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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tour de force
Boy was I happy.

I'd read Hereward by James Wilde recently and, while I had a couple of issues with the book, on the whole I'd thoroughly enjoyed it. So now that the sequel (Hereward: The Devil's Army) is out, I was intrigued to see how the story went on and whether the writer's tack or style had changed since the first book.

I read it in four days,...
Published on 29 July 2012 by SJATurney

versus
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes exciting, but not much better
This second volume on Hereward has some limited improvements when compared to the first one, but suffers from very much the same problems. The topic is anything but original - there are four or five other novels out there on Hereward, his rising and his guerrilla warfare against the Normans.

To make a great piece of historical fiction, I tend to believe that an...
Published on 19 Aug 2012 by JPS


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tour de force, 29 July 2012
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This review is from: Hereward: The Devil's Army (Hereward 2) (Hardcover)
Boy was I happy.

I'd read Hereward by James Wilde recently and, while I had a couple of issues with the book, on the whole I'd thoroughly enjoyed it. So now that the sequel (Hereward: The Devil's Army) is out, I was intrigued to see how the story went on and whether the writer's tack or style had changed since the first book.

I read it in four days, despite this week being a ruthlessly busy time with few free moments. In short, Devil's Army is everything I could have hoped for in a sequel to Hereward. My two main issues with the first book were the somewhat stereotypical nature of the hero and the sparse treatment of the two great battles the book deals with. It may be that the sequel has escaped this problem by not dealing with world-famous battles and having an already-established hero, but I don't believe that is the case. I think James has taken his treatment of the main character and deepened and broadened his perspective. Hereward had changed throughout the first book, in sometimes jarring ways, and in the sequel his nature changes again several times, but subtly and with finesse, for which I think applause is due. And, while there are no famous historic battles in this one, there are two ways this book wins out. I have (since the first book) read something about the events in Hereward's period of activity and can say that Wilde seems to have really done his homework, using the accepted history, but also making intuitive leaps in gaps in the knowledge. Also, though there may be no great battles in this book, there are plenty of non-famous ones, and they are treated with an in-depth and exciting narrative.

As with the first book, Wilde's narrative style is so enthusing and visual that he could have written a phone book and made it riveting. His descriptions make you feel cold with the icy claws of winter, or terrified in a hut of desperate and dangerous peasants. While I'm giving Devil's Army 5 stars, I can't see anything he ever writes being worthy of less than 4, just because of the way it's written.

From the devastation of the north under the conqueror's army, to the fortress in the swamps at Ely, to the numerous betrayals of the loyal and doomed English, to the amazing Harald Redteeth (who I think I want to be), to the almost Martin-Sheen-rising-from-the-river-in-Apocalypse-Now ambushes that devastate the cold Normans, every step is a win. The plot is well-written and well-rounded and ties up beautifully from beginning to end, with more hooks, twists, surprises and stunning scenes than the first, and more than most novels in the genre.

I would recommend people read these books. Hopefully you will love Hereward and its sequel. Hereward was a gripping read, but the Devil's Army is a tour-de-force and a welcome addition to my shelf of great Historical Fiction.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a splendidly visual piece of writing, 17 July 2012
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hereward: The Devil's Army (Hereward 2) (Hardcover)
Review:

When i first started Hereward: Devils Army it was looking forward to what should be a great read. Book one Hereward was a fantastic book (

So it was very worrying to start the book and struggle to get into it.

So I took a step back remembering that I know you have to be in the right frame of mind for every author and every book you read. Its why my TBR pile is so fluid. On reflection I think I pushed myself into this one and wasn't ready, I was more conscious of the publication date than being ready for it. (I had just finished 4 Historical Fiction books back to back and I usually take a breather in-between)....

After a particularly light hearted cheesy thriller I picked Hereward The Devils army up again, and it clicked immediately, how? why had i struggled?

All I know is that instantly I was submerged in what is a splendidly visual piece of writing. So many sights sounds and smells written so well you can experience them all intimately. The characters grow again from book 1 to book 2, taking you further and further into life under the cosh of William Duke of Normandy. The side plots are all so enticing and aided the plot by giving the reader a much wider view of the realm at the time, rather than just the immediacy of Ely's and Hereward's experience.

When the threads finally pull together towards the final chapters its with such a sudden immediate increase in pace you really just cannot put the book down, even if you wanted too and the story is breath taking in its action, pace and horror.

So the worry for a debut author is always can you do it twice, can you repeat the eloquence of book one?

In this case Hell Yes!

