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The Ill-Made Knight (Chivalry) Hardcover – 1 Aug 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; First Edition edition (1 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409142418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409142416
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 16.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A vivid and gutsy tale of medieval warfare (TELEGRAPH & ARGUS) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

An action-packed tale of chivalry and betrayal set during the Hundred Years War.

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Format: Hardcover
Review:

In this book, this oh so wonderful book, Christian Cameron proves yet again no matter what era he writes in, he does it with style, skill and panache. For me he is the finest writer of historical fiction currently writing. As a writer he ticks every box, deep research, deep personal knowledge from his re-enactment, a deep abiding passion for the subject matter and for the world of writing, and a natural skill of the storyteller, a skald, a minstrel a chronicler a man who can lift his audience to another time and place, transporting them to sit at the shoulder of his characters through pain, happiness , passion, victory and defeat. Every single book gets better and is a bigger triumph than the last, and that astounds me, because every book just takes my breath away in its scope and skill.

Ill Made Knight is a whole new world for me, I know nothing about this period, 1356 England and France is a blank slate, and yet in every page I felt at home with William Gold, I felt every one of his losses and every one of his victories, his betrayals hurt me as much as William, his losses cut me to the core, his loves reminded me of the highs a person can reach just being in the presence of that special person in your life and his anger at the Bourc burned as hotly for me as it did for him. The book arouses all those passions in the reader and more.

As much as I was entertained, I feel I was also educated, knowing that the author, has invested so much time, patience, blood sweat and energy into understanding the period, the arms and armour, the clothing, the fighting (he took part in a tournament recently in full armour).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have borrowed this title ("Noble ideals and bloody realities") for my review from a collection of studies that addresses various aspects of this tension throughout the middle Ages. I could also have titled it "the business of war and knightly honour," or something like that, because this is also what this superb piece of historical fiction is about.

The point I will try to make is that this book is not only a very entertaining novel that tells the adventures and rise in the world through war of William Gold, who starts his career as a cook's boy in the army of the Black Prince, fights at Poitiers and ultimately becomes a famous mercenary captain. It is about his aspirations and ideals; his quest for honour and knighthood, but also for recognition and enrichment through war and it is also about all these aspirations conflict with each other and reflect the tensions of his times.

The story begins at a time when the Great Plague had swept across Europe and as the war in France had been going on for some fifteen years. It ends about a decade later with the main character serving in Italy as a mercenary and one of the up-and-coming lieutenants of Sir John Hawkwood, one of the most successful of the mercenary captains of the "Great Companies." There will clearly (and very much hope so) be other volumes telling the rest of the story, given the way that this volume ends.

The book brings together the three main ingredients that you find in all good pieces of historical fiction: an original plot and a cast of rather interesting characters grounded in a historical context that has been meticulously researched.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Cameron writes a gripping tale and it is really interesting to see the story form an other angle than that of the omnipresent Longbowman. Most if not all retellings of the 100 years war feature an archer as the main protagonist. Here, at last, all those others get a voice. Not only that, but in the usual telling there is a sense of proto-socialism with the gritty, lower class archer winning the day not only against the French but the vindictiveness of his social "superiors". To cap it all the French are usually portrayed as failling through their inveterate arrogance and snobbery (to use a modern term). Maybe it is because Cameron is American that he doesn't fell constrained by that narrative as British writter so obviously are. He presents the story from the point of view of (ultimately) a knight. This is refreshing to say the least.

He rightly brings to light the dues of the other "arms" in these battles. The longbow was not the only weapon winning battles for the English. However, IMHO, he goes just a tad too far in denigrating its usefulness. It is relegated to the status of little more than a crowd control tool of little lethality. Milanese armour, refered to copiously, would probably have defeated the penetrative powers of the longbow no doubt. But a few things need to be set aside that caveat. How much "Milanese" armour was available in 1356? How many of the French knights would've had it? Not as many as would've made a huge difference - most probably. The simple fact that for over 100 years the English military entrusted huge amounts of resources and the outcome of their campaigns (and their lives) to a battle order consisting of 50-70% of this weapon argues against its inefficacy.
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