Book Review: Turncoat’s Drum

This title was ‘suggested’ to me by Amazon. It is set in a period I am interested in, and on offer at just 99 p for 377 pages, I thought it was good value too. This is book one in series of six, by the same author. It forms part of the ‘Shadow On The Crown’ set of novels, all set during the turbulent years of The English Civil War, from 1642-1651.

Like many similar books in the genre, it takes a series of real events, then peoples them with characters who actually existed, mixed in with fictional ones who mainly drive the plot. In this case, we see the effects of the Civil War in the Western sector of the conflict through the eyes of the opposing generals of the Royalist army, and the Parliamentary rebels seeking to overthrow the monarchy. Also individual soldiers and cavalrymen on both sides, as well as the officers and noblemen drawn to conflicting causes.

Civilian life is dealt with in detail too. The ravaged countryside, looting, stealing of food and livestock, and destruction of property during bitter sieges and larger battles. Women on both sides hoping for love or marriage in the midst of war, strumpet camp-followers trailing both armies selling their bodies for financial gain, and unscrupulous businessmen seeking to profit from selling goods to both sides at inflated prices.

And the ‘Turncoat’ of the title is reflected too, with some soldiers willing to change sides after losing in a battle, or for the chance of better pay, or more loot.

This book has an old-fashioned style, but that is a good thing. It reflects life in 17th century England well, a time when landowners demanded obedience from their workers, mothers sought good matches for their sons and daughters to retain their wealth and inheritance, and bitter differences in religious practices often lent a ruthless fanaticism to the battles. There is a softer side too. Relatives and old friends discovering each other on the opposite side during a skirmish, families divided by adherence to one cause or the other lamenting the events that brought them to this.

Historical accuracy is first rate, as all the engagements between the two sides actually happened. Then there is the description of camp life, or the hardships of defending a town under siege. The weapons used, the uniforms worn, and the tactics employed by the opposing armies, all are related in authentic detail. And when it comes to the full-on battles, the author has done his homework, with completely believable blow-by-blow accounts of 17th century warfare, from cavalry formations, to the ghastly wounds inflicted by the weapons of the time.

This is my kind of book, and I lapped it up. I have also just bought the second book in the series, which follows on from the last page of this one.

If you like your history bloody, bawdy, and completely true to life, then this is a book for you.

Here is an Amazon link. (It is still just 99 p on Kindle.)

44 thoughts on “Book Review: Turncoat’s Drum

    1. Thanks, Liz. I am halfway through the next book in this series, and he is keeping up the high standard. I understand that the author is also a Civil War re-enactor, so that gives him an edge.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It sounds good, Pete. Historical fiction, when well done, like is the case here, is a great way to learn about historical events in an entertaining format. It’s hard to do well though, so many thanks for the recommendation. And happy to hear Ollie is progressing well. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review, Pete. If you like the Civil War period of our history, you might enjoy a film called Hex, which was made by a small British company called Rubicon Films, which is also in the post-production stages of a film called The Droving, in which I have a part: it is due out any time soon. Hex is available on dvd and Amazon Prime: I’ll give you a link further down. Hex is the story of two soldiers, one from each side, who encounter each other in a spooky forest, and how they react individually & jointly to the strange events that occur.

    I often wonder which side (or maybe both?) my ancestors might have taken; there were several notable Catholics on record, but I haven’t found a direct link yet. There is, however, a drum in Taunton museum from the field of Sedgemoor, during the Monmouth rebellion, subsequent to the Civil War, on which is painted the Risdon coat of arms (don’t worry: no delusions of grandeur here! πŸ˜‰ ). Cheers, Jon

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w1an_FDWG4 Trailer
    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7335324/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, John. There have been very few films set in The Civil War, and I have all those currently available, on DVD. I am also a member of The Cromwell Association, and with my London background, I hope that my family would have supported Parliament!
      “Off with his head!”
      I will certainly search out the film on DVD. Thanks for the link.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

            1. No worries! Probably full price because it’s only just come out; you might find a used copy in a few months on eBay? Strangely, the Blu-Ray in the link was cheaper! I’m not sure if I’ll bother to invest in a player, though. Cheers, Jon

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Added to my ‘wish list’ to purchase as funds come available – I’m not so certain I’ll be able to stomach the entire rendering of novel graphic description of those brutal, bloody and bawdy times – I somehow manage to be unfazed usually, by historical non-fiction works on the topic, but cringe from ‘creative art’ that goes into full monty descriptions of how it really was – not certain why the odd incongruent thingee of me – but, your description and my love of learning about that time and the eras leading up to it, was enough to put it on the wish list – :). Thanks for the share! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Yup, hear ya – I’m inching up on that phase/stage of life, as well, although being more cognizant of my self-care routines and having time to do so for the past 3 months has helped immensely! For awhile, it was so bad, I tried audio books in the evening – to wind down – for some reason, my mind wanders too much, just listening – – :D. I guess, given your description and my past enjoyment of reading your words – I figured safe bet to invest in the physical edition if one were available – πŸ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Oo nice choice Pete. I am so looking forward to this book. It looks extremely enjoyable and definitely a classic material. Thank you for the great recommendation. Btw read your mail and replied. Once again thank you so much for your support. Tc. I hope curly cutie is better now. Please don’t disturb the poor guy. He is so cute. πŸ₯°πŸ™‚βœŒπŸ€©

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are most welcome, Pete. I am glad you enjoyed this novel, that human flesh was a disaster for you. I am still taking out time to read your story but I am stuck with exams and everything. Is the infection gone?? How is curly tail feeling now?? πŸ™‚βœŒ

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Don’t worry about my stories, dear Suzan. Concentrate on your studies. πŸ™‚
          Ollie still has some scabby areas, but the redness has gone now, so the steroids and antibiotics appear to have worked.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I am totally ready for the exams. Finishing this ThursdayπŸ‘―πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ‘―πŸ˜˜ I am happy that ollie is better than before. Don’t give him too many steroids. I had cancer so I know about it. It is very dangerous, especially for animals. Make sure you detox his body after the treatment. Just giving advice. No offense. πŸ€—

            Liked by 1 person

            1. No offence taken, Suzan. Ollie has a small-dose Prednisolone tablet, just half a day for one week, which stops him itching. He tolerates it well, although I do not like to give him too many. It is a balance between the drugs, and the scratching, ever since we got him over seven years ago. A problem of the breed, unfortunately.
              Best wishes, Pete. πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Well, I hope he gets better soon. Btw I have a wish, please post a nice pic of Ollie on your blog. I want to see that cutie nicely. He is such a darling and it’s a shame people don’t like him (read the body-shaming comments) they are sick in the head. Hope you fulfil this tiny wish of Ollie’s biggest fan. πŸ™‚βœŒπŸ˜Š

                Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been ‘full-on’ with our civil war, since my early teens. πŸ™‚

      I am a member of The Cromwell Association. Anyone who killed a King is alright in my book! That’s why Ollie is called ‘Oliver’ too!
      http://www.olivercromwell.org/wordpress/

      This book is mainly about the campaigns in the west country, in the early period. It does attempt to give some overall view of the conflict though. Great value at 99 p, and well worth that, even though it gets a bit ‘soap opera’ in parts.

      This is a very good non-fiction account.
      https://www.worldofbooks.com/en-gb/books/blair-worden/english-civil-wars/GOR003661608?keyword=&gclid=EAIaIQobChMInrP0-Mec5QIVCbLtCh1s7Q9aEAYYCCABEgKOrfD_BwE

      Ollie is not scratching now, though still rather ‘scabby’. His neck/chest has already healed up though.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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