Scourge of Wolves

Written by David Gilman
Review by Carol McGrath

Scourge of Wolves is fifth in The Master of War series and, this said, it stands alone. It is a gritty novel set at the height of The Hundred Years’ War as Thomas Blackstone, the series protagonist, fights to impose English rule on France. It is winter 1361. Edward III has agreed a treaty with the captive French king, John II, by which John ceded tracts of territory to the English. For five years mercenary bands and warring lords have fought over the French kingdom, and now Thomas Blackstone battles to enforce Edward’s claim. He sees his name blackened, men slaughtered, and his son hunted by enemies close to the French crown as he tries along with the King’s negotiator, Thomas Chandos, to bring recalcitrant defaulters under English control.

This is a gripping story of pitched battles and treachery, portraying honour, loyalty and determination. The narrative is exceptionally pacey and atmospheric; it has heart. The historical background is fascinating, accurate and thoroughly researched. The novel’s characterisation is thoroughly rounded and convincing. It is an exceptionally well-written book with such vivid prose it easily transports the reader back into the high medieval world. Highlights are the attack at Sainte Bernice and the wicked Countess, Catherine de Val, a malevolent, beautiful woman who rules Felice and who is superbly characterised. I highly recommend this novel for readers who enjoy Giles Kristian, Angus Donald and Bernard Cornwell. It is a roller-coaster of a read, beautifully written.