The Leopard of Dramoor by P De V Hencher
|The Leopard of Dramoor by P De V Hencher|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Warfare was never far away in the Scottish-English borders in medieval times. The Leopard of Dramoor looks at this area and time through the eyes of an ageing warrior earl. It has an intricate and interesting plot with a vivid sense of time and place. P De V Hencher popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 212||Date: March 2014|
Stephen, Earl of Northumbria, known to popular legend as the Leopard of Dramoor, is past his best fighting days. But warfare is never far away in medieval England, particularly in the border country. And it's not far away now. A combined force of Scottish and French troops are massing and intend to attack one of Stephen's castles. Stephen's son David is captain of the castle but he's spoiled and lazy and his father knows he won't defend it successfully without help.
But the Leopard's preparations are infuriatingly delayed. The local abbott is insisting on the death penalty for a minor theft by one of the Earl's most trusted former lieutenants. Stephen sees himself as a principled man of integrity and won't sign the warrant. But without the church's money, he can't fight his campaign. How to resolve the impasse and get on with defending his lands? Because there are a range of inimical forces setting themselves against him...
I enjoyed The Leopard of Dramoor. It has an intricate plot with many strands and I really had no idea how they would all come together in the end. No spoilers from me, but let's just say that it was all very satisfactory!
There's Stephen, the grizzled warrior, defending his earldom from attack. There's a greedy abbott, trying to attract as many resources and as much power to the church as possible. This power struggle between the church and the aristocracy was strong in medieval times and Hencher vividly illustrates it through another strand of the plot - theft from the monastery by a yeoman. Even more of a threat to church influence than the aristocracy was any thought of the common man resisting poverty and serfdom and so the charismatic thief Gilchrist is a direct threat to the abbott. But to Earl Stephen, he's a trusted, beloved comrade-in-arms. How to reconcile that?
Beyond these main plot arcs, there's a spoiled son who must come of age, a petty and spiteful wife who plots and connives, and the last vestiges of the old pagan religion clinging on despite the monks and the abbotts and the churches and the crosses. And a horde of Scots who spend too much time arguing with one another and not enough on the task at hand.
See? Meaty, huh? The Leopard of Dramoor is a great story, engagingly told, and full of intrigue and betrayal. There's also a tangible understanding and love of the local borders landscape and history that rises from the pages so strongly that you can feel it yourself. If you like a good historical thriller, I think you'd enjoy it.
You might also enjoy reading about another fictional charismatic medieval character in Merivel: A Man of His Time by Rose Tremain. Or you could think about some factual reading and look at The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer.
You can read more about P De V Hencher here.
P De V Hencher was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Leopard of Dramoor by P De V Hencher at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Leopard of Dramoor by P De V Hencher at Amazon.com.
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