Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Lady for Ransom

By Alfred Duggan

Every time I see Duggan's name I am reminded of 'The Day of the Jackal'.

This is the third book I've read by Duggan, and like the first, it concentrates it's story in the period of the First Crusade, in and around Byzantium, dealing with the various historical events and the political intrigue which led to the eventual fall of the Eastern Roman empire. QUite whether or not Duggan hits the nail on the head with regards the latter I can't say but there is no doubt that he knows his history well enough to carve a story from it. Of the three books, this one is marginally better than the other two, largely I think because it doesn't rely on established historical events. The story functions well enough on its own merits. That is to say, for about as far as it is an entertainig story, which it barely is.

The book is centred on the testimony of the aging monk Roger looking back over his life in the employ of the Norman noble Roussel de Balliol and his wife Matilda. As a translator, Roger is witness to various events which his station in life would ordinarily keep from him, and as Roussel and Matilda make their way through a tricky campaign as mercenaries, Roger is able to look back with a clear memory and relate their fortune.

This is an small, but moderately entertaining read, but it should be noted that the title is misleading.

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