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William Gold comes into the world as his family slides down the social ladder. His head filled with tales of chivalry, instead he is branded a thief, and must make do with being squire to his childhood friend Sir Robert, a knight determined to make a name for himself as a man at arms in France. While William himself slowly acquires the skills of knightly combat, he remains William Gold comes into the world as his family slides down the social ladder. His head filled with tales of chivalry, instead he is branded a thief, and must make do with being squire to his childhood friend Sir Robert, a knight determined to make a name for himself as a man at arms in France. While William himself slowly acquires the skills of knightly combat, he remains an outsider - until the Battle of Poitiers when Sir Robert is cut down by the greatest knight of the age, Sir Geoffry de Charny, and William, his lowly squire, revenges him. But with his own knight dead, no honour acrrues to William for this feat of arms, and he is forced to become a mercenary. Scavenging a mis-matched set of armour from the knightly corpses, he joins one of the mercenary companies now set to pillage a defenceless France, and so begins a bloody career that sees William joining forces with the infamous Sir John Hawkwood and immersing himself in a treacherous clandestine war among the Italian city states. But paradoxically it is there, among the spies, assassins and hired killers serving their ruthless masters, that William finally discovers the true meaning of chivalry - and his destiny as a knight.


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William Gold comes into the world as his family slides down the social ladder. His head filled with tales of chivalry, instead he is branded a thief, and must make do with being squire to his childhood friend Sir Robert, a knight determined to make a name for himself as a man at arms in France. While William himself slowly acquires the skills of knightly combat, he remains William Gold comes into the world as his family slides down the social ladder. His head filled with tales of chivalry, instead he is branded a thief, and must make do with being squire to his childhood friend Sir Robert, a knight determined to make a name for himself as a man at arms in France. While William himself slowly acquires the skills of knightly combat, he remains an outsider - until the Battle of Poitiers when Sir Robert is cut down by the greatest knight of the age, Sir Geoffry de Charny, and William, his lowly squire, revenges him. But with his own knight dead, no honour acrrues to William for this feat of arms, and he is forced to become a mercenary. Scavenging a mis-matched set of armour from the knightly corpses, he joins one of the mercenary companies now set to pillage a defenceless France, and so begins a bloody career that sees William joining forces with the infamous Sir John Hawkwood and immersing himself in a treacherous clandestine war among the Italian city states. But paradoxically it is there, among the spies, assassins and hired killers serving their ruthless masters, that William finally discovers the true meaning of chivalry - and his destiny as a knight.

30 review for The Ill-Made Knight

  1. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    This was (to date) the most enjoyable book I have read this year. Not the best, no, that is a title that belongs to another book by a different author, but it was the most enjoyable and to me there can be a difference between most enjoyable and 'the best'. I hope to expound on that as this review progresses. The Ill-Made Knight is unique in that it blankets the world of knights and chivalry like none other that I have read. If any comes close, maybe it was Men of Iron by Howard Pyle, but then the This was (to date) the most enjoyable book I have read this year. Not the best, no, that is a title that belongs to another book by a different author, but it was the most enjoyable and to me there can be a difference between most enjoyable and 'the best'. I hope to expound on that as this review progresses. The Ill-Made Knight is unique in that it blankets the world of knights and chivalry like none other that I have read. If any comes close, maybe it was Men of Iron by Howard Pyle, but then the study of armour and armoury has come a long way since that was written and it has been so long since I read it. I could be wrong. Part of the reason it does unique so successfully has to have more than a little to do with the author's love of re-enactment and living history. Playing with swords and armour and doing it all on horse back is Christian Cameron's hobby and the book benefits from that immensely. There is no better research an author can partake in than a living history experience. I say the book is unique, however it was not wholly unique, and I hate it when I find myself comparing books, but I cannot help myself, I have to make a comparison. To me, while the subject matter – the chivalry, the emphasis on the culture of chivalry, the details of armour and weaponry – have been done in a unique way, the story and the main character reminded me over and over, of Thomas of Hookton and the Bernard Cornwell series, Grail Quest. Sometimes I felt William Gold and Thomas of Hookton, whilst borne from the minds of different authors, were blending. So many authors glean their inspiration from Bernard Cornwell's writing, that even though their own writing is not meant to mimic, sometimes it can. I don't know if that was the case here. If Christian Cameron was/is a fan of Bernard Cornwell. Maybe the character similarities are purely coincidence. Maybe to others there is no similarity and it is just me. Comparisons, uniqueness and criticisms aside (and there are criticism - they are yet to come in this review), this was a fantastic book and promises to be a brilliant series. It will find fertile ground with a whole new fan base that the author has not yet tapped into since so far his books (not including his novella ebook only things, because I don't regard them as books) have all been set in Ancient eras. This is the book, and the series, that will get him the attention of the Medieval reader. I gave the book 4 stars out of 5 and, suffice it to say, I do have my criticisms. Firstly, let's get the most offensive one out of the way. I do not ever think there is any reason why an author need go into too much description when writing a child rape scene. The child rape is briefly described and yet so vividly described. Readers are a smart enough bunch. Authors do not need to describe it that much. So that's that. I mention it in my review because I know many readers who would like the warning. I understand that the author may be offended that I have brought this up, but then I am offended as a reader, so I suppose that makes us even. An editor should have shaved those scenes of the excessive description. I cannot imagine why they did not. Speaking of editors. This book was riddled with errors. The wrong spelling of words eg though instead of thought and typos galore eg pregnat instead of pregnant. The book was especially rife with them in the back half. And "like a passion play"'. The author used variations of "like a passion play" at least five times. The use of the term is something one notices as it is not common, so when it keeps appearing, it becomes a flaw. It was as if it had not actually been spell checked thoroughly (which clearly it hadn't) or even put under the eyes of a professional editor. Which is a shame as so much else about the book, like cover and in fact the writing itself, was very professional. Also, a small matter. There was a glossary that I found lacking. A glossary that detailed armour and armoury and yet there were many missing off it like buckler and some kind of dart or little arrow (I know the name, but the name escapes me now). There were others, but those were the two I remember because I would have liked to see a description in the glossary. These errors made me question whether I should be giving the most enjoyable book of the year a full five stars. I think a half star should come off my rating for them. But when it came down to it, it was the contrived feeling of the William Gold hard luck story that really wore on me and stripped that star down to make my rating four out of five. I was having a blast with the book for the first half. Only that everything that could go wrong did go wrong and I found myself thinking more and more that it was too much. That surely something has to go right. That it would have been to the betterment of the story to have a few little rays of sunshine. One wee thing, which isn't such a negative, just a note of interest. The book has no chapters. It has about three Parts and there are scene breaks. But no chapters. I like chapters, they are good places to rest up. Still, it wasn't too much of a pain and I hardly noticed until about halfway. William Gold truly is the most unlucky bastard that ever lived. An elaborate sketch if I may... Picture this. A man walks across a cobbled road and trips over a stone and falls, he gets up, straightens his clothes, walks in the door of a pub and hits himself on the door frame. Rubs his head, walks inside, then gets hit in the face by a wayward punch in someone else's bar fight. Picks himself up, orders a beer, walks to a table sits down and a chair leg breaks and he goes down. Gets another chair, goes to drink his ale and the handle comes off and the ale goes into his lap. Poor unlucky bastard gives up, walks back into the street. Cart goes passed and splashes muddy water all over him. See's a whore, tries to procure her services only to find a hole in his pocket where his money fell out. Gets stabbed by the whore's pimp. The entire book was like this. Only take out the tripping and broken furniture and passing cart and add in all the events that befall William Gold. Aye, he truly is the most unlucky bastard that ever lived and as the story goes on it did not feel at all natural. It was not a deal breaker though. I could still really enjoy the book despite it. It's just that I could have enjoyed it more. Taking into account typos, errors, repeating of phrases and the downer of nothing going right for the main character, I give the book four stars out of five (as mentioned). But that is not the entire story. The book is still a lot of fun in parts. Was well written. Imaginative. And captured the era well, in my opinion. I am eager for there to be a book two. This series will no doubt go from strength to strength

