Astonishing, amazing, creative – fiction that stirs the heartstrings. When I first started writing reviews, and was on the hunt for authors who would feed my passion, Prue Batten came highly recommended – to paraphrase the recommendation – “Prue could write a phone book and make it compelling.” The depth of character that permeates her narratives is certainly on display in Michael. The mental anguish, the sheer trauma, the weight of responsibility, the relentless downward spiral of hatred and revenge – all that and a downright entertaining story to boot. A tale of merchants and the life and death competition for riches and power set against the political maneuverings of the unpopular ruling class in Byzantine Constantinople. Like an exquisite piece of fine needlework, the author has embroidered an intricate tale highlighted by the details of that vast city and the life within it. So, dear reader, if you have not read Prue Batten, then you are denying yourself a literary treat. 5 stars
Once again I found myself drawn into the medieval world as depicted by one of my favorite authors, Prue Batten. Once again, she does not disappoint as she embroiders a tale full of intrigue and suspense. The story takes place in the village of Lyon and concerns a family’s trading business; a business that draws unwanted attention from an over zealous monk – a despicable character who is just one example of the author’s ability to weave believable personas into the fabric of the story’s time and place. From the Crusade induced troubled mind of the protagonist to the steel backbone of the maligned Jewess, Ariella, the reader is treated to a page turner of a tale. Ms. Batten is a master at setting the stage, leaving hints and clues as to what is coming, and yet still surprising the reader with the eventual results. A descriptive, and at times poetic, look at a world that was gradually moving into the time of the Reformation, and where loyalty and trust were often hard to find. 5 stars and an anxiously awaiting reader for the third volume of this marvelous series.
Once again I was asked to preview the newest release by Prue Batten. Once again I was pleased to do so. Once again I was thrilled with the result. Tobias and his twin, Tomas, are dispatched on a perilous mission by their employer, Guy of Gisborne, one that could ruin the Gisborne family if the mission fails. Amidst the drama that unfolds considering the mission is the painful drama of the falling out between Tobias and Tomas. The lifelong bond shared by the twins is taxed to the limit and leads to reconciliation, retribution and finally revenge. The story exudes in excitement as the mission is beset by problems right from the start and only culminates after much opposition and suffering. The characters are painted in such a way as to enable the reader to soak up the texture of their feelings, their fears, their joys. As evidenced in other works by the author, her descriptive flair is in top form whether you are shipboard in a storm or just marvelling at Constantinople’s majestic architecture. One illustration should suffice : “The biggest church in Christendom stood above him, the staircase could have been the one that led to Heaven for all he knew, so beautiful, so perfectly cut from marble, the basilica walls stuccoed and the colour of faded Judas blossom, windows underlying the gold leafed cupola like an imperial diadem. It sat almost in silhouette as the late afternoon sun sought to bed behind it.” It is my humble opinion that Prue Batten has another winner on her hands and am certainly looking forward to book 2. 5 stars
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Ever since I finished book two of this exquisite series, I had been waiting none too patiently for the third knowing that a wonderful treat was in store for me and the author did not disappoint. As with the first two volumes the story is replete with tension filled plots and marvelously depicted characters. The main female protagonist , Ysabel, while she has matured maintains that spark of spontaneity and stubborn willfulness that makes her such an intriguing character. The main male protagonist, Gisborne, remains much the same as he keeps things close to the vest even though his heart is tormented with the kidnapping of their son and the growing hatred and need for revenge is kindled within. That is one of the author’s strengths, the ability to draw you into a character so completely that you feel what they feel; the anguish, the fears, and yes the joys. Indeed the rich variety of characters makes this book(and the other two) such a joy to read. Descriptive scenes and scenery, a tale filled with the gamut of human emotions; well I can only say that it is a pleasure to have read all three and I am sure you will feel the same. 5 stars and more.
About Prue Batten:
A former journalist from Australia who graduated with majors in history and politics, Prue is now a cross genre writer who is also a farmer, kayaker, dog owner, gardener and embroiderer
This is the second title in The Gisborne Saga by Prue Batten and as effusive as I was in my praise of book 1, I did feel some trepidation as I started reading book 2…hoping that the author would be able to continue the excellence. I am happy to report that she has…. Ysabel Moncrief/De Courcey/Gisborne is one of the most fascinating characters I have read in fiction. Impetuous, intelligent, and constantly at war with her conscience, Ysabel strides through this tale of turmoil, doubt and fear as she seeks answers and safety for her and her son. The story has a bit of everything but most of all it has drama,from the plight of Sir Guy Gisborne, a plot to kill King Richard and the ever growing tension and hatred between Guy and his cousin, the Templar, Sir Robert Halsham. As with most good tales this one has it’s share of plot twists and surprises not the least of which happens at the end…I will say no more about that. Another reason for 5 stars are the author’s incredibly rich characters…they imbue the story with their loyalty, their realness, their believable existence.
In a word, run don’t walk to your internet bookshop of choice and read this marvelous series of tales. Book three Book of Kings is in the works…I am looking forward to that.
By far most of the historical fiction that I read is full of the twang of many bowstrings and ballista, the thrust of gladius and spear, the tromping of hobnailed caligae, however at the behest of my Twitterverse friend SJA Turney and after reading her blog posts I finally succumbed and decided to read Gisborne Book of Pawns by Prue Batten. A wise choice as it turned out.
The author has given us a wonderful re-telling of the story of Sir Guy Gisborne and the Lady Ysabel of Moncrief. The story is set during the beginning of Richard the Lionheart’s reign. It begins with the arrival of Gisborne in Aquitaine to escort Ysabel back to her home at Moncrief as her mother has died and her father is in dire straits. This sets up one of the main story lines; the tension between Sir Guy and Lady Ysabel. Other plots and sub plots are also evident bringing to the reader a sublime set of surprises and twists. The two main characters are beset with emotions, Gisborne’s arising from his past and his desire for his future and Ysabel’s awakening to reality.
The turmoil of Ysabel’s soul and the conflicts in her heart and mind are presented in such a way as to make it seem like Ysabel’s thoughts seep through the pages and enters the hearts and minds of the readers. This exquisitely compelling style of prose is what kept me entranced through the entire book. As an example I include this excerpt(no spoiler):
I dared him – so help me as I gazed at that severe face, I dared him. And it seemed as though we clashed close in our duel, our hilts jamming, our breath dragging in and out. He shook off my weapon and felled me with one blow. ‘Yes,’ he said.
The supporting cast of characters are also fascinating from the redoubtable Lady Cecilia, the various nuns and priests to the main antagonists, Halsham and de Courcey. I am now a fan of Prue Batten and heartily agree with another fan who once told me that she could write a phone book and make it compelling. I look forward with great anticipation to the rest of this saga. 5 stars indeed.