Just then, Tancogeistla rode by, as if an embodiment of our thoughts. Cavarillos was right. Our general’s face was flushed with the fire of liquor and he was unsteady in the saddle. Passing the lugoae, the levy spearmen, he cursed their leader and ordered them to march faster.
“If he lives to see the end of this march, I will own that the gods are protecting him,” Cavarillos stated quietly. “If he does not lose his drunken head to the natives here, he will insult one of his own men to the point of killing him.”
“He is the anointed of the Vergobret,” I replied hotly. “They wouldn’t dare!”
“Once again, Cadwalador, hearken unto your own words. We are all alone here, far from the magistrates of the tribe. We may never see our tribesmen again. In this case, the men may decide that one as volatile as Tancogeistla is not fit to lead. A knife in the darkness, a sword thrust on the field of battle. That is all it would take.”
I glanced into the mercenary’s dark face, the man I called my friend. “You speak of treachery as though it were a light thing!”
He shook his great head slowly. “I have lived longer than you have, my brother. I have seen many men die, felt their blood run over my hands, watched their eyes as life fled them. We number scarce two hundred men. Are we all to die because of the foolishness of one? Or is it better for that one man to die that we all be preserved?”
I couldn’t answer him. I could scarce believe what I was hearing. And yet his words made a strange, twisted sense.
Sword of Neamha (Kindle Locations 262-277). Stephen England.
The road of honor is a hard one to follow. Honor can get in the way of friendship, love and survival. It is a difficult taskmaster that brooks no exception, and demands obedience, but one must choose to live the honorable life. Living, and dying, with honor is not something that can be forced upon anyone. It is a choice that must be made every day.
The Sword of Neamha, by Stephen England, is a tale of honor told in ancient Ireland, Scotland and England. The story revolves around the migration of the Celtic Aedui people from France to Ireland, and the rise and fall of their power in the region. The narrative is told from the perspective of a single man of honor as he follows two kings and witnesses the end of his people’s place in the world.
Cadwalador, a young horseman, is the protagonist of this epic, and the reader follows him through his youth and on until his beard is grey and his life is spent. He begins the book as an eager soldier, ready to fight for his people, and the great general Tancogeistla, but he soon learns the reality of battle and the fallibility of leaders. Repeatedly he must choose whether to follow the advice of friends, the logic of his mind or the path of honor. The consequences of his actions are felt by all around him and help shape the course of his people, for better or worse.
I honestly have nothing bad, or even constructive, to say about this book. I loved it from top to bottom and read it in a little more than two days. The narrator, as well as the other main characters, is realistic, filled with sublime moments and tragic flaws that give them incredible depth. The reader feels the heartache, and joy, of Cadwalador as he navigates the physical and political battlefields of his life. I would strongly recommend picking up this book at either Amazon or Smashwords, and with the $0.99 e-book price it is an incredible deal (it is available in paperback through Amazon).
Make sure to check out my review of Stephen England’s other book, Pandora’s Grave
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