Books

A Good Deliverance by Toby Clements – rollicking tales of the Hundred Years' War

A fictionalised account of Thomas Malory's prison confession is filled with sieges, battles and court intrigue

There’s certainly nothing pretentious about Toby Clements’ new piece of historical fiction about the fabled last weeks of Sir Thomas Malory. The prime author of Arthurian romance in English, Malory’s life has been shrouded by the mists of time; not that you would know that from reading the engrossing pages of A Good Deliverance

Spared by the king and taken prisoner in Warwick Castle during the height of the War of the Roses in 1468, Malory starts speaking with the jailer’s son, and thus the reader is taken on a tour of his life. Clements’ style is no far-flung thing, but his navigation of plot and character is entirely effective, as are his rollicking tales of jousting competitions and the experience of fighting battles in the Hundred Years’ War. As much history as there is in the book, it is always treated with subtlety and the imagined Malory is a figure of reflection as well as some fun. A very enjoyable, solidly written and entertaining work.

Patrick Maxwell is a writer and journalist

A Good Deliverance by Toby Clements is out on 4 July (Faber & Faber, £18.99). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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