  2. 4 out of 5

    J.P. Ashman

    Why is there not a 6* option? That's right, I liked - loved - this book *that* much! I'm not a re-reader of book's, but I am sure I will read this again one day. I have a lifelong interest in this period and have re-enacted close to this period before. Because of that - but not solely because of it - this book, this tale, ticks a whole lot of boxes for me, including historical accuracy and a huge chance to learn a lot more, as well as gritty realism in not only its combat and exploration of their l Why is there not a 6* option? That's right, I liked - loved - this book *that* much! I'm not a re-reader of book's, but I am sure I will read this again one day. I have a lifelong interest in this period and have re-enacted close to this period before. Because of that - but not solely because of it - this book, this tale, ticks a whole lot of boxes for me, including historical accuracy and a huge chance to learn a lot more, as well as gritty realism in not only its combat and exploration of their living at the time, but in the telling too. It truly feels like William Gold is telling us the story down the pub/tavern/inn. It does not feel like Christian Cameron is writing a story about someone telling a story. I was there, listening and hanging on every word. Truly. The story spans years, following a London lad who wants to be a knight. He's led astray and does terrible things, caught up in an ongoing war in foreign lands. But what impresses me about our protag is his continuous want to be a better knight (man). He makes mistakes. He commits crimes and, truth be told, horrors, but he wants to be more - unlike many of his peers and above. And by Christ do I love him for it. There is a lot about the day to day living here, but it is not dull at any point. It ties in. It works. And it works extremely well. I could gush about it forevermore. I'm a fan of fantasy (he writes fantasy under Miles Cameron) and hisfic, including names in the latter genre such as Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden (two of my all time faves). In my opinion, this book did more for me than books I have read by those two gentlemen. And *that*, messires, is saying something indeed! I stick by it. Hisfic fan or not, medieval fan or not, read this book and know a medieval soldier (William Gold existed!). I'll stop myself now. But please, pick this up and read it and enjoy it! JP

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    4.5 stars Tell me what you want more than anything… I want to be a great knight… More than you want to live? More than you want to save your soul? Yes. This was a very enjoyable book. Will Gold is a likeable, yet frustratingly flawed character, making his journey one that keeps you never knowing what he'll find himself involved in next. There were some powerful moments in this story for me, those times when Will struggles to align his actions and faith. He's frequently in opposition to w 4.5 stars Tell me what you want more than anything… I want to be a great knight… More than you want to live? More than you want to save your soul? Yes. This was a very enjoyable book. Will Gold is a likeable, yet frustratingly flawed character, making his journey one that keeps you never knowing what he'll find himself involved in next. There were some powerful moments in this story for me, those times when Will struggles to align his actions and faith. He's frequently in opposition to what he knows is right, yet his circumstances usually give him little choice but to commit to avenues that appear to drive him further from his dream. As he persistently pursues knighthood, he discovers his beliefs and ideals are not easily sustained, all that hold the title knight are not honorable, that old grievances and mistakes will come back to haunt him, and that there is sometimes a fine line between allies and enemies - dependent on where the money is flowing down from. It took some time for me to get into this book. I usually have no problem with the first person pov, but something about the narrator’s voice, language and constant stopping to interrupt his own tale was not very appealing to me. But as the story progressed, and the young William Gold began to develop, those small annoyances faded into the background. I started to welcome the older William reminding the reader that he was recounting his tale to a couple of eager listeners. At times, pointing out the traps and flaws of his youth, which of course are much easier to see in hindsight. Well, Mr. Cameron has been wowing me with The Traitor Son Cycle fantasy series, so when I discovered he also wrote historical fiction it was a no-brainer. His passion for history and his wealth of knowledge shine through in his writing. With his credentials and reenacting experience he’s able to create vivid portrayals of the periods in which he writes, as well as amazing battle sequences. This is only my first HF by the author, but it will not be my last. I already have book 2 waiting in the wings. Highly recommended!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Patremagne

    http://abitterdraft.com/2014/03/the-i... It seems like every other book that I read is by Christian/Miles Cameron. After finishing The Ill-Made Knight, the first in Cameron’s Chivalry(?) series, I am convinced that the man cannot write a bad book. He’s able to write medieval and ancient historical fiction as well as fantasy without really suffering from the sort of timidity that many writers do when trying to write in an unfamiliar genre. Granted, the change from medieval historical fiction to me http://abitterdraft.com/2014/03/the-i... It seems like every other book that I read is by Christian/Miles Cameron. After finishing The Ill-Made Knight, the first in Cameron’s Chivalry(?) series, I am convinced that the man cannot write a bad book. He’s able to write medieval and ancient historical fiction as well as fantasy without really suffering from the sort of timidity that many writers do when trying to write in an unfamiliar genre. Granted, the change from medieval historical fiction to medieval fantasy isn’t as drastic as it would be from medieval historical fiction to something like a science fiction thriller, but it still takes great skill. William Gold was born a common boy, dreaming what all medieval European boys dreamt of becoming – a knight. Shortly after the tale begins, however, Will runs into trouble and is branded a thief, an outcast. He becomes the squire for one Sir Robert, and thus the tale of his long, arduous journey to knighthood begins. The Ill-Made Knight is set during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England, with a vast array of famous figures present – Geoffrey de Charny, Bertrand du Guesclin, Geoffrey Chaucer, the Black Prince of Wales, John Hawkwood – you name him, he’s probably there. I think that’s the biggest selling point with Cameron’s novels – the authenticity. With a lot of medieval fiction, be it fantasy or historical, knights and soldiers will simply be men covered in metal wielding metal sticks. With Cameron, you get a full experience – each piece of armor has a name, weapons are unique, there are different fighting styles, and so on. Sometimes reading about Will put on his armor (via his squire) might be considered slow, but more often than not it adds to the incredible immersion that Cameron goes to great lengths to satisfy, including significant research and reenactment. I believe that immersion is what makes historical fiction so great. In fantasy and science fiction you’re often taken to completely new worlds, and in historical fiction you are given the chance to almost re-live a past time period if the author’s talented enough. Cameron certainly is. There’s always been a romanticized view of the knight – full of chivalry and proper behavior. In The Ill-Made Knight, Cameron shows the darker side, and in many cases the side that was more prevalent in the middle ages. The mercenaries, many of them knights, in what would be known as The White Company, were hardly more than brigands while in France, pillaging where they pleased and furthering the point that war is hell. The resulting story that Cameron provides is both informative and incredibly entertaining, with historical characters brought to life. I can’t recommend his books enough.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mr. Matt

