REBEL. LEADER. BROTHER. KING.
- 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…
‘A rip-roaring epic, filled with arrows and spattered with blood. Gird yourself with mail when you start.’ Paul Finch
‘Ben’s deeply authoritative depiction of the time is delivered in a deft manner.’ Simon Scarrow
Thank you to Virginia and Orion Books for providing me an ARC of this book.
Lionheart is the start of a new and epic series of historical adventures set in the time of England’s most illustrious monarch, Richard the Lionheart and this is a move from Ben Kane’s Roman series (which I thoroughly enjoyed). It is certainly a pleasure to see Ben Kane tackling a new era and this world comes alive very fast when you open the book. You feel like you’re IN the Medieval World. On an immersive scale, Ben did his research and the proof of the pudding shows in the work. One minute I’ll be in a castle, the next in a barn, or fighting off bandits. Ben does some great historical detail that’s rarely shown and you’ll figure that out during your read of this novel.
For someone like me, that is familiar with the 100 years war (but not too much!) Ben certainly simplified the conflict between the Kings of England and France – as I assume that there’s a lot more history involved behind this. Because the 100 years wars, in a nutshell, was a conflict between two families. The War of the Spanish Succession was a conflict that involved many nations but mostly: England, Spain, and France. It’s not so much of a comparison, but I wish to bring the attention of the fact that we’re in a time where the Kings command armies, those nobles under their command can bring large swathes of men into the battlefield, etc. There’s a lot of detail that you will notice.
The story focuses on a defeated Irish nobleman from Striguil, who is named Rufus, his real name being Ferdia held hostage that is by a stroke of fortune pushed into the service of Richard the Lionheart. He also has to contend with cunning characters that seek to take away his position and the Fitzgeralds….possibly some of the most horrible villains you could ever want to be in. And the best thing is that Rufus escapes his hostage in Wales, and joins the young Richard in his campaign in France,
Whatever goes on is like a cycle. One minute, the English win, the next, the French are on their heels. It feels like the wars will never stop and the mercenaries are the worst offenders of the war. There are fantastic battle descriptions written with stunning prose. Also, Richard does often get saved by Rufus a lot! You grow with Rufus, and the brilliant use of the prologue works to this effect. Overall, my only criticism would be that as you progress through his journey from hostage to being a loyal servant of Richard, the pacing did feel a bit too fast. Because the real action and the real exciting journey in the sequel will be the Crusades by itself. I love that part.
You will laugh, cry, and love the characters and hate some of them at the same time. You will also love the word Amadan as well 🙂
Overall, a 10/10 from me. A fantastic book with breath-taking description, a well written cinematic style of the politics of the 100 years war, and amazing dialogue! It is WELL WORTH a read! Ben Kane has the ability to craft such unique stories that have long been forgetton over the centuries of history. He picks up the pen and tells the story of the past, as if it were the present to us. That’s what I feel and love about historical fiction.