|The Long Sword by Christian Cameron|
Cameron sleeps, eats, breathes the cultures he writes about in this Chivalry Series through re-enactment, and then he plants this wealth of knowledge on the page and strings a darn good story through it. It is hard not respect this level of commitment. And by living it and acting it out in real time, he gives an absorbing sense of place and atmosphere, and then he goes and 'magics' it up a bit more by drawing it also from the pages of his research and by breathing it in from the sites he must visit for field research.
I saw this fabulous combination at work in book one of this Chivalry Series, Ill-Made Knight, but I really stood up and took notice in this one, book two, The Long Sword.
What is truly marvellous - and this is something I should have remembered from Ill-Made Knight but so much time had lapsed between reading book one and two that I had forgotten - is that the majority of his characters were actually living breathing people from history. I got a shock when I read the Note at the end and was reminded of this. It just made me all the more impressed.
I don't think authors have to do this (use a real life character for the main character or make every character an actual person from history) however, for some reason with this particular tale, it is an excellent choice. Since there is so much written history for this period and the battles are well documented, well, why the heck not....the book's timeline basically writes itself and the author can put all their energy into describing surroundings, giving them something to do between battle scenes, and put some dialogue in their mouth. With this book, that helped enrich it, I think; that the author could put his mind to filling out already known people and battles from history.
I thought the first book, Ill-Made Knight, was a great read and I think The Long Sword is an even greater one. I wonder how I will go with book three, The Green Count. And then the one after that, Sword of Justice, and the one after that (which is a few years off as of the date of this blog post). I am kind of crushing on William Gold, so it is good to see that the show rolls on after The Green Count.
Negatives. Look, there are a couple and I think negatives are always worth mentioning otherwise reviews feel dishonest to me. I am giving this book 4 stars out of 5, so obviously there are some things I was not too fussed on. So, I will spit them out here and now.
Sometimes, the author does include too much 'stuff' and from time to time he gets his waffle on. It does not ruin the book, but there are some sections where it brings down the enjoyment of the read. Also, I am a fan of Chapter breaks. I really am. I need somewhere good to park my caboose when I go away from the book and then come back to it. Regular paragraph breaks aren't nearly good enough a story break for me. I find Chapter breaks can create tension and drama, if properly placed, and without them it is like being stuck in a conversation with someone who won't shut up. So yeah, Cameron does not include Chapters, and that is a bummer. But of course, some people don't care. This is just my preference.
Final negative, is an outright pointless nit pick. I hated the use of eh. You know what I mean, eh? Drove me nuts. Kept jolting me out of the story and made the speakers sound Canadian. As I say, just a nit pick. Had to share it.
Other than those pitiful few negatives, this was simply a great read. Better than Ill-Made Knight because William Gold is a worldly kick-arse man now, and what a fine worldly kick-arse man he is...
4 out of 5 stars.