    William Gold's parents die in the first outbreak of plague. He and his sister find themselves under the thumb of their cruel uncle who sells off their estate and treats his niece and nephew as little more than slaves. When he finally fights back, he finds himself with no other choice than to go to France and join one of the King's mercenary companies. And so begins the story of William's rise from obscurity to knighthood. The Ill-Made Knight is great for period immersion. I read historical ficti William Gold's parents die in the first outbreak of plague. He and his sister find themselves under the thumb of their cruel uncle who sells off their estate and treats his niece and nephew as little more than slaves. When he finally fights back, he finds himself with no other choice than to go to France and join one of the King's mercenary companies. And so begins the story of William's rise from obscurity to knighthood. The Ill-Made Knight is great for period immersion. I read historical fiction to learn about periods of history that I might otherwise not know much about. This book was great on that respect. I knew about the Hundred Years' War between France and England, but not so much about the chaos and the devastation that the War(s) spawned. Entire swathes of the French countryside were depopulated - much like Germany in the Thirty Years' War. The Ill-Made Knight does a very good job of immersing the reader in the lawlessness and disorder. Towns are sacked. Churches burned. Priests murdered and Nuns sold into brothels. In the midst of this chaos, Gold is learning what it means to be a Knight and not a mere Routier. There is more to being a Knight than wearing armor and knowing how to fight. This wisdom, it turns out is found in the piety of the reformers within the Church. With their help Gold starts becoming a better man. On that note, Cameron does a good job of placing this lawlessness and chaos within the context of a fully Christian Europe. The men and women (generally men) who commit these terrible acts are all Christian. That they feel guilt, and fear the consequences of their actions, I think, adds to the authenticity. For a long time, I felt like this was a solid four star book. The immersion was great. The action scenes were top notch. There were, however, two main areas where I felt like the book disappointed me. First, the book lacked a major foil for William Gold. He needed an on-going nemesis that - at the end of the story he would come to some sort of resolution. I felt as if Bourc Camus was that figure, but after Gold came under the sway of the Church it felt as if Camus more or less disappeared from the book. Gold wound up in Italy where he finally won his spurs. Second, without this main foil, I felt as if the book just went on too long. Three stars out of five. I'd like to see the book tighten up somewhat. Good immersion, good action, but I felt as if the story kind of meandered.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    (re-read, july 2017) started re-reading the series as book 3 Green Count is out and so far finished the first volume and while I remembered pretty much everything, it's still been an engrossing, cannot put down, must turn the pages novel with all the stuff expected from the author (feeling of authenticity, irony, brutal, realistic image of life, war and "chivalry" in the middle ages and larger than life characters, not least the narrator) (original publication 2013 review) I have just finished "Th (re-read, july 2017) started re-reading the series as book 3 Green Count is out and so far finished the first volume and while I remembered pretty much everything, it's still been an engrossing, cannot put down, must turn the pages novel with all the stuff expected from the author (feeling of authenticity, irony, brutal, realistic image of life, war and "chivalry" in the middle ages and larger than life characters, not least the narrator) (original publication 2013 review) I have just finished "The Ill Made Knight" last night and I would like to note that the novel is superb and possibly the best single work of the author as it has the most balance between action, background and world building, while the narrative flow is impeccable here without hitting any walls that stop from turning the pages, but also inviting to further research into the period. Structurally, the novel starts in 1381, with William Gold now a respected and rich 41 year old knight going back to England from Italy; on the way at a Calais inn, he meets old acquaintance and occasionally rival, the diplomat, courtier and intrigue master, Geoffrey Chaucer (yes that one!) and a friend of his, Jean Froissart (that one too), with the French/Belgian (as we would say today, "Hainauter" as he was then) chronicler mightily interested in Gold's life and exploits. And of course, so it starts, covering briefly William's upbringing and the how and why he got to France as a 15-16 year old boy and following his career for the next 6 years or so with much more to come. Sadly I had not yet time to write more about the novel, but I still stand by my "read this, it's a superb novel" short take above.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    A damn good book! So glad to have found another great HF writer with enough published to keep me going for a while!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Freakout

