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Ares of Westford: Book Two of the Latter…

Ares of Westford: Book Two of the Latter Annals of Lystra

by Robin Hardy

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Ares of Westford picks up where the first novel finishes off shortly after the death of Surchatain Cedric. At 7 Henry his son is too young to reign himself, and Ares agrees to rule as `co-regent' alongside Carmine until he comes of age.
In the absence of the ruler various contenders and imposters turn up from far and wide to press claims to the throne, both genuine and false, and the Lystrans have to use all their `ingenuity' to deal with them whilst dealing with various threats from within and without.

There is certainly plenty of political intrigue in this novel, which can create tension, drama and interest and is certainly consistent with the reality of some medieval royal courts. Yet somehow perhaps the stories are a little too reliant on this device and complexity comes at the expense of character development, motivation or plausibility. Also, I felt some incidents were decidedly unrealistic and unconvincing.

In the most example the daughter of the former ruler (the title used in the novel is `Chataine' - equivalent to a Princess), decides to get revenge on her ex- by relating how she went to bed with his father and making out she enjoyed it.
In a society in which reputation and good-name mattered greatly especially for a woman, it seems totally unbelievable that any Lady of high standing would have dreamed of revealing she had having committed adultery and incest in public- Especially not a woman like Renee who had already been compromised.
Yet none of the other characters so much as raise an eyebrow, let alone considers her actions shocking. Apparently, they are so `liberal' and `enlightened' that bragging about sexual perversion in public is not considered inappropriate for a `respectable' and `honourable' Lady like Renee so her reputation miraculously survives intact. Of course, we are supposed to believe this was also because the characters realised, on hearing her recount how she willingly engaged in this act that she was actually `raped'. Yeah, right.

If nothing else the above is a good of how the common social, moral and religious attitudes, values, expectations and conventions of the medieval period do not seem to be represented by the character in this series, and are certainly not applied to Renee. There are a lot of period terms and phrases and details, but they seem superficial in comparison.

Moving on, in another place the Lystrans manage to fool someone that another character is royal by dressing up in a posh dress Not only did it seem implausible that he would have no idea how old the girl was, and so would be fooled by a woman several years older, but there was a lot more to being royal than clothes. So it did not seem plausible that one could just dress up a commoner and because she was `regal' nobody would notice the difference. What does that even mean anyway? Frankly though, pretty much all of the villains in this series appear stupid and gullible as they fall for the same dupes time and time again.

There were also some religious issues, with the implication in one passage that a person's good deed can outweigh their bad when Ares finds a law which can conveniently be interpreted in such a way as to exonerate some of his friends and royal officials of their unlawful acts. In another place it was stated that soldiers who died in battle had `commended their own souls to God' and gone to heaven when there was no indication that they had accepted Christ or been forgiven of their sin.
The conclusion of the novel, though arguably `dramatic' does seem a little predictable and perhaps bound to happen the way it did to bring about a happy ending.

Personally, Ares of Westford is not a novel I would recommend, particularly if one is looking for a good and authentic period novel with a sound spiritual message.

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  Medievalgirl | Oct 4, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0974582980, Paperback)

The murder of Surchatain Cedric has ended his brutal reign over Lystra. But according to the Law of Roman, Cedric's son, seven-year-old Henry, must either rule or die when he comes of age. To save his life, Commander Ares swears to uphold Henry's ascension. But while the throne is vacant, pretenders come pouring into Westford to press preposterous claims of rulership. In the midst of this turmoil, the young Chataine of Qarqar arrives, seeking safety from pursuit. In choosing to shelter her, Ares invites attacks from enemies known and unknown. When the crisis comes to a head, and leadership is thrust upon Ares, long-hidden pages of Roman's Law come to light that seal Henry's fate and make Ares' course inevitable. Ares of Westford is the sequel to Nicole of Prie Mer in the Latter Annals of Lystra. Robin Hardy is the author of the Sammy series, the Streiker Saga, the Annals of Lystra, Nicole of Prie Mer: Book One of the Latter Annals of Lystra, and Padre. She is also the editor of W.W. Melton's classic devotional, Sifted But Saved. For photos, articles, guest features, and updates on new releases, see Robin's website at www.robinhardy.com.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:18 -0400)

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