solid piece of work well worth the read,
This review is from: The Year of the Horsetails (Kindle Edition)
The Year of the Horsetails is a traditional adventure story in the old-school style. It follows the flight of a fugitive across the Steppes of what much later became a part of Russia. Set in the Carpathian region, sometime during the Middle ages, its hero, Bardiya, escapes the barbaric but militarily superior nomadic, Mongol-like Tugars into a region as yet unconquered by them. Beyond formidable mountains in the west, the agrarian Slavic Drevich people are largely unaware of the ruthless and overwhelming might soon set to descend upon their lands.
Using clean, crisp and uncluttered language, although of a style that may take a while for modern readers to get used to, a gripping tale of clashing cultures and military conflict unfolds. Keenly researched, the author brings to life a time, its various disparate cultures and the outlooks and attitudes of its people, during a brutal period in European history.
Although the action is excellently handled; the flight across the Steppes, the clash of cultures and the inevitable and bloody conflict that ensues, what is lacking is much in the way of depth to the characters, in particular the protagonist, Bardiya. This does not overly spoil the enjoyment of the book, but I found it hard to invest much empathy with the plight of its characters. It left me a little removed, as though reading an historical account, more so than a work of fiction. There are personal interactions, and even a love affair, but they come across very much in the one dimension.
Having said that, the dialogue is realistic and believable, and the characters are truly of their time - not just modern sensibilities in period costume. It makes for an authentic story, albeit one principally concentrating on adventure and action.
The plot cannot be faulted, nor the pace of the narrative, both excellently pitched, although I found the ending employed a few convenient coincidences and the conclusion felt slightly confused, making the climax feel somewhat flat. A minor detraction, though, from what is otherwise a well-crafted build-up to a momentous ending.
If adventure, action and early military history is your thing, then this tale from R. F. Tapsell will be just your cup of tea. A solid piece of work that is well worth the read.
I received an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.