1326. In an England riven with conflict, knight and peasant alike find their lives turned upside down by the warring factions of Edward II, with his hated favourite, Hugh le Despenser, and Edward's estranged queen Isabella and her lover, Sir Roger Mortimer.
Yet even in such times the brutal slaughter of an entire family, right down to a babe in arms, still has the power to shock. Three further murders follow, and bailiff Simon Puttock is drawn into a web of intrigue, vengeance, power and greed as Roger Mortimer charges him to investigate the killings.
Michael Jecks says:
At last I've reached the end of Edward II's reign. The story begins with the dreadful period of October 1326, when Bishop Walter was murdered, and the King was forced to flee from the approaching host of his own Queen. Despenser and the King hurried all the way across the country, seeking supporters who would fight to protect them, but all in vain. In the end, desperate, they headed off into Wales.
This is the point at which I started the book. I had a vision of scruffy soldiery marching, exhausted and filthy from too many nights in the open, along a muddy road. The weather was foul, all the reports tell us. And then a soldier falls into a pot hole and badly cuts his leg.
There is murder, of course - the brutal slaughter of an entire family, right down to a babe in arms. Then three further murders follow, and bailiff Simon Puttock is drawn into a web of intrigue, vengeance, power and greed as Roger Mortimer charges him to investigate the killings.
No, I won't give you more than that. But suffice it to say that the themes are of soldiers' loyalty to each other, and the destructive forces at play within a dysfunctional family. The case came from an old yellow book discovered by Browning, and he used it for his poem The Ring and The Book. It's complex, yes, but the period was so fascinating, and the story of the family so enthralling and horrific, that you'll really enjoy it.
The Oath was published by Simon & Schuster on 27th May 2010. Use the links below to order it from Amazon, or ask your local bookshop to stock it (quoting the ISBN isn't essential, but will make it easier for them!)
- The original hardback (ISBN: 978-1-8473-7900-9)
- and the trade paperback, published at the same time (ISBN: 978-0-8572-0034-1)
- have been joined by a Kindle ebook edition,
- and a mass market paperback, published on 6th January 2011, ISBN: 978-1-8498-3082-9).
- The audio edition, read by Michael Tudor Barnes, is published by ISIS Soundings in a choice of formats - order it direct from the publisher.
Acclaim for Michael Jecks' mysteries:
"Michael Jecks paints a realistic portrait ... the detail of how life was lived from the highest to the lowest in this alien and frightening landscape is marvellously portrayed"
"A powerful tale of greed, vengeance, and the dangers of daily life in a country cursed with a weak king. Suspenseful, compelling, and convincing."
Sharon Kay Penman
"With convincing characters whose treacherous acts perfectly combine with a devilishly masterful plot, Jecks transports readers back to this wicked world with ease"
Good Book Guide