Lord Edward’s Archer
Like most readers, I have my favourite genres, but I do like to step out of my comfort zone every so often. Such was the case with this highly enjoyable novel.
The protagonist is Gruffyd, a young archer, who, despite his Welsh-sounding name, is a loyal Englishman. When his innocent father is killed because his faithful dog growled at his lord who was out hunting, Gruffyd takes revenge. He then flees, a wanted man, into the deep forest and makes friends with other outlaws and understands their plight.
Thanks to his skill with a longbow, he soon catches the eye of Edward, son and heir of King Henry III, and plays a major part in the second Barons’ War (Simon de Montfort’s rebellion). When I learned history at school, Simon was a hero, so it was fascinating to read how, here, he is a traitor. There is very little detail about this, but that is not the point of Hosker’s novels, where, although saturated in blood and gore, unless men are killed outright, their injuries heal in time for the next battle… and the next.
There is little emotional depth to the characters or their motivation – and what I find most strange of all, no women, except as objects to be pitied or abused (but not by our noble hero, of course). Whilst I learned much about archery, bows and arrows and the fletching thereof, I soon lost count of the number of times Gruffyd ‘nocked’ his arrows.
If you like your history lightly told with a fast pace and a battle on almost every page, Griff Hosker’s novels are perfect.