Friday, December 2, 2011

The Vagrant King by E V Thompson

Not a newly published book, but for anyone who likes stories of Cavaliers and Roundheads in a bygone time with all its romantic overtones, this story is perfect.

Cornish farmer Joseph Moyle's loyalty to the crown goes well rewarded - his step-son Ralf is appointed page to Prince Charles, son of the martyr king. However when Ralph takes up his post, Britain is in the midst of the Civil Wars between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians.

Ralf’s first love, Brighid is an Irish Catholic  seamstress and it turns out she is unwittingly complicit in an attempt to kidnap Prince Charles - a fact that Ralf discovers when he foils the plot.  Ralf follows Charles into exile where he is promoted to personal secretary  after ten years of loyal service.

Returning at the Battle of Worcester, Ralf is about to escape with other Royalist exiles to the continent, when he discovers his step-father is dead and his beloved family farm, Trecarne has been given to a Puritan, shattering his dreams of a homecoming in the future.

This book is reminiscent of historical sagas which editors say are no longer popular, but as a reader I love them. Ralf Hunkyn is a fictitious character whose story is woven into real events of the 1640’s. Mr Thompson draws a detailed portrait of life in the exiled Court of Charles I and the privations everyone has to endure while maintaining a lifestyle destined to end. Prince Charles’ character is also sympathetically handled in the way he deals with the Covenanters who would use him for their own ends.

Ralf himself is a little too good to be true, but all one can hope for in a dashing cavalier hero, so no complaints there. He shows compassion, loyalty, and he is willing to face prison in the name of the girl he loves.  A thoroughly enjoyable, fast paced story with plenty of action and no explicit sex – Lovely.