The Fickle Tides of Treason
It is imminently apparent that Bennett has not only done his research but is also an admirer of his protagonist, Sir Andrew de Harcla—no wonder, as Sir Andrew comes across the seven centuries that separate us from him as a man of integrity and courage. In this, the second book in Bennett’s series depicting the tumultuous years of the early 14th century, we are mostly in northern England and southern Scotland, a region plagued by continuous raiding and skirmishing.
The northern lords are mostly loyal to the Earl of Lancaster, cousin to the fickle king, Edward II. Andrew is something of an exception, setting his loyalty to the king first. This leads to quite some complication for Andrew and his companions. Not having read the first instalment, I found the first few chapters somewhat confusing, but once Andrew de Harcla entered the narrative things became much clearer, albeit the book ends with no real conclusion—this, I suppose, is the subject of the next book in the series
Bennett presents us with quite the cast of characters, the majority of them based on real historical figures. At times, his knowledge of the period results in anecdotes that do not necessarily move the story forward, and the narrative would have benefited from pruning the cast and the events depicted, thereby simplifying the plot arc. Now and then, walk-on characters assume the viewpoint role, which disrupts the bonds established between this reader and Sir Andrew. However, these are minor blemishes. All in all, The Fickle Tides of Treason is an engaging read, offering a window into the complicated and dangerous world of Edward II’s England.