Warlord by Angus Donald
Review by Jacqui Slaney
This was a book I delayed reading, having read the others relatively quickly, for some reason, every time I went to read this one, I made excuses, and read something different. Strange I know, considering how much I enjoyed the earlier books, I suppose it is because I always have a fear when I am reading a series that a later book will let me down, but I finally gave in, and started to read.
This is the description:May 1194. Finally released from captivity, Richard the Lionheart is in Normandy engaged in a bloody war to drive the French out of his continental patrimony. Using the brutal tactics of medieval warfare - siege, savagery and scorched earth - the Lionheart is gradually pushing back the forces of King Philip of France. By his side in this epic struggle are Robert, Earl of Locksley, better known as the erstwhile outlaw Robin Hood, and Sir Alan Dale, his loyal friend, and a musician and warrior of great skill and renown.
But while the battles rage and the bodies pile up, Robin seems only to be interested in making a profit from the devastation of war, while Alan is preoccupied with discovering the identity the man who ordered his father's death ten years earlier - and the mystery is leading him to Paris, deep in the heart of the enemy's territory ...
Although as I said, I was strangely wary about reading this book, I could not have been more wrong. As in all the books, the writing is excellent, fast paced with brilliant characters.
The story is again told through the eyes of Alan Dale, a loyal supporter of Robin and Richard and a strong warrior in his own right. The main plot in this story is that he is looking into his fathers’ death and trying to find ‘the man who cannot be refused’, the one who ordered his hanging.
In his quest, Alan meets his family in France and faces mysterious assassins who seem to be either trying to kill him or anyone who could possibly assist him in his quest.
There are numerous sub plots to add to your interest, there is a relic which could possibly be the Holy Grail, and Alan’s’ ongoing relationship with Goody and Nur.
Although Robin for a lot of this book is relegated more to the sidelines, he is still a strong presence throughout the story and very much a kind of anti- hero, which is so good to read. Alan is always bemoaning the fact that Robin could be so such a good man, but too be fair you can’t really imagine him as anything else, there is also a suspicion that it could be Robin is the one behind all the deaths following Alan on his journey.
There are numerous fights and battles, the descriptions of which are very vivid, and make great reading, although the description of what burning oil poured from a castle on to an attacking army can make you wince.
It is hard to say to much more about the story without giving much of the plot away, but read the books especially this instalment, as this series just keeps getting better, and I really will not delay on the next one.
10 out of 10