5 out of 5 stars

It is a land where those in charge have no interest in you until you threaten their income and power, David Hartley is drawing together the local people to assist him in his master plan, coin clipping. He looks after those in need and is not afraid to crush opponents and as his power grows, he declares himself King. This fraud on an epic scale has been noted in London and excise men under the command of William Deighton are dispatched to ensure that justice is served and equilibrium is restored. Not everyone is happy in King David’s court though, there are some who think that he is too greedy and has not given what they feel they are due. It is through these cracks in Hartley’s organisation that Deighton begins to make his move. The power play between the self-proclaimed king and the Crown is set.

 

He listened to the sound of the water and the way it sang over the smoothed rocks of flint and grit. The way it danced down through the woods like a child.

 

This is the first of Benjamin Myers books that I have read and I first came across him and this book when Robert Macfarlane tweeted the very arresting cover. I had been meaning to read it for ages but my library had not got a copy on the shelf as it was always on loan. Myers has based this tale of rebellion in the West Riding area of Yorkshire on the true story of the Cragg Vale Coiners. He has written a thrilling historical tale with criminals, government men determined to enforce the law and the innocent people caught in the battle to control their way of life as the industrial revolution begins to bite This is a book that is deeply rooted in the landscape of the 1770’s and what lifts this above other historical novels is the way he has captured the smells, sights, mud and hardship of just trying to make a living at that time. The prose is a delight to read, poetic, lyrical and visceral, it grips you and drags you into this tale. A brilliant book.

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