Bleak, brutal, brilliant!

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TGittins's review of James Wilde, Hereward - The Devil's Army


“Bleak, brutal, brilliant!”

Written on: 25/11/2012 by TGittins (5 reviews written)

I haven’t yet read this author’s debut novel, “Hereward” – but I shall! This latest book has everything I expect from the genre of Historical fiction.

Set in a period about which there seems to have been little cinematic dramatisation – the Norman Conquest, after the Battle of Hastings – Hereward is the Man from Mercia who leads a guerrilla action against the cold-hearted Normans, who would rather destroy England than let anyone take it back from them. I remember there being a TV series in the 60’s, but I can’t bring to mind any major films set around this period, or hero? There ought to be!

Based in the brooding Fenlands of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and extending into Norfolk – a much darker, more treacherous and forbidding area than in modern times - Hereward tries to assemble an army with which to repel the Normans and reclaim his land. A task with a surprising amount of intrigue, which proves to be necessary, against an equally-cunning foe. I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of twists the author has managed to weave into his story – both major and minor ones and, I have to confess, I never saw two of them developing until they had happened!

Everything about this story feels right; the action and the dialogue; the religion and the superstition; the plotting and double-crossing; the description of towns and villages, and the eerie unfriendliness of the swamps and bogs of the Fens. Historically, I have no doubt it is accurate, and there is a good pace to the development of the narrative. A strong and believable cast of supporting characters, and some idea of what chivalry means, even between sworn foes, makes for an excellent read.

I feel I owe it to you, the prospective next reader, to give no hints, and no spoilers, despite wanting to say “…and you WON’T believe what happens on page…”! The novel IS that good! I shall buy this author’s first book, and I’m assuming (and hoping) that there will be a third tale, because I, vaguely, know there is another chapter of this history still to come?

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