Master of War

Written by David Gilman
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

1346, and the reign of Edward III. Edward’s ambition is to regain his lost lands in France, and so begins the 100 Years’ War. He needs all the fighting men he can get, which is how Thomas Blackstone finds himself wielding a longbow instead of being sentenced to hang for a crime he did not commit. He finds himself at Crecy where, although badly wounded, he is knighted by the Black Prince for services rendered. King Edward commands Godfrey de Harcourt to care for Thomas, and he is taken to the castle at Noyelles. From then on his life changes completely.

This is an excellent book. Many have been written about the 100 Years’ War, the prowess of the Black Prince, Crecy, Poitiers, etc., but this story is told from a totally different angle. Thomas Blackstone is a commoner, a peasant, a stone quarryman by trade with few rights or privileges but who rises in life to make a name for himself. After Crecy we learn of the war from the French side through Godfrey de Harcourt who, despite his family’s divided loyalties, is himself loyal to King Edward. To a certain extent we see how ‘the other half lives’.

I was gripped by this book from page one and learned a lot about the age from it. The characterisation was good and the fictitious blended well with the facts. It will certainly stay on my bookshelves. Thoroughly recommended.