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REVIEW: CB- An Endless Exile by Mary Lancaster

Dear Mrs. Lancaster,

big_Lancaster-Exile.jpgThank you so much for submitting your book, An Endless Exile, for consideration in our July ebook contest. I’m always looking for a good historical novel and yours is excellent. I had heard of the name Hereward “the Wake” (Hereward the Watchful), the only Englishman to defy and defeat William the Conqueror, but didn’t know much more about him than that. After reading your novel, I’ll find it hard to ever forget him.

It must be difficult to have a folk hero for your hero and balance the adoration he must receive from his followers with enough flaws to make him human. When you add the fact that you must stick to known historical information about the Norman Conquest, its aftermath and the people involved as well as the few facts known or suspected about Hereward then make the tale told in first person by his wife, well, you’ve done a heck of a job.

While I was reading the story, I couldn’t help but think of Lymond and Phillipa from the pen of the late great Dorothy Dunnett. Hereward has the same indolent charm, natural charisma, intelligence, cunning, and problems with his family which hide his vulnerability. Torfrida’s tart intelligence, no nonsense behavior, late blooming beauty and ultimate devotion to a man who has hurt her severely end with her willing to risk everything to know the truth about him.

I like that you show both the good and bad in each character. Few books show how difficult it must be to live with a hero, to live on the run and to have to share so much of the man you love. And then just when I was ready to hit Hereward for putting Torfrida through so much, he’d do something to show just how much of a hold she had on his heart and soul. The story of their growing friendship, courtship and early love was even more poignant when juxtaposed with her investigation into his murder.

Your writing style is crisp and clean, with a neat sly humor that I love. The descriptions immediately placed me back in mid 11th century but didn’t gross me out with too much reality. You manage to convey the brutality and violence of the age without having the book drip in gore. I do have some words of caution for would be readers: don’t peek at the ending and read a little background information on the times to get your feet under you.

I already know of several people to whom I will recommend this book. A- for you.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

15 Comments

  1. Keishon
    Jul 29, 2006 @ 19:03:25

    I am so appreciative of you reading and reviewing historicals – you know I am getting this one. Right now. Thanks.

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  2. jaye
    Jul 29, 2006 @ 22:00:20

    It sounds like a perfect read, why the ‘minus’?

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  3. jmc
    Jul 29, 2006 @ 23:01:45

    Keishon’s getting a copy. I checked out the excerpt at Lancaster’s website, then bought a copy (love the immediacy of ebooks :). You’re recommending the book to several people.

    Jayne, you’re a successful book pimp, er, book reviewer, I mean.

    ~jmc

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  4. Jayne
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 07:00:17

    Keishon, let me know what you think. I’m also intrigued by the other book she has listed at her website. Something about a revolution in Hungary in the 19th century. Maybe someone will be brave and try that> Hint, hint, nudge, nudge…

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  5. Jayne
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 07:01:09

    Jmc… book pimp. I love it. I might have to get a T-shirt with that on it! ;)

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  6. Jayne
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 07:12:57

    Jaye, why the minus? Well, let’s just say we book pimps are picky. Actually….hmmmm, how best to say why without getting into spoilers.

    Let me give some background for the book. Lancaster had to do a lot of research and then extrapolate a lot to tell this story. From what I found out about Hereward on the internet, historians are pretty sure he existed and know a few hard facts about him but a lot is speculation after that. Lancaster has the two separate about 4 years before the book opens. Hereward does something that totally disgusts Torfrida and causes her to leave him. The reader knows from the beginning of the book that the separation occured, but doesn’t know why until later in the story. It was the way the separation was handled that brought the grade down. It was very quick and I had a hard time believing that, for a couple so in love, she would pick up and go that quickly. I guess maybe what he did, piled on top of the stressful conditions they’d been living under for 6 years might have been enough to send her over the deep end but I just expected that the cause would have gone on longer or something…She forgives him a lot of things and then leaves over one particular thing.

    I don’t know if that makes any sense or not but that was why.

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  7. Keishon
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 09:00:06

    Jayne, the book pimp. I checked out her website and would love to try another one of her books but she only has this book available right now. As I was getting ready to purchase this book from Fictionwise, they promptly told me that I already HAD a copy of this book. I was like: where? Anyway, I hope to read it soon. I wouldn’t mind reading another one of her books but she doesn’t seem to have anything else available.

    We should hunt down and try some of these obscure historical ebooks. Well, you’re already doing that ;-) I need to get on the bandwagon.

    Wow, just another month to wait for the new Diana Norman.

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  8. Jayne
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 09:52:12

    She has this other book listed on her website. I guess it must not be out yet. *&^%$#@. I hate it when I think a book is out and it’s not. I hate waiting. Hate it. I want it NOW.

    Yes, I’m counting the days until Diana Norman’s book is out. Is it being released in the US in September or just the UK and/or Canada? Do you know? I guess I could take my lazy bones over to Amazon.com and find out, huh?

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  9. Jayne
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 09:54:30

    Keishon, and don’t you love it when you find out you already have a book you want to read? [grin] I do like the cover for this as well since it has a lot to do with the story.

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  10. Jorrie Spencer
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 16:52:43

    Omigoodness, this book made you think of Dorothy Dunnett. I don’t know if there can be higher praise. (Well, I’m a huge Dunnett fan.)

    I’m intrigued.

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  11. Jayne
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 18:26:33

    Jorrie, keep in mind that I think the character traits are similar, NOT the style in which the book is written.

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  12. Jorrie Spencer
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 18:36:38

    Noted.

    (Aside: Have you read the House of Niccolo?)

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  13. Jane
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 19:42:41

    I recommended this one to my aunt, who is a Dunnett Spit-er, and thought she might enjoy it.

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  14. Jayne
    Jul 30, 2006 @ 23:49:29

    Jorrie, no I’ve not read that series. I got the first two books but decided to wait until she had more published before getting started with it. Well, years later I’ve never gone back and read them. Bad me.

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  15. Mary Lancaster
    Jul 31, 2006 @ 02:43:19

    Wow, this is one contest I’m glad I enetered! Thank you so much for this review! I’m delighted that you liked the book so much, and I have to say it makes my day – my month! – even to be mentioned on the same page as Dorothy Dunnett :)

    About A World to Win (the Hungarian revolution book), I’m sorry if my website was misleading. The book was originally meant to be released at the end of March, but there has apparently been some big hold up over the cover art. Anyway, I’ve sent the blog link with all your comments to my publisher. I’m about to go on holiday now, but I’ll be happy to give you an update or answer any other questions when I come home.

    Best wishes
    Mary

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