Author: E.M. Powell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback 349 pages, Published April 5th 2016 by Thomas & Mercer.
John, the youngest son of Henry II, has no prospect of ever becoming king, and bears the name Lackland. That is until he becomes the new Lord of Ireland, send there by his father to impose order on the island. However, he’s not king…yet. Palmer, Henry’s right-hand man is also dispatched to Ireland, to keep an eye on John, and to root out the traitors Henry fears are working to steal the land from him. Once on the island, John disregards Henry’s orders and embarks on a campaign of bloodshed that could destroy the kingdom, causing Palmer to fight against the powerful Lord of Ireland.
I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
‘Lackland. Its shame had never left him, with the crumbs of territory that Henry had granted him only whetting his appetite for power and never close to sating it. But from today, he’d be Lackland no more. – Chapter one.
It took me some time, but I finally finished this book today! Not that it was a bad book, not at all, I was just very distracted (social life.. ugh… it’s a pain). So, here goes, what do I think of this book?
First of all, let’s talk a bit about the book (as part of a series) and the setting.
The book itself is actually part three in a series, and (smart as I am) I haven’t read the first two books. This wasn’t an issue at all really, there was enough information in the book to make it enjoyable. There wasn’t a lot of information missing, so no irritating knowledge gaps or anything like that.
The setting was right up my alley. Set in 12th century England/Ireland, it’s a period that is somewhat familiar to me. However, this book was really aimed at specific event and a specific place that I wasn’t really familiar with, so that was both a curse and a blessing. I did like how the setting was in Ireland most of the time instead of England, a nice change. Through multiple narrators, I got a description of the ‘Irish’ at the time as 1: being savages 2: being actually quite awesome people. The story also gave an insight in the culture and land itself, though not that much. There was enough detail to read this book comfortably without having read the first two books of the series. I think that a huge advantage for this book was the setting itself. There wasn’t really that much detail needed to describe the landscape or certain scenes, mostly because nowadays it’s a familiar (maybe even popular) setting/time period. Readers often know what they can expect when they read in the blurb that it’s about the middle ages.
On to the narrators and characters we go!
Let’s keep it relatively simple and say that there were three main narrators/characters.
- John Lackland: The Lord of Ireland/aspiring King of Ireland. He is a real pain in the ass, a complete dick, murderous, and his ambition is truly to die for. Oh, and not something to take lightly: He’s a coward, a smart one, but a coward nevertheless. His narrations are often filled with either murderous/rapist thoughts, cowardly acts or thoughts that are smart a.f.
- Palmer: Sir Benedict Palmer, right hand man of King Henry II of England, husband of Theodosia (the 3rd narrator). He is an honourable knight, a lovely fellow who takes care of others and is a bit overly protective on some occasions. Palmer doesn’t go without a fight and he is very creative, and even though he’s an older fellow, he keeps up with all the young soldiers/peasants out there.
- Theodosia: Palmer’s wife and, apparently, daughter of the king. She’s a mother above all, but loves her husband with her whole being, she’d do anything for him. In this story, she’s already an older woman, and joins this story without Palmer’s permission. It’s a bit of a shame that I haven’t read the first two books, since there were things concerning Theodosia that I really missed out on by not reading them.
Because of the many narrators, relatively speaking, the telling can be messy at times. Storylines can suddenly be cut off and then another one will continue. Within one chapter there can be over two changes in narrators and that can be irritating/messy. It’s not really confusing, because the parts by the different narrators are separated quite clearly, so that’s a plus. One thing about most characters in this story: there was no real character development. There was a certain change of heart at times (not all of a sudden but with a reason), but that wasn’t really development to me. Throughout this book, most characters simply stayed the same. Even though there wasn’t any real development, I think I liked John the most as a character. He was a great creation and it was awesome to get an insight in the person of John Lackland. Underestimated nine out of ten, John was able to surprise everyone multiple times, and even though he’s a dick… He did get away with it all in the end, didn’t he?
The writing style itself is alright. It took me some time to get into the story, but once I did there was enough suspense, tension, action and sometimes even a bit of humour. The minor characters were often the ones who created the space for a bit of humour in some scenes.
My favourite part must have been *drums* the ending. Ah… the end… I’m not going to spoil it! I’m just saying that it seemed like there was going to be a happy ever after, but there wasn’t one really. Great twist in my opinion. You have to read it for yourself in order to get it :’)
The setting was great, love the time period and the place. The characters were good, no real development but that wasn’t an issue. Everything else was alright. I wasn’t blown away, but it was a good read. One thing that I specifically liked was the insight in the person of John Lackland, he was an awesome character, created very well. I probably would have liked it more had I read the first two parts of the series, that’s my loss. I give this book three stars, since I did like it 🙂