I was very excited to receive the latest book in Anna Belfrage’s The King’s Greatest Enemy series. Under the Approaching Dark is the third book and I thought it was the last but I’m happy to report that it is not! The story will continue. I received this book at no charge for my honest opinion through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.
About Under the Approaching Dark:
Genre: Historical Fiction
Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over.
After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster.
In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much.
When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.
About the Author:
Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…
For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.
Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
I will open by noting that I was very excited to learn that this was not the last book in this series. I’ve come to enjoy my forays into the world of Adam de Guirande and his lady, Kit. They are deeply drawn characters that feel so real. In this chapter Adam is finally feeling some peace as his tormentor, Hugh Despenser is dead but he is also feeling a certain unease as to the manner of his death. It was not well done (read a particularly gruesome description here) and while Adam wanted him dead he didn’t want him dead like that. But now life goes on and all they have to worry about is the imprisoned Edward II. Nothing major….
As history rolls out the fictional Adam is seamlessly dropped into the unfolding events to protect his young lord, Edward III. As Edward grows from a teenager to a young man Adam is there to help guide him and teach him – much more than how to handle himself on the battlefield. This closeness between them leads to jealousies among certain members of the court who feel they are superior solely due to their birth. Adam does his best to stay out of the controversies that swirl all around the court but he is soon placed at the center of one murder attempt through no fault of his own and it almost costs him his life.
The history books tell us what happens to Edward II, Edward III, Isabella and Roger Mortimer with dry facts. Ms. Belfrage fleshes out that dry history with a fiction writer’s flourishes. She brings her readers into history with a writing style that makes them feel as if they are in the room with her characters – this is why I enjoy her books so much. There are very few authors I look forward to as I do her. When I enter into her world I feel as if I am dining at the table, riding madly across the field or just walking in a fragrant English garden. So grab one of her books and settle in – you will laugh, you will cry, you will cringe and you will turn the last page with a sense of loss. Loss because you won’t want to leave the characters and their world behind.
You can read my thoughts on the other books in the King’s Greatest Enemy Series: In The Shadow of the Storm, Days of Sun and Glory, The Cold Light of Dawn. If you like time travel novels please check out Ms. Belfrage’s Graham Saga – it’s a great series of books!
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