The union of England and Scotland under one crown is not even a half century old, and the Parliamentarians already threaten the very fabric of the nation. These are the adventures of highwayman Capt. James Hind who, in Robin Hood fashion, steals from the Roundheads to help fund the royalist cause. When Cromwell comes to power, James, the Prince of Prigs, must be careful whom among his treacherous “friends” he trusts.
As I was setting up this post, I noticed in the author blurb that he is working on the sequel to The Prince of Prigs. I must say a hearty, "HUZZAH" to that, as I thoroughly enjoyed this book! And the way in which the end of Prince was set up was great. I knew the end was coming as the pages were getting fewer and fewer by the minute, but thank goodness Mr. Anglorus does not give us one of those abrupt endings that leaves a reader hanging.
I learned as much about the English Civil Wars from reading this book as I had in any world history class, and enjoyed it far more! Rare would be the highwayman that showed charity with the less fortunate citizens of the time (of anytime, really), so it was hard not to like Captain James Hind, thief though he may be. It's hard not to draw a comparison to Robin Hood, with the steal-from-the-rich-give-to-the-poor mentality of Hind's.
Compare James Hind to the character of Zachary Howard, who, like Hind, was a soldier loyal to King Charles. When that side was defeated the Parliamentarians stripped him of his lands and titles, leaving him little choice but to take up the same subsequent profession of Hind, that of a highwayman. But there the comparison ends there. Hind was not well-to-do to start with, but shared his 'ill-gotten booty' with those even less fortunate than him. Howard had been rich, and took his revenge on the family of the least offensive Parliamentarian there, stealing silver and jewelry, tying up the household staff, and sexually assaulting both the man's daughter and wife all in the same evening. Hind went out of his way to leave his mark alive. Howard seemed to take perverse pleasure in killing. I think I may have cheered out loud when Howard got his comeuppance on two occasions.
In setting themselves up as absolute power in England, the Parliamentarians (and those specifically those in the Commons who ignored the House of Lords and barred entry to the Commons to those duly elected members who did not agree with them) could be offered as a proof of the Lord Acton statement that, "Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely." They were no better than the King they deposed and put to death.
I feel it is a testament to the skill of the author that I had empathy for many characters on both sides of the action - even ones I did not particularly like, with that one notable exception above. The scenes, especially between the various officers, Parliamentarians and their wives were poignant and showed that despite their different 'positions' or 'ranks' they were all, indeed, husbands and fathers ... they were men.
If you like historical fiction, you will like The Prince of Prigs, regardless if you are male or female. Ditto if you like action stories a la Three Musketeers or Robin Hood. If you are not versed in the English Civil Wars, you will learn something...and have a great time doing so.
MEET THE AUTHOR
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After a lifetime of balancing books, Anthony turned his hand to writing them in 2009. His first book, The Other Robin Hood, is available as an ebook. An Englishman still living in England, he married a Russian doctor in 1999 and will be moving to rural France after reaching retirement age — but the writing will continue. He is already working on the sequel to The Prince of Prigs, tentatively titled Dark Days, Dark Deeds.
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(Disclosure: I received a print copy of this book from the author and publishers via the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)