The David Gilman: Master of War (Series Review + Competition)

David Gilman

David Gilman's picture

David Gilman has had an enormously impressive variety of jobs – from firefighter to professional photographer, from soldier in the Parachute Regiment’s Reconnaissance Platoon to a Marketing Manager for Penguin South Africa.

He is also a hugely successful television screenwriter. For the last six years he has been principal writer on A Touch Of Frost. He has lived and travelled the world gathering inspiration for his exotic children’s adventure series along the way.

Now, David is based in Devon, where he lives with his wife.

book cover of Master of War

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England, 1346: For Thomas Blackstone the choice is easy – dance on the end of a rope for a murder he did not commit, or take up his war bow and join the king’s invasion. As he fights his way across northern France, Blackstone learns the brutal lessons of war – from the terror and confusion of his first taste of combat, to the savage realities of siege warfare.

Vastly outnumbered, Edward III’s army will finally confront the armoured might of the French nobility on the field of Crecy. It is a battle that will change the history of warfare, a battle that will change the course of Blackstone’s life, a battle that will forge a legend.

book cover of Defiant Unto Death

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FRANCE: 1356. Ten years ago, the greatest army in Christendom was slaughtered at Crecy. Archer Thomas Blackstone stood his ground and left that squalid field a knight. He has since carved out a small fiefdom in northern France, but the woulds of war still bleed and a traitor has given the King of France the means to destroy the English knight and his family. As the traitor’s net tightens, so the French King’s army draws in. Blackstone will stand and fight. He will defy his friends, his family and his king. He may yet defy death, but he can’t defy his destiny: MASTER OF WAR.

book cover of Gate of the Dead

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Hundred Years War. It is a gripping chronicle of pitched battle, treachery and cruelty. The stench and harshness of medieval life is ever present’ ROBERT FABBRI, bestselling author of the Vespasian series. Tuscany, 1358: Thomas Blackstone has built a formidable reputation in exile, fighting as a mercenary amid the ceaseless internecine warring of Italy’s City States. But success has bred many enemies, and when a dying man delivers a message recalling him to England, it seems almost certain to be a trap. Yet Blackstone cannot disobey – the summons is at the Queen’s demand. On his journey, Blackstone will brave the terrors of the High Alps in winter, face the Black Prince in tournament, confront the bloody anarchy of a popular revolt and submit to trial by combat. And every step of the way, he will be shadowed by a notorious assassin with orders to despatch him to Hell.

Series Review

A Series that starts with a bang Master of War (click for original review), set  in the Hundred Years War and introduces us to the life of former stonemason and now English longbowman Thomas Blackstone during the Battle of Crécy in 1346. With all the animosity on a battlefield you would expect it to be between the 2 foes, but the nature of alliances mean that the English and Welsh as ever have a fair bit of animosity… very similar to the French and Normans (no one got along then, or now), but it all makes for a great backdrop for war, where the hatred between England and France trumps all (and did it ever really get any better).  The location allows the author to draw on the imagery of the stunning landscape and castles, to provide some truly epic battle scenes and scenery.

Book one is in the main a book about War, and the Growth of Thomas as a warrior.

Defiant Unto Death (click for original review), is set in 1356, ten years have passed and our lead character the Longbowman, Thomas Blackstone was knighted on the field of Crécy by the Black Prince, such is his skill and prowess. In the intervening period (between books) Sir Thomas has become lord of the manor, Husband and father. But being a Knight has its obligations. Thomas’ Prowess and skills soon earn him powerful enemies, this in the form of The Savage Priest, as nasty a character as you will meet in a book and an implacable, nasty enemy. An enemy that pursues our hero through war, we go from battle to battle (notably Poitiers) , again the authors descriptive is something that clearly shows his TV background, the visuals for scenery and most of all grim death and gore on the battlefield are painted with every sentence. As with Most really great Historical Fiction, the hero is some distance short of perfect, his imperfections clear, and yet his striving and humanity making him so much more real.

Gate of the Dead set in 1358, The shine has gone from Sir Thomas Blackstone, now banished from England forced into the roving the continent he finds himself with his men in Tuscany. Out of the Blue he is recalled to England to fight alongside the man who he assumed hates him, The Black prince, not knowing the truth of the matter he must go, no one can refuse the Queen of England he is honour bound to go home (that and its in the plot). His journey home isn’t going to be a quick trip on the eurostar, this is a plague ravaged continent, full of roving bands of men most of them desperate or beholden to brutal lords, in his usual approachable style Thomas is soon cutting a bloody swathe home. David Gilman in his usual graphic and uncompromising style gives us (in my opinion) a very original and real picture of the time, no gloss of modern sensibility is added to this fantastic tale of personal growth in bloody times.

Coming soon: full review of Vipers Blood (see below)



If you can email me a Pre order confirmation for Vipers Blood (to, then i will enter you in the draw for a Signed Limited edition of Defiant unto death.

Draw to be made on 9th Feb

Pre-Order a Signed Limited Edition


book cover of Viper's Blood

Winter, 1360: Edward III has invaded France at the head of the greatest English host ever assembled. But his attempt to win the French crown is futile. The Dauphin will no longer meet the English in the field and the great army is mired in costly sieges, scavenging supplies from a land ruined by decades of conflict. Facing a stalemate – or worse – the English are forced to agree to a treaty. But peace comes at a price. The French request that Blackstone escort the Dauphin’s daughter to Italy to see her married to one of the brothers who rule Milan – the same brothers who killed Blackstone’s family. Blackstone, the French are certain, will not leave Milan alive.

Danger Zone
1. The Devil’s Breath (2007)
2. Ice Claw (2008)
3. Blood Sun (2009)
Master of War
1. Master of War (2013)
2. Defiant Unto Death (2015)
3. Gate of the Dead (2015)
4. Viper’s Blood (2016)
Monkey and Me (2014)
The Last Horseman (2016)

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Filed under David Gilman, Historical Fiction

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