Author: Michael Arnold.
Michael lives in Hampshire with his wife and young son. His childhood holidays were spent visiting castles and battlefields, but his fascination with the civil wars was piqued partly by the fact that his hometown and region of Hampshire are steeped in Civil War history.
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Posted to the hostile territory of Dartmoor, Captain Innocent Stryker and his men are attacked by an elite cavalry unit commanded by the formidable Colonel Gabriel Wild and suffer heavy losses. Stryker has already clashed once with Wild, and the Roundhead has sworn to seek his revenge. After the attack, Stryker is faced with the annihilation of his company as he is hounded across the moor, eventually seeking shelter on an isolated tor populated by an enigmatic former priest who harbours no love for the King’s cause. Colonel Wild is assisted in his revenge by Osmyn Hogg, Parliamentarian witch-finder, who shares his own deadly history with Stryker. To save his honour and his life, Stryker must lead his men to glory from the protection of the lonely granite-topped hill. Into this atmosphere of intrigue and danger comes the beautiful but mysterious Cecily Cade. Stryker comes to her aid, unaware that she carries with her special knowledge that may prove the key to Royalist victory.
The battle between Stryker and his old foes takes him from the bleak isolation of Dartmoor, through the war-ravaged lands of southern England and finally to Stratton, where the bloody battle between Cornwall and Devon will decide the fate of the south-west.
I have been fortunate enough to meet Captain Stryker before:
Civil War Chronicles
1. Traitor’s Blood (2010)
2. Devil’s Charge (2011)
3. Hunter’s Rage (2012)
4. Warlord’s Gold (2013)
But this latest adventure (number 3) Hunters Rage for me personally is a step up, as each book in the series appears to have been. Our Hero? if that’s the right word for a man built by and driven by war. Yet a man who believes he is on the right side, a man who really deep down cares for every man under his command, (not that he would show it). I think a “true professional Soldier” is a better title than hero.
Stryker in this tale stumbles across a cache of powder, shot etc and is lucky enough to pull off a daring capture of these goodies. Only his temper and in-built arrogance (and we all have it) gets the better of him and he makes an enemy for life in Colonel Wild. The story that then unfolds is full of twists turns, moments of almost unnoticed heroism, sorrow, sacrifice and brilliant characters.
The cover of the book quotes the Yorkshire times “Stands in comparison with the best of Cornwell” I think that’s wrong, I love the character Sharpe, but I think Stryker is much more complicated and misunderstood. Where Sharpe is a man from the ranks trying to fit in among the Officer class. Stryker doesn’t, he doesn’t really care about that. He cares about doing the job, doing it right, doing it well and bringing his men back alive. he seems to live for the buzz and adrenaline of battle and accept the vagaries of fate that mean you or the man next to you could die any minuet.
As great reads go it’s not a book you will devour in a single sitting, it’s much more complex than that, you need to take your time to savour every single sentence. To appreciate the great and complex characters, to feel the damp of the grass, the cold of the morning and the boom of the guns. This book has the ability to totally immerse you in the English Civil war, in 1643. And having been out on hikes on the moors in the winter months I can attest to the accuracy of the descriptions, the bleak but also magical landscapes.
This book will take you on a ride through an epic period of history, with a band of real men, hard men but honest men and also allow you a glimpse of the not so nice side of war in the guise of witch-finder Hogg.
I really encourage you all to go and buy the book and enjoy the same journey I have just taken. A Journey that leaves me knowing what the Warlords Gold is (book 4)…yet wondering how the hell Stryker and his band of men can stand a chance of getting it back. Mainly it leaves me wanting more, but satisfied to have shared a great if harrowing experience with Stryker.
Very Highly Recommended.
|Traitor’s Blood (2010)
(The first book in the Civil War Chronicles series)
A novel by Michael ArnoldOnce seen in the heat of battle, Captain Stryker is never forgotten. A hardened veteran of the wars in the Low Countries, he has come home to England to seek revenge on the man who left him for dead and scarred him for life.Stryker is driven by loyalty rather than conviction to serve King Charles’s cause. He has no truck with aristocracy, preferring the company of a handful of trusted men, including sometime actor Lancelot Forrester and his foul-mouthed sergeant, Skellen. But when the existence of a dangerous spy at the heart of the Royalist establishment is discovered, it is Stryker whom Prince Rupert chooses to capture the man before he realises the game is up.
Lightly armed and with only a handful of men, Stryker must journey across a country riven by bitterness and beset by marauding bands of soldiers in a race against time. But unbeknown to Stryker, someone else is also closing in on his quarry, someone whom Stryker has sworn to kill: Captain Eli Makepeace, his nemesis, the man who nearly destroyed him . . .
|Devil’s Charge (2011)
(The second book in the Civil War Chronicles series)
A novel by Michael ArnoldEngland stands divided: king against Parliament, town against country, brother against brother.For Captain Stryker, scarred hero of a dozen wars, the rights and wrongs of the cause mean little. His loyalties are to his own small band of comrades – and to Queen Henrietta Maria’s beautiful and most deadly agent, Lisette Gaillard. So when Prince Rupert entrusts him with a secret mission to discover what has happened to Lisette and the man she was protecting – a man who could hold the key to Royalist victory – nothing, not false imprisonment for murder, ambush, a doomed siege or a lethal religious fanatic will stand in his way.
From the bloody rout of Cirencester, to the siege of Lichfield and finally to the killing fields of Hopton Heath, Michael Arnold brings vividly to life all the drama and the passion that lay behind the English Civil War.
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