Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims (Kingmaker Trilogy)

Written by Toby Clements

At the beginning of the Wars of the Roses, we meet Sister Katherine, a nun from Lincoln Priory. On the other side of the dividing wall, in the monastic section, lives Brother Thomas. When Sister Katherine is attacked by outlaws outside the convent walls, Brother Thomas comes to her rescue, but the fact that the two have met and spoken to each other means trouble for both. They are forced to flee and decide to head for Canterbury, travelling by sea from Lincoln to the Kent coast, but the boat they are travelling on ends up in France. They find themselves in the service of the Duke of York and the Earl of Warwick. Katherine disguises herself as a boy and now goes by the name of Kit. The story follows their lives from France back to England, where they get caught up in the developing Civil War.

I found this to be a totally engrossing story, and it was refreshing to hear it told from the point of view of ‘ordinary’ people rather than concentrating on the nobility and the few men who controlled most of England at that time. The characterisation is good, and I really felt for the two main characters and wanted them to succeed. My only real criticism is that some of the events were described in too much detail. I understand that this is Toby Clements’ first novel, and it shows. His research is extensive, but he seemed to want to pass on every detail to the reader. That said, it is a thoroughly gripping read, and I shall look for more from this author.