    Cameron never ceases to amaze me, great read!!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    OMG this is brilliant! a 14th century HF novel at its very best, and they don't come any better. I am a big fan of Bernard Cornwell and have read all of his grail series, azincourt and 1356, but Christian Cameron beats them all fair and square in this novel. It's the tale about the career of William Gold (the first of the series) Starting off as the cook's boy and ending up as a knight. And it's all there... Poitiers 1356, the aftermath.. the jacques , paris 1357-59, the routiers, the free compa OMG this is brilliant! a 14th century HF novel at its very best, and they don't come any better. I am a big fan of Bernard Cornwell and have read all of his grail series, azincourt and 1356, but Christian Cameron beats them all fair and square in this novel. It's the tale about the career of William Gold (the first of the series) Starting off as the cook's boy and ending up as a knight. And it's all there... Poitiers 1356, the aftermath.. the jacques , paris 1357-59, the routiers, the free companies, battle of brignais 1362, and then off to Italy with John Hawkwood and the white company. And of course everybody's there... Froissart- the great 100 years war chronicler, The black Prince, Sir John Chandos, Sir Robert Knolles, Sir John Hawkwood, Jean de grailly- Captal de buch-..on the french side we have Geoffroi de Charny, Jehan de Maingre, dit Boucicaut, and (my favourite 100 years war hero) Betrand the Guesclin... And of course we also have all kinds of (historical) nasty pieces or work.. and there is Chaucer - who of cause later wrote the canterbury tales- as well. Christian Cameron doesn't do Chaucer much credit... he's a spy, a courtier, a big mouth with too much self importance and a devious backstabber... but then the most famous artists and authors aren't always the nicest or noblest persons in private life. William Gold and Chaucer are not exactly friends. And there is Fiore de liberi, the Italian Master swordsman who later wrote `fior di bataglia' aka `the flower of battle' , the ooldest known treatise on italian style medieval martial arts. Christian Cameron plays out his vast knowledge and experience as a medieval reenactor, longsword fighter and (english)warbow archer in his storylines. And his understanding of the era and it politics is broad and deep. That is why it is better than a Cornwell. One of the things I never understood about Thomas of Hookton in the grail novels and 1356 by Cornwell is that Thomas was happy on a chevauchee. Cornwell meticulously avoids what a chevauchee is really like... Square and wholesale Warcrime!Nasty business, and a flagrant breach of the geneva convention enployed as a standard military tactic of rulers and warlords. (is that because he is English?- no matter what- it is a sensitive topic to modern day readers) In Christian Cameron you get the full monty- wastelaying is nasty business, and Gold, as the professional killer, has to walk the tightrope between mental sanity and morality and the simple basic needs of making a living out of war and provide for the people that rely on him, and to get up in the world. That is where the notion of chivalry kicks in. Gold lives and learns and encounters on his journey a couple of people that stand above the mowing field that will help him maintain the balance. It is a central theme in more of christian camerons novels - like the arimnestos character in his classical greek long war series- That is one of the assets of Christian Cameron the author. He has been in the military, and he's been in the war, he knows, and he is a deep thinker. That is why i immensely enjoyed the controversy between Gold and Chaucer that runs like a red thread through the Ill made Knight. Chaucer is the errand boy of the king and the prince, the courtier, and he despises Gold for all of the immoral things he does... pimping, stealing, robbing and killing innocents, while at the same time Gold despises Chaucer, because he is the errand boy and is involved as a courtier in the ploys and delivers these royal instructions to wreak this havoc on innocents by the companies and henchmen like Gold. And that is just one of the treats of this novel... :) This is the first of the William Gold series.. but in part two... do we see William Gold taking part in the Savoyard crucade, and at gallipoli against the Turks?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Logan

    5+ stars. Still my favorite historical fiction series. The characters, the world, the plot - it all grabs you and the immersion is unparalleled. This book just kept gaining momentum for me. I would say the first 30% was a slower read, perhaps because I did not know where the character was going or progressing to. Once William begins to learn about chivalry and knighthood, the story really took off and was an incredible read. This book did so many things right. The dialogue and characters felt re 5+ stars. Still my favorite historical fiction series. The characters, the world, the plot - it all grabs you and the immersion is unparalleled. This book just kept gaining momentum for me. I would say the first 30% was a slower read, perhaps because I did not know where the character was going or progressing to. Once William begins to learn about chivalry and knighthood, the story really took off and was an incredible read. This book did so many things right. The dialogue and characters felt real, the combat was exciting and the plot was completely unpredictable for me. Fantastic book!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vaelin

    4.2 stars The king of historical fiction has done it again with a highly enjoyable albeit gritty, grimey and overall brutal tale of William Gold and his journey as the books title set in the 1100's. As per usual Cameron's library-esque knowledge of ancient world weaponry and tactics shines through and makes this a history lesson come to life and what a lesson it is. I have already purchased a copy of the follow up, The Long Sword, and the 3rd installment is due mid this year.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Firmage

    I have loved my first dip into historical fiction. Reads like an old knight telling his tales by the fire in his favourite tavern.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alissa

    I enjoyed this stand-alone novel immensely, and I'm thrilled the author is planning more sequels featuring other periods of William Gold's life. This is a historical fiction novel, with the backdrop of the early part of the Hundred Years' War, so 14th-century Europe. The tale is compelling and entertaining, narrated in first-person by the protagonist in a recollection of his younger years and of how he came to be a knight. Prompted by Jehan Froissart (the main French historian of the period), wh I enjoyed this stand-alone novel immensely, and I'm thrilled the author is planning more sequels featuring other periods of William Gold's life. This is a historical fiction novel, with the backdrop of the early part of the Hundred Years' War, so 14th-century Europe. The tale is compelling and entertaining, narrated in first-person by the protagonist in a recollection of his younger years and of how he came to be a knight. Prompted by Jehan Froissart (the main French historian of the period), whom he met along with Geoffrey Chaucher in Calais, he agrees to tell his tale and true to his word, William reminisces about feats-of-arms, war, the battle of Poitiers and Italy in his "own time and manner", as he forewarns. Indeed all the facts shared, while closely intertwined with real history, are sifted by the perspective and comments of the teller, who's aware all the time of his audience and who effortlessly keeps the interest piqued, letting personal events, facts, fiction, battle-action and historical background flow while recounting the story with a little cynicism, witty remarks, emotional cognizance and a lot of subtle humor which give the narrative a real turn-page quality. As the story unfolds, you can feel William is really a son of a difficult, grim age yet also an embodiment of its contradictions: he endeavors to elevate himself, socially and morally. He strives to carve a path to success while he feels torn between trying to achieve -and believe- noble ideals, wanting to be a better man and the fact that he is easily swept away by the current of violent events; by habit, necessity and choice he often falls in the traps of complacency and takes the easy way out, embracing the horrors of reality and the greedy corruption of men; yet, through his own qualities, friendship, love, experience, lots of luck and faith, he accepts "to do what we must...but that need not be the sum of who we are", and takes heart. So the reader immerses in the life of this very brave and human knight, like a pendulum swinging between good and evil, whose extremes are clearly portrayed with the figures of Geoffrey de Charny and Bertucat "Bourc" Camus. Speaking of his mistakes, William allows a little self-indulgence to slip but through and through he's able to laugh at his own shortcomings and have the reader emphasize with a life in a century so different. You also get details, from the protagonist point of observation, of the politics, religion and economy of the time, which -as today- heavily drive the lives and behavior of all men, commoners and gentles alike, which help a lot to place the events, to try to understand that society, its way of thinking, and not to be hasty in judgment, at least for the novel and its characters. The author seems to have a solid background in medieval history and is careful to relate facts with as much accuracy as possible. Moreover the engaging descriptions of armors, fighting techniques, military fashion and warfare are smartly spread in the novel, so you rarely feel a dimming in the flow of the tale, even during the waiting scenes. Another plus is, of course, that the main characters and most of the minor ones are real historical figures and it had been a delight to google them. What I also loved in this specific novel is that the author lets the fictitious events feel true -like what could have really happened in the "normal" life of the real William Gold or another men-at-arms cut from the same cloth-, and sure enough I really never felt a need for epic quests, sudden upheavals, nemesis drama or other arranged plot twists which I usually cherish in historical novels to keep me thinking "what's next"? Of course I got my hands on The Long Sword as soon as it came out. If you like reading about the late Middle-Ages, feats-of-arms, jousting, warfare, social inequities, chivalry and "preux" knights, routiers and what life was like in France, Italy and England in those turbulent years, don't miss this outstanding novel.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David Stringer

