Blood of the Innocents

Review by Marilyn Sherlock

This is the third book in a trilogy on the Hundred Years War, the first being about the Battle of Crecy (Fields of Glory) and the second the Battle of Calais (Blood on the Sand). In this one we are taken, after a ten-year interval including an epidemic of the plague, to Poitiers and the victory of the English over a much larger French army. During this time, many things have changed. Berenger Fripper now commands a company of mercenaries who, with other groups, terrorise the people of France, burning the towns and causing as much disruption as possible.

Although this story, as the author himself states, is a work of pure fiction, it still aims to give a graphic picture of conditions in France as the English fought for domination of a land of which Edward III believed himself to be the rightful King. However, I did find it a little difficult to work out who was who and whose side the various protagonists were on, as I hadn’t read either of the two preceding books (although the cast of characters at the beginning did help).

This is an author who researches in detail. I have read several of his books over the years, and this one is no different. It is well told and often graphically chilling. It kept the pages turning, and I wanted to know all the answers, but to be able to enjoy it fully I am afraid that at times it needed a rather stronger stomach than mine.