Blog Tour: Defiant Unto Death by David Gilman

A LEGEND FORGED IN BATTLE: Thomas Blackstone must face an implacable foe as the 100 Years' War enters its bloodiest phase.

Ten years ago, the greatest army in Christendom was slaughtered at Crécy when Thomas Blackstone and his fellow archers stood their ground and rained death on the steel-clad might of French chivalry. Blackstone left that squalid field a knight.
Now, Blackstone commands a war band and has carved out a small fiefdom in northern France. But the wounds of war still bleed and a traitor has given the King of France the means to destroy first his family, and then the English knight himself.
As the traitor’s net tightens, so the French King’s army draws in. Blackstone will stand and fight – in pitched battle and in single combat. He will defy his friends, his family and his king. He may yet defy death, but he can’t defy his destiny: BLACKSTONE: MASTER OF WAR.


It was a bastard of a horse – an ugly beast. The fine French heritage of his dam had been spoiled by a rogue stallion and what came from their breeding was a creature unyielding in its belligerence. A neck as thick as a man’s waist supported a head like a ship’s prow, oversized and misshapen, that was lowered in battle like a battering ram. His yellow teeth, as firm and strong as grindstones, bit at Blackstone whenever opportunity offered. Its ears would swivel in opposing directions in a constant state of alertness as they sought whispers of movement from here and there. Its hooves, the breadth of a man’s hand and powered by bulging shoulder muscles that encased a tireless heart, bore iron shoes that tore the ground. Battle-scarred, it was cast – so it was said – into this world by the devil forging a pact with the animal kingdom. There had been few men who could abide its awkward gait when it ambled, but when the reins were eased and a strong rider gave it his trust, the horse would run without faltering day and night.

Stable-hands knew better than to enter its winter stall alone. It took two determined men to put a halter on it and coax the beast out. Blackstone’s other horses, especially his big courser that he rode when hunting, was kept apart from this wild-eyed animal, which would tolerate no competition from stallion, gelding or mare. It had smashed stalls and bitten and kicked lesser horses that raised their heads and stiffened their ears, muzzles snorting in naive expectation of exerting their superiority over it. When mounting Blackstone always held taut the opposite rein, tugging the horse’s head away from where the snap of teeth would nip him if he were so careless as to forget past experience, but Blackstone had never laid a whip on the beast. Each measured the other – and each gave way when necessary. Every week Blackstone rode the horse hard, ridding it of its aggression, pounding across meadow and hills, plunging him into swollen rivers to clamber up mud-slicked embankments, placing his life into the horse’s care as they challenged the demands of twisting currents and uneven ground, neither rider nor horse prepared to shy away. And Blackstone swore that he loved this horse more than any other because it bore as fiery a soul as any fighting warrior he had witnessed.

About the author:

David Gilman was raised in Liverpool and educated in Wales. By the time he was 16 he was driving a battered 1946 Ford, ferrying construction workers in the African bush. A variety of jobs followed in different countries: fire and rescue, forestry work, JCB driver, window dresser and professional photographer in an advertising agency. He served in the Parachute Regiment’s Reconnaissance Platoon and then worked in publishing. In 1986 he turned to full-time writing. He has written many radio and television scripts including several years of ‘A Touch of Frost’. In 2007 his ‘Danger Zone’ trilogy for YA was sold in 15 countries. The first in the series – The Devil’s Breath was long listed for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and won the French Prix Polar Jeunesse. He also writes for younger children. MONKEY and ME has been nominated for this year's Carnegie Medal. ‘MASTER of WAR’ is the first in a series of HF for adults that follows the fortunes of Thomas Blackstone during the 100 Years’ War.

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