FebruaryIn the bitter dawn of a winter s morning, a young man and a woman escape from a priory In fear for their lives, they are forced to flee across a land ravaged by conflict For this is the Wars of the Roses, one of the most savage and bloody civil wars in history Where brother confronts brother, king faces king and Thomas and Katherine must fight just to stay alive It was good to read another take on the Wars of the Roses Coming from Wakefield and only living a stones throw from Sandal Castle where Richard of York died and Chantry Bridge in Wakefield where Edmund Duke of Rutland was killed, it was good to read someone else s thoughts on what happened in this period in history Yes, as with other historical novels, there is some supposition about what happened back then but this series enriches the history of those times. This story follows the journey of two youngsters in the late fifteenth century Thomas and Katherine both destined for a life in religious orders find life outside in the real world quite astonishing and brutal but they pursue their goal to locate a terrifying individual Detailed accounts of the blood, gore and killing are abundant although I suspect very accurate Clements doesn t hold back in his descriptions of the time so it is not for the squeamish One thing I found particularly difficult was remembering the names and most of all affinities of famous individuals like the Duke of York, Norfolk etc etc.this was frustrating for me but only marginally detracted from the storyline Well done Toby Clements, I have already bought book 2. What a magnificent read This was another one of those books that I just couldn t put down It started just like any other piece of historical fiction these days but rapidly took on another life as the cold snow and mist enveloped it Suddenly it became brutal and dangerous and then calmed down a little as we scrambled back onto safer ground.A monk momentarily forgets himself and acts spontaneously, saving the lives of two nuns In the aftermath he is almost killed but, perhaps through a mixture of pure chance and a rough upbringing, survives aided in part by one of the nuns, Katherine From then on we follow Thomas, the monk, and Katherine who, for safety s sake takes on the guise of a boy, Kit through the interlocking pieces of jigsaw in what becomes what must be called their adventure.It is the beginning of the Wars of the Roses and the violence that escalates in a brutal world Thomas becomes an archer cum soldier while Kit assists their adopted lord Normally all this would take on an air of having to suspend some disbelief but here, in this story, the process takes on a degree of verisimilitude Like tangled threads lives are twisted together in co operation and hate, in blood and violent death, but also in love and affection.Throughout, Toby Clements is able to build a world that is dirty and grubby and nasty,, inhabited by homicidal and decent people, by down to earth soldiers and arrogant lords The mud oozes and the ice cracks There are times you smell the s and the blood, and shiver with the cold, and none so that at that brutal climax, the battle of Towton We are immersed in the butchery and chaos yet also the peace of silence and fatigue, moments of active, bloody, fighting in the chaos of the melee sprinkled with instances of detachment, of merely observing It s rare when you come across a writer who captures what one can accept was, is, the experience of battle and when you do you never forget it.I have one minor complaint Throughout, Toby Clements writes in the present tense Sometimes that feels a little too false but at other times it has the impact of maintaining a sense of drama Loved it. Book arrived in great condition I am so tired as I couldn t put this down and now have lack of sleep I really enjoyed this book as it s a period of history I don t know much about what a great introduction Quite grim at times but balanced with excellent characters and plot I have now started the next book and looking forward to reading from this author. Storyline well described and the historic content close to fact Looking forward to reading the other three books in this series. Fantastic story from the eyes of an Archer An extraordinarily good telling of the wars of the roses Toby Clements drags history out of the pages, trailing mud and gore and hauls you into it along with the struggling armies and the constantly battered people who lived under the heels of kings and lords and landowners and the cataclysmic changes of their fortunes I can t recall another book which has so completely and convincingly brought the past to life for me The characters are strong and likable and the story of Thomas and Katherine is riveting and brilliantly wound together with the events of the time Somehow he gives a view that is both intimate and general, detailed and broad, brutal and tender, of battles and lives at many levels in the fifteenth century The writing is brilliant every word works and every page gives new images and new ideas and it s all solidly worked out Other reviewers have objected to the use of present tense I found that it intensified the immediacy Every character is complete and grows and leaps off the page And it s a roller coaster of a ride from the first shocking pages to the end I ve already bought and read the next two books in the series they re as good and can t wait for the fourth. There is few books that I have read that has kept me so engrossed as this book, if you love historical fiction you will need to read this book.