Who is Robert Wilton?
Robert Wilton read history at Oxford and studied his MA in European History and Culture at the University of London. He has worked for the UK Ministry of Defence and in the Cabinet Office. He was Private Secretary to three Secretaries of State. He was advisor to the Prime Minister of Kosovo in the lead-up to the country’s independence, and has now returned there as a senior international official. He moves between Prishtina, London and Cornwall.
It is 1648 and Britain is at war with itself. The Royalists are defeated but Parliament is in turmoil, its power weakened by internal discord. Royalism’s last hope is Sir Mortimer Shay, a ruthless veteran of decades of intrigue who must rebuild a credible threat to Cromwell’s rule, whatever the cost. John Thurloe is a young official in Cromwell’s service. Confronted by the extent of the Royalists’ secret intelligence network, he will have to fight the true power reaching into every corner of society: the Comptrollerate-General for Scrutiny and Survey.
I feel that this will be a divisive book, a Marmite book for want of a better analogy.
For me I enjoyed it, even if it’s not my normal historical fiction read, but then again neither are Robert Low or Robyn Young. They write at times a historical fiction of a more literary style (or at least that’s how it feels to me). Many who love the genre, love a more blood and sandals style read, one filled with action and pace and instant drama. This isn’t one of those books, it’s not better, it’s not worse. It’s just a different style.
What sets this and other mentioned authors apart is that while the style and descriptions are filled with multi dimensional characters and the location descriptive are so atmospheric they transport the reader they do it also in a much more detailed and engaging way that means it truly is a time machine in book form.
I’m usually of the more blood and sandals variety of book, i love books by Anthony Riches, SJA Turney, Simon Scarrow, Iggulden etc.. I have been exposed over time to writers who span the gap towards Literary fiction, writers of such immense skill they hold you spell-bound. Manda Scott, Robert Low, Robyn Young and also Robert Wilton, who simply stunned the genre last year with Emperors Gold.
Emperors Gold (now called Treasons Tide) was an award-winning title and i feel that the authors has surpassed even that book.
I have often thought taking on the English Civil war is a form of literary suicide, I know many who had it taught so poorly it came across as some religious puritanical bore fest. But Wilton brings it to life in a way few can (I give Michael Arnold and Giles Kristian the main credit for showing me how interesting it can be).
Whenever I read anything about the civil war I cant help but lean towards the Cavaliers, not because I fancy their values, it’s just that the puritans and Cromwell always leave me cold. Wilton manages like Giles Christian to make me appreciate some facets of the Roundheads, the new Model Army. The swing from the Parliamentarians to the Royalists keeps the reader engaged, but its the shady, grey world of espionage and treachery where Civil wars can be won or lost and Wilton excels in its portrayal
Spy stories are hard to deliver as so much is in the mind, but Wilton once again gives us a true example of how to write one, so go buy the book and take a trip in Wilton’s version of a Tardis back to 1648.
Very Much Recommended.