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Product Description

1067. The battle ofHastingshas been lost; Harold Godwinsson is dead. The iron fist of William the Bastard has begun to squeeze the life out ofEngland. Villages are torched and men, women and children put to the sword as the Norman king attempts to impose his cruel will upon this unruly nation.

But there is one who stands in the way of the invader's savagery. He is called Hereward. He is a warrior and master tactician and as adept at slaughter as the imposter who sits upon the throne. And he isEngland's last hope.

In a Fenlands fortress of water and wild wood, Hereward's resistance is simmering.

His army of outcasts grows by the day - a devil's army that emerges out of the mists and the night, leaving death in its wake.

But William is not easily cowed. Under the command of his ruthless deputy, Ivo Taillebois - the man they call `the Butcher' - the Norman forces will do whatever it takes to crush the rebels, even if it means razing England to the ground.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hereward against the Conquerors, 25 Sep 2012
This review is from: Hereward: The Devil's Army (Hereward 2) (Hardcover)
I haven't yet read this author's debut novel, "Hereward" - but I shall! This latest book has everything I expect from this genre of fiction.

Set in a period about which there seems to have been little cinematic dramatisation - the Norman Conquest, after the Battle of Hastings - Hereward is the Man from Mercia who leads a guerrilla action against the cold-hearted Normans, who would rather destroy England than let anyone take it back from them. I remember there being a TV series in the 60's, but I can't bring to mind any major films set around this period, or hero? There ought to be!

Based in the brooding Fenlands of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and extending into Norfolk - a much darker, more treacherous and forbidding area than in modern times - Hereward tries to assemble an army with which to repel the Normans and reclaim his land. A task with a surprising amount of intrigue, which proves to be necessary, against an equally-cunning foe. I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of twists the author has managed to weave into his story - both major and minor ones and, I have to confess, I never saw two of them developing until they had happened!

Everything about this story feels right; the action and the dialogue; the religion and the superstition; the plotting and double-crossing; the description of towns and villages, and the eerie unfriendliness of the swamps and bogs of the Fens. Historically, I have no doubt it is accurate, and there is a good pace to the development of the narrative. A strong and believable cast of supporting characters, and some idea of what chivalry means, even between sworn foes, makes for an excellent read.

I feel I owe it to you, the prospective next reader, to give no hints, and no spoilers, despite wanting to say "...and you WON'T believe what happens on page..."! The novel IS that good! I shall buy this author's first book, and I'm assuming (and hoping) that there will be a third tale, because I, vaguely, know there is another chapter of this history still to come?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hereward's Return, 18 July 2012
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This review is from: Hereward: The Devil's Army (Hereward 2) (Hardcover)
1067. The battle of Hastings has been lost; Harold Godwinsson is dead. The iron fist of William the Bastard has begun to squeeze the life out of England. Villages are torched and men, women and children put to the sword as the Norman king attempts to impose his cruel will upon this unruly nation.

But there is one who stands in the way of the invader's savagery. He is called Hereward. He is a warrior and master tactician and as adept at slaughter as the imposter who sits upon the throne. And he is England's last hope.

In a Fenlands fortress of water and wild wood, Hereward's resistance is simmering.

His army of outcasts grows by the day - a devil's army that emerges out of the mists and the night, leaving death in its wake.

But William is not easily cowed. Under the command of his ruthless deputy, Ivo Taillebois - the man they call `the Butcher' - the Norman forces will do whatever it takes to crush the rebels, even if it means razing England to the ground.

Here then is the tale of the bloodiest rebellion England has ever known - the beginning of an epic struggle that will echo down the years..

I read the first Hereward novel back in June 2011 and I hold the book solely responsible for re-igniting my interest in historical fiction. I knew that a sequel was due at some point this year, it made it on to my most anticipated list for 2012, and I've been looking forward to picking up the story from where book one left off.

Over the intervening years, between books one and two, Hereward has become a leader of men. His guerrilla campaign against the Normans continues to slowly gain ground, but certain aspects of this leadership weigh heavily on his shoulders. He comes to appreciate more and more that the responsibility of command comes with its own burdens. Desperate times call for desperate measures and he is forced to make some truly difficult decisions. As the line between good and bad starts to blur, Hereward gets insight into the tough choices that a leader has to make. The right decision is not always the popular one.

In direct contrast to the thoughtful, introspective qualities that leadership has taught him Hereward still sometimes displays maniacal aspects to his character (they tend to appear when he is forced into a corner). He can be a man of extremes, and at times exhibits an almost gleeful blood lust that borders on the psychopathic. His family and friends just about manage to keep this berserker rage in check but some of my favourite moments are when he gives into his inner demons and the red mist descends. It strikes me that Hereward's quest for peace in England is mirrored by his journey to find some sort of inner peace for himself.

