Amazon 5* Reviews
- ‘After the first book, I had to continue with the story and just cannot wait for the next episode!
The story is very well written, the characters inspire the full spectrum of emotions and the baddie ultimately gets what he deserves. How much more can you ask for in a story!
These two books were my introduction to the author(s). I will certainly search for more of their tales.
- ‘This second book about an aspect of the Hundred Years war was perfectly paced…as was the first one. An excellent raconteur, MacKenzie fuses fact and fiction remarkably well and keeps up a pace of interest at all times. This is amongst the best I have read in the genre.’
- ‘As usual from A. J. Mackenzie, well researched history and a gripping story. Read it in two days and panting for the next one.’
Goodreads 5* Reviews
- ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed this 2 book series. I wasn’t sure I would initially. Simon Merrivale is a fascinating character and being a herald can only carry a blunted sword for protection. Which is as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. I knew nothing about heralds or how they operated. In fact I didn’t know they existed. They are both great reads and I hope the author writes more.
10 out of 10 for me.’
- ‘Well, it’s close on midnight, I’ve just finished a 12 hour working day and I’m due in work at ridiculous o’clock tomorrow; yet here I am, frantically scouring the web to find out when the next book in this series is coming out. That, right there, should tell you what I thought of this book. I love the main character, I like the supporting cast, I’m enjoying learning about the role of heralds and the story is captivating, vividly written and, at times, heartbreakingly poignant.’
Aspects of History magazine
‘Husband and wife historical fiction writing duo, A. J. Mackenzie, continue their epic narrative of treachery and intrigue in this second volume of The Hundred Years War series. Those who have read A Flight of Arrows, the first book, will recall that the main character is neither a knight nor a nobleman but a herald. This is an inspired choice for a series of historical mystery thrillers thanks to the special status accorded heralds and the liberties of speech they were able to take, even with royalty. Set during the reign of Edward III, the main character, herald Simon Merrivale, finds himself uncovering a positive viper’s nest of tangled intrigues in the first book.A Clash of Lionsfollows on directly, with Merrivale and Demoiselle Tiphaine Tesson, taking ship from France to England, in the hope that they will be able to follow the tangled web of treachery to its source. Between border skirmishes with the Scots, borne of fifty years of resentment between Scotland and England, squabbles and old grudges between various noble houses, and a plot to overthrow the crown involving many players. Merrivale is about to get far more than he ever bargained for.
The series has several strong selling points but one of the greatest is accessibility. Readers do not need to know much about the history used as a backdrop for the story, since the narrative cleverly feeds you relevant details at need. There is also plenty of astute reasoning behind why certain historical figures may have acted in the way they did and how those actions affected other people and outcomes. Historical fiction is often a ‘how-dunnit’ rather than a ‘who-dunnit’ and creating plausible reasons events which both bow to the mindset and customs of the time while still being relatable to a modern audience is an aspect of historical fiction writing which requires great skill. The authors have carried this off extremely well.
This carries over into characterisation as well. Merrivale is likeable and relatable without being anachronistic to the Medieval set narrative. The entire cast of characters – many of whom walk in the morally grey area between sides – are similarly well rounded. Lady Mary was a particular delight in this book, although there are several other strong contenders. Peter de Lisle and his father, for example.
For those readers who care more about battles and action, there’s plenty to enjoy here too. Political disputes were often settled at sword point and there’s enough action in A Clash of Lionsto keep battle enthusiasts glued to the page. While much of this book focuses more on the proposed alliance between Scotland and France, and the lack of support the March lords feel they receive from their king in maintaining the border, there are still assassination attempts, skirmishes, and betrayals to keep the plot rolling forward.
Overall, this is a great addition to the historical thriller genre. Cleverly plotted, twisty and exciting with characters you can root for. Highly recommend to lovers of historical fiction.’