Young Will, the Marshal’s bastard son, dreams of training falcons but as the son of famous swordsmith Ellenweore, it seems his destiny will be the forge.
One fateful day, the falcon of King Henry II is lost in a chase and Will happens upon the bird. Recognizing this great opportunity, he begs the king to let him become a falconer. With no clear path ahead of him, he decides to take matters into his own hands and following his dreams of one day becoming a falconer to the king.
Love, intrigue and betrayal leave Will more than once only narrowly escaping death and when his talent attracts King John’s attention, a powerful enemy does everything to ruin him.
This book was amazing and easily one of my favorite reads of the year.
The level of detail is excellent; the author does a fantastic job of bringing the medieval world to life and fills every sense. The detail is never too long and doesn’t take too much time away from the story. There is no indication that this book has been translated from another language and is better worded and constructed than most of books.
The detailing on many aspects of the characters lives is also very well described, falconry is obviously an important part of the main character’s life and we are told a lot about this, but other things that are important to him are also given plenty of attention. A few times I did find the information lacking, such as the types of horses people are riding and the amount things cost is never given. Very rarely there was a piece of incorrect information, such as referring to the priest who opposed King Henry II as Thomas à Becket, but other than these few small things I found the level of research and detail to be very high but never described to the point it became boring.
Most of the time how the information is presented is not dull, although a few times when the author is describing important events that are happening in the world that don’t directly involve the character, typically real historic events such as the imprisonment of King Richard or the deaths or marriages of monarchs, I found these times to be less well told and it felt more like a history book than an interesting story.
The characters in the book are wonderful; they have strong but realistic personalities. You could always tell which character you were following just by the way they are thinking and acting even if no names or context was provided. They have real emotions and think things that a person would in real life but it is presented so well that it is still interesting to read. The characters have plenty of background and history. The also make mistakes, think bad thoughts, feel guilt and come to the wrong conclusions at times, all making them much more believable and interesting.
The world itself is realistic and very, very brutal, we’re talking Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire brutal at times. Very unpleasant things happen to the main characters.
The amount of action in the book is low compared to other historical fiction books and as our main character is not a warrior when there is action it is generally bad for him. Having said that I never missed the lack of high paced action as the rest of the story is so interesting.
One side effect of having so many unpleasant things happen to the main character was that whenever there was the potential for something bad to happen in was a time of high tension, even if it turned out nothing went wrong, especially as the author did such a great job of making me care for William.
The story details the highs and lows of the characters life. The ebb and flow was always believable and never took impossible leaps. The various highs and lows happened in a realistic and random manner, and you could never tell if something good or bad was about to happen simply because it was time for one.
His rise in rank while it would have been unlikely in the real world it wouldn’t have been impossible, and it was done slowly enough it really was believable.
It was also interesting to see parts of the book detour away from the characters main goal of being a falconer. It reminded me of Pillars of the Earth in that way.
I enjoyed the message that hard work and being good pays off in the end.
The story is spread out over many years, and while the date is given at the start of each chapter I would have liked to have been told how old the character was at each stage.
I loved the internal artwork in this book, it is medieval in style and fits in perfectly with the rest of the novel.
I haven’t read the first book in this series, although after this one I intend to, but I never felt lost or having missed out on anything because I hadn’t read the other book first.
I absolutely loved this book, the characters and story are amazing, the level of detail is high and everything is realistic but remains interesting.
In full disclosure I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway.
Rating ***** + ♥