him, assassinate him, re-install him as King. In the main, it is also difficult to work out who are allies and who are foes. This is deliberate and effective. Almost to the very end, you, the reader, are solving the puzzles.
This is a great read. I highly recommend it to all fans of historical fiction, especially of the medieval era.