The Blood of Princes (The Craft of Kings #2) by Derek Birks

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BLURB

A savage tale of love, treason and betrayal.
A bloody struggle for power at the heart of the royal court.

In April 1483, the sudden death of King Edward IV brings his 12 year old son to the throne.
Restless young lord and ex-mercenary John Elder is newly-appointed to the service of Edward, Prince of Wales, and charged with the boy’s safety. His first task, escorting the new king to London for his coronation, seems a simple one but the accession of a boy king raises concerns among the leading noblemen of the land.
As old jealousies and feuds are rekindled, the new king’s uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, seizes control and plunges the kingdom into crisis. But is Gloucester young Edward’s enemy, or saviour?
While John, outlawed and trapped, must wait to see how events unfold, other members of the battle-scarred Elder family are drawn, one by one, into his conspiracy. Soon they are mired so deep in the murky underbelly of London society, that there seems no hope of escape from the tangle of intrigue and murder.
In the end, all lives will hang upon the outcome of a daring incursion into the Tower of London itself.

REVIEW

I’m of the opinion that if you Google the phrase “adrenaline rush”, you should be directed to a page describing Derek Birks’ fictional 15th century family, The Elders. Throughout the tales in both the Rebels and Brothers series, and in the Craft of Kings, the reader is treated to intense emotional upheaval, traumatizing losses, hopeless situations; and yet the Elders persevere in the face of all the changes and challenges. I may have stated in my review of one of the prior books, that Eleanor Elder is at the top of a long list of my favorite fictional characters…after reading The Blood of Princes, I now have to add Lady Margaret Elder (Meg).

It’s tough enough being proclaimed an ‘outlaw’. Now, John Elder faces impossible tasks,.. keeping his family intact, rescuing Tower imprisoned Princes of the Realm, and by the way, staying alive. Book 2 is a certified roller-coaster ride through the transition from Edward IV to his son; but wait, there’re more contestants to the throne, more loyalties tested, more oaths sworn or forsaken, and a whole lot more danger to life and limb. The author has once again delivered the entire package, so dear reader, fasten your seat belts. The adrenaline is about to start coursing through your veins.  5 stars

 

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His Last Witch Hunt by Deborah C. Foulkes

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An intriguing tale that takes place during the English Civil War about The Witch Finder General, Matthew Hopkins.  The village of Hopton is shaken by a death and witchcraft is suspected as the cause.  Matthew and his crew find themselves embroiled in a very confusing situation compounded by many factors that make this case very difficult for all involved.  The author does a fine job in rendering the hysteria, the fear and the hatred that the villagers feel towards the accused.  The characters are portrayed in a way that takes the reader into the mindset of this unfortunate time period of inquisition and religious fanaticism.  The story starts out to be a straight forward example of a superstitious accusation but the author entwines other human frailties and emotions  into the mix making for entertaining plot twists.  This is certainly a page turning delight to read.  4.3 stars

The Serpent’s Root by M.J. Logue

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To quote (sort of) The Most Interesting Man in the World, “I don’t always read about The English Civil War, but when I do, I like to read about Hollie (Rosie) Babbitt.”  This is book 5 in the Uncivil War series by M.J. Logue and I continue to be impressed with the style, the language, the plot lines and the development of the characters.  The author brings to life what the war did to both sides in this edition as the Parliamentarian’s take control of Cornwall, a region that would rather not be part of either side in the war.  Colonel Babbitt returns to the fray much to the chagrin of Het, his wife and this rough, professional soldier must battle not only a siege but also his tangled emotions.  The manner in which he finally understands and the healing of his troubled mind comes from a most unusual source; I will say no more on that other than I was entranced by this portion of the story.  Also intriguing is the relationship between Hapless, the Brat and Rosie…it just gets better with every book.  Hoover Book Reviews highly recommends this very entertaining series.  5 stars.

The Smoke of Her Burning by M.J. Logue

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For those of you keeping score, this is the fourth book of the series but chronologically it falls before the third book.  This one revolves around the Battle of Selby militarily, and the plight and antics of Thankful Russell, Trooper Gray and Cornet Luce Pettit, along with a smattering of homelife for Rosie Babbitt and his good wife Het.  As this is the fourth volume, I have had ample time to adjust to and admire the author’s somewhat unique writing style and have come to love the way she uses the local dialects and patois of the characters in the books to the point where I have found myself thinking in Drew Venning’s Norfolk idiom or Hollie’s Puritan voice.  Not a bad thing, but can be detrimental when writing work related emails and words like summat or nowt or the term Thee want to creep into the missive.  🙂  The Selby battle is brilliantly portrayed from the perspectives of Hollie and the three “amigos”, Thankful, Gray and Luce.  The chaos of a cavalry charge in the confines of town streets, the brutality of pikemen versus longswords and battle bred horses and the twists of fate are high points in the story’s telling.   Another salient aspect of the author’s skill is the continuing growth and development of her characters.  Poignant and exciting, The Smoke of Her Burning is an excellent addition to this wonderful series.  5 stars