Dacre's War by Rosemary Goring

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Dacre's War by Rosemary Goring

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Ten years after Flodden Dacre is back manoeuvring, subduing and politicking peace with Scotland while Henry VIII and border clansmen led by Crozier aren’t liking his work. As we watch a superlative hist-fict author weave a truly compelling tale we marvel at the twists that out-Machiavelli Machiavelli. This is 6*-out-of-5 stuff!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: June 2015
Publisher: Polygon
ISBN: 978-1846973116

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1523, ten years after the Battle of Flodden and the death if James IV of Scotland. Henry VIII has decided on a scorched earth policy and sends agents over the borders to burn Scottish towns and plunder their churches and monasteries to fund his coffers. One such agent is Thomas, Baron Dacre, Keeper of Carlisle and, ironically, friend of the dead Scottish ruler. While working for the English crown Dacre also has his own private war to fight. Clan chief Adam Crozier hears that Dacre ordered Adam's father's murder and wants his revenge.

It may have been 10 years since Flodden as we start reading this but, more importantly, it's been 2 years since After Flodden and academic, journalist and provider of an excellent debut novel, Rosemary Goring we've missed you! Never mind, you're here now and gosh have you been making up for lost time; your first novel was indeed excellent but this is mind-blowingly excellent. (By the way, although Dacre's War will work as a stand-alone, it's enhanced if the series is read in the right order.)

After Flodden started with a love story but there's no time for that in Dacre's War. We're straight into the action. Yes, Louise and Adam are still together and still in love (well, until… anyway…) although Louise is more of a brain to Adam's brawn than a soppy love-lorn swoony thing. This adds up to another great story that either gender will adore. Ooh I suppose there is actually one swoony, love-lorn lass but… anyway… she won't affect its appeal for the chaps so forget I mentioned her.

Traditionally we may feel we should pick sides: the English Dacre or the Scot Crozier? The thing is that no matter how hard we try we can't put a horse's hair between them. These may be sworn enemies but we see the full picture and realise they're both so similar in trying to survive, lead and protect their own. We desperately want them both to win and prosper and then, when that starts to look unlikely, we have no idea which way it'll go and our bitten nails bear testimony to the amount we care.

The historically real Thomas 2nd Baron Dacre is joined by other famous names like the moral-tight-rope walking Cardinal Wolsey and the scheming Duke of Norfolk. As we'd expect, Henry VIII also looms large as he tries to control his newly widowed sister Margaret in Scotland and the vacuum created by the death of her husband the king. She's stronger than Henry thinks though and prefers to concentrate on remaining regent for her son against huge opposition. (She being a mere woman.)

Talking of Henry, there are interesting parallels between the war along the borders and the modern day Middle East conflicts. Dacre understands the mind of the Borderers and the Scots so has some ideas on how to align them. However Henry needs to control and, many miles away in London, he has no idea of the culture he's fighting, therefore…

As always in excellent hist-fict the fictional also shine. The Croziers, alongside Dacre, will always have a place in my literary heart. I also love Dacre's laconic, practical butler Blackbird. (Think Tudor Jeeves with a propensity towards righteous violence.)

This time out there's the addition of pirate and spy Oliver Barton; allowing others to use his services when it suits him but such service comes with a cost that may not have been mentioned during negotiations.

Rosemary's vividly rekindled 16th century landscape is an equally rugged star and a fitting backdrop to the dark, dirty violence and Machiavellian planning that Machiavelli probably wished that he'd thought of.

I could continue to rave but will leave it there, taking away some great memories, a tear stained tissue and a deep hope that we hear from Rosemary again soon.

(A big thank you to Polygon for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you haven't read it, we highly recommend After Flodden. However, if you're already a fan and would like to read more of the bloody conflict between England and Scotland, we just as heartily recommend Corrag by Susan Fletcher which focuses on the Glencoe massacre.

Buy Dacre's War by Rosemary Goring at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dacre's War by Rosemary Goring at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Dacre's War by Rosemary Goring at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dacre's War by Rosemary Goring at Amazon.com.


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