Book Review: The King's Shadow by Cheryl Sawyer

The King's Shadow is the final book of Cheryl Sawyer's English Civil War trilogy. I've not read the previous two novels (The Winter Prince and Farewell, Cavaliers) and was hoping this wasn't an oversight on my part when I accepted an ARC from the author.  My concerns were unfounded for The King's Shadow is a great read on its own.

On New Year's Day 1660, an army sets out from Coldstream in the Scottish Borders for London under the command of General Monck. His intentions are unclear, causing unrest amongst the various factions on both sides.

The Parliamentary army is no longer a unified force and many of its high ranking officers are disillusioned at what the army has become. Colonel Mark Denton is assigned by Monck to seek out and ascertain the feelings of these men and determine if they pose a threat to Monck's plan to march south. Denton, too, is uncertain about Monck's intentions, but vows to be there when the General enters London, whether it is to support the return of the King or plunge the country into another civil war.

Lucinda Selby, from a dispossessed Royalist family, has every reason to detest Colonel Denton. Not only is he a Parliamentarian and opposes everything she stands for, he also holds her family's estate. Her one hope for the future is the elusive King's Shadow to whom she owes a debt of gratitude for saving her brother's life. Committed to the Royalist cause, she embarks on a dangerous mission on behalf of the King.

Cheryl Sawyer's excellent research skills, combined with her interpretation of the political situation of the day and her ability to write a good story, brings to life a very interesting period in history. Simply told, it is informative as well as entertaining. Her easy to read style moves the plot along at a smart pace. The dialogue flows naturally and the characters, whether historical or fictional, are well developed.

I liked Colonel Mark Denton from the start though his reputation as a passionate Parliamentarian, estranged from his family because of it, and despised and feared by the Royalists, conjured up visions of a hard hearted individual. At first he seemed reticent and taciturn, but as the story unfolds his true nature is revealed and I liked him even more. He is disturbed by the antipathy Lucinda feels for him and is resigned to the fact that she will never look upon him favourably, which makes everything he does on her behalf all the more sweeter. While Lucinda Selby has all the attributes of a thoroughly believable and lovable heroine, it is Colonel Mark Denton that stands out above the crowd and makes this story a memorable read.

The mysterious King's Shadow adds further excitement to the story. It was easy to figure out his identity from the clues dropped along the way. While this may be construed as a disappointment I found it had the opposite effect. Knowing a detail that the characters are yet to discover creates a sense of anticipation and it is amusing how they finally make the connection, but apt given the expertise of the character who interprets the final clue.

A nice bonus is the author's historical note at the end and shows how well Cheryl Sawyer knows her readers. To avoid spoilers, resist the temptation to take a peek. Read the story first before indulging in this little tidbit.

I thoroughly enjoyed The King's Shadow and recommend it to those who have an interest in this period in history, love a great  adventure story and are not adverse to a heart warming romance.


  1. I have a copy of The Winter Prince which I haven't read yet and if I enjoy it I'm sure I'll go on to read the other two in the trilogy. The Civil War is a period I love to read about, so I'm looking forward to these books.

    1. I'm definitely going to read the first two in the trilogy after reading The King's Shadow. I hope you enjoy The Winter Prince.