Book Review – The King’s Jew: In the Shadow of the King by Darius Stransky

Gripping tale of war, intrigue and revenge

KingsJewAbout the Book

1307 – As Cristian Gilleson keeps vigil for his dead king (Edward the First) in Westminster Abbey, his enemies, Edward Secundus and Piers Gaveston, still plot his downfall.

1266 – In the aftermath of The Baron’s War and the Battle of Evesham in 1265, Lord Cristian Gilleson and his companion Lord Edward (the future king, Edward the First) have some pockets of resistance to clear up. Cristian’s lady, Dulcea, wonders if they will ever marry but can a Jew marry a Christian? The unfaithful Earl of Gloucester (Gilbert de Clare) occupies London and must be ousted. Earl Gilbert seeks Cristian’s death and their long running feud continues. Lord Edward takes the cross and leaves for Outremer to wage war on the Sultan Baybars. Will this Ninth Crusade be successful? All the while the agents of Gilbert de Clare plot the perfect murder in a foreign land

Book Facts

  • Format: ebook
  • Publisher: Pronoun
  • No. of pages: 320
  • Publication date: 20th December 2016
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

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My Review

The book, the second in a planned four book series, opens in 1307 with our hero, Sir Cristian Gilleson, mourning his long time companion and liege lord, Edward the First. There follows an extended flashback as the reader is taken back forty years to follow the progress of Cristian and the then Lord Edward as they attempt to deal with knights still resisting King Henry’s reign. For Cristian, the enemy is concentrated in the person of Gilbert de Clare, who holds a personal grudge against him and has vowed to bring about Cristian’s death. De Clare has at his disposal a number of henchmen willing to carry out the task (for the right price) and much of the story involves their attempts to do so. In such treacherous times, danger can be close at hand.

Having not read the first book in the series, I did feel launched straight into the thick of things, not really knowing who everyone was and the different political factions. However, it only took me a few chapters before I felt on top of things thanks to the author’s clear prose.  The sounds and smells of the time were convincingly evoked.

Cristian is a likeable and resourceful hero, an accomplished warrior who inspires loyalty from those around him. His parentage allows the author to explore the position of the Jews and attitudes towards them at that time in history. On the other side, the author has created some really nasty, cold-blooded villains, one of whom you sense will have a further significant role to play in the story.

This is a well-written story and the author keeps the pace moving along, striking a balance between the personal and the political. Historical fiction can feel rather too much like a history lesson at times, but this one doesn’t. Given the times, the story is naturally male-dominated; women exist to be used, abused or treated as an asset. However, it might have been nice to have more focus on the few female characters there are in the book, such as Cristian’s lady, Dulcea.

Although Edward II and Piers Gaveston are mentioned briefly in the opening chapter, they play no part in this book. However, the story is set up nicely to continue in a third book.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest review.

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In three words: Well-researched, engaging, action

Try something similar…Master of War: The Blooding by David Gilman

DariusStranskyAbout the Author

Darius says: I have always been interested – nay fascinated – by medieval life. Not just the Kings and the rulers but the vast majority of people who inhabited that medieval world. People like me – people like you. Books have been written about the Normans and the Tudors but one segment of time always seemed to be overlooked – the thirteenth Century when Henry III’s son, Edward the First, carved his name in the annals of history. This was a time of upheaval and, believe me, dear reader, I have studied this period extensively in order to stay true to the times. The result has been a labour of love as the three books that make up “The King’s Jew” grew slowly on the page. If nothing else comes of this then know that I feel honoured to tell the tale and I hope you enjoy the journey with the characters who live within my books – many of them were real people with loves, worries and pain just like ours.

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6 thoughts on “Book Review – The King’s Jew: In the Shadow of the King by Darius Stransky

  1. The first book in this series is going on the TBR list. I admire your being able to jump right into the second! Thanks for the reveiw and all the links to the author.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Knowing that 3 of the planned 4 are done is a huge plus for me. I don’t like unfinished series and tend to wait until all books are published. I just can’t wait in this one though.

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