Viper’s Blood: Master of War

Written by David Gilman
Review by Lisa Redmond

Viper’s Blood is the fourth book in David Gilman’s Master of War series continuing the saga of the Hundred Years’ War and the tale of the fictional Sir Thomas Blackstone. Edward III has invaded France, and as the winter of 1359 turns to the spring of 1360, there is a stalemate between the two armies. With the Dauphin refusing to leave Paris, the English army must cross France, taking supplies where they can. Thomas Blackstone is tasked with seizing gold for the King and, while seeking a healer for his oldest friend, Killbere, he rescues a young woman accused of witchcraft, a woman his men believe brings bad luck. Recalled to Paris as a truce is arranged, Blackstone is tasked with taking the French King’s daughter to Italy for her wedding, into the heart of Milan and the family responsible for the murder of Blackstone’s wife and daughter. Blackstone seeks vengeance. The Dauphin hopes to be rid of Blackstone at last.

This is a book full of carefully researched details of war, siege, and weaponry, as might be expected, but it is also a treasure trove of details about medieval life, herbal remedies, folk beliefs, and the power of the medieval church. Blackstone is a man of his times: a warrior, a leader, hard on his son and on himself, but also just, fair and loyal. A great addition to the series, this book could also be read as a standalone novel. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Giles Kristian, and Conn Iggulden.