The Last Hours
My review -
The story takes place over a few months, after the great plague, the Black Death, comes to Britain. Sir Richard of Develish sets out with his retinue and much of his gold, to visit a neighbour with the intention of sealing a marriage for his daughter, Eleanor. The men fall sick and very few return to Develish, where Richard’s wife, lady Anne, refuses them entry for two weeks, to ensure the sickness doesn’t enter the moated settlement. Richard and all his followers but one, a serf, die of the plague. The hero of the tale is the bastard son of a serf, never acknowledged by his mother’s husband, and visibly different from all around him, being very tall, dark haired and olive skinned.
The richness of this story is in the detail. The corruption of the church, the total hold the lord has over those serfs in his demesne, the arrogance of the Norman French in their dealings with the local people, are very well presented. The surviving serfs, solely responsible for growing and harvesting the vital crops, are in many places starving themselves to death because their lords have gone north to try to escape the sickness, leaving their slaves to await their return in terror of being held to account for missing sheep and crops. The book is very compelling, filled with rich characters and a believable storyline. There’s more to come and I’ll be delighted when it’s ready. I want to pick it up and follow these people and their lives.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher from whom I received an advance copy for review.