Though his power and influence are in evidence throughout the novel, King William remains on the periphery for much of the story. He appears on a number of occasions but it his lords and lieutenants who are tasked with bringing Hereward to justice. A particular favourite is Harald Redteeth, a viking mercenary ,who is obsessed with besting Hereward in combat. Redteeth is haunted by the spirits of his fallen comrades and I think it's fair to say his grasp on reality is tenuous at best. Though Hereward is loath to admit it, he and Redteeth are cut from the same cloth in many ways. They share a similar code of honour the results in some unexpected twists in the story.

Events build toward a satisfyingly bloody climax and the final few chapters contain a number of jaw dropping moments that will set things up nicely for the last book in the series. This is a gripping read that blends historical elements with fast paced action and has the odd betrayal thrown in for good measure to create a top notch adventure. The Devil's Army succeeds in making that trickiest of jobs, being the second part of a trilogy, look effortless. I'm already looking forward to the final pay off. The only question I need answering - how long do I have to wait until I can read it?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brainbiter bites back, 17 July 2012
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hereward: The Devil's Army (Hereward 2) (Hardcover)
Having loved the original Hereward title I really couldn't wait to get my hands on the second outing for this hero, after all in a war to save his people there are going to be hard choices to make and how he makes them will decide whether he's a hero or a villain.

Set against the English Rebellion after their defeat at Hastings, this is a tale of a native son who at times has been thought of as the basis for Robin Hood with some of his own tales being incorporated into the mythical hero's legend. As with the original its full of blood rending action, follows a flawed hero trying to do his best for his people and of course gives the reader a story that they can get between their teeth alongside savour.

Add to this solid no nonsense prose with top rate action sequences that really will keep you glued and all in a story that shows determination against the odds alongside bravery can break mountains. Cracking stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Violent, bleak, and brutal, 14 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Hereward: The Devil's Army (Hereward 2) (Hardcover)
This is the second book in the trilogy and in my experience the middle book can be tricky. It has to carry on but not finish the story and yet be engaging enough to leave you wanting the final instalment ASAP . Did The Devil's army achieve this - a resounding yes! It is a very bleak dark time for the English and Hereward's resistance force is in danger of starving and full of infighting. The whole feel of the book is one of desperation, we know Hereward isn't going to win but how badly will he lose? His character has changed and matured in this book. His best friend Alric has grown stronger mentally and therefore more interesting. The women in the story have more backbone then first appears and his brother made my skin crawl. I especially liked Harold Redteeth's role in this book, proving himself an honourable warrior. All the characters have developed well since the first book but the thing that impressed me most is how dark and brutal the book feels. Wilde fully captures the desperation that the English must have felt and the horrors and depths human nature can sink to. This is no romantic Hollywood stroll through history with a squeaky clean hero, it is as my title says, and not for the faint hearted. However if you like your fiction gritty and tough you won't be disappointed. I am eagerly awaiting the final instalment to see how it all ends for this Hereward
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 1 Aug 2012
This review is from: Hereward: The Devil's Army (Hereward 2) (Hardcover)
An entirely new genre for me, I was asked to review this book, and to be honest wasn't sure what to expect. However, I relished reading about this era, and the book really brought to life an age I know little about. Written well with great descriptions, I felt immersed in the story - I enjoyed the pace and energy. I'll certainly look out for similar books in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History brought to life, 19 July 2014
By 
Rock god (Saddleworth, UK) - See all my reviews
A hero I'd all but forgotten about until I picked up James Wilde' s first book, Hereward. Superbly written, this second book carries you relentlessly to a gritty climax, which in it's turn paves the way the way for the third book in the series. Here is master storyteller who brings history to life and equals Bernard Cornwell.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enriched by the retelling., 27 Jun 2014
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I love this series. My education has been enriched through James Wilde who brings to life the long forgotten hero of England.
How on earth has society allowed Hereward to be lost to our youth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars book, 5 May 2014
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This review is from: Hereward: The Devil's Army (Hereward 2) (Hardcover)
amazing second book again keeps going right from page one and doesnt let up at all this guy is brilliant i hope he gives us more like this
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Hereward: The Devil's Army (Hereward 2)
Hereward: The Devil's Army (Hereward 2) by James Wilde (Hardcover - 19 July 2012)
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