Sworn Sword by James Aitcheson

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Sworn Sword by James Aitcheson

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Elaine Dingsdale
Reviewed by Elaine Dingsdale
Summary: If you're a fan of Bernard Cornwell then this book will appeal to you and the author is definitely one to watch in the future.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: August 2011
Publisher: Preface
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1848093249

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The novel is set in the turbulent years following the Battle of Hastings. We follow the Normans as they set out to quell the restless and rebellious factions in the North of England. An ambush in Durham sees the Normans decimated and determined on revenge - this precipitates the events which follow.

Promising young author, Aitcheson has focused on the little documented years post Hastings, giving the reader an intriguing and interesting insight into a country effectively still at war, and seeking to establish its communal identity.

The Normans are epitomised by the protagonist, Tancred a Dinant. He is a well drawn character - young, and enthusiastic, loyal and hardworking. When his Lord is killed he vows to avenge his death - and that of his partner, who also fell at Durham. His pain and anguish at these events are virtually tangible - and whether we are 'siding' with the Normans, or their English equivalents, we do feel for Tancred in his time of distress. He is a well rounded, kindly man who seeks to do the right thing, which often causes him to brood on the right path to follow - the old clash between the head and the heart plays out very well on Tancred’s psyche. He and a chosen band of his followers are entrusted with a secret quest which they feel obliged to undertake, after which they will be released from their obligations. The quest is riveting, and reveals an intriguing turn of events which are unlikely to be guessed at by the reader. This part of the plot is the most exciting and we follow their quest, anxious to learn what it entails, and hoping that its ultimate outcome will be revealing and answer all the mysteries.

The other characters are also well delineated - particularly the wily old priest who causes the Norman band so much trouble. His duplicity was perhaps not surprising - but the depths to which he plummeted probably were, and leaves the reader wanting more details of his schemes. Tancred’s men at arms are also an interesting bunch of characters, who reflect Tancred’s loyalty and abilities - so all around, we have that most important aspect for the reader, heartily provided for in depth and detail - characters who feel 'real' to us, and about whom we care.

A long standing fan of the novels of the likes of Bernard Cornwell, I found that Aitcheson in some ways equalled, if not surpassed other authors in this genre. Whereas many concentrate on battle/war scenes, Aitcheson spreads his canvas much more widely. He gives us glimpses of the environment, and the countryside of the time. The harshness of the terrain and the problems the environment causes, as they labour to fulfil the quest give an added dimension to the underlying theme, and perhaps gives it a wider appeal than other fiction in this genre. The characters are also a joy so there really is something for everyone in this debut novel.

Overall I simply can’t fault this novel - it was extremely readable, interesting and exciting, with a well driven and intriguing plot. I was delighted to learn that there will be more in this series - I, for one, will be waiting for its release, with eager anticipation!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you enjoy historical fiction then we can recommend anything by Ben Kane.

Buy Sworn Sword by James Aitcheson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sworn Sword by James Aitcheson at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Sworn Sword by James Aitcheson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sworn Sword by James Aitcheson at Amazon.com.


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