Book Review: The Drums of War (Thomas Tallant Mysteries, Book 3) by Michael Ward

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Sharpe Books
Pub date: 18 August 2022

London 1642.

The King has fled London with the drums of war ringing in his ears. Across the country, lines are being drawn and armies raised.

Influential royalist Lady Carlisle switches sides and presses spice trader Thomas Tallant and his partner Elizabeth Seymour into Parliament’s service.

Soon Thomas faces double-dealing in his hunt for a lethal hoard of gunpowder hidden on the river, while Elizabeth engages in a race against time to locate a hidden sniper picking off Parliamentary officers at will in the city.

The capital also witnesses a vicious gang of jewel thieves take advantage of the city’s chaos to go on the rampage, smashing homes and shops, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. They hand pick their targets but refrain from selling any of their loot. There are more questions than answers.

When war finally erupts, Elizabeth is caught in the brutalising carnage of Edgehill while Thomas joins the Trained Bands in their defence of the city. As he mans the barricades at Brentford, in a desperate rearguard action to repel Prince Rupert’s surprise attack, he realises the future of London rests in the hands of him and a few hundred troopers.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth believes she has identified the jewel thief and goes underground to trace his hoard.

But all is not as it seems.

Drums of War is a little later than my usual choice of historical fiction, taking place at the beginning of the Civil War but wow I enjoyed this!

The King has recently left London, leaving confusion and uproar behind, some choose to take advantage of the situation whilst others try and maintain normality, staying well away from the brewing war, but for some, circumstances make the decision for them. Ward has produced an intense story with multiple threads to keep the reader on their toes throughout. Each thread is gripping and I couldn’t help but keep reading to find out more on each thread, which are all intertwined resulting in an incredible, fluid narrative.

Not only does the story itself keep you engaged but the Ward has created captivating characters, the merchant Thomas Tallant is a strong and capable character, trying to do his best to help his country. Elizabeth Seymour is an intelligent, strong minded female, whose willpower and determination made her my favourite. Both are drawn into the war for differing reasons, with a push from the willful Countess of Carlisle, they face varying obstacles to ensure their own and each others safety.
Drums of War is extremely well written with descriptives taking you back in time to see the horrors of war as well as understanding how people chose or were ultimately left with little choice but to choose a side despite wishing for peace. Fact is weaved into fiction and the end result is a an extremely enjoyable read.

Although this is the third in the series, I did not feel like I had missed anything by not reading the previous two first but I will be going back to the beginning to read them having really enjoyed this.

Not knowing much about these events I was very grateful for the historical note, giving further information about the facts within the story. If you’d like to know more about Mike you can catch up with him on Twitter

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