Tuesday 11 July 2017

Traitor's Knot by Cryssa Bazos

two reviews submitted:
Amazon UK £2.99 £9.99
Amazon US $3.83 $11.99

This title was selected for the July Book of the Month

Adventure : Family Drama ; Romance
17th Century 
Any novel set in the 17th century has a tendency to grab my attention, and while I am anything but a fan of Charles I and his disastrous approach to the religious and political conflicts that ultimately led to the English Civil War, there is always something very attractive about heroes who stick to their convictions, no matter what. One such hero is James Hart, a man who fought for the king during the war and who now, in 1650, is making his living as an ostler at an inn.
However, James Hart has a lucrative if illegal side-line, taking great pleasure in dressing up as a highwayman and robbing whatever rich Parliamentarian worthies come his way. On one such occasion, the party he holds up includes a young woman, Elizabeth Seton. She is on her way to join her aunt, fleeing the silent opprobrium of her neighbours in Weymouth where she is more or less universally shunned due to the fact that her father died for the king.
Ms Bazos does an excellent job of developing her two protagonists – and especially their growing feelings for each other. Initially, Elizabeth does her best to deny what she feels for James, but our hero is nothing if not persistent, and soon enough it is them against the world – a world in which a certain Constable Hammond looms uncomfortably large.
It is evident in everything just how well Ms Bazos knows her period. Clothes, food, one herbal remedy after the other, jostle for space with the political drama of the time. The very young new king Charles II (well, he’s plain Charles Stuart to the Parliamentarian rulers of England) lands in Scotland, and soon enough he has mustered an army, determined to march south and reclaim the kingdom his father lost. Ms Bazos is a more than capable guide through all this upheaval, all the way down to Worcester and the battle that officially ended the English Civil War.
It is also evident that Ms Bazos has her heart firmly with the royalists. At times, her depictions of the Parliamentarians are a bit too black and white, with Puritans portrayed as emotionless monsters. Fortunately, she balances this by adding a handful or so of decent Parliamentarians, even if two of these have now thrown their lot with the new king.
Ms Bazos delivers a fluid prose. Her characters come to life as does the setting, and frankly, what more can one want from a historical novel? All in all, Traitor’s Knot is an entertaining read, and I look forward to hearing more from this author.

© Anna Belfrage

# review 2

Ms Bazos's debut has received quite some attention, and rightly so. It is accomplished and well-written, and there is, it appears, more to come, which will please her growing readership.

The novel is set in the aftermath of the fall of Charles I, concentrating on the Royalists who lost everything after Naseby, their loved-ones in the battle, their standing in their communities, their livelihoods. It is set in a world that has changed suddenly and everyone is coming to terms with it, the winners as well as the losers.

James fought at Naseby for the king and now lives with fellow sympathisers in Warwick. To Warwick comes the orphaned Elizabeth from Dorset, escaping her sister's grasping Parliamentarian husband only to be thrown into the sphere of the equally grasping and even more evangelical Parliamentarian Lieutenant Hammond. James and Elizabeth inevitably meet and fall in love, but their lives cannot be settled under the rule of Parliament while the king in waiting, Charles Stuart, bides his time in Scotland.

In some respects this novel unfolds as you would expect - boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl are separated. What is less expected in a rather predictable (of course it is, handsome man meets beautiful girl, I mean, what else would happen?) love story, is the gradual build up of the evil Hammond. An enthusiastic army officer descends into religious zealotry and then into madness. And it is this character who lifts this novel into something more than the run-of the-mill romance. He sends shivers down your spine, then, just when you think you have the measure of the writer, she surprises you.

The other single element that lifts this into something more than usual is a small cameo towards the end where Ms Bazos pulls off a wonderful twist perfectly. Beautifully weighted, it works like a dream. To say more would serve only to spoil the story, so read it for yourself.

A very good debut, I look forward to more from this author.

© Nicky Galliers

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  1. This is a huge honour! Thanks to both reviewers!

    1. Both Anna and Nicky sent in reviews, and I couldn't decide which one to use - nor did I want to waste people's time by not using one of them so... in future if I receive multiple reviews for books I will post them.

  2. I, too, have reviewed this novel and absolutely loved it.


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