    This book was given and recommended to me from a family member and is the first book by Christian Cameron I have read. So what do we find, well this is a historical fiction book set in the Hundred Years' War between France and England, with our main character William Gold who I do start off quite liking, but later on start wondering if I do. The character build up is good, with the young Williams hard start to life described well and his turmoil's from there had me gripped and interested from th This book was given and recommended to me from a family member and is the first book by Christian Cameron I have read. So what do we find, well this is a historical fiction book set in the Hundred Years' War between France and England, with our main character William Gold who I do start off quite liking, but later on start wondering if I do. The character build up is good, with the young Williams hard start to life described well and his turmoil's from there had me gripped and interested from the off set, as we share his journey through life as he sets out to become a hero and knight! With numerous knocks along the way. So what did I enjoy. Well the author describes the finer details of battle, armour wearing and conditions of fighting in (like mud) very, very well and clearly his hobby of doing re-enactment battles has paid off here as you, as a reader, do feel right there on the fields fighting and scraping with all the characters. The obvious brutality of battle comes across very well, as does the often unmentioned naughty side of war, like robbery, pillage and rape. What did I not enjoy. I think, whilst reading, as this is told by our Main character in later life while in a pub getting drinks from his audience, that it dawned on me that this could be just some old drunk guy making up stories bigging himself up in order to get some free wines. Once I thought this, it took something away from the way the story was told. So probably my fault for being a cynic, but drunk made up stories I hear whenever I visit my local, ha ha, from lot's of people who claim they could of played football for England I hear all the time. It's also quite a lengthy book, with a lot of detail, and waffle, where the main character tells practically every detail in his life to this audience, so god bless them, they must of been stuck buying this old guy drinks for days!! I then, around the 25% mark of the book, got bored and felt both the story and character had no real direction other then that he wanted to be a knight, it all got a bit...samey. No adventure. No end battle or task to help achieve his goal. Just him wondering around France, battling. So although I love a good, hard done to making it good type of a yarn, I got weary and tired of old William Gold quick.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robert Nugent

    Imagine that when I finished reading this novel, I stood up in a huge audience hall with hundreds of other people, clapping until my hands literally fell off. That's how The Ill-Made Knight made me feel. Let me preface by saying, I am a practitioner of medieval history. I research, study swordfighting manuscripts, recreate my own wardrobes and fighting kit of the eras, and so on. I came into this book (especially after numerous recommendations from my peers) with high expectations. Because oh-so Imagine that when I finished reading this novel, I stood up in a huge audience hall with hundreds of other people, clapping until my hands literally fell off. That's how The Ill-Made Knight made me feel. Let me preface by saying, I am a practitioner of medieval history. I research, study swordfighting manuscripts, recreate my own wardrobes and fighting kit of the eras, and so on. I came into this book (especially after numerous recommendations from my peers) with high expectations. Because oh-so often, most writers simply don't get the nuances of medieval life, and in particular, combat and warfare. A high bar was set for Cameron, and while I was eager to meet his writing, I was also slightly nervous after the waves of high praise. Hype has that effect sometimes. And I was not let down in the slightest. In fact, I have a new addition to my list of favorite novels. Through the lens of the protagonist, William Gold, The Ill-Made Knight transports you to the life of being an Englishman on campaign in France during the Poitiers era of the Hundred Years War. From the grit of peasant life, joining campaign, aspiring to knighthood, and the brutal cycle of warfare - surviving battles, and thus looting the dead and taking ransoms to elevate your own martial position - the Ill-Made Knight is a perspective into the life of a medieval soldier that is all-too-often misrepresented in medieval fiction, historical and fantastical alike. Cameron writes with the experience of one who lives the history outside of his writing. From explaining the subtle details of wearing and fighting in armor, to sewing tattered clothes in need of fixing, and to how a sword or a lance handles in use, it is clear from the start that Cameron knows his material culture well. At all times I was fully immersed, relating with every tied arming point and thought of, "I can ignore that," when a sword blade glances off your armor. My appreciation for medievalism aside; the story has a wonderful sense of progression. At times, I caught myself wondering where the story was going to go next. But Cameron is a master of taking you from one journey to another, and before you know it, you're following William Gold on his grand quest from peasant to knight all throughout France and Italy. William Gold, and all the characters, truly felt alive and genuine to their setting, and Cameron's inclusion of well-known figures such as Chaucer, de Charny, and Fiore were handled with finesse. Whether you're looking for a tale of knighthood, or to know how it feels to wear a suit of armor into battle, or to better understand the historical time period, The Ill-Made Knight is a perspective you simply cannot afford to miss and Cameron's writing makes it all the more enjoyable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laurence

    Fascinating period in history, well told tale. I would have liked to have heard more about Hawkwood's double crossing of the Italian city states. Fox like cunning indeed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Speesh

