Thursday, 9 July 2020

This is a book I can recommend for anyone who has an interest in historical novels. The Poisoned Cup by Edward Lanyon is a different take on the Braveheart story. I believe it to be a more accurate story, but the reader must judge for him/herself.
What the readers said about The Poisoned Cup:
-        I bought this one last night and couldn’t put it down until I finished it. It reads like a Bernard Cornwell novel. The key character is an aging English knight working for King Edward the First to try to bring about a lasting peace with Scotland. He is thwarted when the Scottish king Alexander is killed in an accident. One of the secondary characters is William Wallace but this is a very different Wallace to the one you see in the Braveheart film. According to Lanyon’s notes, this is the more accurate version of him. The book’s portrayal comes across as more credible than the film image. This is a just a rollicking good historical tale with knights, battles and a beautiful young maiden. A great first novel from this new writer.
-        The novel weaves a rich tapestry of political intrigue with a fictional seasoned knight as the reader's guide to the madness that ensued from the death of one king and the debatable obligations of another. The reader will be confronted by the raw brutality of the war between England and Scotland during the late 13th century. The writing is truly impressive and readers who are familiar with the brilliant works of Maurice Druon may find similar writing style with the use of dialogue, delivery of historical events and overall pacing of the story.
-        The Poisoned Cup was an absolute gem of a find and I was stunned to discover that this was a debut novel.
-        The book follows an ageing English Knight who happens to be working for King Edward the first. His job is to bring peace between England and Scotland; the angst between the two kingdoms is beginning to build to a startling level. However his plans are scuppered when the King of Scotland, Alexander is killed in a sudden accident; all must be done to stop the incoming of a civil war. Lanyon spills a brutal tale of battles, knights, one beautiful maiden and a rip-rolling story.
-        This feels like a very well-researched and investigated story; the story feels real and definitely transports you to medieval times which of course it is supposed to. Lanyon forces the reader to re-think the portraits we see of such historic figures. What I also found truly intriguing was the brutal nature of the book: this is an author who does not step back. Instead the writing is heady, ruthless but also fully formed. It feels like you’re there in the action, feeling the heat of the battle, the roar in your ears; it’s a wonderful thing when historical fiction manages this.
-        I thought the characters were fleshed out with style and precision and I liked the way that some are historical figures whilst others are fictional and created from the author’s imagination. I thought the political line of fiction was woven throughout and helped to add to the action and make it feel all the more real
-        I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. It has a real sense of what historical fiction should do and how to engage the reader. A lovely, but rather brutal tale.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

The Girl From The Killing Streets is a novel, yes, but it is more than that. It is a lesson from history. The fiction elements of the story are set against a real event in the Northern Irish troubles: a day in 1972 known as Bloody Friday. Read this story as a thriller, yes, but let it also help you better understand what happened that day, and the terrible effect the appalling violence has had upon the people of Belfast. Even today, twenty two years after the Good Friday Agreement, the after-effects have not gone away, far from it. Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate in the UK, and one of the highest suicide rates in the world. The causes are not entirely limited to the so-called ‘troubles’, but there is ample evidence that a legacy of thirty years of bombing, shooting and hatred has left many Northern Irish people suffering from stress and PTSD. Read the book and try to understand what it was like to live in Belfast at that time, and try to understand why the after-effects live on.
Having read Mr Hough's previous novels this one is his best yet. The writing has taken more than one step upwards. Being interested in the Troubles I found the book fascinating, based around the Belfast Bloody Friday bombings where the reader gets to follow several different characters during that awful day on 21 of July 1972. This novel is clearly centred around true facts of that day. The author places you amongst the action with gritty reality. You receive a vivid insight into the grim reality of life at that time: the burnt out houses, protestant and catholic tensions, the dangers associated with taking a wrong turn and stumbling into the wrong street, the senseless murders and retaliation murders, plus much more. I can highly recommend the book to anyone that likes a novel based around true events.