Cross of Fire (Master of War)

Written by David Gilman
Review by Mike Ashworth

Winter 1362. After years of campaigning, Thomas Blackstone, a common archer who was knighted at Crecy, has risen to become Edward III’s Master of War. Thomas is looking forward to a rest from a bloody campaign which has seen his family – apart from his son Henry – slaughtered. At a time when convention states that winter should be a time of rest and recuperation Thomas finds life is not that simple. He and his band of men, a lethal combination of experienced, battle-hardened men-at-arms and archers, are assaulting an impregnable fortress. They have been ordered to take sides in a feud between French aristocrats, fight a pitched battle in the dead of winter and protect the Prince of Wales, while a group of Teutonic knights are looking for them, seeking vengeance.

With a strong plot and characters, the author brings alive the period with a thrilling story. The action sequences are well executed and exciting, without being overly graphic. This is the sixth instalment in David Gilman’s Master of War series but can be read as a stand-alone novel. A skilful writer, the author has written an exciting page turner which brings alive the comradeship as well as the hardship and callous indifference of war in a vivid, atmospheric novel. Historical fiction at its best.