Saturday 26 January 2019

#BookReview — The Cold Light of Dawn (The King’s Greatest Enemy #4) By Anna Belfrage #Medieval #HistoricalFiction  @abelfrageauthor 

The Cold Light of Dawn
(The King’s Greatest Enemy #4)
By Anna Belfrage

After Henry of Lancaster’s rebellion has been crushed early in 1329, a restless peace settles over England. However, the young Edward III is no longer content with being his regents’ puppet, no matter that neither Queen Isabella nor Roger Mortimer show any inclination to give up their power. Caught in between is Adam de Guirande, torn between his loyalty to the young king and that to his former lord, Roger Mortimer.

Edward III is growing up fast. No longer a boy to be manipulated, he resents the power of his mother, Queen Isabella, and Mortimer. His regents show little inclination of handing over their power to him, the rightful king, and Edward suspects they never will unless he forces their hand.

Adam de Guirande is first and foremost Edward’s man, and he too is of the opinion that the young king is capable of ruling on his own. But for Adam siding with his king causes heartache, as he still loves Roger Mortimer, the man who shaped him into who he is.

Inevitably, Edward and his regents march towards a final confrontation. And there is nothing Adam can do but pray and hope that somehow things will work out. Unfortunately, prayers don’t always help.

“My, my, how high the gutter-rat has clambered. You owe everything you are to me de Guirande. Best not forget it…”

Adam does not need any reminders of how much the Earl Of March has done for him. Mortimer saved Adam from an abusive father and gave him not only a purpose but a life beyond his wildest of dreams. However, Adam’s loyalties are no longer with his liege lord but with the young King Edward. Why is that so difficult for Mortimer to understand? Adam cannot serve two masters.

As Regent, the Earl of Marsh has power beyond his imagination. He is king in all but name. However, the King will not stay a child forever, and Edward is beginning to resent the Regent’s and his mother’s rule. So why does Mortimer continue to provoke Edward? For everyone knows that when the lion roars the hawk will fall — and it is a very long way to fall. It is said that *those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But, Mortimer saw what happened to Despenser. He knows how this could end and yet… Adam can do nothing but watch as this fated tragedy plays out in front of him.

From the extravagance of a coronation to the horrors of the executioner’s rope, The Cold Light of Dawn (The King’s Greatest Enemy #4) by Anna Belfrage is an extraordinary work of historical fiction. 

Belfrage draws the reader into the fourteenth century, letting them feel the emotions of the protagonists as well as helping us to understand on an intimate level what life was like for those who were closest to the throne at the beginning of Edward III reign.

Belfrage is incredibly adept at creating characters that her readers care about while skilfully merging their lives with the history of their time. The portrayal of Roger Mortimer, the Earl of Marsh has to be commended. Here is a character that is incredibly flawed but at the same time so exceedingly wonderful. In his quest for glory and riches, he loses something of himself along the way. His dreams are always just out of reach, but still he strives to reach them, and like Icarus, he does fly too close to that sun, and when he falls back to earth nothing will ever be the same. Kudos, Ms Belfrage for bringing to life a character whom I had only ever read about in history books. You gave him back his life and made him breathe. What more could a reader ask for?

Likewise, the portrait of a divided nation, inflamed by jealousy, greed and hatred is remarkably vivid in the telling. Mortimer’s quest for power and then his fear of losing that power, makes this book a riveting read. However, this story is not told from Mortimer’s point of view — the narrative is still that of Adam’s and Kit’s.

With so many historical characters in this book, it was sometimes hard to remember that Adam and Kit are fictional. Adam is a cripple in a court where abled men are celebrated. His struggle to accept his limitation is profoundly moving. Adam wants to be as he always was — strong, healthy, and the best knight in Edward’s stable. The reaction of men whom he thought were friends rings remarkably true. He disability means he is no longer one of them. He is a man to be pitied or ridiculed. His journey towards accepting what he can do and not lamenting about what he cannot was not only emotional but also uplifting. As Adam finds out, there is life away from Edward’s court, and he does not need a sword in his hand and an opponent defeated at his feet to find happiness and peace of mind.

Kit continued to grow as a character. I liked her from the first introduction in book #1 and that like has not diminished. She is a remarkable woman, much like her husband, Adam. Kit is the outsider who finds herself in the circle of the Royal household. The contrast between how she lives and treats people compared to how the Dowager Queen and the Queen treats their subjects is as vast as a chasm. To them, she is a servant, someone who can keep their secrets but is, at the same time, expendable. Kit's goodness and grace does her credit. She is a caring woman, who is a wonderful protagonist and I enjoyed reading about her.

The Cold Light of Dawn is simply impossible to put down. It is one of those books where you don’t want to get to the end because if you are familiar with the history of this time, you know where the story is going and I for one did not want to go there. It was like listening to a clock ticking down the hours, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. All I could do was watch as the drama played out in front of me. One more page became one more chapter, and then one more!

The King’s Greatest Enemy series has been utterly compelling from start to finish. I cannot find the words to praise it enough. It is utterly enchanting. Historical Fiction at its very best.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club

* Santayana, George, The Life of Reason: the Phases of Human Progress (1905).

Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.  She has recently released the first in a new series, The Wanderer. This time, she steps out of her normal historical context and A Torch in His Heart is with a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

Find out more about Anna by visiting her website, or herAmazon page.


  1. What a perfect start to a Saturday. Thank you for this lovely review and I am especially pleased by the fact that you felt I breathed life into Roger Mortimer, a man I've always been intrigued by.

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  3. Congratulations, Anna. Your series sounds amazing, it is definitely on my to-read list.


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Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx