Harold of Hereford is a man born of history and will grow up with the destiny of England in his grasp.
Descended from a line of English heroes who have all fought for English liberty from Norman rule he must learn the ways of a warrior if he is to continue the fight.
Sent from England to hone his skills in the war-torn Christian states of the Middle East, Harold and his loyal retainer Eadmer first travel to Venice to enlist in the Doges Navy.
Harold is then chosen top help escort the Doges sister Lady Livia to her husband-to-be Roger, Regent of Antioch.
Disaster and misfortune dog the mission and Harold must use all of his new found experience to safely deliver Livia to her husband but a betrayal will leave him bitter and discharged from the Doges service.
Knighted by the Doge and with a reputation as a fighter, Harold soon comes to the attention of a new fighting force in the Crusader states.
As a founder member of the Templers he is sent to England to raise money and recruit for them but he finds England in turmoil.
King Henry is dead and the land is locked in a civil war between his chosen heir Empress Matilda and her cousin Stephen who has usurped the throne.
Harold is drawn to Matilda’s cause. She may be the daughter of the Norman King Henry but in her runs, the blood of English Saxon kings and she is the only hope for a fairer England.
With Harold as her Military adviser she sets of to win back her rightful throne but on the way her and Harold become lovers and Harold will influence the English monarchy in ways he could never of imagined.
This is the third book from Stewart Binns and one of the strengths of the previous books has been the character development and this continues with Harold of Hereford. From a young man struggling to live up to his families past and successes, he uses the almost constant state of warfare to learn his skills and grow as a person and goes from a inexperienced young solider to a battle hardened and tough captain of men.
A relatively unusual aspect of the book is the strong women characters. From Harold’s Mother via the Venetian Princess Livia to the Empress Matilda they are strong, dominant and they have a profound influence on Harold. While he maybe inspired by the tales of this male relatives exploits its the women in his life who mold and make the man.
This gives the book a much softer side to an often brutal and bloody period of history and really adds another dimension to the story. We still get plenty of fighting and hacking scenes and the naval scenes in particular are very good so there is something for everyone.
This book is set in one of the most traumatic periods in European history, with a state of constant small scale warfare between England and France, Mediterranean city states vying for trade and a battle of survival in the Christian states in the Middle East, Anarchy is an apt name for this book.
This book brings to life those turbulent times and populates it with a great cast of characters, I can highly recommend this book!
Anarchy is out now.
Stewart Binns is a former academic, soldier and teacher and now an author and documentary-maker. His television credits include the ‘In-Colour’ genre of programmes, notably the BAFTA and Grierson winner, Britain at War and the Peabody winner, ‘Second World War in Colour’.
He also launched Trans World Sport in 1987, Futbol Mundial in 1993, the Olympic Games Camera of Record in 1994 and the Olympic Television Archive Bureau in 1996.
Other productions include Century (1998), Churchill (2003), Tiger, The Official Biography (2004), Chasing Churchill (2006), Indochine (2009), Korea, The Forgotten War (2010).
His latest production, Seisen, the Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire, was completed in January 2012 and he is now embarking on The Jewel in the Crown, a major series on 20th century India.
Currently Chief Executive of the independent production company, Big Ape Media International, his writing credits include non-fiction titles The Greatest, Who is Britain’s Top Sports Star? Boxtree 1996, The Second World War in Colour, Pavilion 1999, Britain at War in Colour, Carlton 2000, America at War in Colour, Carlton 2001 and British Empire in Colour, Carlton 2002.
His first novel, Conquest, was published by Penguin in 2011, its sequel, Crusade, was released in April 2012, the third in the series, Anarchy in May 2013 and the fourth, Lionheart, in November 2013.
His home is in Somerset, where he live with his wife Lucy and twin boys, Charlie and Jack.