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War for the Sake of Peace - an Editorial Review of "Longsword: Edward and the Assassin"

Book Blurb:

Recipient of the Literary Titan's Book Award

The #1 Best Historical Fiction Featuring Real People in the Goodreads List

"The War must be for the sake of Peace" —Aristotle

City of Acre, Holy Land, Friday, 17th of June, in the year 1272 of the incarnation of Christ, on the eve of Edward's birthday. The Crusaders and Mamluks have recently signed a peace treaty when Peter Longsword, an orphan raised in a monastery, is caught in the storm of an assassination attempt on the royal Crusader. When he saves the life of the crown prince of England on his first day as a guard in the royal household, Peter is drawn irreversibly into a deep plot to discover who ordered the assassination and why. Peter encounters knights, mercenaries, infidels, and nobility and he learns about treachery, love, and loyalty in his journey toward the truth of his own origins as well as the truth of the murder attempt. With the help of his new friends, Peter will ride to the edge of the realm to prove the strength of his bloodline. Enemies will unite and new alliances will be forged in the struggle for power and peace. Longsword shows you the world of sword brothers' bravery and the power of friendship.

Author Bio:

Dimitar Gyopsaliev, an award-winning and internationally bestselling author, is devoted to giving his readers fast-paced and plot-twisted adventures. He doesn’t live in a castle with his family and doesn’t possess shining armor. He loves history and uses his imagination to tell good stories. By day, he’s an engineer supporting others to build their projects. By night, he is helping princesses and knights achieve their dreams. He tries to be a doting father, as his children inspired him to create stories for them.

Editorial Review:

The greatest difficulty of this book is that it is, it could be argued, too long for its own good. The reader is presented with the prospect of a book that shows no real indication of actually arriving anywhere soon. In essence, ''Longsword: Edward and the Assassin'' would carry far more impact if were more compact. There are, also, a large number of characters introduced quite early into the narrative - perhaps too many than can be comfortably dealt with by the average reader - and few of these seem to successfully emerge from the pages as fully formed and three dimensional characters in their own right, as they truly deserve. This is a great shame, as any of them are in fact intriguing personalities and who deserve far more characterisation than they actually receive.

The subject matter and the location of this book is a wonderful opportunity. It is a full blooded adventure and mystery story set in the crumbling Crusader States of the mid thirteenth century and set against the surging Mamluk power of Egypt and Syria and with the ever present and looming threat of The Mongols. It is an excellent choice for a book and the writer, Dimitriv Gyopsaliev, clearly has a passion for the period and subject matter. To assist the general reader, the author has included a very useful map of the area.

The book has many of the necessary character types. There is, as a central character, Peter, an illegitimate orphan boy from the backstreets of the Crusader city of Acre, with a mysterious aristocratic pedigree that links him to the Crown of England itself and who finds himself thrust into the foreground by a sinister and highly elaborate plot to assassinate Prince Edward, son of Henry III and the Crown of England, and to use this as a lure to further an even more sinister and elaborate plan. Peter is a boy with a shining future ahead of him. His almost accidental foiling of an attempt to kill Edward by a professional assassin and former friend and advisor involves him from that point onward in a dark, oppressive and occasionally baffling conspiracy that throws out a number of intriguing individuals, chief among whom is probably the ruthless and utterly lethal figure of the mysterious Ulf Magnusson, widely known and feared as 'Diyaab al-Sahra' or 'The Desert Wolf'. This man, often previously employed and highly favoured by the Sultan Baibars, the fourth Sultan of Egypt of the Mamluk Bahri dynasty is captured by a group of Europeans led by the Scotsman and Knight James of Durham [popularly known as 'The Red Herring' due to his complexion in battle]. The home of 'The Desert Wolf' has been utterly destroyed by a Mamluk war party and his pregnant wife murdered. To say that 'The Desert Wolf' has a grudge against the Mamluks is something of an understatement and he proves to be a veritable one man army and scourge of the Mamluks. He has also made a personal promise to Eleanor, the wife of Prince Edward. As a captive Mamluk prisoner at one point remarks:

''He isn't of this world. People say sea waves delivered him. The Wolf doesn't know what fear or pain is. He excels at two things: survival and killing. He strikes with dedication, determination and skill....Death surrounds him, and now we are going to die.''

It appears that the attempted assassination of Prince Edward and the attack on 'The Desert Wolf' are somehow linked. The dreaded Moslem Intelligence Service 'The Qussad'' are strongly believed to be heavily involved in both events and in some way the orphan boy Peter is both a key witness and a lure, bait, to expose the identity of the person or persons responsible. To this apparent end he accompanies a group from Acre to the City of Jerusalem in this period of uneasy truce between Moslem and Christian to seek the services of the learned physician Diyaab-al Sahra, the personal physician of the Sultan himself, to cure the poisoned wound of Prince Edward. In the company are both the Assassin and the 'Desert Wolf'. The 'companions' set off for Jerusalem. It is technically a time of truce; an uneasy truce that the Military orders of the Templars and the Hospitallers and other religious fanatical groups are more than prepared to break in their search for military power and wealth. It is a peace that the Sultan Baibars is anxious to maintain as he gathers his strength for the inevitable war that will come with the Mongol hordes from the east.

So, the scene is largely set for all that follows. The plot is, on occasion, difficult to follow, but slowly the pieces, in what is a somewhat complicated and decidedly fiendish conspiracy, slot into place. For aficionados of medieval fiction, most of the necessary ingredients are all present and correct: blinding sandstorms, damsels in distress, desert vistas, treacherous and despicable villains and the formidable super being and killing machine Diyaab al-Sahra is almost permanently on hand and can be relied upon to cut a bloody swathe through the opposition. As a constant theme running throughout the book is the growing self confidence and assuredness of the young orphan boy Peter with his mysterious past and his desire to become a Knight. This, the author assures us, is not the last we shall hear of the boy. There is, clearly, a great destiny awaiting the son of William Longsword, the illegitimate grandson of Henry II of England. Through a long and complicated sequence of events and an unexpected twist in the plot, the lives of Peter and the Mamluk Sultan Baibars become irrevocably linked. Peter is gifted his own Crusader sword by the Sultan as a reward and as the Sultan and his mamluks and 'the fellowship' stand heavily outnumbered against an evil coalition of the Sultan's enemies; renegade Mamluks, the Christian Order of Templars, Mongols or 'Tartars' and Bedouin tribesmen. The result is a lengthy and detailed blow by blow account of the battle between the forces of good and evil that ensues and is one of the most visceral and gory descriptions of bloody conflict that this reviewer has read in a long time.

That being said, there are undeniable flaws in ''Longsword, Edward and the Assassin''. The book is arguably too lengthy and the characterisation of the many characters in the narrative, on occasion, too flimsy, seeking, instead, refuge in stereotypes of good and evil. Peter's rise from inexperienced orphan boy to a Knight paladin is unfeasibly, breathlessly meteoric and it is to be hoped that, with his promised sequel, the reader is occasionally permitted to pause and draw breath. On the other hand, for those thirsting for a lengthy nonstop action story, this will prove to be a worthy read. The book also provides a springboard for enthusiastic amateur historians to explore this fascinating period of world history for themselves.


“Longsword” by Dimitar Gyopsaliev receives 3.8 stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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