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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Folville's Law (The John Swale Chronicles)

Folville's Law - David Pilling I read 'Folville's Law' because I loved Pilling's White Hawk series. This book, which is the first in his John Swale Chronicles, did not disappoint. While White Hawk takes place during the Wars of the Roses, John Swale is a knight in the service of Hugh Despenser - the younger, creepier one.

This novel expertly tells the story of Edward II's downfall through the eyes of several characters, including John, Hugh, Mortimer, and Isabella. Though the story of the battle for England between Hugh & Edward on one side and Isabella & Mortimer on the other is well-written and historically accurate, it is not the focus of the novel.

John Swale is a man of honor, or rather he tries to be while serving one who is completely lacking in it. He has ambitions but is not willing to betray those he is pledged to in order to reach them. He meets his nemesis, Eustace Folville, while on a mission for Dispenser that goes quite wrong. Folville leads a band of outlaws that has flourished under the poor governance of Edward II and they keep the people, poor and noble alike, in fear of their brand of justice.

A warning at the beginning of this book cautions the reader of graphic language, and it is not kidding. Scenes of death and assault are quite realistic and not for the faint of heart. This installment in the John Swale Chronicles is left very open for the sequels with some characters out for revenge and others resorting to exile. I look forward to carrying on with Swale's story.