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1644. The smoke of parliamentary musket, cannon, andmortar fire is in the air around the royalist stronghold ofLathom House. Though guards still stand atop its walls,it is besieged on all sides, and it is only a matter of timeuntil the house, along with its embittered and unwaveringcountess, Lady Charlotte de Tremouille, falls toParliament’s might. Yet somehow, a royalist spy stillcreeps, unseen, through its gates, and brings the countessParliament’s secrets.Barely recovered from the trials of the last few months,Daniel Cheswis is torn from his family and sent north,to uncover the identity of the traitor; though before hecan even begin, Cheswis finds himself embroiled in amurder. A woman has been garrotted with cheese wirein her Chester home, suggesting there is more than justthe usual hatreds of war at play.As lives are lost and coats are turned on both sides,Cheswis is tasked with finding the murderer, uncoveringthe traitor, and surviving his soldierly duty longenough to see Lathom House fall.
The first D.W. Bradbridge book I read was The Winter Siege in January, 2014. In fact in my review of The Winter Siege I wrote (about a character), “He is the hero, albeit a reluctant hero, of The Winter Siege and one of my personal favorite historical fiction characters of late.” and “The Winter Siege is a weighty novel but it’s a truly captivating and intriguing mystery.” To say I loved it would be a severe understatement. When I found out that D.W. Bradbridge was releasing the sequel to The Winter Siege I jumped on it!
I am 100% a D.W. Bradbridge fan.
Now, before I go on and on and on about how much I loved A Soldier of Substance let me introduce you to D.W. Bradbridge.
(Oh…and if you followed me on Twitter you might have noticed that The Winter Siege was free on Amazon recently. I tweeted about it incessantly. If you don’t follow me there maybe you should fix that…)
D.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.
“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.
“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?
“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”
Now, let’s talk about the book.
Historical fiction fans (like me) can rejoice because at long last we have a historical fiction author worth reading! I’m not out to talk poorly about other historical fiction authors because Lord knows I love the genre and I love many, many, many authors in the genre but one can only read so much Tudor fiction before it becomes tedious and over-played. The fact that Bradbridge takes on the 1600’s with a dirty perspective of war and mystery thrills me.
That character I mentioned earlier, the one I called one of my favorite characters of late is back and he is just as charming in this book as he was in The Winter Siege. Daniel Cheswis is just so engaging and he feels so genuine that I would almost swear that Bradbridge knew him as a living and breathing person. You want to read about him and his mission to solve the mystery and you are cheering him on! It’s especially fantastic because as much as I love Cheswis the mystery itself is just as engaging and interesting. It’s just an all-around great historical novel.
I’ll warn you though that just like The Winter Siege, A Soldier of Substance is a heavy novel. For readers like me who love war fiction and who adore historical fiction a weighty novel like this is like a little paper piece of heaven but if you’re not a weighty reader just be forewarned. This book takes place during the English Civil War of the 1600’s and is heavily involved in masculinity, war, murder and intrigue. To me, it was amazing.
I’m already sitting on pins and needles waiting for Bradbridge to release another book.
Does it sound like perhaps I’m fangirling a bit over another author? It’s probably because I am. This author, and his books, are just incredible. So go buy this one and I hope you love it as much as I do.
Now just for the sake of full disclosure I’ll say that I read this book as part of a marketing book tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours however there was no obligation to favorably review the book and I could have cancelled my participation in this campaign at any time. I chose to participate because I really (really) loved this book.