Book review: Winter’s Knight by Richard Argent

Too old for Harry Potter, too young for David Gemmell...where does a boy go to for his reading adventures?

Friday, 8th October 2010, 7:00 am

Look no further than Winter’s Knight, Richard Argent’s thrilling teen novel which blends fiction, fact and fantasy into one epic, all-action historical rollercoaster and is guaranteed to capture the imagination of even the most reluctant readers.

Set in 1175 during the volatile reign of Henry II, a village lad from Cressing in Essex, a spiritual centre for the famous Templar knights, is destined to escape home ties and embark on the journey of a lifetime.

Andrew has always been different to the other Cressing boys...it’s said that when he was born in the nearby forest, he was delivered by a witch who left the dark marks of her hands on his ankles and strange webbing between his toes.

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Bullied, tormented and regularly dumped in the village pond, Andrew has learned to be both resilient and resourceful.

One night, the ghosts of a murderer and his victim appear to him with a message that will shape his future. He is destined to be a famous knight who will distinguish himself on the battlefields of the Crusader wars in the Holy Land.

However, there is also a secret that cannot be revealed to him and which could lead him into a minefield of Templar politics and unimaginable dangers.

Hoping that the luck which has so far kept him alive will lead him to fame and fortune, Andrew leaves behind his parents and sisters and sets off on his great adventure.

It’s a perilous gamble because Andrew is technically a runaway serf and faces being dragged back to his village and losing the right to earn the status of freeman.

His travels take him to London where he saves the life of the beautiful young Angelique de Sonnac and is rewarded with a post in the retinue of the respected knight Templar Gondemar de Blois.

The ghosts’ prophecy might just be fulfilled, until Andrew makes a rash decision that could kill his ambitions in one fell swoop...

Winter’s Knight is the perfect escapist novel, packing in battlefield action, blood-and-guts excitement, a quirky cast of characters, some ghostly goings-on and a touch of gentle romance.

A dream come true for bored boys...

(Atom, paperback, £7.99)