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The forces of King Charles are victorious; their Parliamentarian enemies in deep crisis. In the west, the crucial port city of Bristol has fallen, and Royalist eyes fall quickly upon neighbouring Gloucester. Its walls are weak, its garrison under strength, and its governor - Sir Edward Massie - suspected of harbouring sympathy for the King. Stryker and his men are with the The forces of King Charles are victorious; their Parliamentarian enemies in deep crisis. In the west, the crucial port city of Bristol has fallen, and Royalist eyes fall quickly upon neighbouring Gloucester. Its walls are weak, its garrison under strength, and its governor - Sir Edward Massie - suspected of harbouring sympathy for the King. Stryker and his men are with the army as it converges on Gloucester, still reeling from the loss of a close friend at the bloody Battle of Stratton. Ordered to infiltrate the rebel city on a mission to discover whether Massie will indeed surrender, Stryker reluctantly embarks upon his most desperate mission yet. But Gloucester's defenders are more resolute than any had imagined, and catastrophe soon befalls him. With his life seemingly forfeit, Stryker is spared by an unlikely saviour; Vincent Skaithlocke, his former commander. The mercenary has returned to England to fight for Parliament, and offers Stryker his protection. As old friends adjust to life fighting for opposing sides, Stryker begins to question his own loyalties . . . but a chance discovery makes him realise that all in Gloucester is not what it seems, for a hidden menace threatens his own life, and that of King Charles himself.


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The forces of King Charles are victorious; their Parliamentarian enemies in deep crisis. In the west, the crucial port city of Bristol has fallen, and Royalist eyes fall quickly upon neighbouring Gloucester. Its walls are weak, its garrison under strength, and its governor - Sir Edward Massie - suspected of harbouring sympathy for the King. Stryker and his men are with the The forces of King Charles are victorious; their Parliamentarian enemies in deep crisis. In the west, the crucial port city of Bristol has fallen, and Royalist eyes fall quickly upon neighbouring Gloucester. Its walls are weak, its garrison under strength, and its governor - Sir Edward Massie - suspected of harbouring sympathy for the King. Stryker and his men are with the army as it converges on Gloucester, still reeling from the loss of a close friend at the bloody Battle of Stratton. Ordered to infiltrate the rebel city on a mission to discover whether Massie will indeed surrender, Stryker reluctantly embarks upon his most desperate mission yet. But Gloucester's defenders are more resolute than any had imagined, and catastrophe soon befalls him. With his life seemingly forfeit, Stryker is spared by an unlikely saviour; Vincent Skaithlocke, his former commander. The mercenary has returned to England to fight for Parliament, and offers Stryker his protection. As old friends adjust to life fighting for opposing sides, Stryker begins to question his own loyalties . . . but a chance discovery makes him realise that all in Gloucester is not what it seems, for a hidden menace threatens his own life, and that of King Charles himself.

30 review for Assassin's Reign

  1. 5 out of 5

    Clemens Schoonderwoert

    Read this book in 2013, this book is set in the year, AD1643, and with Captain Innocent Stryker in full flow during the English Civil War. Very much recommended, for this book is: "A Fabulous Stryker Adventure"! Read this book in 2013, this book is set in the year, AD1643, and with Captain Innocent Stryker in full flow during the English Civil War. Very much recommended, for this book is: "A Fabulous Stryker Adventure"!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Michael Arnold's series of Civil War Chronicles, featuring the fascinating and very real hero of Captain Stryker, is among my very favourite series of novels. It never disappoints and always thrills and moves. Assassin's reign is no different. A joy to read from start to finish. One of the real delights of this series is that it has opened my eyes to the legacy of the English Civil War around me. I love hearing about the role of places I know in this horrendous but thoroughly interesting period Michael Arnold's series of Civil War Chronicles, featuring the fascinating and very real hero of Captain Stryker, is among my very favourite series of novels. It never disappoints and always thrills and moves. Assassin's reign is no different. A joy to read from start to finish. One of the real delights of this series is that it has opened my eyes to the legacy of the English Civil War around me. I love hearing about the role of places I know in this horrendous but thoroughly interesting period of English history. I won't see Gloucester with the same eyes after Assassin's Reign. Outstanding historical fiction (do start the series from the beginning).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    enjoyed the latest in the captain stryker series based around Gloucester in 1643 and the subplots brings the feel of the early stages of the English civil war to life

