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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping tale of Crécy and its aftermath
Writer for classic television detective series Touch of Frost, David Gilman has switched his talents to The Hundred Years War and presents the story of English longbowman Thomas Blackstone during the Battle of Crécy in 1346 and its bloody and dangerous aftermath. Thomas Blackstone is a young mason (about 16 years old) and little more than a peasant, although better...
Published 16 months ago by Kate

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A new historical period for me
Might work as a series but some of the plot is a touch routine. Impressed by the detail. and period knowledge
Published 9 months ago by Chris Morris


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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping tale of Crécy and its aftermath, 14 Aug 2013
By 
Kate (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Master of War (Hardcover)
Writer for classic television detective series Touch of Frost, David Gilman has switched his talents to The Hundred Years War and presents the story of English longbowman Thomas Blackstone during the Battle of Crécy in 1346 and its bloody and dangerous aftermath. Thomas Blackstone is a young mason (about 16 years old) and little more than a peasant, although better educated and better favoured than most thanks to a French mother and a brave archer for a father who had saved his lord's life in battle. When Thomas's deaf and mute younger brother Richard is accused of murdering a local girl, there is no option but for both brothers to enlist in the troop of their lord's knight in order to avoid a death by hanging. The fact that both are highly skilled with the longbow makes them invaluable in these early years of The Hundred Years War. Edward III is about to sail to Normandy to reclaim his lands from the French King. His ships are filled with archers.

The novel is divided into three parts and the battle of Crécy takes place in the first. This gives you an idea that while the book seizes your attention with such a major event early on there is also much more to it than that. The mix of nationalities and allegiances works well - there is almost more tension between the English and Welsh than there is between Norman and English or Norman and French. No love, though, is lost between English and French - too much harm has been done by both. The theme of chivalry runs through the pages. A man such as Thomas might deny its place in a `modern' battle but its codes colour the actions of many of the characters in the novel. When they're broken or when promises are found to be false, there is outrage. This is felt not least by Thomas. Also effectively evoked is the landscape of Normandy and France with its cities, castles, villages and abbeys. Its scenes of war are truly brutal and terrifying and mesmerising.

While I did enjoy Master of War very much, this was lessened slightly by its treatment of women. This is very much a novel about war and it makes no pretences otherwise but women are featured and in comparison with the men have very little colour. Thomas's relationship with Christiana is not very believable to me and felt tagged on. Women throughout are treated with very little respect and while this may well be a reflection of the times it did get a little tiring.

Master of War is an extremely exciting novel. Its pace rarely pauses. But above all else it is steeped in the blood, rage and grief of war, where death can come from every side at any time and in the most horrible of ways, where life off the battlefield can be almost as fragile as on it and where love and friendship have a price. Life was short for archers, knights and the poor. No wonder then that Thomas changes before our eyes to a man that even his friends fear as a harbinger of death. I hope we get a sequel. I'm grateful for my review copy.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new era to enjoy, 17 Aug 2013
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Master of War (Hardcover)
Review
Is Rome becoming the period of the past? More and more books and series seem to be gravitating to medieval periods and warfare. This is no bad thing, a change to different times, different outlooks on the aspects and manner of war. A change in weapons and a change in the pre-eminent
There are as many rich periods and great battles to centre a series around, and so many more nations to look at and explore.
Of all the battles and wars David Gilman has chosen one of the true stand outs; The battle of Crecy, set during the Hundred Years War.
My personal knowledge of the period is not the best, and that's what I love about more and more authors writing in this period, it's a chance for me to learn something new. Can I be educated at the same time as entertained?
In Master of War we the reader are introduced to one of the kings archers, Thomas Blackstone, a boy trained from childhood (as were all boys) to master the English longbow. The longbow was at the time THE weapon of destruction, ranks of archers firing bows of over 100lb draw, with a destructive force that could pierce plate armour, thus nullifying the French superior numbers in chivalry.
This book is a brilliant mix or characterisation, intrigue, battles, nationalities, history, enmity, courage, cowardice, fear and bravery. But ultimately for this period it is Chivalry that rules the day, the rules of chivalry that bind nobleman or all nations, as long as you are of noble blood, the peasants are as ever...fodder for the mill of war. This does not lessen the brutality of war, it does not reduce the death count in the field or war, in the destruction of castles and sieges, it just adds a set of rules, rules iron clad and the breaching of such would lead to outrage, ridicule and shunning by all sides.
Thomas soon becomes a man to know, and a man to fear, a bringer of death in a world or death dealers. Life is short and to be lived to the full, love is quick, and comradeship earned, won, lost and grieved over many times in short periods. It's a harsh life and one that Thomas Blackstone is good at.
I was very impressed an immersed in this book, the only bits that brought me up short were the depiction of the ladies and attitudes towards them. While I know we are in a period where women were chattel for many men, they were also many strong women, women who led through a power behind the throne, and some who were a lot more overt, and I'm not sure that all men were so universally of that opinion. But this was my only nit-pick with the book, a book that I really enjoyed and look forward to more.

