Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Flint Lord - Richard Herley

    1981; 224 pages.  Genre : Action - Adventure.  Book #2 in The Pagans trilogy.  New Author? : No.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Brennis Gehan Fifth needs more land.  For farms.  To feed his flint mining operation.  Southern England in 3000 BC has plenty of acreage.  But it's being used by its original inhabitants, the Hunter-Gatherers.

    There are quite a few of the latter, but they're spread out among a number of tribes.  It is time to annihilate them and take their land.  Brennis will need lots of mercaneries, imported from the mainland.  They will cost lots of money and lots of food.  But in the long run, it will be worth it.  And after all, he is The Flint Lord.

What's To Like...
    Tagart is back from the first book, The Stone Arrow (reviewed here).  He has first-hand experience as to how dangerous Lord Brennis is, but before he can convince others of that he needs to get assimilated into his new tribe (his old clan is no more), and resolve some serious woman issues.

    The action starts immediately and doesn't let up.  But here it is more complex than in The Stone Arrow, and more believable.  Brennis Gehan is a worthy adversary - cunning, ruthless, determined, and resourceful.  The Hunter-Gatherers' counter-plan to his invasion goes badly awry, and that's unusual but pleasant change-of-pace.

    The rest of the characters are somewhat thinner.  Rald and Ika seem to exist only to set the standard for civilized depravity.  Klay has the misfortune to be Tagart's rival.  And don't trust any of the women.

    The ending is well thought-out, and has a kewl twist.  It resolves the main issues and leaves some loose ends for a sequel.  But ANAICT, Book 3, The Earth Goddess, starts a generation later, which would seem to leave those loose ends (e.g., Rald and Ika) dangling.  We shall see.

Kewlest New Word...
Eyot : a small island in the middle of a river (a Britishism)

    "Who is the man?"
    "Just a slave."
    "Why is he being beaten?"
    "The overseers say he tried to escape."
    "And did he?"
    "He will not work.  In the mines he causes only trouble.  It is salutary to the others to provide an escapee now and then."  (loc. 35)

    There were over a hundred villages, stretching seventy miles along the coast and up to twenty miles inland.  Some were prosperous, with palisaded compounds, wood and stone houses, granaries; most were squalid collections of huts whose inhabitants lived in constant fear of starvation.  Over the centuries these people had come to the island country to escape oppression in the homelands: it was important to ensure that things did not get so bad that any were tempted to return.  It was important, too, to allow them a measure of hope, for this was a most effective stimulant to hard work.  (loc. 1195)

Kindle Details...
    Amazon sells The Flint Lord for $2.99; same price for The Earth Goddess.  The first book, The Stone Arrow, is a freebie, which is how I got hooked into reading this series.  I consider this a most effective marketing ploy.

"Who is there with strength to carry the mace?"  (loc. 642)
    Story-wise, The Stone Arrow is good; but The Flint Lord is better.  Historical Fiction-wise, the opposite is true.  There are a signficant number of anachronisms in this book - maps, charts, longbows (!), catapults (!!), paper cones (think megaphones), dog sleds, etc.  At least there were no candles.

    I suspect Richard Herley consciously sacrified historical accuracy for the sake of stoty-telling.  I doubt there were a lot of variations in 3000 BC when it came to weaponry, furnishings, tools, etc.

    So enjoy The Flint Lord as a fine action-adventure story, replete with brutality, bloodshed, and a bit of kinky sex.  All the forces involved have difficulties to face, and you will be challenged to guess their outcomes.  8 Stars; a bit less if you're a Historical Fiction purist.


Richard Herley said...

Thanks for the perceptive and generous review. Praise aside (though praise is always welcome!) I agree with you about the anachronisms. The Earth Goddess has some too, though some of what may appear to be anachronistic is based in research about the culture that built Stonehenge and Newgrange.

For a more rigorous approach to historical fact, you might prefer The Tide Mill, and if you email me ( I'll be very pleased to send you a copy.

P.S. Ain't the net great? I found you via Google Alerts, but why not make it a practice to send authors links to your reviews?

Hamilcar Barca said...

Hi Richard,

I'd be delighted to read The Tide Mill. I'll send you an e-mail shortly.