    The story, what there is, is basically a tour around France and down that way, in the 14th Century. When, as I've mentioned before, the days were filled with knights. William Gold is having a piss-up in a tavern, and, in the first of many similarities with Geoffrey Chaucer we encounter at various times in this book, he gets persuaded to tell his comrades a tale. Of his life. The Ill-Made Knight revolves around Gold's early life, and his progression from basically being a street urchin who is hand The story, what there is, is basically a tour around France and down that way, in the 14th Century. When, as I've mentioned before, the days were filled with knights. William Gold is having a piss-up in a tavern, and, in the first of many similarities with Geoffrey Chaucer we encounter at various times in this book, he gets persuaded to tell his comrades a tale. Of his life. The Ill-Made Knight revolves around Gold's early life, and his progression from basically being a street urchin who is handy with his fists, to becoming, maybe, a knight himself. Working his way up the 14th Century social ladder, Gold more or less moves from on fight to another, one disappointment to another, as he always seems to be just two steps behind bad luck. If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. Some of the talk early on in his career, where he had a lot of ambition but no money and no equipment and had to basically gather what articles of clothing and armour from the dead and dying he has bested in battle, reminded me of the situation some parts of the Russian army were in in the Second World War. They were sent into battle without the proper clothes and many times without firearms, and had to scavenge what they could from the dead and dying on either sides. Imagine that. Some things never change, eh? And speaking of sides, if Gold states that he's sometimes a little confused about which side he’s on, who he’s supposed to be fighting for, or against - spare a thought for the poor reader. We have absolutely no idea. Well, I didn't for long periods of the book. Mostly he was for (or was it against?) the French, though he spoke French, didn't he? Though he was best buddies, some of the time anyway, with Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote Canterbury Tales in English, so maybe he was English? But he did seem to switch sides once or twice. Though it's not like anything was ordered down there, back then. Every group of men out for themselves, and allied themselves with whoever looked most like 'winning.' Chaucer doesn't come out of The Ill-Made Knight too well. A real arrogant, elitist bastard, I was thinking most of the time, though, if I remember my school book-learnin' right, Chaucer's The Knight's Tale, does have some similarities with Camerons Ill-Made Knight's tale. In the latter 14th Century, populists were questioning the nature of the class structure - "When Adam delved and Eve span, who then was gentleman?" They were casting doubt on gentlemen's right to see themselves as better than 'commoners' (and the Peasants' Revolt wasn't that far away, was it?) William Gold highlights this, calling his audience Gentlemen, or just Gentles, many times throughout the book. Chaucer's Knight can be seen as the perfect example of what the ruling class produced and called Knights - violent snobs, who saw the classes lower than them, as ripe for, or only, there for them to exploit. And rich. You had to be to afford all the armour and clothing, and manners. A Knight is thought to have been worth between £300 and £1,000 back then, somewhere between £120,000 and £400,000 in today's money. In The Ill-Found Knight, Gold comes from the exploited end of society, but desperately wants to be at the other end of the exploitation, though with his background, he wouldn't want to indulge. For him, the noble ideals of Chivalry are what he sees as defining a Knight. A knight is knightly, as he sees it, by what a knight should do. What he finds in reality, of course, is more like Chaucer was to write about. What Gold realises, maybe, is that you don't only become chivalrous when you become a Knight and therefore are in that rarified strata of 14th Century society. Chivalric behaviour is just as often, if not mostly more so, found lower down the scale as well. It's not new, but still interesting. How much of that is purely a concept seen though 21st Century eyes, and pasted on a 14th Century figure, I can't say. If you've read any Chaucer, you'll also recognise the themes raised here of the (various) knights supposedly fighting for their people, the peasants, though killing them off like flies at every opportunity. The various armies are as locusts, stripping the countryside of everything - another similarity to World War II, where Germany went over eastern Europe, into Russia, Russia was forced to retreat and employed a scorched earth policy, then Germany was forced to retreat backwards again, and employed a scorched earth policy, Russia overran the eastern countries again, and removed everything that wasn’t nailed down. The poor people, the peasants, caught in the middle time after time. Mr Cameron is, I understand, big on the re-enactment front. And he really wants us to know what he’s learned about knights of the time. Some of the insights and attention to detail are, I'll admit, well done, well sneaked in. The weight of the armour, and therefore how strong they must have been at the time, the amount of mud, they climbing on the underside of the ladders while scaling a wall. But, whilst not quite in the "you haven’t done your homework, have you boy? Every other word needs explaining, does it boy?!" class of Prof Harry Sidebottom, it can be wearisome. You can see it in the situations, as here, where the character narrating comes to a word, or the name of an item of clothing, or armour, whose name would have been either common enough knowledge at the time, or if not by the general populace - the serf in the street - then certainly by the people the narrator, as here, is relating their story to. In short, this audience of 13-whatever would have known exactly what he was talking about, but we wouldn’t. So we get an explanation. Other authors do it better. C.R. May, Angus Donald (etc) are all in the no explanation needed camp and, in my opinion, the better for it. He does, however, stray away from the age of Chaucer (probably better for the sales figures to do that), and remember that this is supposed to be a bestselling Historical Fiction book, and employs many of the cliches of the Hist Fic age too. There is a spray of scarlet, a couple of almost imperceptible nods, a sword that does become like a living thing. There are way too many raised eyebrows as well. So much so that it at times gives the last Anthony Riches’ one I read a run for its money. Though CC needs to raise his pursed lips count significantly to compete properly in the wider Hist Fic arena, as there are only two that I can remember. A couple of the similes stopped me in my tracks as well. As in "Erm, Chris; did they know of such things at that time?" Fist-sized rocks “left by the glaciers” was the best of them. Obviously Anthony Riches' editor freelancing for a section or two. When she/he wasn't freelancing, the rest of the book is entertaining enough, though staying well outside 'classic' areas. There's plenty going on, but making head or tail of it, is, as I've said, just as difficult for us as it was for William Gold. I won't say I was disappointed, but I did expect more from it than it ended up delivering. Blog: Speesh Reads Facebook: Speesh Reads Pinterest: Speesh Reads

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Ciuleanu

    I postponed reading The Ill-Made Knight for quite a while and I can only say that it was really a dumb thing to do because this book is just too great. The author, Christian Cameron, is a well-known historical fiction writer with several high rated series on record: the Tyrant and the Long War. Unlike those, this new series is not set in antiquity age, but instead in the dark ages. It is the story of William Gold, an english man-at-arms and mercenary on his path to become a great knight. The boo I postponed reading The Ill-Made Knight for quite a while and I can only say that it was really a dumb thing to do because this book is just too great. The author, Christian Cameron, is a well-known historical fiction writer with several high rated series on record: the Tyrant and the Long War. Unlike those, this new series is not set in antiquity age, but instead in the dark ages. It is the story of William Gold, an english man-at-arms and mercenary on his path to become a great knight. The book begins with the arrival of Gold’s (now old and a famous knight) band in Calais at the White Swan inn: looking for lodging and shelter. Here he meets a old acquaintance: Geoffrey Chaucer and his companion Jean Froissart. And yes, they are the real poet and chronicler who lived in the fourteen century. And being a chronicler it is quite obvious that Monsieur de Froissart wants to know all about William Gold’s feats of arms. The knight obliges him and starts his story from the beginning of his adventures, at the age of fifteen. This is an elegant storytelling solution from the author and the reader will find out all about William Gold, from his childhood in London, and following life as a squire and man-at-arms, leading him to famous battles of the Hundred Years' War: Poitiers, Brignais and several other ones in Italy. I have to mention that even though this is a fictional book the Ill-Made Knight is quite an authentic and realist one with deep roots in history: we’re introduced to real people and events with thorough research behind them. Furthermore the battle and fighting scenes are very vivid, accurate and very believable. Also, the war itself is presented to us with all the bad, cynic and grin things that come along with it: looting & pillaging, murder & killings, etc. It is not a tale of knights in shinny armor doing chivalrous feats of arms to rescue maiden princess in distress. And it is not that the book doesn’t have those at all but they are shown to us with an anchor in reality.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Clemens Schoonderwoert

