Thursday 4 November 2021

#BookReview - Redemption (The Hacker Chronicles, Book 2) by Philip Yorke @yorkeauthor

(The Hacker Chronicles, Book 2)
By Philip Yorke

Publication Date: 2nd July 2021
Publisher: Mashiach Publishing
Page Length: 480 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction 

Saturday, the second day of July, in the year of our Lord, 1644, will be a day long remembered by the men and women committed to ending the reign of a tyrannical King. For on this day, the forces of Charles the First were crushed on the bloody fields of Marston Moor.

The calamitous defeat forces the increasingly desperate Royalists to intensify their attempts to bring about the immediate demise of their Parliamentarian enemies. This includes devising an audacious plan to assassinate the man they believe is key to the war’s outcome.

With the plotters ready to strike, Francis Hacker, one of Parliament’s most loyal soldiers, becomes aware of the conspiracy. With little time to act, he does everything in his power to frustrate their plans. But, alas, things start to unravel when brave Hacker finds himself pitted against a ruthless and cunning mercenary, a man who will resort to anything to achieve a ‘kill’.

“The moment you aligned yourself to Parliament, you were in line to suffer tragedy…”

Francis Hacker has had more than his share of tragedy. This war had thus far cost him dearly, and yet he was committed to the cause, and he believed in what he was doing. When he hears a whisper of a conspiracy, he knows he must do everything he can to root out the sources and put an end to any plans that Royalists may have come up with to defeat the Parliamentary forces. However, this will lead him down a path so dark that it will change him irrevocably forever.

Redemption (The Hacker Chronicles, Book 2) by Philip Yorke is a gripping account of war, betrayal, and the unbreakable bond of friendship. Based on true events and historical characters, Yorke has penned a novel that threatens to mesmerise the reader with its brilliance, its realism, and its historical accuracy. This novel is a vivid account of the war through the eyes of an English soldier, who, despite his family's Royalist loyalties, would go on to be one of the Regicides of King Charles I of England.

How wonderful it was to once again be in the hands of a master bard. Yorke’s poetic, almost lyrical narrative wrapped up me in its warm embrace and carried me back in time to an England that was caught up in a bloody civil war. This is the kind of novel where every word seemingly has a purpose, and that purpose is to tell a story of what it was like to fight as a Parliamentarian soldier during this era. 

Told in the first person by Francis Hacker, Yorke has given his readers a reading experience that is not so easily forgotten. Hacker’s journey, his triumphs and his disasters really captured my imagination and let me envisage the English Civil War through new eyes. As it is told from Hacker’s perspective, it is, therefore, no surprise that Hacker comes across initially as the most honourable of characters. He really struggles with the things he has seen and the terrible loss that he has endured. As a man of deep faith, he lets the Creator be the shining light. It is only when he allows Oliver Cromwell to unwittingly take the place of the Creator that he strays from the path of what is right to what is unforgivable. He openly admits that he is a sinner, and he allows his anger, his hate and his unquenchable desire for revenge to guide him. Although he spends long hours in contemplation, he cannot even comprehend redemption, and although this is something that he craves, he is not arrogant enough to ask the Creator for it. As this novel progresses, it is his hatred for the enemy that begins to define who he is. And yet, he is still desperate to seek forgiveness, which leads him to the door of Minister Aloysius Wainwright. I thought the scene with Wainwright was deeply moving. It allowed Hacker to remember and to try to reconnect not only with God but with his own blackened soul. It also allows him to gather his thoughts, and he realises that this driving need for revenge has been triggered by guilt, and guilt is always a difficult enemy to vanquish—far more difficult than a Royalist army.

Redemption is set in a harsh world where morality and, despite appearances, Christian values have been sacrificed for the apparent greater good of the country. Perhaps it should have come as no surprise that in this harsh world there are also some hard truths. Cromwell is depicted as a man above all others. Even in moments of doubt, Cromwell seemingly basks in the light of the Creator. If the Creator had once anointed Charles as his representative on earth, it seems that perhaps the Good Lord had now changed allegiance. Cromwell’s military genius, his agility of mind and his decisiveness make him a very formidable, but also likeable for the most part, character in this novel. Through Hacker’s eyes we see the man that Cromwell wants to be seen as and this “man” comes across as very human—he suffers loss, he feels the sting of betrayal, and yet what sets him apart is he never doubts the cause. It is this self-confidence that draws men, especially men like Hacker, towards him. Cromwell is portrayed as a man who commands loyalty and respect. However, much to Hacker’s disbelieve it eventually becomes undeniably clear that Cromwell is a master of manipulation. The pedestal that Hacker so carefully and seemingly joyously placed Cromwell upon begins to tremble, and that awful moment when Hacker sees through Cromwell’s disguise is harrowing. Cromwell’s wilfulness to play politics with Hacker’s life, and the lives of those he loves, is incredibly cruel and yet also insightful to the man that he was. I thought Cromwell’s depiction gave the reader a sense of the duplicity of war, as well as the complexity of Cromwell’s character. I thought Cromwell’s depiction was sublime. 

The historical detailing of this novel has to be commended. It is very clear, right from the start, that Yorke has a keen grip on the history of this era and it comes across with a strong sense of realism. Yorke is keen to remind his readers that Cromwell and Parliament may well have thought themselves doing what the people wanted, but in truth, they were doing it to secure their own position and power, which made them no different to the Royalists, whom they were so determined to defeat. The Civil War was not just a war of bloody battles, but it was one of espionage. There were spies in both camps, but finding out who took a great deal of effort but also deception. I thought his uncertain world was brought masterfully back to life. It really did feel like I had stepped back in time.

Redemption (The Hacker Chronicles, Book 2) by Philip Yorke is in all ways a Historical Fiction triumph. It is the kind of novel that one could read over and over again.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
Philip Yorke is an award-winning former Fleet Street journalist who has a special interest in history. His Hacker Chronicles series, to be told in five fast-paced historical fiction novels, tells the story of Parliamentarian soldier, Francis Hacker.

Redemption, the second book in the series, is set during the period 1644-46 (during the first English Civil War), when events take a significant turn in favour of Parliament.

Philip is married, and he and his wife have five children. He enjoys relaxing to classical music, reading the works of Nigel Tranter, Bernard Cornwell, Robyn Young and CJ Sansom, and supporting Hull City FC and Leicester Tigers RFC. 

He lives in Leicestershire, England.

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