I have been somewhat remiss in apparently not blogging about book one of the Gisborne saga by the talented and lovely Prue Batten when I reviewed it elsewhere some time back. I will not rehash that review here, since this is in essence a review of book 2 but, given the lack of earlier review, I will summarize that book one was a work of Medieval Romance mixed with hints of suspense that I found enchanting in its depth and feeling. If you feel the need (and I hope you do) my review is on goodreads and you can find it here.
Gisborne was not my usual blood and guts, historical military or thriller fare, but being a lover of Prue’s earlier Faerie fantasy works, I read it with some relish, only to find that while having nothing that would normally commend itself to my taste, I couldn’t leave the book untouched for very long. It drew me in and along with the tale with the usual eloquent grace I have come to expect from Prue.
The second book of the saga – Gisborne: Book of Knights – has just been released on in E-format, and I finished it on Friday, having ploughed through it with gusto.
Book two has taken an interesting turn, as I suspected it might. The first quarter of the tale weaves along in much the same vein as the first, telling a tale of misplaced trust and hope, of damaged love and loss and the straining of hearts. To some extent I was a little wearied since the principle character (and narrator) seemed not to have grown up any in the interim and, if anything, had become a little more selfish and childish in her ways and actions, regressing a little.
Then, only a quarter of the way through the book, everything changes.
For Book of Knights is not a story only of the star-crossed and ever-troubled lovers, but also draws in threads of court intrigue, assassins, Templar Knights, deadly sea journeys, chases, escapes, duels and war. In essence, it has taken what I liked about the first book, but added a massive facet to it that will please a lot of people (myself particularly included).
The plot is well-crafted and not only follows seamlessly from the first book, but ties up many of the threads, reveals a lot of the hidden background, and excels in the growth of the characters. Ysabel very soon stopped irritating me and instead started pleasing me. Indeed, towards the last quarter of the book, she actively impressed me.
And that, possibly, takes me to where this book wins over the previous. Not because of the addition of intelligent, thrilling mystery and action (despite the pull that has) but because of Prue’s characterisation. There is a visible change and growth in the returning characters, but the new characters in this are wonderful. A cameo from Coeur de Lion impressed, but the star and the oscar have to go to the little boy William. As the parent of a 3yr old, I saw the characterisation of the boy as absolutely faultless, including the speech, which reminded me a great deal of my Marcus.
Prue has tied off a number of important loose ends here, but there are clearly threads that will lead us on into… The Book of Kings, Prue? I for one, and really looking forward to seeing what direction the saga will take from here.
If you’re looking for something a little more character-based and cerebral, with oodles of atmosphere and the smoothest of writing, which almost transports you entire to the Medieval Mediterranean with in depth-research showing in every brick, then you’ll find it hard to beat the second Gisborne book (and by extension the first too.) And… I just checked the prices. For the Kindle copies, you can have both for £3.42. That’s cheaper than a bottle of wine, people. Buy them so that Prue’s inclined to write a part 3 for me to read! 😉