The Cold Light of Dawn (The King’s Greatest Enemy)

Written by Anna Belfrage
Review by Penny Ingham

This is the fourth book in the King’s Greatest Enemy series. Set in turbulent 14th-century England, it follows the lives of lowly knight Adam de Guirande and his wife, Kit, as they negotiate a dangerous path through the backstabbing politics of the royal court. Edward II’s disastrous reign has ended with his deposition and exile, and his young son, Edward III, is now on the throne. Edward is closely controlled by his mother Queen Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer, but the adolescent king is beginning to chafe against their influence. The tense undercurrent running through this novel is not if Edward will act, but when.

Adam Guirande is the foster son of Mortimer and loves him like a father. At the same time, he has sworn allegiance to the young king, and Adam’s internal struggles with bitter disappointment, betrayal and divided loyalties are convincingly portrayed. So too is his relationship with his wife; their banter and their deep love for each other give the novel its romantic heart.

Queen Isabella is often portrayed as a she-wolf, and Mortimer a power-hungry despot, but in this novel the couple are more rounded. Mortimer is shown to be voraciously ambitious but also exhausted from the long hours required to run a kingdom, whilst the young king spends his days hunting and jousting.

For my taste, the novel was rather heavy on dialogue as opposed to narrative. Not having read the first three novels, I also found myself playing catch-up at times, and a list of characters would have been a helpful addition to the brief resume at the start of the book. But an enjoyable, enlightening read nonetheless!