Lions of the Grail

Written by Tim Hodkinson
Review by Helen Hart

During the troubled reign of Edward II, former Knight Templar Richard Savage has been left to rot in a dungeon. He is unexpectedly offered a chance of freedom . . . but there are conditions. Savage must travel to his native Ireland and spy for the Crown. Irish lords seem to be planning to ally themselves to Robert the Bruce of Scotland, who has a Holy Treasure to strengthen his fight against the English (and a plan to rule the Irish rather than be their ally). As Savage becomes deeply enmeshed in intrigue, he finds his loyalties tested and his life at risk.

This is a well-written, tightly plotted, and absorbing story underpinned by what is clearly some rigorous research. There’s plenty to keep the reader interested. Former Knight Templar Savage is heroic, if a little sullen at times. MacHuylin is a great sidekick and there’s real camaraderie between the two men. Dame Alys is fascinating and multi-layered, and there are intrigues, jousts, pitched battles, lepers, witches, religious dissent, Saracen Assassins, besieged castles and even a dangerous shipwreck. Readers will be fascinated by the detailed descriptions of medieval life in all its filth and glory.

This is such a good read, and it deserves to do extremely well, but as with so many self-published titles it needs better presentation (in particular professional proofreading and typesetting) if it’s to succeed alongside mainstream contemporaries.