Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tom Fleck: Review

Tom Fleck: A Novel of Cleveland & Flodden by Harry Nicholson is set in North-East England during the 16th Century. We follow Tom, a hardworking cowman on the Warren estate, as he looks for a way to escape his masters. He unearths a Tudor seal ring from the mud and that, along with a gold torque he helped his father dig up, will start him on the road to freedom. But it's a long and winding road--filled with danger and fighting. For Tom is also a gifted archer and the Scottish clans on the northern border are making preparations for war. After finding what looks to be a promising job with the King's Herald, Tom and his fellows are pressed into service to defend the northern border. Will Tom survive the battle and make his way safely back to his sister....and to Rachel, the beautiful woman he met when he sold the gold torque?

Harry Nicholson's writing and story-telling abilities take us straight back to the 16th Century with nary a bump in the time-traveling journey. As the reader settles in, the 21st Century drops away and it seems more than natural to meet men in chain mail and archers with long bows. Vivid word-pictures tell us exactly where and when we are. But Nicholson is at his very best with characterization. Tom is a likeable fellow--full of dreams and faults and very human. He's got a temper that he needs to learn to control and a streak of friendliness and kindness a mile wide. And the reader is rooting for him from the very start. The supporting cast are just as well-drawn.

Overall, a very interesting and well-told historical novel. Seeing the ending battles from Tom's viewpoint put us right in the middle of the fray. And gave us the story from the man on the ground rather than the knights and landed gentry leading the troops. A very good read with a lovely ending. It was so nice to read a story with a happy ending--not there aren't disappointments and losses along the way. So many modern writers seem to think they have to write depressing endings, because life so often is depressing and disappointing and they want to be "realistic." Sometimes it's good to have a good, old fashioned "happily-ever-after." Close enough to four stars--that's what I'll go with.

[Disclaimer: I have my review policy stated on my blog, but just to reiterate....This review copy was offered to me by the author for impartial review and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments are entirely my own honest opinion.]

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