Tuesday 6 October 2015

Defiant Unto Death by David Gilman

Today I am one of the first stops on the blog tour for Defiant Unto Death by David Gilman! I haven't taken part in a blog tour in a long long time but I'm so glad I get to be part of this one.

Defiant Unto Death is actually the second book in a trilogy that I hadn't heard of before agreeing to take part in this tour, but honestly it doesn't matter whether or not you've read the first book; this book stands on its own. 

From Goodreads:
The Black Prince has launched a devastating raid deep into France, laying waste to everything in his path. In response, the French have mustered an army that outnumbers the English forces 10 to 1 and and are determined to drive their hated foe from the land after years of bloody conquest.
Sir Thomas Blackstone, the British archer knighted on the field of Crecy, has used the intervening years to forge his own war band and has hacked out his own fiefdom in central France. He knows the English are outnumbered, outmanoeuvred and exhausted... but that will not stop him from fighting his way to one of history's greatest military victories.
But the field of battle is not only arena in which Blackstone will have to fight for his life... Although Poitiers was a great victory for the English its aftermath will cost Blackstone dear.
I've heard a lot about the Black Prince because of our proximity to Canterbury, the city housing the cathedral in which he is buried, but I don't actually know a lot about the war that got him his nickname.  From the start this book was interesting to me because of my lack of knowledge of the period of history it takes place in. It begins with a battle which is a great way to present a character who is a soldier by trade, and also a good way to immediately drag me into the action.

I will admit to skimming occasional paragraphs when I felt that the description of battle tactics was dragging but that didn't happen often. For the most part the characters drew me in and the fast paced storyline swept me along. I don't know anything about the actual man but the character of Thomas Blackstone I immediately liked. He's physically strong and pretty brave with an unyielding instinct to protect those he loves, be they his wife, Christiana, his children or his men. I thought the relationship between him and his family was written very well, and I really enjoyed the way that a different, softer side of him came through during the scenes with his children (who were also adorable).

A stupid little petty issue: I didn't like how much the phrase 'sworn man' was used. At times it seemed like every other sentence contained it but I appreciate that there was a point being made which was that Blackstone had men who were loyal only to him rather than just being swords for hire in a time when war was a living. Honestly he reminded me of a lot of my favourite characters from David Gemmell novels which can only be a good thing!

The thing that made this book really stand out for me was the (fortunately) fictional character of the Savage Priest. From the time they first mentioned his name I had chills and every time he made an appearance after that I was wondering how it was possibly going to end well... This year I've not read many books with memorable villains but this guy is pure evil and really gives the book something to spur it along. When people are hiding, they're hiding for a very good reason. When they're running, you're willing them to outrun him, and when they're fighting you're hoping and hoping that they'll be better than him. Without him the book would have been a solid story, but with him it was phenomenal.

It's been a long time since I really read any historical fiction and Defiant Unto Death has made me want to dive right back into it. It also has the added bonus of being published by an independent publisher, Head of Zeus, who were kind enough to send me a physical copy because I'm a pain of a person who doesn't read ebooks! Many thanks to them, they will be featured in an upcoming installment of Make Mine an Indie.

The blog tour is hosted by Neverland Blog Tours and the schedule is below, please do hop over and visit some of the other stops.

Tour Schedule

Tuesday 6th October - Monday 12th October
Thanks to Jenny for letting me take part!

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