By Ben Kane
Rated: 5 Stars *****
Lionheart by Ben Kane is the first in a new series of books. Now writing in medievel times, this is very accomplished writing of fiction that has been expertly woven together with an amazing amount of research. It is unputtdownable and highly addictive reading. It is a must for fans of Ben Kane, the 1100’s or even if this isn’t your usual genre, it is absolutely one I would recommend you gave a go.
With thanks to Virginia Woolstencroft at Orion Publishing for slotting me into her blog tour and for sending me an advance review copy (ARC) of the book.
About the Author
Kenya born, Irish by blood and UK resident, Ben Kane’s passion for history has seen him change career from veterinary medicine to writing, and taken him to more than 60 countries, and all 7 continents. During his travels and subsequent research, including walking hundreds of miles in complete Roman military gear, he has learned much about the Romans and the way they lived. Ten of his thirteen novels have been Sunday Times top ten bestsellers, and his books are published in twelve languages; a million copies have sold worldwide. In 2016, his research was recognised by Bristol University with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Kane lives in Somerset with his wife and children, where he writes full time.
REBEL. LEADER. BROTHER. KING.
1179. Henry II is King of England, Wales, Ireland, Normandy, Brittany and Aquitaine. The House of Plantagenet reigns supreme.
But there is unrest in Henry’s house. Not for the first time, his family talks of rebellion.
Ferdia – an Irish nobleman taken captive during the conquest of his homeland – saves the life of Richard, the king’s son. In reward for his bravery, he is made squire to Richard, who is already a renowned warrior.
Crossing the English Channel, the two are plunged into a campaign to crush rebels in Aquitaine. The bloody battles and gruelling sieges which followed would earn Richard the legendary name of Lionheart.
But Richard’s older brother, Henry, is infuriated by his sibling’s newfound fame. Soon it becomes clear that the biggest threat to Richard’s life may not be rebel or French armies, but his own family…
Don the armour and join the knights to be ready for Richard Lionheart. A rebel, leader, king in this exquisitely written novel, where Boots and Fists and Countess Aoife is also encountered and Henry 11’s army that has swept through England, Wales and now Ireland. This is a the first in a new series from Ben Kane, that takes readers into the 1100s. It is as every bit as a accomplished at writing about the Middle-ages/Medievel times as he is at writing about the Romans.
The book begins in 1179 and the Medievel scene is written with such artistry. The main character is Ferdia, which comes from a legendary taine/toyne/story told in Ireland. He is incarcerated in a cell, wondering if he would ever return to Cairlinn and see his family, although given some freedoms. The word choice is evocative and moving.
The writing is simply a treat to read, as every paragraph and word engages. Every smell, nuance is remarkably captured and written in this book, placing you right there in the scene as you look onwards to see what’s going to happen next. It is almost cinematic in feel and panoramic in scene setting.
The scenes of trying to even get a glimpse of Duke Richard’s arrival are lively and one of the most splendid and grandest meals are served for him.
The years roll on by to 1182-1183 and there are fine sets of armour and word of battles.
The mind too can be dark as dreams can become murderous as night falls. There are battles with many consequences in Southampton and the Duke is perhaps courageous and won’t retreat. Later it is fascinating meeting the Duke’s family with their rebellious nature.
Travel to the third part of this tale and enter the period – 1187-1189, to fortresses and camps on the border of Aquitaine and the kindom of France, which becomes quite hostile, after what seems like a more relaxed start of these years. There is also meetings of Phillipe and depictions of the holy land and Saracens and Christians to encounter.
There is also some very moving moments that are written with a light touch and delicacy, as the story moves on, that changes the mood from the battles and the harsher clunking of swords of before. It’s quite a contrast that is written with aplomb!
Surprisingly, there is actually some mild humour and a little romance to be found within this book, that also has betrayal and trechery within it, for this is however, a serious book that grips tight and doesn’t let go until the end. It is very addictive reading as the pages glide across the hands with the lightest of touches and the time ticks on by with barely a noticable sound and before you know it, you’ve been at the book for a good long while.
The end made me smile as there is such a fitting conclusion to the book. Even if this is not your usual genre or time period to read, it is absolutely worth reading. It is pleasantly surprising and an incredibly well-written and researched book. As I eluded to, I could barely put it down until I reached the end and only then, because, well, the end forces you to.
The author’s note is incredibly interesting, for a bit more insight into the medievel times, depicted within the story, why Ben Kane moved away from writing about Romans for his latest book and a bit of endearing insight into himself as he shares a bit about his charitable work.
There will be a second book within this new Lionheart series, which is set to hit the shelves in 2021. I may just need to take a read at that one as well.