In this second book in her King’s Greatest Enemy series, Anna Belfrage builds on the excellent set of characters introduced to us in In The Shadow of the Storm.
The new novel concentrates once again on the exploits of the knight, Adam de Guirande, and his wife, Kit.
In this sequel we see much more of the king, his queen – the she-wolf – and other members of the royal court, not forgetting the villains of the piece: the offensively indispensible Despensers. Adam finds his support for the exiled Roger Mortimer sorely tested and is forced to choose where his true loyalty lies.
I really like the characterisation of Prince Edward, where the author shows a typically sensitive appreciation of both the youth and his predicament. For the prince spends the entire book between the proverbial rock and a hard place: i.e. his dreadful father and his impossible mother.
The relationship between the two main characters, Adam and Kit, provides the core of the story and, as the political tension builds, along with their anxiety for their children’s safety, that relationship is sorely tested. I enjoyed how we see the pair develop as we experience the upheaval at the centre of power through their own personal turmoil and heartbreak. The sexual chemistry between the two is described beautifully though, for me, perhaps a little too frequently – I guess I would have preferred a little less sex and a bit more violence!
The story, the locations and the people have an authentic feel to them, giving this well- crafted book some weight and substance. Anna Belfrage has the knack of being able to breathe life into the political events of this period and I am very much looking forward to the next part of the story.
I would heartily recommend this series to historical fiction lovers. I had little detailed knowledge of this period of history yet I found both books easy to follow because the author tells the tale with just the right amount of history to guide the reader.