Saturday 19 January 2019

#BookReview — Under the Approaching Dark (The King's Greatest Enemy #3) By Anna Belfrage #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance @abelfrageauthor

Under the Approaching Dark
(The King's Greatest Enemy #3)
By Anna Belfrage

Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over.

After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster.

In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much.

When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.

Two kings in one land make for an uncomfortable fit…

The hated and feared, Hugh Despenser is dead, and the feeble King Edward II has finally been usurped. As the crown is placed on Edward III’s head, Adam de Guirande hopes, like many others, that finally the country will know not only stability but peace. However, nothing is assured, especially when the king they have crowned is only fourteen years old. What does he know about running a country? As the nobles pay homage to King Edward, they also look to the Regent to lead them. Sir Roger Mortimer is now the de facto ruler of England. But with great power comes great responsibility. Many fear, and quite rightly too, that Mortimer will use his position to increase his wealth, as well as his influence. 

Adam is torn between his king and the man who gave him everything. Mortimer was his liege lord, but not anymore, for Adam has sworn his allegiance to King Edward. Adam, like others in court, watch nervously as Mortimer favours his friends and shuns everyone else. Adam cannot help but fear for Mortimer’s future, for the Wheel of Fortune is forever turning. Past events should surely hint at a warning of what is to come. Despenser had it all and look where he is now. But there seems to be no stopping Mortimer’s ambition. Adam is but a spectator as the young King becomes increasingly resentful towards his Regent. Adam knows that Edward will one day snatch the lead rope from Mortimer’s hand and take control of the bridle. It is not a case of if, but when. And when that happens, God help any man who sides with Mortimer. Adam knows that one day soon he will have to choose between them. The question is, will he stand with Edward? Or, will he side with the Kingmaker?

Kit de Guirande has already lost a son to this medieval game of thrones. Will she lose her husband as well? If only Edward would allow Adam to be relieved of his duties at court, then all would be well. But Edward relies on Adam too much. So Kit must grin and bear it, for now at least... 

From the terror of the Scottish raid on the newly crowned king’s camp at the Battle of Stanhope Park to the attempted rebellion of Henry of Lancaster, Under The Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage is a medieval triumph.

This book is filled with memorable characters, non-stop action, a narrative that is as elegant as it is appealing and a story that is so riveting that time ceased to matter. This book, this series, is absolutely irresistible.

Belfrage writes with authority, but also incredible sensitivity. There is a great depth to the writing as well as a beautifully balanced perspective of what this time in history was like. The court of Edward III has been brought gloriously back to life in this remarkable retelling. 

Told through the experiences of Adam and his wife Kit, Under The Approaching Dark, has much to recommend it. The struggles that our two brave protagonists faces are enough in itself to keep a reader turning those pages, let alone the intrigue, danger, and the ever-present threat of a rebellion at Edward's court. The cruel Despenser may be dead, but his associates are still very much alive, and while they breathe both Kit and Adam’s lives are in peril.

Aside from the constant threat of death, or worse, the gentle and passionate love story of Adam and Kit continues throughout this book. Their romance makes this series a must-read for anyone who loves historical romance fiction. I cannot help but compare it to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Adam’s and Kits relationship is as intense and as tantalising as Jamie’s and Claire’s. But this is more than just a romance book, Under the Darkening Sky is a comprehensive interpretation of the early days of King Edward III’s reign. It is a story not to be missed for it is a gripping account of war, ambition, betrayal and love. It is utterly engrossing from start to finish.

I thought the interpretation of the usurped Edward II was fabulous, and surprisingly he has his own moment of true heroism, which made him almost endearing.

Belfrage has written a compelling book about an extraordinary time in English history. This book and this series continue to hold my fascination, and I cannot wait to read book 4!

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.


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 comment:

  1. I am running out of words with which to express my gratitude for your lovely reviews. They leave me with an achy feeling in my chest, as if I'm about to burst into tears - of joy.


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx