8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2013
This is the fourth outing for Stryker and the gang and by now they have established a successful formula for a cracking good page turner and i am please to report that Assassin`s Reign is a real page turner.One of the strength`s of Michael Arnold books is how he uses the secondary characters in the story and a really nice touch this time,is that it is the Siege of Gloucester that takes centre stage.Stryker is put in the position of having to become a turncoat and take up arms against his own men,when he should be in London to help Lisette get our heroine from Hunter`s Rage Miss Cecily Cade out of the hands of the parliamentarian`s.Michael Arnold puts you right into the heart of the action with detailed research of the period,that has you on the wall`s of Gloucester with the rebel leader Lieutenant Colonel Edward Massie or down in the trenches with Prince Rupert.Once again Stryker pass catches up with him,when Colonel Vincent Skaithlock walk`s back into his life and a even darker plot unfolds.The heroine`s of our story Lisette and Cecily have a rollicking adventure from London to Oxford and then on to the siege at Gloucester as they race to find Stryker and the King.This the fourth Stryker book,show`s that this is a series to be recon with,and as it say`s on the cover "Stryker is the Sharpe of the Civil War,a cracking read.If you are a e-book reader,then Stryker and the Angels of Death is a must read,as it gives us another look into Stryker pass.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2013
The fourth book in a series is, I sometimes find, a stumbling block for an author. The debut can be strong, the second where they find their feet, and the third where they really shine. Often, though, the fourth is where they over-reach, run out of ideas or become formulaic.
I am delighted to say that none of this holds for Michael Arnold's new opus.
Continuing a trend of increasing quality, Assassin's Reign is indeed better even than the excellent Hunter's Rage, which was itself a triumph.
In this fourth book we find the current dour and acerbic Captain Stryker once more called to carry out the clandestine whims of Prince Rupert, though this time his mission will take him far from the companionship of his company and friends, not only deadly danger, but also into a situation that threatens his very soul. While facing dilemmas and impossible choices - torn between two conflicting duties - Stryker comes face to face with an important figure from his past only to uncover a dastardly plot with far-reaching consequences.
As these troubles progress, we are also treated to a separate thread following the resourceful and dangerous spy Lisette, and her search for the heiress Cecily Cade. Gradually, as armies manoeuvre around the country to deal with the crucial fortress of Gloucester, Lysette and her mission converge with Stryker and other, more sinister characters, leading to a masterly crescendo.
Much of the novel revolves - without giving away anything important (no spoilers) - around the siege of Gloucester and while, unlike Arnold's first three books, there is no presentation of a pitched battle in this one, the setting affords for the first time a real opportunity to view the war from both sides of the Royalist/Parliamentarian divide, and also of the Besieged/Besieger one. An opportunity, I may say, that the author takes and makes shine. Where the roundheads are often portrayed in this series as spiteful and harsh puritans (necessarily given the protagonist's viewpoint) here we meet Parliamentarians that both we - and Stryker - can not only understand, but sympathise with and even rally behind. You will like Massie. I promise.
In this fourth installment we learn a little more of Stryker's past while being introduced to a couple of new and interesting characters. Stryker is actually given more depth than previously, displaying the less pleasant side of his character as he wallows in the loss of his friend Andrew in the previous book, and struggling with ethical conundrums. Lysette is given more of a starring role, since for much of the book she is the protagonist of her own plot.
The tale is tense and realistic and the quality of the writing is as good as you would expect if you've read Hunter's Rage and its predecessors, but this particular plot gives Arnold the chance to create a more tense and personal atmosphere than in the previous, more `pitched battle` works.
Stryker and his friends go from strength to strength and if you've not read the earlier books in this series, I urge you heartily to hunt them down and read them. If you have, this fourth book should hit the spot perfectly.
Despite its tenseness and atmosphere, this is an action packed, tense tale with the pace of a cavalry charge and the power of a culverin shot.
Well done again, Mr Arnold.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This latest book in the story of Innocent Stryker is one of brooding malevolence, politics, revenge and heroism. If the English Civil War had been taught in anything remotely this interesting and exciting a way when i was at school, it would have made months of school lessons a joy (yet my history teacher made it worse than watching paint dry).
Mike Arnold has an ability to tell an exhilarating story and imbue it with a rich atmosphere. Bringing to life the sounds smells and horror of battle and the civil war period, providing you with an insight into the mind of a real warrior, not so much a patriot, but a man of war, a man bred to war in all its horror and finding himself at home.
That does not make Stryker a psychopath, just a man who knows his occupation, the good and the bad. Able to bring a sense of personal honour to the fore, who can recognise the valour of others no matter what side they are on, and also the evil no matter the side they are on.
This book takes Innocent on a tour of all his emotions, concern for his lady, fear from the enemy within his own forces, and fear of capture while undercover, the thrill of battle, joy at an old friend and horror of the machinations of the possible assassination of his King.
This truly is Mike Arnolds best work so far and right up there with the best books of 2013, I don't re-read many books, but very much want to with this one, truly a tale by a story teller at the top of his game.
Civil War Chronicles
1. Traitor's Blood (2010)
2. Devil's Charge (2011)
3. Hunter's Rage (2012)
4. Assassin's Reign (2013)
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2013
I was quite looking forward to this story having read the previous 3, however I was not overly impressed with this instalment and do hope that this is not a sign of what is to follow in the rest of the series. The plot is becoming predictable and the characters are not evolving with the series. The pace was way to slow and i found myself reading furiously only to be done with the book so I could move on to something a bit more interesting instead.Has too much of the Sharpe about it. Powerful benefactor, uncouth officer, band of brothers, rich officers enemies, scrapes behind enemy lines, damsels in distress .... I could go on. Predictable and slow.