In 1361, Sir John Hawkwood is leading an army of mercenaries known as the White Company through Italy. The army consists of men from England and Germany, hired by the Pope, to defend the Marquis of Monferrato. Monferrato’s land is being attacked by Bernado Visconti, the ruler of Lombardy, who has an army led by Count Landau of Milan. This was a time in Italian history when the various city-states fought against each other for power and land. Prior to arriving in Italy, Sir John fought for Prince Edward at Poitiers in France. He was made a knight by the king after the battle. The story includes a love interest, a young Italian lady who wins Sir John’s heart.
My only issue with the novel was the name confusion between John Hawkwood, who was called Jack at times and Gianni at other times, along with members of his band named John Brise and Jack Onsloe. At times, first names were used in the dialog, and I had to reread the preceding paragraphs to determine who was being addressed. Other than that minor flaw, I found the story a fun read, with well-drawn out characters and well-written prose. Mr. Payton is knowledgeable about Italian history, and his accurate descriptions of the settings add to the authenticity of the story.
Highly recommended, and if other books about Hawkwood are written, I would definitely read the next ones in this series.