Gate of the Dead (Master of War) by David Gilman

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Gate of the Dead (Master of War) by David Gilman

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: English Poitiers veteran archer turned Italian Mercenary Thomas Blackstone is back mixing authentic historical notes with the harmony of great adventure for a third time. A suspense-filled story that churns the stomach with excitement in such a good way!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: February 2016
Publisher: Head of Zeus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978- 1781852903

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Tuscany 1358: A dying man brings an enigmatic message to Thomas Blackstone, the exiled English archer and current mercenary leader. It appears to be a royal command to return home but is it an invitation to his own death? Thomas can't take the risk of ignoring it, especially since his life is in just as much danger where he is. It seems that he's more valuable dead than alive in many countries; it's just a case of deducing the paymaster – or paymasters - behind the assassination attempts before he runs out of time.

Award winning British author and screenwriter David Gilman once again shows us what he can do in this, Blackstone's third and best outing yet. (Where's that six star rating when you need it?)

Thomas may be earning a decent living and keeping the roof over his men's heads as Condotierre (Italian mercenaries) but he also has other business to attend to. His attempt to sort everything out will take him back to England in a still unpardoned state, adding that extra edge of danger when it comes to jousting against the Black Prince.

Amongst the thrills and tension when that moment comes David also takes the opportunity to graphically demonstrate the claustrophobic strictures of the jousting helmet. Yes, the historical factoid supremo strikes again. Another instance being that I'd never thought about the handicap that slippery blood adds to cobbles until our heroes are desperately trying to stay upright while fighting for their lives.

Talking of factual, it's in these pages that we encounter the historically true nightmare that is Galeazzo Visconti. A soullessly devious Italian aristocrat and torturer, you wouldn't want him on your own side let alone as an adversary. He's balanced by a new arrival for the goodies – Knight of Tau, Stefano Caprini but even he has a mysterious side.

In a parallel storyline we reacquaint ourselves with Thomas's wife Christiana and their children. They're actually in deeper trouble than Thomas (which is saying something) with fewer resources to defend themselves. It's the sort of deeper trouble that makes us get up at 4 in the morning to read the next bit. (Yes, I did!)

Meanwhile, have you heard of Guillame Cale and the Jacquerie? They may sound like a band and they are in some ways: a band of revolting peasants in France. By the time we finish, their names are etched onto our memories in blood and gore.

There's so much else I'd like to mention but daren't for fear of giving away the stunning twists that David has so skilfully built around his grippingly excellent framework. Once again Mr Gilman demonstrates why he's a superlative talent in his field and why hist-fict fans like me will continue to hang onto his every breath-taking, shock ridden, plot-twisting word.

(Thank you so much Head of Zeus for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: Assuming that you'll have read Master of War (Book 1) and Defiant Unto Death (Book 2) then we recommend heading back to ancient Rome for another high adventure historical fiction series: The War at the Edge of the World by Ian Ross.

Buy Gate of the Dead (Master of War) by David Gilman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Gate of the Dead (Master of War) by David Gilman at

Buy Gate of the Dead (Master of War) by David Gilman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Gate of the Dead (Master of War) by David Gilman at


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