This is a thrilling, fast-moving, engaging tale, with unexpected twists, beautiful prose, excellent characterisation and dialogue, human sentiment and motivation, and graphic descriptions of war. It is packed with historical details from country and city life, siege warfare, battles and a woman’s lot as well as a soldier’s. The reader is utterly convinced by the medieval world in this stunning work. Placing gentlewomen such as Blanche or Christiana, noble Norman wives, into war-torn scenarios takes them out of the castle without compromising medieval sentiment. Gilman’s detail, even in reference to embroidery, is astonishing. Nor does he forget the lepers, the poor and city tradeswomen. I am reminded of great books such as those of Zoe Oldenbourg. And, move over Bernard Cornwell!
Defiant unto Death is historical fiction at its best, a Pandora’s Box of a novel, a great novel which comes highly recommended. Historical Novel Society
Defiant Unto Death is a consuming read. Action-packed and fuelled by adrenalin, it brings to life one of medieval Europe’s most relentless wars, when friends and enemies could be found on both sides of this tightly contested war between neighbours. David Gilman writes so well, managing to stir the blood while moving the reader, at least this one, to tears. Its mix of fact and fiction is very well balanced. It might be early in the year but I have no doubt that this will feature among my top historical fiction reads of 2015. For Winter Nights - Book Blog
Page turning novel … a gritty book sparing nothing in its descriptions of the realities of Medieval warfare Daily Mail
Master of War is an extremely exciting novel. It's pace rarely pauses. But above all else it is steeped in the blood, rage and grief of war, where death can come from every side at any time and in the most horrible of ways, where life off the battlefield can be almost as fragile as on it and where love and friendship have a price. Life was short for archers, knights and the poor. No wonder then that Thomas changes before our eyes to a man that even his friends fear as a harbinger of death. I hope we get a sequel.
For Winter Nights - Book Blog
'Excellent…In David Gilman I see flashes of brilliance that surpass Bernard Cornwell'
Ani Johnson on BookBag
The second book from David in his cracking Master of War series and one that I’ve been waiting for for what feels like forever. Not that I’m an impatient reader but when you get treated to a story that really resonates, that gives you a principle hero that you love spending time around as well as a lead character that has to struggle to make his own way in the world all round gives me a book that I just can’t put down.
Yet whilst the first is the announcement, it’s the second that sets the pace for whether a writer can be an author as they have to stick to deadlines and produce a title of the same level of quality as a book that they may have spent years on polishing to within an inch of its life. Here a great many writers fail and sink without a trace but when an author rises, the second novel for me is the one that chooses how far up the TBR pile they start.
For me, David not only matched the quality of the original but for me exceeded it. I loved the way that Thomas carries on growing as the tale unfurls. The supporting cast is crisp and when added to an overall arc that really keeps the story moving at quite a clip, I’m more than a happy reader. Great stuff.
I really did love this book … a great read … an epic story - it certainly deserves the second volume and I will want to read it as soon as I can.
This review is based on a pre-publication copy of the full book. 'Nigel' on Goodreads
Hold tight, this is see-saw drama at its best.
Thomas may be a de facto Norman lord now but the combination of that and his English birth when there's a paranoid French king in charge is a dangerous mixture. Then, David ramps it all up by adding the Savage Priest…
Alongside the incarnate evil there's a love story (unslushy so fear not, Chaps!) as Thomas proves he will do anything for Christiana for as long as he's able. There's also some incredibly exciting action, battles so well invoked one can almost smell them and so many reasons why, when life tried to encourage me to put the book down, I resisted stridently. This is writing that twists around seldom seen hist-fict depth. By the end of both the book and the author's wonderful historical notes we have a good idea of the destination of the next leg of our journey and I for one can't wait to begin. Ani Johnson – BookBag
This is an excellent book. Many have been written about the 100 Years’ War, the prowess of the Black Prince, Crecy, Poitiers, etc., but this story is told from a totally different angle. Thomas Blackstone is a commoner, a peasant, a stone quarryman by trade with few rights or privileges but who rises in life to make a name for himself. After Crecy we learn of the war from the French side through Godfrey de Harcourt who, despite his family’s divided loyalties, is himself loyal to King Edward. To a certain extent we see how ‘the other half lives’.
I was gripped by this book from page one and learned a lot about the age from it. The characterisation was good and the fictitious blended well with the facts. It will certainly stay on my bookshelves. Thoroughly recommended. Historical Novel Society
This book is a brilliant mix or characterisation, intrigue, battles, nationalities, history, enmity, courage, cowardice, fear and bravery. Robin Carter Parmenion Books
If you only read one historical debut this year, make it this one. The prose is sharper than a bodkin arrow, the pace faster than thought and it was a book I just couldn't put down' Falcata Times