Carminow: The King’s Cornishman

Written by Elsie Balme
Review by Richard Tearle

Roger de Carminow is a second son, named after his father, sent to a monastery at an early age and soon becomes the heir to the Carminow estate when his elder brother is killed in an accident. Though betrothed to Joanna, his true love is Tegan, the miller’s daughter and both know that their feelings for each other can never come to fruition. Dominated by his mother and seemingly disliked by his father, Roger’s early wildness is curbed during his time at the monastery. He becomes a friend and companion of Prince Edward – later to become King Edward I – and accompanies him on a Crusade as well as in the wars against the Welsh and, much later, the Scots.

Throughout all this, he is juggling his responsibilities to his manor, his wife and subsequent children and his reluctance to accept all of Edward’s policies.

And this, I feel is the problem with this otherwise well written and researched story: there is perhaps too much going on and no one aspect of this man’s life is really focussed upon. Individual events at the various conflicts constitute all that there is away from his home.

The author has done her research well and the man and his family are true historical figures, but it is a shame that the presentation has let the writing down. There were several typographical errors as well as two or three instances of underling words rather than italicisation, which would have been easier on the eye. A further edit would eliminate these errors. The cover depicts a knight on horseback in full armour and might be misleading as very little fighting action takes place.

A good read – well worth doing that re-edit.