Saturday 16 November 2019

#BookReview — Allegiance of Blood by Mark Turnbull #HistoricalFiction #CivilWar

Allegiance of Blood
By Mark Turnbull

Sir Francis Berkeley strives to protect his wife and family from the brutal effects of the British Civil War. But aside from the struggle between king and parliament, the allegiances of family, friendship and honour entangle him at every turn and prove to be just as bloody.

As a witness to treason on the field of Edgehill, Francis is drawn into a fast-moving world of espionage and politics. Against a backdrop of some of the major battles and sieges, Francis’s fight to reunite his family opens up very different conflicts with which to contend.

Everything is at stake when the war comes to a little church one December morning. Can the family survive the parliamentarian onslaught as well as their own feud?

“Who speaks of peace at a time like this?”

The lèse-majesté of Parliament has led to this, or so says the King. The King’s rejection of the Nineteen Propositions led to this, the Roundheads counter. Regardless of whose fault it is, the die has been cast, and that tiny spark of defiance has lit an inferno. The fields are now soaked with English blood. The wounded and dying cry out for mercy. This is what Civil War looks like. Pym was right, who can speak of peace at a time like this?

Staunch Royalist, Sir Francis Berkeley, awakened to high-pitched shrieks and low tormented moans, but that was not all he heard as he lay wounded on the battleground of Edgehill. There is a traitor in their midst. A man who is intent on leaking information to the enemy. This man must be stopped. But what if that man turns out to be a friend? What then?

From the bloody aftermath of the Battle of Edgehill to the Church of St Lawrence at Alton, Allegiance of Blood by Mark Turnbull is the eloquent retelling of one of the darkest eras in English history.

Told from the viewpoint of both the Royalists and the parliamentarians, Allegiance of Blood is a monumental work of scholarship. The depth and scope of this book is not only impressive but vivid, compelling, and tautly gripping. The canvas is vast, but Turnbull has full control of his characters. Allegiance in Blood is an exhilarating adventure from start to finish.

Sir Francis Berkeley, the hero in this unforgettable tale, is a man of deep understanding and loyalty. He is the King's man, and yet there are times, especially when dealing with friends and family, where his conscience demands a more human touch than that of a hardened soldier. Through Francis' eyes, Turnbull has captured the very essence of what it must have been like to fight against your fellow countryman, to watch as your family is torn apart by conflicting allegiances and selfish ambition. Not only does Francis have to fight a war, but he is also ever mindful of the influence of his spiteful and poisonous mother-in-law who is determined to turn his wife against him. Turnbull has given his readers a character in Francis, whose realism is almost tangible. Brilliant!

There are many historical characters in this book. Turnbull has given as much care and attention to their detailing as he does to his protagonist — Francis. Amongst the horror and the filth of war, several characters captured my attention. Turnbull's portrayal of Prince Rupert of the Rhine was utterly sublime. Rupert's obstinate and sometimes arrogant nature counters his sharp intelligence and his military mind, which made this portrayal not only compelling but absolutely irresistible.

Another portrayal of a historical character that deserves my praise is that of John Pym. Turnbull has penned Pym exactly how I imagined him to be. Pym is steadfast in his beliefs, and his responsibilities lie heavy on his shoulders, especially when his own body is failing him. A wonderful depiction of one of the key figures of the English Civil War.

Likewise, Turnbull's portrayal of King Charles and Henrietta Maria, Queen consort of England, Scotland and Ireland was written with diligence and care. I thought they were masterfully portrayed, as was the young Prince James, Duke of York.

The historical detailing of this book has to be commended. Turnbull has very obviously devoted many hours to researching this era, the people who shaped this history, and the battles that saturated England's fields with the blood of her sons and daughters. But not only does Turnbull write about the war and the matters of state, he also depicts what the war was like for the ordinary citizens — how their world too was turned upside down by this war. The attention to detail and the very short chapters, certainly made this book an enthralling epic. Kudos, Mr Turnbull, your hard work has certainly paid off.

There are several famous battles in this book, but the one that stood out for me was the Storming of Bristol. Not only did Turnbull recount this battle with a historian's attention to detail, but he also described it with a novelist eye for the entertaining. Turnbull certainly knows how to keep his readers hooked.

If you are looking for your next great English Civil War Historical Fiction book, then look no further than Allegiance of Blood by Mark Turnbull. Fans of battle heavy fiction will undoubtedly love this book.

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

Pick up your copy of
Allegiance of Blood

Mark Turnball

After a visit to Helmsley Castle at the age of ten, Mark Turnbull bought a pack of 'top trump' cards featuring the monarchs of England. The card portraying King Charles I fascinated him.
Van Dyck's regal portrait of the King and the fact that he was executed by his own people were the beginnings of Mark's passionate interest in the English Civil War that has lasted ever since.
In the absence of time travel, he thoroughly enjoys bringing this period to life through writing. He has written articles for magazines, local newspapers and online educational sites. He has also re-enacted battles with The Sealed Knot and for several years edited the Historical Novel Society's online newsletter.

Connect with Mark: WebsiteFacebook.

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