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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read
Parmenion Books Review

I find myself in a bit of a quandary with writing this review, a review is a very personal thing, and even 15 years on from the early days of reviews i find that i cannot move away from just giving my person insight, whilst tempering it with a hope that each of you will make up your own mind. As it had been some time since I read the last...
Published 12 months ago by Parm

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing successor
The Thomas Hill stories started really well with Vol 1 but I feel 2 and 3 were pot boilers. There is a good sense of history and atmosphere but the plot creaks at the seams and really did not hold interest enough. The code-breaking is a good feature of all 3 novels but I felt it was much more perfunctory in 2 and 3. Characterisation is quite rudimentary as if the expected...
Published 6 months ago by Mike Lexically


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read, 30 April 2014
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Parmenion Books Review

I find myself in a bit of a quandary with writing this review, a review is a very personal thing, and even 15 years on from the early days of reviews i find that i cannot move away from just giving my person insight, whilst tempering it with a hope that each of you will make up your own mind. As it had been some time since I read the last book and there had been many pages and many centuries between the books (From Rome, to modern thrillers) I decided that I would re-read books one and two and then dive straight into book 3, Kings return.

I finished all 3 books off in just over a week which clearly shows that there is something significantly engaging and entertaining in the books, that the characters are there and that they are well rounded and developed. That there has been a large amount of research put into the plot and its delivered in a very engaging style.

But: I found that the stories while well told and complex, felt like they lacked something, lacked those little nuggets of history that delight me (forgive me Andrew if i missed them) EG: in Simon Scarrows Young Bloods series about Wellington and Napoleon there is a wonderful scene where young Napoleon is at school and despite not being one of the “popular “ boys he ends up leading by force of character one of the sides in an all out snowball war. It’s a real nugget of history and its stayed with me for years. This series by Andrew Swanston has some delightful passages and really carries the reader along with the plot. But it feels to hover above history, slightly outside it, offering a birds eye view rather than immersing me in the history. I didn't feel the heat of the island, I didn't smell the stink of the sugar (and I live in a town with a Sugar factory so would have found it easy to smell the history), i didn't feel the grime of old London . It may well be that reading this just after reading The new God of Vengeance by Giles Kristen isn't a fair scenario, that book was just stunning and so many authors would pale in comparison. On another day this series may gain a higher rating from me, but i could not escape the feeling of being a voyeur in Mr Hills travails rather than a participant. Please please though read these books, my review comes from my impression at the time of reading and in comparison to some truly remarkable writing. Andrews work is still a delight to read.

I do truly feel that if you love Civil War history, and you love a puzzle, then try the series. The lead character is a cryptographer and there are many puzzles and turns to hold the attention of the reader. It is a fun and interesting read and has a pace that makes the books fly past.

Well worth a read

(Parm)

Thomas Hill Trilogy

1. The King's Spy (2012)
2. The King's Exile (2013)
3. The King's Return (2014)

Novellas
Beautiful Star (2014)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Read, 24 May 2014
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Having read the first two Thomas Hill novels it was quite hard to see where the story would go without his arch enemy Tobias Rush.
However, this book did not disappoint at all with a good range of characters who were convincing and engaging (the 17th century assassin and the rather grotesque bawd were probably my favourites). The code breaking element is part of the story but it is perfectly possible to enjoy the tale without becoming too embroiled in its intricacies.
The plot is strong and kept my attention throughout . One of the particularly interesting aspects of the book is the description of some parts of London which would now be considered upmarket but which were clearly far from salubrious around the time of the Civil War. Similarly, the Kent marshes are well described and provide a sinister background to a rescue mission.
The book held my attention to the end and I would like to think that this will not be the last we see of the hero.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Twisty spy tale and intrepid historical adventure, 15 May 2014
By 
Kate (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
It is 1661. Finally, the bloody years of Civil War are finished and the dour Commonwealth of Cromwell overthrown. King Charles II is restored to the throne - clothes are at their most elaborate, the theatres are full, the coffee bars buzzing with whispering gossips, and the parks of London are alive once more with promenaders in their finest. But while the city celebrates the coronation, not all is as it should be. Not everyone is happy to see the end of republicanism and there are powers abroad all too ready to stir up dissident voices or, worse, put money in the pockets of murderers.

Thomas Hill is a reluctant visitor to London. In town for the coronation, he stays with old friends Mary and Charles Carrington who entertain him one evening with a dinner party. Among the guests is senior government official and adviser to the King, Joseph Williamson. Williamson is also in charge of the Post Office, an institution that has considerably less to do with delivering letters than opening them, copying them and informing on their authors and recipients, because Joseph Williamson is the King's chief spymaster. When Joseph learns of Thomas's previous great success as cryptographer, he is at pains to make use of his skills. For Joseph has a problem. Men in his employ are falling foul of a murderer, their throats cut. Joseph suspects that it signifies nothing less than an international plot against the monarchy. No-one wants a return to Civil War, at least no-one in their right mind. But as Thomas works to unravel the clues, the danger draws ever closer until it is not just a national emergency he is at risk of discovering, but also a personal disaster.

The King's Return is the third novel in Andrew Swanton's series on cryptographer Thomas Hill, with previous novels looking at his career in Civil War Oxford and then his years in Barbados. It is, though, my first. I was attracted to this particular novel because of its setting in 1661. I have read a fair few novels set in the English Civil War but none set during the Restoration. What a fascinating time it must have been! These glory years after violence and austerity and before Plague and Fire. And that is the extent of my knowledge. The good news is that The King's Return holds up very well indeed as a standalone novel and it didn't matter that I knew so little about Thomas's past. Although, having said that, I do have the previous two books and I intend to read them. Thomas and Mary Carrington have history and I would like to investigate.

The King's Return is very much focused on the plot and it's a satisfyingly complex and twisty spy tale, which combines both intellectual exercise and intrepid adventure. The two go well together and there is a strong sense that Thomas is challenged in more ways than one while the reader never actually doubts that he will triumph in the end. But while we are confident about Thomas, we certainly aren't about Madeleine Stewart, the woman that Thomas falls for. I enjoyed their relationship in the novel very much. This is an adult affair. Both Thomas and Madeline have endured much and we learn a little of that here. The shadow of Civil War overhangs The King's Return and everyone in it, from the king himself downwards. London witnesses almost daily the king's vengeance against his father's executioners while Thomas and Madeleine have their own reasons and raw wounds to detest the recent war. The theatres might be open again but they can be volatile places. Crowds in post-war London have a mob-like tendency.

The theatre analogies continue through the book. Thomas Hill decrypts his case as if he were dismantling the scenes of a play. His suspects are given roles in the drama, his notes construct each act. The players are all, to one degree or another, actors. Some are better at it than others. Fortunately, though, we are in safe hands with Thomas Hill, our modest, quiet and very likeable unraveller of secrets.

The King's Return is an entertaining and relatively light read, with an exciting plot and villains worthy of it. It has an air of manners about it, befitting its setting. But when the masks are removed and the action moves from the dining rooms into bedrooms or taken outside the house or office into London's poorest streets or its Godforsaken marshes, the truth will out. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great tale!, 24 April 2014
This is the third instalment in the 'King's' series.
I have really enjoyed them all. I love the simplicity of the story, the clear, well drawn characters who do not, as is sometimes the case in this genre, blur together. A modest and humble hero with great help from beautifully drawn protagonists. Fabulous villains and a view of a time that sets me in the right place.
In this case our story is set in an England of suspicion and fear after the Restoration and threats from the continent. Hill and his friends seeking a spy at the post office and he must use his code breaking skills (which I still don't really understand, even though Mr Swanston worked hard to explain them to me!) to root out the parliamentarian sympathiser who is plotting against the king. Good job he has his old friends from Barbados, some new supporters and his fantastic fighting skills!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommended it, 22 Sept. 2014
By 
D. M. Trowsdale (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The King's Return: (Thomas Hill 3) (Thomas Hill Novels) (Kindle Edition)
I have read all three books of this trilogy. I found each of them well crafted historical "who dunnits". Each book can stand alone, but read as a trilogy gives added interest.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommended it.
You will not be able to put lot down
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 4 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: The King's Return: (Thomas Hill 3) (Thomas Hill Novels) (Kindle Edition)
The Thomas Hill books are always a good read and the kings Return is no different.

Mr Swanston's characters are always interesting and believable, his story lines are always exciting and when you reach the end of one book you wish to move onto the next immediately.
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5.0 out of 5 stars No disapointment, 2 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The King's Return: (Thomas Hill 3) (Thomas Hill Novels) (Kindle Edition)
I was looking forward to the third tome in the trilogy and it didn't disappoint. The characters are finely drawn and the narrative rushes along nicely. If only the author could "do a Spike Milligan" and write 5 or 6 books in his trilogy!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good page turner, 13 May 2014
This review is from: The King's Return: (Thomas Hill 3) (Thomas Hill Novels) (Kindle Edition)
I read this in a couple of days while a Hilary Mantel (which I also enjoy) lay neglected on the shelves. The action moves along very nicely and pulls the reader in. There is a pleasing mix of "realistic" characters - the protagonist and his heroine - and grotesques, such as the remarkable Josiah Mottershead (no relation) whose antics are unfailingly entertaining. And a brothel keeper from your worst nightmares!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing successor, 28 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: The King's Return: (Thomas Hill 3) (Thomas Hill Novels) (Kindle Edition)
The Thomas Hill stories started really well with Vol 1 but I feel 2 and 3 were pot boilers. There is a good sense of history and atmosphere but the plot creaks at the seams and really did not hold interest enough. The code-breaking is a good feature of all 3 novels but I felt it was much more perfunctory in 2 and 3. Characterisation is quite rudimentary as if the expected readership were aged about 13.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 17Century spy story, 26 April 2014
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This review is from: The King's Return: (Thomas Hill 3) (Thomas Hill Novels) (Kindle Edition)
Excellent page turner.Exciting twists and turns and a likeable main character as well as some romantic interest.A very enthralling read.
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