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In the Shadow of the Storm: The King's Greatest Enemy #1 Paperback – 22 Jun 2016
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In my travels through the magical medium of historical fiction, and most especially in the last year or so, I have encountered some wonderfully crafted female characters. To name a few, but certainly not all; Eleanor in the Feud series by Derek Birks, Selene in the Daughter Of Cleopatra books by Stephanie Dray, Giulia Farnese as portrayed in Kate Quinn's Borgia series, Alice Petherton in Martin Lake's tales of Henry VIIIth, Patsy Jefferson by the duo of Laura Kamoie and Stephanie Dray and now added to the list, Anna Belfrage's Kit. The story takes place during a revolt led by Sir Roger Mortimer against King Edward and his principal advisor the twisted, reprehensible Hugh Despencer - he ranks as one of the more disgusting creatures I've encountered in literature - though he is but an example of the author's gift for characterization and development. It is a story of how a man sees his honor and his loyalty to his liege lord as more important than what he knows will be the result of that honor and loyalty. Weaving through that tapestry of lost hope, physical pain and fearful dread, Kit finds the formidable woman inside and withstands the many misfortunes that fate has strewn in her path. From a girl, kidnapped and forced to assume the identity of someone else, to a woman filled with a love strong enough to endure. The author breathes life into the time, the place and the conflict...the reader feels that they are a part of the weaving, that they are walking the fields and courtyards, are experiencing the wretched prison cells, are transported by moonlit nights of romance. Hoover Book Reviews awaits the sequel. 5 stars. Paul Bennett at hooverbookreviews.wordpress.com --Paul Bennett at hooverbookreviews.wordpress.com
About the Author
Had Anna Belfrage been allowed to choose, she'd have become a professional time traveller. As this was impossible, she has instead authored the acclaimed The Graham Saga, a time travelling series set in the 17th century. Her new series is set in the 1320s and features Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit and their adventures during Roger Mortimer's rise to power.
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Aside from erotic episodes which abound alongside love and romance, the more gruesome aspects of war and imprisonment are part and parcel of novels set against the backdrop of feudal knights and kings. But I will say this; the torture scenes were so realistically depicted I felt the victim’s agonised pain, sensed his overt fear of a slow orchestrated death, and the stench of bodily fluids within a rat-infested dungeon seemed to permeate from the pages, and rats must have been there, thus I found Adam’s agony never left me. And no matter what came after I simply could not erase that dungeon cell from my mind. Ms Belfrage has excelled with impact upon this reader, and I dare say others were heartily drawn toward Adam’s plight. The very fact he survives is nothing short of miracle, and given I believe some herbs do have healing properties I had to sweep scepticism aside in favour of fiction. As for more books, there are sad times ahead for the Lord of the Marches and Queen Isabella. That much I do know and suspect Adam will face the awful truth that a greater price must be paid in fealty to a king’s son - the eventual loss of a dearly beloved, a tragedy in itself.
Our heroine Kit is swapped to take the place of her half sister in an arranged wedding in the early 14th century. Luckily her husband is a good match.
Meanwhile there is an uprising against the king of England.
This has interesting characters, a fascinating historical backgrounds and excellent insights into the politics of the time. The plot is original and I can't wait for the next book in the series.
If you love historical romances and court intrigues then this is definitely for you.
Emotional conflict, power politics, brutality, compelling allegiances and dignified chatelaines abound. The to and fro relationship between our heroine and her husband Adam is stormy, but tender. The feel of the setting is authentic; evidence of serious research on clothes, plants, castles, a marching army’s requirements and the arbitrary penal system.
On a wider scale, the story of Roger Mortimer, who rebels against Edward II is treated sympathetically. I did have to pay close attention what Mortimer was called as he seemed to change name. At this stage he was the third Baron Mortimer, hence Lord Mortimer. But he has an uncle Lord Mortimer of Chirk, perhaps the author calls Mortimer Sir Roger to avoid confusion!
Ms Belfrage does not hold back in describing Hugh le Despenser, selected in 2006 by BBC History Magazine as the ‘14th century's worst Briton’. I shuddered every time he crossed the page.
As usual, her writing is vivid and emotional, setting scenes well, and her characters well-rounded. I did wonder a little whether Kit is perhaps a little too modern-minded for this setting, and some of the language expressions reflect this. But this is fiction, a romantic action-packed adventure story, entirely suitable to while away a journey or curl up with in front of a fire with a large glass of wine and lose yourself.
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