    This fantastic book by Christian Cameron is the 1st Chivalrous exploits of the real Sir William Gold. To start with, the book contains a very well documented glossary at the beginning, also there are three fine drawn maps of Poitiers itself, as well one drawing of Italy and France respectively, while at the end of the book you'll find a superb explained Historical Note. Story-telling is of an absolute top-notch quality, for the author has certainly the ability to keep you spellbound from start to This fantastic book by Christian Cameron is the 1st Chivalrous exploits of the real Sir William Gold. To start with, the book contains a very well documented glossary at the beginning, also there are three fine drawn maps of Poitiers itself, as well one drawing of Italy and France respectively, while at the end of the book you'll find a superb explained Historical Note. Story-telling is of an absolute top-notch quality, for the author has certainly the ability to keep you spellbound from start to finish with his tremendous way of writing. Also all the characters, whether they are mostly real and while some are fictional, come all superbly vividly to life within this astonishing tale about Chivalry with all it's good and bad. The book begins with a wonderful prologue which is set in Calais in the year AD 1381, and it's there where our main real character Sir William Gold is starting to tell his tale about his life and his chivalrous adventures, and where one of the audience is a certain famous Geoffrey Chaucer, also very well known for his Canterbury Tales, but the book itself is divided into different sections, as to start with in AD 1356 with the Battle of Poitiers, followed by Paris AD 1357-59, while this is followed by Brignais AD 1362, and it ends in Italy in the years AD 1362-64. The story is about Sir William Gold, who after been branded a thief joined the ranks of Edward, The Black Prince, as a lonely cook's boy, and when the time comes when you have to fight, even a cook's boy has to fight for his life at these Battles that will come his way, starting with Poitiers and all its aftermath. What follows is a superb tale not only about Chivalry, but also about intrigue, betrayal and greed, and in this treacherous world William Gold must learn to survive if he wants to become what he always dreamed of, a great Knight. Totally recommended, for this is story-telling at its very best, and that's why I like to call this book, "A Masterly Knightly Achievement"!

  20. 4 out of 5

    William E.

    My...third read? I’m a big fan of Cameron’s work and this is my favorite series of his. Highly recommend for any fans of historical fiction, especially medieval. Very much looking forward to the newest installment

  21. 5 out of 5

    Malum

    3.5 stars. Another book that makes me wish that Goodreads had proper half-star ratings. Things I liked: A good mix of romanticized chivalry and grim reality. Fast paced; there is almost always something interesting happening. Things I didn't like: There is no real driving force behind the main character besides sometimes reminding us that he wants to be a knight. Bernard Cornwell, for example, gives his main characters vile foils that are always hounding the character. This novel is just the main ch 3.5 stars. Another book that makes me wish that Goodreads had proper half-star ratings. Things I liked: A good mix of romanticized chivalry and grim reality. Fast paced; there is almost always something interesting happening. Things I didn't like: There is no real driving force behind the main character besides sometimes reminding us that he wants to be a knight. Bernard Cornwell, for example, gives his main characters vile foils that are always hounding the character. This novel is just the main character going from one adventure to the next without any real overarching driving force that binds it all together.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robin Carter

    Review: In this book, this oh so wonderful book, Christian Cameron proves yet again no matter what era he writes in, he does it with style, skill and panache. For me he is the finest writer of historical fiction currently writing. As a writer he ticks every box, deep research, deep personal knowledge from his re-enactment, a deep abiding passion for the subject matter and for the world of writing, and a natural skill of the storyteller, a skald, a minstrel a chronicler a man who can lift his audi Review: In this book, this oh so wonderful book, Christian Cameron proves yet again no matter what era he writes in, he does it with style, skill and panache. For me he is the finest writer of historical fiction currently writing. As a writer he ticks every box, deep research, deep personal knowledge from his re-enactment, a deep abiding passion for the subject matter and for the world of writing, and a natural skill of the storyteller, a skald, a minstrel a chronicler a man who can lift his audience to another time and place, transporting them to sit at the shoulder of his characters through pain, happiness , passion, victory and defeat. Every single book gets better and is a bigger triumph than the last, and that astounds me, because every book just takes my breath away in its scope and skill. Ill Made Knight is a whole new world for me, I know nothing about this period, 1356 England and France is a blank slate, and yet in every page I felt at home with William Gold, I felt every one of his losses and every one of his victories, his betrayals hurt me as much as William, his losses cut me to the core, his loves reminded me of the highs a person can reach just being in the presence of that special person in your life and his anger at the Bourc burned as hotly for me as it did for him. The book arouses all those passions in the reader and more. As much as I was entertained, I feel I was also educated, knowing that the author, has invested so much time, patience, blood sweat and energy into understanding the period, the arms and armour, the clothing, the fighting (he took part in a tournament recently in full armour). All of this brings the story to life, it brings a reality a realism, add to that the authors military background and understanding of soldiers and war and you really do get a sense that you are experiencing a true accounting rather than fiction. This will absolutely be one of the best books you read this year. (Parm) Other books by this author Series Tyrant 1. Tyrant (2008) 2. Storm of Arrows (2009) 3. Funeral Games (2010) 4. King of the Bosporus (2011) 5. Destroyer of Cities (2013) 6. Force of Kings (2014) TyrantStorm of ArrowsFuneral GamesKing of the BosporusDestroyer of Cities Long War 1. Killer of Men (2010) 2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011) 3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012) 4. The Great King (2013) Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King Tom Swan and the Head of St George 1. Castillon (2012) 2. Venice (2012) 3. Constantinople (2012) 4. Rome (2013) 5. Rhodes (2013) 6. Chios (2013) CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRomeRhodesChios Novels Washington and Caesar (2001) God of War (2012) Alexander: God of War (2013) The Ill-Made Knight (2013) The Long Sword (2014) Washington and CaesarGod of WarAlexander: God of WarThe Ill-Made Knight

  23. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Close to 4.5*. I really liked the gritty realities of the knight/mercenary life, and the unapologetic depiction of the war. These are not often good people. Although it could be frustrating, I ultimately liked how incompetent William could be without realizing it. Each time he took on a foe and got hammered when (for dramatic reasons) I might have expected him to win or at least get a hit in, I appreciated the author's choice to show realism for his untrained "knight." I also liked how the many Close to 4.5*. I really liked the gritty realities of the knight/mercenary life, and the unapologetic depiction of the war. These are not often good people. Although it could be frustrating, I ultimately liked how incompetent William could be without realizing it. Each time he took on a foe and got hammered when (for dramatic reasons) I might have expected him to win or at least get a hit in, I appreciated the author's choice to show realism for his untrained "knight." I also liked how the many sides kept changing with their conflicting loyalties, though it could be confusing to follow (as it must have been in reality). The main issue holding me back from a higher rating is that I had trouble following some of the side characters. William referred to people by names and titles but wasn't consistent, so I sometimes couldn't remember if/how he had met someone before, or why he hated/liked them. I also could have used more maps and an expanded glossary. Still, overall the book was excellent and I'm sure I will read others in the series and by the author.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matt Heppe

