E.M. Powell brings 12th century England to life once again for us in the third book in her The Fifth Knight series, featuring Knight Sir Benedict Palmer and his ex-nun of a wife, Theodosia. I just have loved her other two medieval thrillers/mysteries, The Fifth Knight (review here) and The Blood of the Fifth Knight (review here), and the third book, The Lord of Ireland, is no different. Equally well-written and plotted, it puts her standing at the top of the choices of historical fiction thrillers for the year once again.
Though this series traces Palmer and his family throughout each one, every novel is a stand alone in terms of plot. This time King Henry II has chosen his undesirable son, John Plantagenent, to be crowned King of Ireland. Since John is young and inexperienced, Palmer is asked to go along to settle things and Theodosia goes along, as well as Gerald, the King’s clerk. As with many pairs of characters the author sets-up, the comedic value of this duo of Theodosia and Gerald during the journey is priceless. This trek to Ireland could be compared to parts of The Canterbury Tales, in a way!
The journey and the arrival of John and entourage to Ireland is preparing us for more action and upheaval to come as once they hit Irish soil, we begin to see the detailed Irish landscape, its differences in land not only to England but as well its culture and military differences. Hugh de Lacy is the King’s warlord in Ireland and we also begin to see the author’s set-up of this duo of de Lacy and John, which will be one of opposites and a test of wills. The complexities of these well-developed dimensional characters are both shown among the descriptions of their posturing with each other. Powell seems to hit John’s usual historical descriptions quite accurately from what I remember in my studies…arrogant, manipulative, angry.
As I’ve stated her character development is always phenomenal and her descriptions and details beautiful. They lead me back in time and place and let me feel as if I am a part of the story. Moving on to the plot though, she also creates great action and suspense that propels the reader, giving us a glimpse and then twisting the characters or their plot lines.Though there is little less of the mystery component in this one, there is intrigue and so it suited to move the pages for me.
I always love all the cast of characters in Powell’s books, and the characters introduced and met with again, were welcome (and despised). I really enjoyed reading her take on John (nicknamed Lackland) and her follow up in her historical notes. I found the growth of Theodosia’s character also well-done and I was happy to see her take more of a role with Palmer in this plot.
I’m not surprised that the focus on Ireland was done in fervor by Powell, given her ties and interest and that made this one of her best books so far in my opinion. She keeps upping her game with her writing and I found this one the most exciting of all, most likely due to the action and intrigue if I had to figure out why. I feel she tied up the end enough but yet she did leave some openings for another book which I am sure she is busy writing.
The Lord of Ireland is definitely one historical adventure thriller that should be on your reading list this year, especially if you like medieval history like I do. Perfect score.
THE LORD OF IRELAND (THE FIFTH KNIGHT, #3)
by E.M. Powell
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Thomas & Mercer
Kindle, Paperback, Audiobook; 370 Pages
Series: The Fifth Knight
Genre: Historical Thriller
England, 1185. John is a prince without prospect of a crown. As the youngest son of Henry II, he has long borne the hated nickname ‘Lackland’. When warring tribes and an ambitious Anglo-Norman lord threaten Henry’s reign in Ireland, John believes his time has finally come. Henry is dispatching him there with a mighty force to impose order.
Yet it is a thwarted young man who arrives on the troubled isle. John has not been granted its kingship—he is merely the Lord of Ireland, destined never to escape his father’s shadow. Unknown to John, Henry has also sent his right-hand man, Sir Benedict Palmer, to root out the traitors he fears are working to steal the land from him.
But Palmer is horrified when John disregards Henry’s orders and embarks on a campaign of bloodshed that could destroy the kingdom. Now Palmer has to battle the increasingly powerful Lord of Ireland. Power, in John’s hands, is a murderous force—and he is only just beginning to wield it.
Praise for The Fifth Knight Series
“With her fast-paced mysteries set in the tumultuous reign of Henry II, E.M. Powell takes readers on enthralling, and unforgettable, journeys.” -Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown
“Both Fifth Novels are terrific. Benedict and Theodosia are not merely attractive characters: they are intensely real people.” -Historical Novels Review
“From the get-go you know you are in an adventure when you enter the world of E.M. Powell’s 12th century. Peril pins you down like a knight’s lance to the chest”-Edward Ruadh Butler, author of Swordland
Author E. M. Powell, Biography
E.M. Powell’s medieval thrillers The Fifth Knight and The Blood of the Fifth Knight have been number-one Amazon bestsellers and on the Bild bestseller list in Germany.
Born into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State) and raised in the Republic of Ireland, she lives in north-west England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.
She reviews fiction and non-fiction for the Historical Novel Society, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine.