Saturday, the second day of July, in the year of our Lord, 1644, will be a day long remembered by the men and women committed to ending the reign of a tyrannical King. For on this day, the forces of Charles the First were crushed on the bloody fields of Marston Moor.
The calamitous defeat forces the increasingly desperate Royalists to intensify their attempts to bring about the immediate demise of their Parliamentarian enemies. This includes devising an audacious plan to assassinate the man they believe is key to the war’s outcome.
With the plotters ready to strike, Francis Hacker, one of Parliament’s most loyal soldiers, becomes aware of the conspiracy. With little time to act, he does everything in his power to frustrate their plans. But, alas, things start to unravel when brave Hacker finds himself pitted against a ruthless and cunning mercenary, a man who will resort to anything to achieve a ‘kill’.
I did not read book one in the Hacker Chronicles, but I didn’t have any trouble picking up the story. The author was very good at filling in the blanks here and there without an information dump. Our protagonist, Francis Hacker, is a Parliamentarian soldier loyal to his close friend Oliver Cromwell. But he is put to work spying on Cromwell’s enemies within his own army—men who threaten to derail the whole movement, for how can they function when their top commanders are feuding? As you would expect, Hacker is obsessed with the murder of his two daughters (from book one) by a vicious Loyalist who he will encounter again. He also spent time in prison under the torturer’s knife, so he has much to avenge. His sense of guilt because he can’t protect his friends and family threatens to overwhelm him. At the same time, his beloved brother Rowland fights for the other side, and they must play a dangerous game keeping each other out of trouble without exposing themselves. All this adds up to an explosive story, as you can see while he interrogates another spy:
These memories flash across my mind as Goodyeare spills his guts. When I am satisfied, I sit back and stare at the broken man whose body I have ruined. From what I have just learned, the extent of Goodyeare’s treachery is overwhelming.
He has confessed to being a double agent for the last six months. During that time, every bit of intelligence he has fed Parliament has been laced with half-truths and lies. The information has had some value for Lord Grey’s scoutmaster. But the greatest value has been to the Royalists, who have used Goodyeare to mislead the Midlands and Eastern Association armies.
The futility and utter barbarity of the English Civil War is apparent on every page. You get the feeling there is no right or wrong—only survival against terrible odds. Is redemption even possible under such circumstances? Only God knows… but whose God?
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Meet Philip Yorke
Philip Yorke is an award-winning former Fleet Street journalist who has a special interest in history. His Hacker Chronicles series, to be told in five fast-paced historical fiction novels, tells the story of Parliamentarian soldier, Francis Hacker.
Redemption, the second book in the series, is set during the period 1644-46 (during the first English Civil War), when events take a significant turn in favour of Parliament.
Philip is married, and he and his wife have five children. He enjoys relaxing to classical music, reading the works of Nigel Tranter, Bernard Cornwell, Robyn Young and CJ Sansom, and supporting Hull City FC and Leicester Tigers RFC.
He lives in Leicestershire, England.
Connect with Philip
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