    More than anything in the world, William Gold wants to be a knight. However this is not an easy task when you are starting from the rank of cook boy (and convicted thief). Told from the first person, Ill-Made Knight is a wonderfully immersive, gripping novel. Cameron makes history come alive without sounding like a lecture. The author is a historian and a reenactor, both of which contribute to the great feeling for the period you get when you read the novel. When you read the battle sequences it More than anything in the world, William Gold wants to be a knight. However this is not an easy task when you are starting from the rank of cook boy (and convicted thief). Told from the first person, Ill-Made Knight is a wonderfully immersive, gripping novel. Cameron makes history come alive without sounding like a lecture. The author is a historian and a reenactor, both of which contribute to the great feeling for the period you get when you read the novel. When you read the battle sequences it is obvious that the author has worn, and fought in, full armor. This is also not a fairy-tale medieval novel. You get the late middle ages, warts and all. It was a gritty, tough world. Not only is this my favorite Cameron novel, I would say it is one of my all-time favorite novels. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Riches

    I'll keep this short. Buy this book and read it. Christian Cameron, so brilliantly readable in his two Greek series, has nailed the nightmare that was France after Poitiers in a masterly fashion. Using the same 'old man by the fire' method that was so effective in the 'Long War' series, he tells the story of a boy growing up and fighting his way to greatness, and he does it damn well. Unlike some of my full time writer colleagues I'm no great literary reviewer (and I have a lot of work to do tod I'll keep this short. Buy this book and read it. Christian Cameron, so brilliantly readable in his two Greek series, has nailed the nightmare that was France after Poitiers in a masterly fashion. Using the same 'old man by the fire' method that was so effective in the 'Long War' series, he tells the story of a boy growing up and fighting his way to greatness, and he does it damn well. Unlike some of my full time writer colleagues I'm no great literary reviewer (and I have a lot of work to do today!) so this is all you're getting, but I do know what I like, and I like this. A lot. A triumph.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Simona

    This book, for me, is perfect. It is the story of William Gold, told by himself to friends met at an inn in the form of a long narration. The main character is so human, the detail of his life so vivid and true you feel able to touch him. I really hope that the author will continue what he started here in a second book. The first one is a treat.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Szilárd

    In this 14th century historical fiction, you get to discover a world of arms and love following an English boy on his way to knighthood. If this sounds boring, think again. The author has a degree in medieval history and is probably as aware of the realities of this age as any 21st-century person can be. Chivalry here means nothing (yet everything), and the people of this age are as afraid of Hell as perhaps we would be of living in their uncivilized times. Aside from historical authenticity, the In this 14th century historical fiction, you get to discover a world of arms and love following an English boy on his way to knighthood. If this sounds boring, think again. The author has a degree in medieval history and is probably as aware of the realities of this age as any 21st-century person can be. Chivalry here means nothing (yet everything), and the people of this age are as afraid of Hell as perhaps we would be of living in their uncivilized times. Aside from historical authenticity, the strongest suit of Mr. Cameron is writing life-like characters. You can put yourself in their shoes, you can share in their moral dilemmas, feel their fears, grief, and happiness. Ultimately, I think, this is why I cannot stop reading his books; they help me self-reflect.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anton

    Amazing, Cameron is a master, etc. I have read dozens of books about men hitting each other with swords but no one has ever made the period come alive like Christian Cameron.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This one is 4.5 stars really but I always round up on my star ratings. So you can probably tell from my rating that I loved this book. We follow the story of young William Gold, a boy who wants to be a knight, from his time as an apprentice, to cooks boy, through the battle of Poitiers, to his time in a company of mercenaries and beyond. The novel drips authenticity in its description and the way the author builds up the world of the 14th century, but that is not to imply that this is a dull book This one is 4.5 stars really but I always round up on my star ratings. So you can probably tell from my rating that I loved this book. We follow the story of young William Gold, a boy who wants to be a knight, from his time as an apprentice, to cooks boy, through the battle of Poitiers, to his time in a company of mercenaries and beyond. The novel drips authenticity in its description and the way the author builds up the world of the 14th century, but that is not to imply that this is a dull book. The battles are really well written and full of excitement. Even though the older William is telling the story so we know he must survive, the immediacy of the writing still causes the reader to fear for him and keeps the pages turning. One of the key highlights of the book for me was William's struggle of what it means to be a knight and the dichotomy between the theory of chivalry on the one hand and the realities of a soldier's life during that time. This is one of the key themes, which the book keeps coming back to. It really serves to make William feel like a real person and really made me think about how difficult it must have been for many young men during that period. For me there are two minor negatives which cause this book to lose half a star. 1. With the wealth of characters in this book and the similarity of many names (always annoying that people in history did not think about the needs of historical novelists), it can be occasionally difficult to follow who a particular character is. Particularly as characters will drop out of the story and reappear much later. 2. The book is written in the style of the older William Gold telling his story at an inn. It is literally written in a very conversational style which can be a bit jarring to begin with when, for example he makes an aside about the wine they are having during a part of his tale which has nothing to do with wine. Once you get used to it though, this really turns from a negative to a positive and adds hugely to the authenticity of the story. So in all, a highly recommended book for anyone who likes historical fiction or just a really exciting story. I'm thoroughly looking forward to the sequel.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul Collard

    Sometimes a book surprises you. This is the first of Christian Cameron's books that I have read and I confess to not having high hopes when I started. I am not one for knights, squires, and lances, perhaps that's what too much exposure to Disney films does for a man, and although I have read historical fiction for the last thirty years, I had never heard of Christian Cameron. Well, I was stunned. Simply put, I loved this book. Time I should have spent working on my own novels disappeared as I to Sometimes a book surprises you. This is the first of Christian Cameron's books that I have read and I confess to not having high hopes when I started. I am not one for knights, squires, and lances, perhaps that's what too much exposure to Disney films does for a man, and although I have read historical fiction for the last thirty years, I had never heard of Christian Cameron. Well, I was stunned. Simply put, I loved this book. Time I should have spent working on my own novels disappeared as I tore through the story of William Gold. I was transported to a world I knew nothing about but which Christian Cameron wove around me so well that I was completely lost within it. The battles and the fights are written with utter conviction so at times I could no longer tell if I was reading a story or if I had somehow stumbled upon a first-person account from someone who had lived, breathed and fought in the period. It was so good that I found it nearly impossible to return to my own writing. Everything felt a pale imitation that lumbered along where the Ill-Made Knight soared. I do not have enough stars to rate this book. It is simply excellent.

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