Kingmaker: Broken Faith (Kingmaker 2) by Toby Clements

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Kingmaker: Broken Faith (Kingmaker 2) by Toby Clements

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The War of the Roses gets better (so to speak) as Toby Clements' sequel to Kingmaker brings us the aftermath of the Battle of Towton, rippled through with action, suspense and a love story that's as satisfying for the lasses as it is subtle and unmushy for the lads. 6 out of 5 from me!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: July 2015
Publisher: Century
ISBN: 978-1780891705

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This contains spoilers for Kingmaker, so that's probably best read first; you won't regret it!

Now where were we? 1462: The War of the Roses rages on. Katherine is at Cornford Castle, posing as Lady Margaret Cornford, wife of the now blind Richard Fakenham. Not even he realises her true identity but she feels it's only a matter of time. The man who Katherine really loves and assumes dead, Thomas Everingham is suffering from a head injury. He's just remembered enough to make his way to his childhood home but is unaware of his more recent past; he can remember how to fight though – and just as well! On a wider canvas, the war has denuded England, most of its food having gone to feed the armies. King Henry VI has fled to the northeast and Warwick, the Kingmaker himself, is coming for him. The worst isn't over yet though, not for anyone.

British journalist and historical fiction author Toby Clements definitely goes from great to greater. This is the second on the trilogy after the critically acclaimed Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims and with it comes a dilemma. Knowing how much I detest spoilers, should I reveal a certain happening? However, nearly every review I've read mentions it so I'll assume it's permissible… ready? Okay…

Katherine and Thomas get back together again (you guessed that didn't you?) proving that Toby can do subtle undercurrent love stories in between the action in a way that scares neither the horses nor the male readership. They take a while to meet up though (Katherine and Thomas… not the male readership and horses!), and for very good reasons.

Thomas having been made an amnesiac after a receiving a dent in his head during battle and Katherine assuming he's dead does seem a bit of a stumbling block. However, Toby is also a master plotter; gradually we start to see things fall into place as they are both subtly and naturally moved into position for the sort of first meeting which says anything but deeply amorous! (That I won't reveal!) They also gravitate towards the mighty castles of northeast England in the nick of time, adding even more excitement.

Meanwhile, remember the Rivens? That nasty family, one of whom blinded Richard Fakenham? Well, remnants of the clan linger on and evil still gushes from their actions. It makes no difference which side the Rivens are on (and there is a lot of side changing!) Thomas and Katherine are still in their sights, leaving Katherine with a huge dilemma at one point. (Mischievous Mr Clements!)

Talking of plotting, there are some wonderful little frissons of anticipation as Toby sets things up early on. For instance when Katherine is given a gift, it's so unusual we know it'll come in handy for something but we know not what. Also watch out for that ledger again; this is the volume in which its significance will be revealed!

Again Toby majors on the people caught up in the historical events, allowing us to see how it affected their lives. England is living in poverty as their men are caught up in the war and the little food that's grown can be commandeered (along with horses and material goods) by those not understanding a negative response.

While we're on the subject of forcefulness, there's a very moving (as well as bloody) soldier's account of the Battle of Towton in the story that augments Toby's shock-laden preface on the subject. Blood isn't restricted to fighting though. There are other set pieces demonstrating how bloody everyday life is as Katherine becomes Kit and gets the knife and saw out again. Having said that, these moments are well signposted so the squeamish can skip it without it affecting their well-being or their understanding of the story.

At the end we're left with a cliff hanger that could make Book 3 very different from the first two. Eventually all will be revealed but first comes the wait for it to be published. Killing isn't it?

(Thank you so much Century for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you've read Kingmaker and would like to fill up on some of the other great historical fiction around at the moment, we heartily recommend Dacre's War by Rosemary Goring which looks at the aftermath of the Battle of Flodden or the equally superlative The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson set in the 18th century.

Toby Clements' Kingmaker Novels in Chronological Order

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