(Parm)
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great debut novel from a new historical fiction author, 5 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Master of War (Paperback)
A very enjoyable read set in the initial years of the 100 years War. The main heroe Thomas Blackstone develops into an adventurous character fighting in wartorn France for the cause of King Edward III and his son The Prince of Wales later known as The Black Prince. I gave it a 4 star rating due to the battle scenes not described as well as by other authors such as Cornwell, Iggulden or Scarrow. But the storyline is very exciting covering the events of the landings in France of the English King's army, the subsequent Battle of Crecy, the political games played out by Norman Barons, The Black Death and the seige at Calais. A lot to fit into one novel and perhaps the author could have dedicated more pages on these events instead of concentrating too much on Blackstone's rehabilitation period in a Norman nobles castle. Nevertheless, the novel is very well written and the characters surrounding Blackstone are developed well albeit towards the end of the book. I shall definitely buy the next book in the series which no doubt will be even better. I recommend the book to all historical fiction lovers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look Out Cornwell, 27 May 2014
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This review is from: Master Of War (Kindle Edition)
Having always been a huge Bernard Cornwell fan, I tend to judge all othe historical novels by that yardstick and, until now, none have measured up. However, Master of War defintiely does with a well crafted plot, well constructed characters, plenty of intrigue and, of course, some excellent battle scenes. Can't wait for the next one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blackstone is to the Hundred Years War....., 29 April 2014
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This review is from: Master Of War (Kindle Edition)
...what Sharpe is to the Peninsular War. A man raised out of his class at war with friend and enemy alike, with a sense of honour that more honourable men fail to achieve. A great page turner.....now waiting for volume 2
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good read, 25 April 2014
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I found this book both entertaining and informative and would really recommend it. Will be re-reading at some point in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 12 April 2014
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This review is from: Master Of War (Kindle Edition)
Believable writing style that draws you in and makes you part of this time with real characters and enticing twists and turns with plenty of passion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It, 11 April 2014
This review is from: Master of War (Paperback)
In the style of Bernard Cornwell Can not wait for next in series. Very good read would recommend to all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow worth a read, 6 April 2014
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Really enjoyed this, plenty of blood and guts but a strong story too well linked into actual events,reading this is an excellent way to spend time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars mediaeval warfare, 30 Mar 2014
By 
Bryan Odriscoll "brian boru" (ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Master of War (Paperback)
I'm not surprised that the other reviewers rated this book highly. It is well written and Gilman is a good story teller. The main protagonist, Thomas Blackstone, an archer with Edward III army at the battle of Crecy in 1346, is well rounded and I look forward to reading about his further adventures in forthcoming books by the author. The novel certainly compares well with Bernard Cornwell's 'Heretic' series.
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Master of War
Master of War by David Gilman (Hardcover - 1 Aug 2013)
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