Run, run, girl. In the name of God, run. 1141. A mercenary watches from the icy reeds as a little girl with red hair is attacked by his own men. He is powerless to stop them. But a strange twist of fate brings them together again. Sheltering in a church, he finds the girl freezing cold, close to death, clutching a sliver of parchment. And now he is certain of what he must do. He will bring her back to life. He will train her to fight. And he will protect her from the man who calls himself a monk, who lost a piece of parchment he will do anything to get back . . . An epic account of the brutal winter when Stephen and Matilda tore England apart in their battle for its crown – when atrocities were inflicted on the innocent, but bravery found a home in an old solider and a young girl.
England is a place of fear, battle and blood, and Winter Siege doesn’t shirk away from the truly horrible atrocities that occur and those situation. It’s naturally sad that Ariana Franklin died before this could be published, but nice that her daughter Samantha Norman chose to finish it with such a cohesive voice throughout. Having not read Franklin’s previous work, it’s pointless to try and comment on how it works with her past work, but as a stand alone, introduction to her (their) work, this was incredibly gripping.
The abbot is dying, he calls a scribe to document a story he has inside him, from several points of view, and he wants it preserved. Though his wrists risks snapping in the process, the scribe dutifully documents it all, finding himself drawn in alongside the reader, making revelations along with the reader.
It works for fans of historical fiction, and could easily draw in newcomers to the genre. It’s so interesting you kind of want to have Wikipedia open alongside it to learn more of the background (luckily, it didn’t happen…). It has its light moments, it has its dark and twisted moments, but it’s ultimately a really great piece of historical fiction.
October 2014 | Transworld Books