In Northern England in the spring of 1513, a newly-orphaned teenager named Tom Fleck finds a golden ring in the woods near his croft, a herald’s ring bearing the seal of the Tudor king. Thinking he can sell it to provide for his ailing sister, Tom heads into town to meet with the local merchant, but the Jewish trader cannot risk buying such an item. Instead, Tom decides to find the nobleman who lost the ring and return it in hopes of a reward. Thus begins a journey that will define young Tom Fleck’s destiny – an adventure that will take him from crofter’s fields and drover’s roads into the ranks of bowmen heading toward war with Scotland at Flodden Field. Along the way many lives are changed and shaped forever: Tom’s neighbors and family, the noble lords he serves, his fellow soldiers and bowmen, and the daughter of the Jewish merchant, a beautiful and intelligent young woman named Rachel whom Tom cannot banish from his mind.
Tom Fleck is the tale of an everyday man caught up in the workings of history, an story that focuses on the common people within the bigger picture instead of the famous faces. It is told in a folk-tale style that unwinds gradually as it draws the reader in with likeable characters and gorgeous scenery, a world tinted with a hint of magic like an old-fashioned adventure. The history is detailed, the dialogue natural-sounding despite the heavy use of period language, the characters colorful and endearing, and the use of description is wonderful. Some readers may find the action slow to start, but the writing style draws the reader in and the story as a whole moves at an absorbing pace. Tom Fleck is a highly satisfying adventure and a lovely piece of historical fiction. Recommended.