Arnold, Michael - 'Traitor's Blood'
It is 1642, Captain Stryker is a former mercenary soldier who has served all over Europe in countless wars and uprisings, but has been drawn back by loyalty to his mother country, to be in the service of King Charles I. Stryker is very imposing physically and never forgotten, a battle-hardened veteran who has no love of aristocracy but surrounds himself with trusted men: ex-actor Lancelot Forrester and foul mouthed sergeant, Skellen amongst them. When a dangerous spy is discovered in the Royalist establishment after the battle of Edgehill, Prince Rupert chooses Stryker to apprehend him.
Stryker, accompanied by a small band of companions, must journey across England, avoiding large patrols of Parliamentarians and meeting all kinds of bitter angst in an attempt to reach the spy before he realises the game is up. However, there is a deadly enemy of Stryker, a man who savagely tortured and scarred the Captain most dreadfully, who also wants to meet the spy for unpatriotic reasons and who will stop at nothing to achieve his end. Stryker and his men have many exciting adventures on the way to the final, gut wrenching battle at the end.
This is the basis of an intensely interesting, plot-driven, historical novel of superb quality and is the first book of, hopefully, a long series of stories built around the English Civil War. The hero Captain Stryker is a sort of "Sharpe" type character of the Civil War and I hope that this author has some of the rewards of Bernard Cornwall, the creator of Sharpe as he certainly writes with a similar quality. I enjoyed this gripping book immensely as it had a very intelligent and historically accurate plot and once I started it I found it very difficult to put down until the final page.
Terry Halligan, England
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