Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Robert Southworth - A Review of Medieval III: Sword of Liberty by Kevin Ashman

Guest reviewer Robert Southworth has contributed this amazing review of a very readable book.


In the last year or so my reading material has tended to switch from the more recognised authors to that of the indie world. This is not because I believe indie authors are superior, but more a case that often the indie author has a voice less restricted than authors employed by the traditional publishing houses. Yes there are some fine traditionally published authors but all too often I find the books work to a formula, a failsafe which may remain entertaining, but lack the raw edge that I believe thrives within many indie novels. I would rather cope with a couple of typo’s, than a novel that seems to have been compiled on a robotic treadmill. 
Kevin Ashman has proved to be an extremely successful indie author producing a number of novels that I have enjoyed immensely.  It is perhaps for this reason I have decided to review this novel the third in a series with slightly differing criteria. Firstly, I have purposely not read the first two instalments of the series. The reason is simple; I am a great believer in that a book should always first and foremost be a standalone entity. The fact it is part of a series of books should not detract from its ability to fulfil the criteria that singular books are held against. Secondly, and this may get me hung drawn and quartered by my friends within the review group,  I actually tend to shy away from books that are set between 400 AD and 1800 AD. I can hear the gasps of outrage and the sharpening of various blades. Before the summary execution takes place I will quickly add, I have enjoyed novels set within those dates, especially by certain authors. Will this novel convince me to try more of the same.  I digress, so without delay here’s the trimmed blurb…

Lywelyn, Prince of Wales

In 1277, Edward led a huge army into Wales and captured the Welsh harvest on the island of Ynys Mon, forcing the Welsh Prince to surrender before any major battle was fought. Later that year, the two men signed the treaty of Aberconwy where Llewellyn surrendered control of most of the country in return for keeping the lands of Gwynedd and the title, Prince of Wales. Edward was satisfied and released Eleanor from prison to fulfill her marriage vows to Llewellyn and for the next few years, an uneasy peace existed between the two monarchs.
Despite the treaty, the people of Wales were still unhappy being ruled by an English monarch and especially the construction of English castles at Flint, Rhuddlan, Builth Wells and Aberystwth. Subsequently an undercurrent of resistance steadily grew until finally in 1282, a full scale rebellion against Edward’s rule forced the English King to invade Wales once more, only this time with full scale conquest as a goal.
Despite some initial setbacks, Edward’s army was ultimately victorious and after several battles throughout Wales, Prince Llewellyn was killed at the battle of Orewen Bridge.Edward finally realised the threat the Welsh posed and embarked on an unprecedented building programme across the country, including the enormous castles at Caernarfon, Conway and Harlech, not just as bastions of military strength but also as a signal to the Welsh about the futility of opposing his might.
These castles formed the backbone of his defences in Wales, an unassailable system of fortresses, each designed to mutually support each other against any threat from the Welsh.
They were a symbol of his might, a system of invincible fortifications and in effect an impregnable ring of steel unassailable by any living man…

...or so he thought...!

Edward I

   Firstly, I want to congratulate an author who has actually thought about his readers.  Far too often authors seem to think that the reader will automatically have an in depth knowledge of the era and main protagonists. Kevin Ashman introduces these early giving the reader a solid footing to then move forward and enjoy the remainder of the book. This may have been the third in the series but I found the characters were easy to get to grips with and each of them was well thought out. The research was plain to see but not over bearing. The real strength as I see it is in the use of dialogue, it never seems forced or contrived but throughout the book has a natural and realistic feel. The plot is crafted to a high standard, showing not just the cut and thrust of a blade but the more subtle political machinations of the time. The language of the book is not over flowery but delivers some more profound moments,

In the south, Garyn lay beaten on the stone floor of a wet dungeon, hoping against hope that his worst enemy didn’t die anytime soon. As he lay on the floor a rivulet of his own blood flowed slowly past him, the result of his most recent beating. His hand crept forward and using his finger to form the words in the blood, he wrote the name of the son he never knew he had.

So to sum up the experience of reading the novel is fairly easy to do. It’s a well crafted tale with characters that have depth, both fictional and factual characters blend together neither dominating nor seeming out of place. But what of the challenges of hear you cry… Does the book work as a standalone novel? On the whole I would say yes, it’s worth reading and I don’t feel let down by not knowing certain facts. It’s a very good book which would I imagine be even better had I read the first two instalments. On the second challenge, would I feel motivated to read more novels of the era. Difficult one, I would definitely be inclined to read the remaining medieval books by the author but not necessarily look for others by other authors. I imagine it is just a preference that I will struggle to overcome, give me ancient or Napoleonic and I’m happy. Final words have to be for the author Kevin Ashman, an excellent book, worthy of anyone’s time to thumb through its pages.

Kevin Ashman is the author of sixteen novels enjoying significant success with his historical fiction books including the best-selling Roman Chronicles and highly ranked Medieval Sagas
Always pushing the boundaries he found further success with the India Sommers Mysteries as well as three other stand-alone projects, Vampire, Savage Eden and the dystopian horror story, The Last Citadel. 
Kevin was born and raised in Wales in the United Kingdom and now writes full time having been signed by a major publishing company. He is married with four grown children and enjoys cycling, swimming and watching rugby as his hobbies. 
Forthcoming works include the highly anticipated 'Blood of Kings' series. Links to all Kevin's books can be found on:  WWW.KMAshman.Com


Robert Southworth is the author of the  Spartacus  and Ripper Legacy novels.  Robert can be found on 


  1. Fabulous review of a book that must have challenged the mind of the reader! Well done Mr Southworth and thanks to Kevin Ashman for agreeing to be reviewed!

  2. First of all I have to say how much I agree with your statement about Indie authors being "less restricted than authors employed by traditional publishing houses"

    I really enjoyed reading this review to the point where I can't wait to read the book.