Cross of Fire is the sixth instalment of the Master of War Series by David Gilman carrying on the trend of catapulting the reader into the brutal warfare of 14th century France during the Hundred Years War.
Given the tragic events which have befallen Sir Thomas Blackstone in the previous episodes, as a reader you are once again fearing the worst when Blackstone is made to choose between family and his duty to his liege lord in a world of violence.
From the outset of the series the story is gripping and leads the reader on a roller coaster of emotions, where you feel each loss suffered by Blackstone and a part of the retinue of men he builds. The reader develops a strong sympathy and understanding of the actions taken by Blackstone as he struggles to do the right thing in a land savaged by warfare. This is certainly not the usual story of a hero and his friends winning the day and all being well in the end!
In comparison to other books on the period Gilman refreshingly moves away from the usual cliché of the French being the bad guys and the English the good guys. With betrayals, violence and various plots coming from all parties involved with most ultimately only pursuing their own interests often at the expensive of Blackstone. Constantly I found myself suspicious of new or recurring characters and what potential threat they may pose, which highlights a key strength of the series that it keeps you guessing.
The ending historical notes are precise and a good level of detail which does not leave the reader swamped with too much information. They provide an excellent historical context which the story is then built loosely around.
A thrilling series so far! I am eagerly looking forward to the next book!