Hawker and the King’s Jewel – an absolute gem of a novel

Ordinarily, I never use this blog to review other people’s books, but I must make an exception this time because the novel I have just read, Hawker and the King’s Jewel, by Ethan Bale, is so astonishingly good. I’d heard great things about it for a while but I was taken aback when I finally read it by the skill and talent of the writer. It has been meticulously researched, and has a totally authentic medieval feel. Also, it fizzes with red-blooded action, contains a tender romance, lashings of dark intrigue and beautifully-drawn characters. And there are two more novels to come in this “Swords of the White Rose” series. Hallelujah!

One of the reasons it has taken me so long to get round to reading Hawker was the period in which it is set: post-Bosworth Field, it takes place in the twilight of the Wars of the Roses. Why set a series after the long war is over, I thought? Surely all the good stuff happens during the struggle? Boy, was I wrong!

Sir John Hawker, a knight who owes fealty to King Richard III, is charged with a secret mission to deliver a fabulous jewel to Venice. When his king falls in battle, the ever-loyal knight sets off with a handful of his companions on the perilous journey south to the Adriatic. But dark forces including, perhaps, a traitor among his own men, are determined to wrest the jewel from him and expose one of his young knights as . . . OK, no spoilers. But, trust me, this is a griping yarn. Daggers and war hammers, low taverns and glittering places, slinking spies in the stinking canals of Venice, henchmen, bandits, cowardly assassins, a beautiful woman who deeply loves Hawker but is married to another man. This novel has everything!

And the ending! Wow! The novel ends in a completely unexpected way – and neatly paves the way for the next one in the series, which I cannot wait to read. Hawker and the King’s Jewel by Ethan Bale is out in July 2022 but you can pre-order it here. And my advice is to drop everything and do that right now!

Angus Donald’s latest novel The Saxon Wolf (Fire Born 2) is available as an eBook or paperback here.

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