The Ill-Made Knight

Written by Christian Cameron
Review by Ray Taylor

Christian Cameron is a very successful historical novelist who has written a whole series of novels set in ancient Greece. Cameron has now made a foray into mediaeval territory with this tale of William Gold, a Londoner of low birth, branded a thief, who dreams of one day becoming a famous knight. Set at the time of the Hundred Years War between England and France, the story recounts how Gold finds himself first as a cook, then a squire, at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. Gold is nothing if not brave and acquits himself well in the fierce fighting that ensues and is rewarded by becoming attached to Sir John Hawkwood as they stay on in a ravaged France. It’s from this point that the story really takes off.

This is an absolutely action-packed tale of chivalry, honour and betrayal. Cameron has a very engaging and easy style that draws the reader in very quickly. The tale is recounted in the first person by Gold, who adopts a very chatty and conversational tone – it’s as if he is sitting opposite you and you are being treated to a personal account of his life. The Hundred Years War is a very complex period, and it takes consummate skill to weave a consistent plot with a huge cast of believable characters.

There are knights, kings, earls, princes and lords galore. Amongst all the chivalry there is also a fair share of mercenaries, cutthroats, villains and chancers as well as non-combatants and chroniclers such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Froissart. All in all, a very rich mix. This book is advertised as the first in a new series, and I, for one, can’t wait.