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3.8 out of 5 stars17
3.8 out of 5 stars
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MERCENARIES - WARRIORS - CONQUEST by Jack Ludlow
Having already sampled the work of this author, who also writes under the pen-name of David Donachie (19th. c. seafaring novels), I expected this fictionalised biographical trilogy to be of a good standard, both historically accurate and a good read. All three volumes were certainly that and more. The author admits that some small liberties have been taken with time lines to maintain the fictional flow but these books are without a doubt an interesting and absorbing read. I do not believe that the de Hautville family who dominated the Norman conquest of Italy and Sicily and subsequently the Holyland have been previously featured in historical fiction since Alfred Duggans novels were published in the 1950s a much overlooked important episode of feudal history.
Buy this series, read them, keep them....they are that rarity in fiction that readers will return to an re-read over again.
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on 5 March 2010
Having really enjoyed the first of the Conquest Trilogy, I was not disappointed with the second. It's a fast moving tale and, if you're into historical novels in the style of Bernard Cornwell's Alfred the Great Series, Harry Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome,etc., you'll enjoy this!
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on 3 June 2010
The first book in Jack Ludlow's Conquest series, Mercenaries, is a fantastic novel; yet even that cannot hold a candle against the sequel. Focused around William De Hauteville and his part in the little known Lombard rebellion in Apulia, the novel combines a wealth of character detail and depth with an array of plot twist's throughout. My only real complaint is that the general feeling of the last few chapters is rather rushed; the events covered in these last sections could easily make up another novel, but that may have the risk of overstretching the story. As such, this minor error is totally forgivable. Therefore, I declare this book to be a must-have for fan's of Historical Fiction, especially those interested in the little known heroes of European History.
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This follows on from the great action in John Ludlow's first book Mercenaries (Conquest) as the de Hauteville brothers from France continue to try and establish roots in Southern Italy in the Eleventh Century.

The Byzantines rule the South, but loosely, with the locals revolting.

The Lombards, headed by Arduin, would love to rule in Apulia, as they do to the North.

The mercenary brothers, the de Hautevilles, can help Arduin destroy the power of Constantinople.

A great military and political action historical novel with twists and turns right to the end. A romping read of over 400 pages.
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on 15 October 2010
They are certainly well researched and moves at a good pace. However, sometimes too good, it's almost as if he wrote the whole series in a hurry (maybe to meet a deadline). Some scenes have quite a bit of detail and then suddenly a whole series of events will happen over a page or two.

I have greatly enjoyed his other books (in whichever of his guises) and these have been more leisurely constructed but these three books should, perhaps, have been four or even five.

All in all they have ended up as one long holiday read rather than true historical novels
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on 12 September 2010
The author is describing the adventures of a Norman clan of mercenaries in Byzantine-occupied Italy in the mid 11th century. The problem with the book is it's just that; a series of descriptions of incidents and their locations, with little or poor narrative structure. This makes it near unreadable after a while; the characters appear flat and lack any sense of development. There are stories to be written about this little-known period of history; this just isn't one of them.
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on 13 March 2012
This is the second book in the conquest triolgy and is not as good as the first,there is much to much emphasis on the political angle and not enough of the actual warfare and battles that transpired.I shall hope the third book is back on line in theme and action as the first,you obviously must read it to follow the story of the de hautvilles so just go buy it.
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on 28 August 2013
This book continues the story of the Norman mercenaries in Italy, a good read and made me want to buy the next book (I have) I found the ending of the book a little disappointing as it all happened so fast but it did lay the foundations of the next book and left me wanting to read on
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on 28 March 2010
Strong historical novel in a period about which I previously knew very little - guessed that it fits somewhere between Belisarius and the first crusade but there weren't many clues. Captured the imagination enough to make me go off and research the period a bit. I think that, given the somewhat obscure nature of the period, it would be good to publish a timeline somewhere in the preamble and maps so as to grounfd the reader. The narrative does require some understanding of chronology in order to relate to the events described, but it it is very readable just as a historical adventure story.
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on 6 March 2014
Never realized the Normans spread so far and controlled so much of early Europe. The complicated backgrounds of the early Italians set an intriguing backdrop to the wiles of marauding plunderers.
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