MINOR noble Sir Charles Berkeley finds himself thrust into the centre of major events in 1641 as the country teeters on the edge of civil war and the main question facing men is King or Parliament?
Berkeley has a military reputation, earned in the recent humiliating war with the Scots, but the hurly-burly of political life in London soon proves more baffling, treacherous and dangerous than any encounter on the battlefield.
Mark Turnbull has his finger on the political, military and social pulse at one of the pivotal moments in British history and he effortlessly transports you back to those momentous days. --The Northern Echo, 26 May 2009
I have a confession to make. My knowledge of the English Civil War is thin to say the least. I did wonder therefore whether I was in a suitable position therefore to judge fairly Mark Turnbull's Decision Most Deadly, as it is that very period that the book concerns itself with. It is also self-published, and that usually makes me a little nervous! I do however love a good story, and this is a piece of historical fiction, so why not?
The protagonist of our tale is Sir Charles Berkely. A soldier whose political leanings have always tended to be in the direction of Parliament, Sir Charles is, in the first instance, quite content with life whilst at the same time recognising that London could soon be embroiled in violence. The reason behind this? The fact that Parliament is flexing its muscles and attempting to strip King Charles I of his remaining powers (despite Charles I already having made plenty of concessions by this stage).
Berkely has returned to London having fought with distinction in the Bishop's War, and thanks to this recognition has managed to find himself a patron. Before long, he will find himself being presented to the King himself. He has unwittingly already met his nemesis in the poisonous Sir Arthur Cotton during the fighting, and it is this relationship along with that he has with his wife Anne, that the story depends upon as its key sub-plots. Cotton is a wonderful baddie, the character superbly interwoven with the main theme of the novel.
And of course the main theme of the novel is that deadly decision that Charles must make - King or Parliament? 1641, the year in which our story is set was an extremely volatile period of time from a political standpoint. With the mob running riot on the streets of London, you could very easily find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. In a very subtle fashion, Turnbull generates the sense of fear and agitation that pervaded, culminating in a skilfully constructed and absorbing finale. He dextrously blends all aspects of life during this climactic period of British History and seamlessly integrates his evident knowledge of the subject into a captivating narrative.
Every month, there are generally in excess of 500 history, non-fiction and biographical books published in the UK. Many of these are by well known authors and historians, and many of them will land on my desk. At the same time, there are also a great many that are unlikely to appear on the radar. I'm very pleased that Decision Most Deadly wasn't one of those. --Jonny Mardling, Group Editor of History Times, 30 September 2009
About the Author
Mark has always been interested in history and the Monarchy from a young age. The particular fascination and passionate appeal of the seventeenth century seemed to come about naturally when he was around ten years old. After a visit to a castle, he asked his parents if he could have a pack of cards which portrayed each of England's Monarchs and dynasties. Mark also enjoys art and he set about drawing particular Monarchs from these cards, but when it came to the one displaying King Charles the First, something caught his imagination and sparked an interest which flourished immediately. He drew a larger picture of King Charles, compared to the others he chose to portray, and copied out the information about the King, but was fascinated to learn more. It was early one morning when he was watching television, waiting for his parents to get up, that Mark stumbled across a film about King Charles the First and the English Civil War. He was glued to it and did not budge until the program ended. The desire for more information and learning continued - and still does!
The idea for writing started nearly ten years ago when he began the book. Chapter one, with the letter arriving from Lord Holland in the small hours is fundamentally the same as it always was, as are other chapters. As Mark explains, his reasons for wanting to write about the period were two-fold.
'I wanted to help increase learning about the period and keep the fascinating events of the era alive, while contributing to the subject myself and sharing my interest and knowledge. Works relating to the period tend to focus on the war and aftermath, whereas I wanted to look at what it was actually like to live through the build-up to the war and how it came about. With my enthusiasm for this period in history, it was a complete joy to write.'
'History is so crucial and enjoyable, but easy to dismiss. We forget that we all have ancestors who lived through every period of our past. History belongs - and is directly applicable to - each and every one of us. It is one of the enduring threads that binds Great Britain together, and engages the interest of so many across the world.'