About Tim Willocks
Writer Tim Willocks is a successful novelist and screenwriter. A qualified doctor and psychiatrist, he published his first novel, Bad City Blues, in 1991, followed by Green River Rising in 1994 and Bloodstained Kings in 1995. He co-wrote Sweet Angel Mine, adapted Bad City Blues for the screen in 1999, wrote the Steven Spielberg documentary The Unfinished Journey, and currently has a script in production called Sin.
The Twelve Children of Paris (2013)
(The second book in the Tannhauser Trilogy series)
Hardcover: 768 pages
Publisher: Jonathan Cape (23 May 2013)
Paris, August 23rd, 1572.
What do you do when your wife disappears.
In the middle of the bloodiest massacre in European history.
And you know she is about to give birth to your only child?
Three wars of religion have turned Paris into a foetid cauldron of hatred, intrigue and corruption. The Royal Wedding, intended to heal the wounds, has served only to further poison the fanatics of either creed. But Carla could not have known that when she accepted an invitation to the ceremony.
When Mattias Tannhauser rides into town, on Saint Bartholomew’s Eve, his only intention is to find her and take her home. But as the massacre of tens of thousands of Huguenots begins, and the city plunges into anarchy, Carla is abducted by Grymonde, the grotesque gang leader of the Yards, and Tannhauser finds himself imprisoned in the Louvre, at the centre of a vicious conspiracy.
Wanted by the law, the assassins’ guild, and a militant army who call themselves the Pilgrims of Saint-Jacques, Tannhauser must rise to pitiless extremes even he has never known before. With no one to help him but a stable boy, he wades a river of blood without knowing what lies on the other side.
As he harrows Hell in search of his beloved
His destiny is changed forever by
The Twelve Children Of Paris.
When I first heard about this book, the first thing I did was email and ask for a review copy, by ask I mean beg. Apparently after taking pity on me for my pitiful email or just to stop me emailing any-more Tim’s publicist sent me a copy.
There are two reasons I wanted to read this book so badly.
1) This book while in my favourite genre, takes me well outside my comfort zone. It is so much more visually detailed that my usual read.
2) Tim Willocks last book Religion was so good and so long ago (7 years)
To say that reading this book gives the reader the sights sounds smells and feel of the time period would be far to demeaning, it really is so much more, Its a time machine back to 1572. To the real Paris, full of opulence and coated in shit.
What is so unexpected is the lead man of the book (I say lead, not Hero, there is no real Hero in this book). The story follows the exploits of one Mattias Tannhauser, a Saxon-born ex-Janissary who travels to Paris to find his wife. A long journey that should have ended with a happy reunion in the palaces of Paris, is disrupted by a violent plot to wipe out The Huguenots (members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France)…and something more personal!
The story has more than the single POV, while Mattias Tannhauser’s journey through Paris is one of the bloodiest swathes I have ever read, Carla Tannhauser’s is at first similar, but as the victim, and then turns more towards the emotive and spiritual. The spiritual exploring everything from Catholic thinking through to Tarot and Gia the earth mother, the sisterhood of women.
The above is the promo cover, and for me its a big buy in. I love something as blunt as that.
What I would disagree with is the headcount, Mattias kills ….so many more people that the cover suggests and in probably more varied ways than suggested. Its not that he is a psycho killer. Its that he is a lion among sheep, he has been trained in war, he has survived the biggest battle of his age (the siege of Malta, a bloody turning point in the fabric of Europe that halted the march of Islam), in fighting terms he is a man among children. There are a few points when it seems a bit beyond the pale, but when you compare his skills to the political and Militia appointed soldiers of Paris, you can clearly see this man achieving everything he set out to, bathing in blood and gore from one side of Paris to the other (and back again)
But this journey of Mattias is not just a bloody trip through 1572 Paris, its also a journey to further self enlightenment, and to finding and building a new family. Carla his wife is not just in danger, she is Pregnant and both she and Mattias will journey through hell and wade through rivers of blood to ensure the child’s safety.
Along the way 11 other children touch their lives, and save their souls. But even with all of this neither of them are my favourite character, that was Grymonde “The Infant”, a hugely simple yet complex character. A man warped by life, by Paris and by disease. Willing to commit all and win or lose all on the single throw of a dice. His cry “No tomorrow” sums up his view that the poor of Paris cannot plan a life, because they don’t know where their next meal will come from, they have no clean water, the streets are filled with shit and the price of life is less than a loaf of bread. Grymonde is death on legs, with no conscience, until he meets Carla. The author could so easily have taken the easy way out and set Grymonde and Mattias against each other, but he plays them so much better than that, or rather Carla does.
Twelve Children of Paris is a power House of thrilling historical fiction. Jam packed with the most realistic fighting this side of a Christian Cameron book. I’m not sure I can recommend this book highly enough, go buy it…now!
and before you ask…no you don’t have to have read Religion, but what ever order you read them in read both amazing tomes.