Tag Archives: historical fiction

Poldark: Ross Poldark

By Winston Graham

A good and easy read for me. I wouldn’t call it exactly light, and it didn’t have the battles of Bernard Cornwall, but I found this first book in the Poldark series interesting. It’s well written and easy to read. There are likeable and unlikeable characters.

The action centres around Ross Poldark (oddly enough!). In 1783 young Ross Poldark returns from fighting in American war of independence to his native Cornwall. His father has died, and has inherited his fathers land, crumbling house and not much more, and the woman he loves is engaged to his cousin.

It’s not a rollicking pot-boiler, although it does include some romance. I started reading it because of the new sumptuous BBC series, Poldark, then I couldn’t be bothered watching the TV series and stuck the book! It’s not as saucy as the TV series … but in it’s day it may be been (the novel was first published in 1945).

Poldark sets about restoring his fortunes, by opening an abandoned copper mine. I don’t know much about Cornish history, so I did find the mining and the life of the minors fascinating. That is to say if you can call such hardship fascinating. Poldark was a man who liked to support the working and poor people of his community. He spoke up for them. There may have been people like Ross Poldark in the 1780’s … or this seemingly noble and heroic character may just have a few 20th century sensibilities.

This is the first in a series, and I would consider reading another in the series.

Feel free to disagree!

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Vagabond

By Bernard Cornwell

This is the second in the Grail Quest series.

Huh!   I think I have found my replacement for romance and my complete comfort read, de-stress, chill-out reads. I’m not really that enamoured with the Sharpe books (I may have even written about one in this blog), but I do like The Grail Quest series.   I read the first book Harlequinlast year.

It opens in 1346.  Thomas of Hookton is an archer in King Edward’s army.   Thomas has an unusual background for an archer.   He is the bastard son of a priest, he has been educated (so can read and write in a English, Latin, and French).   Thomas leaves his education and decides to become an archer.   Harlequin starts with a French raid on the village of Hookton.   Thomas’s father is killed, and the village is destroyed.   Thomas goes of to be an archer of note on the battlefield of Crecy.

In Vagabond, King Edward sends Thomas back to England because they hear a rumour that Thomas’s dead father used to have the Holy Grail in his possession.   Thomas learns about his heritage, and who raided the village.   He goes back to France, get’s involved in other battles, meets his enemies etc etc.

Vagabond cover

Vagabond cover, from Bernard Cornwell’s official website

I could keep reading this book.   I found it engaging, and interesting.   For me, it was a good easy read.   A great alternative to romances.   Thank goodness!   If you don’t like bloodshed be warned though.  It is about war.  Old fashioned, up close and personal war.  There are disgusting and gross bits.   And yeah, the female characters aren’t the greatest … but Bernard Cornwall doesn’t urk me the way that Edward Rutherford does.

So yeah.  Loved it.