22 January 2018

A Discovered Diamonds review of The Du Lac Devil by Mary Anne Yarde

AMAZON UK £1.99 / £11.99
AMAZON US $1.99  / $14.99
AMAZON CA $3.73 / $19.01

Saxon / Arthurian
6th Century
Saxon Britain

The Du Lac Devil is the second novel in Yarde’s Du Lac series, though it largely acts as a standalone novel. It focuses on Merton du Lac, the youngest son of Lancelot. The novel opens a few years after the events of the first novel, The Du Lac Chronicles, and depicts Merton in the life of a mercenary, a soldier for hire. He has earned the reputation as a devil because of the way he fights, almost like a berserker, and because of some of the brutal things he’s had to do in his duties over the years. What people don’t realize is that he is tormented by his actions, and he did it all to keep his brother, Alden, and his kingdom of Cerdiw safe from the hands of his political enemies.

When his brother Budic’s wife dies, Merton and Alden reunite at their childhood home of Benwick Castle while paying their respects. While there, they discover that agents within the castle’s household are conspiring to overthrow Budic and take the ancestral du Lac family stronghold, and thus become King of Brittany. Merton, Alden, and Budic must work to set aside their animosity and rivalries to find who is working to usurp Budic.

Readers are given deeper insight into Merton du Lac and his life, which was a treat. Merton is my favorite of the du Lac brothers so far, so I appreciated getting to know more about him. The story itself was entertaining and held my interest throughout the novel. In fact, I had initially been given this book to review but when I realized it was the second of the series, I went out and got the first one, read it, and then came back to this one to do my review. Then I bought the third in the series as well as the novella. I genuinely am enjoying the series. It is full of action and adventure, plenty of politics and even romance. There is something in here for just about everyone.

My final conclusion: this is a very fun, Arthurian-adjacent story, and will appeal to readers with a taste for Saxon culture and politics, if you can manage to overlook the editing issues.

© Kristen McQuinn

Pre-publication copy was reviewed – errors were found, which we believe have been corrected

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20 January 2018

The Weekend 'Did you miss...:?

It is the weekend - so no reviews,

but did you miss....

and did you find a few moments 
(perhaps during coffee break or lunch)
 to read our series of Diamond Tales?

Don't worry if you missed them - they are all still here! Start with Richard Tearle's Diamond Story.

And why not browse our INDEX PAGE, to see what else of interest you might have missed?

see you all Monday, when we have our Mid-Month Extra post
this month an interesting article by Inge H. Borg

19 January 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of The Wolf Banner by Paula Lofting

AMAZONUK £2.41 £10.99

Fictional drama / military
1066 era

Book two Sons of the Wolf series

“1056...England lurches towards war as the rebellious Lord Alfgar plots against the indolent King Edward. Sussex thegn, Wulfhere, must defy both his lord, Harold Godwinson, and his bitter enemy, Helghi, to protect his beloved daughter.
As the shadow of war stretches across the land, a more personal battle rages at home, and when it follows him into battle, he knows he must keep his wits about him more than ever, and courage and fear must become his armour…”

One thing Ms Lofting does very well is create believable detail of time, place and action. Her research is impeccable, her depictions of everyday life in the mid-eleventh century are detailed, and her battle scenes are vividly realistic.

Book two of her Sons of the Wolf series include an interesting set of characters – some real people from history, others imagine, what makes them all interesting is that most, particularly the main characters, are not perfect people, they have their flaws, their good side and bad side. 

Some of the characters I liked very much, others I did not, which also gives this tale of upheaval, trauma (and hope!) that genuine feel of reality. There are scenes of joy, scenes of fear, scenes of laughter and scenes of terror, all blended into the factual elements of the actual period, in this case King Edward (the Confessor), Earl Harold Godwinson and the Welsh King Gryffud, with a few rampaging Viking Danes thrown in for good measure.

This is a second book, and I believe there is to be a third, which could explain the rather too many, in my view, loose ends that were left dangling, and I did feel I would have benefited from reading the first book to have made better sense of some of the sub-plots and what was motivating the characters in this one. The Wolf Banner is a somewhat lengthy and maybe some disciplined pruning would have benefited the tale, as some parts are a little over-flowery or drawn-out, giving it a slight 'romance' feel.

That said, for the energy the author has put into recreating those turbulent years that led to those fateful days of 1066, and the rich, knowledgeable, detail of the period this is a worthy read, especially by those who enjoy this particular period of history. Possibly not a book for readers who are squeamish about battle-scenes though. (Which is a shame as they are very realistic!)

© Mary Chapple

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