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nick_britten

    Its the summer of 1643 and the Royalist cause is in the ascendency. With the defeat of the rebel army at Stratton and then the bloody capture of Bristol, it seems that the Royalists are close to overall victory. At this point divisions with the royal court surface with some calling for an immediate march on London and Parliaments heartland, while others call for the capture of Gloucester and securing the West of the country. With the Governor of Gloucester hinting he may surrender the town to the Its the summer of 1643 and the Royalist cause is in the ascendency. With the defeat of the rebel army at Stratton and then the bloody capture of Bristol, it seems that the Royalists are close to overall victory. At this point divisions with the royal court surface with some calling for an immediate march on London and Parliaments heartland, while others call for the capture of Gloucester and securing the West of the country. With the Governor of Gloucester hinting he may surrender the town to the Royalist cause. Prince Rupert asks Stryker to enter the city undercover and gauge the mood of the Governor and the citizens of the town. As Lisette is on a important mission in London, Stryker is a reluctant spy but with no choice to obey orders he deserts the Royal army and makes his way into the town. Inside the town he will face unexpected dangers and will be saved from a painful death by a face from the past, someone who Stryker regards as a father figure. Along with the implacable determination of Governor Massie and the citizens of Gloucester this unexpected appearance will cause Stryker to question his loyalty to the Royalist cause. Only when he learns that an assassin is loose within the Royalist lines does Stryker realize where his true loyalty lay but can he escape the besieged town and find the assassin before the assassin finds King Charles? Assassin’s Reign is the fourth book in a planned ten book series from Michael Arnold. I have been a fan of the Stryker books from the very first book (Traitors blood) and in my humble opinion each book gets better and better. Stryker is a fantastic character to follow, with his badly scared face and dour demeanor he is a lot darker than your average hero. In Assassin’s Reign this darkness takes a further twist as he struggles with the grief from the death of a young officer under his command. This gives him an anger that is terrifying in its intensity and even scares the men under his command. It can by quite easy to write a character that is too dark to really enjoy, even if he is the hero and the two things that stop him from becoming too dark is his friendship with Sergeant Skellen and his love for the Queen’s agent, Lisette. This lighter, more human side is a perfect counterweight to the battle sacred and weary solider Stryker has become over the years of war. I also enjoyed the added back story to Stryker’s life as we learn more about his adventures in the European wars and again it just adds another layer to his character. Assassin’s Reign brings to life the long and bloody siege of Gloucester. It really captures the defenders extra incentive to protect their loved ones and homes from the marauding Royal army and shows the frustration of that army as the town continues to resist and cause casualties amongst them. It makes you understand why armies ran wild when they finally captured towns and cities after a long siege. I think he author has done a clever thing by placing Stryker within the walls of Gloucester because he has switched the allegiance of the reader from the Royalist side to the defenders. I ended up routing for them even though I’m a royalist at heart! With an interesting side story of Lisette’s mission to London and her desperate escape this is a fast paced and well rounded book that kept me entertained on the train over two days. In year of great books on the English Civil War this book easily holds it own. I would recommend starting from the beginning so you get to enjoy Stryker’s growth over the four books but you could read this as a stand alone.

