Series: Hereward 6
My version: Hardback
Historical Fiction 1066, Eastern Roman Empire
1081. And so the battle for the crown of the Holy Roman Empire begins…
Within the city of Constantinople itself, three factions will go to any lengths – will, it seems, kill any who might stand in their way – to seize the throne.
And outside the city’s walls, two very different but equally ambitious armies gather, threatening a siege that would crush this once-mighty empire forever. To the west, wait the voracious forces of the most feared Norman warlord of his day. In the east, the Turkish hoards are massing. These would be at war with each other but for their shared lust for slaughter – and for Constantinople’s gold.
And in the midst of this incipient maelstrom of brutality and betrayal, Hereward and his spear-brothers ready themselves for what could be their final stand…
This just might be the final Hereward. The jacket blurb does indeed describe it as ‘the dramatic final chapter’ though at the end, Mr James does more than hint, if the wind is in the right direction, he may return to Hereward at some time in the future. I think the time is right to leave Hereward in Constantinople. He’s run his course for now, and this is a fine send-off, if it be that. It’s a story full of action, full of Hereward (and others)’s last moment interventions and piles on the excitement almost non-stop. Almost, because I can really do without the convoluted, back-stabbing, two-faced politiking that Hist Fic authors always entangle their stories of post-Roman empire Constantinople with. I”m not saying it didn’t happen, but a couple of lines would be enough for me/us to get the picture. All ‘that sort of stuff‘ has been trotted out so many times – you should register with an author that you’ve read it all before, you know how it was, so they (and you) can skip it this time out. Especially as this is supposed to be a tale of Hereward and his warriors. And saying that – it’s a shame there hasn’t been more time to go into the minor characters. The ones Hereward brought with him and have been with him through thick and thin, they sound an intriguing bunch and lose out on page space, with all the various Constantinople ‘Houses’ trying to second guess each other. However, there is (more) mileage to be wrung out of Hereward as the antidote to all that poison. A simple warrior, seeing to the heart of the problem – and doing something about it. If I were to draw a parallel with other books I’ve read plenty of recently, I’d have to mention Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp character. He is, as above, a simple man, someone who sees where the problem is and gets things done. Other parallels are of course, with the politicians in Vince Flynn, the factions here. Really goes to show that nothing changes but the genre.
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