  5. 4 out of 5

    S.J.A. Turney

    The fourth book in a series is, I sometimes find, a stumbling block for an author. The debut can be strong, the second where they find their feet, and the third where they really shine. Often, though, the fourth is where they over-reach, run out of ideas or become formulaic. I am delighted to say that none of this holds for Michael Arnold’s new opus. Continuing a trend of increasing quality, Assassin’s Reign is indeed better even than the excellent Hunter’s Rage, which was itself a triumph. In this The fourth book in a series is, I sometimes find, a stumbling block for an author. The debut can be strong, the second where they find their feet, and the third where they really shine. Often, though, the fourth is where they over-reach, run out of ideas or become formulaic. I am delighted to say that none of this holds for Michael Arnold’s new opus. Continuing a trend of increasing quality, Assassin’s Reign is indeed better even than the excellent Hunter’s Rage, which was itself a triumph. In this fourth book we find the current dour and acerbic Captain Stryker once more called to carry out the clandestine whims of Prince Rupert, though this time his mission will take him far from the companionship of his company and friends, not only deadly danger, but also into a situation that threatens his very soul. While facing dilemmas and impossible choices – torn between two conflicting duties – Stryker comes face to face with an important figure from his past only to uncover a dastardly plot with far-reaching consequences. As these troubles progress, we are also treated to a separate thread following the resourceful and dangerous spy Lisette, and her search for the heiress Cecily Cade. Gradually, as armies manoeuvre around the country to deal with the crucial fortress of Gloucester, Lysette and her mission converge with Stryker and other, more sinister characters, leading to a masterly crescendo. Much of the novel revolves – without giving away anything important (no spoilers) – around the siege of Gloucester and while, unlike Arnold’s first three books, there is no presentation of a pitched battle in this one, the setting affords for the first time a real opportunity to view the war from both sides of the Royalist/Parliamentarian divide, and also of the Besieged/Besieger one. An opportunity, I may say, that the author takes and makes shine. Where the roundheads are often portrayed in this series as spiteful and harsh puritans (necessarily given the protagonist’s viewpoint) here we meet Parliamentarians that both we – and Stryker – can not only understand, but sympathise with and even rally behind. You will like Massie. I promise. In this fourth installment we learn a little more of Stryker’s past while being introduced to a couple of new and interesting characters. Stryker is actually given more depth than previously, displaying the less pleasant side of his character as he wallows in the loss of his friend Andrew in the previous book, and struggling with ethical conundrums. Lysette is given more of a starring role, since for much of the book she is the protagonist of her own plot. The tale is tense and realistic and the quality of the writing is as good as you would expect if you’ve read Hunter’s Rage and its predecessors, but this particular plot gives Arnold the chance to create a more tense and personal atmosphere than in the previous, more ‘pitched battle‘ works. Stryker and his friends go from strength to strength and if you’ve not read the earlier books in this series, I urge you heartily to hunt them down and read them. If you have, this fourth book should hit the spot perfectly. Despite its tenseness and atmosphere, this is an action packed, tense tale with the pace of a cavalry charge and the power of a culverin shot. Well done again, Mr Arnold.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    I received this novel in a Goodreads giveaway and did wonder how I would get on without having read the first three books in the Civil War Chronicles. I needn't have worried, this books works very well as a standalone story, telling the tale of the siege of Gloucester in 1643. The cast of characters ably bring to life this dangerous period of history where soldiers "turned coat" depending on which side was winning in the Civil War and spies were everywhere. Captain Stryker shows us his human sid I received this novel in a Goodreads giveaway and did wonder how I would get on without having read the first three books in the Civil War Chronicles. I needn't have worried, this books works very well as a standalone story, telling the tale of the siege of Gloucester in 1643. The cast of characters ably bring to life this dangerous period of history where soldiers "turned coat" depending on which side was winning in the Civil War and spies were everywhere. Captain Stryker shows us his human side when he finds himself admiring his enemies and realising that no-one is ever really a winner in war. The action is written with gruesome realism depicting horrific loss of life and just goes to show that nothing much has really changed in 400 years of warfare. A thoroughly good read!

  7. 5 out of 5

    David

    The fourth of Michael Arnold's Civil War Chronicles, this (I have to say) I actually found to be heavier going than any of the previous. The bulk of this novel concerns the Royalist siege of Gloucester - which, in hindsight, would prove to be the turning point of the war - during which (as any fictional hero would) Captain Stryker finds himself on both sides of the line - echoes, here, of Sharpe's Tiger! The fourth of Michael Arnold's Civil War Chronicles, this (I have to say) I actually found to be heavier going than any of the previous. The bulk of this novel concerns the Royalist siege of Gloucester - which, in hindsight, would prove to be the turning point of the war - during which (as any fictional hero would) Captain Stryker finds himself on both sides of the line - echoes, here, of Sharpe's Tiger!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Frane

    Lacking the energy of the previous novels in the series in large part because Arnold takes on the task of covering the siege of Gloucester -- in great detail and from multiple viewpoints. In doing so he skips the sort of adventure his protagonists usually enjoy and the story drags and drags.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Fraser Cook

    The series continues with the same high standard.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I won this book through Goodreads First Reads. Review to Follow.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Eric Finch

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paul Marriott

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Willis

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

  15. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Sims

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul Cotterell

  17. 4 out of 5

    Billy MacLeod

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mr D.J. Dent

  19. 4 out of 5

    MARK LAURENCE RALSTON

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ianreedpeck

  21. 4 out of 5

    Martin Whittaker

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mrs C Smith

  23. 4 out of 5

    John Bailey

  24. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Fellingham

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mr GMM Brown

  26. 4 out of 5

    Beryl

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mick Shepherd

  30. 4 out of 5

    linda birch

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