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Posted December 10, 2009
Sir David Mathew, a historical 15th century member of author Odell's researched family tree, proves larger than life, not only by his physical size but by his strength of character and endurance throughout personal and family crises as well as on the field of battle during the period of the Wars of the Roses. Fighting for his Wales homeland, Sir David leaves his wife to go off to yet another war during his later years after their twelve children have been raised. His journey carries him across the clearly depicted countryside of England, into the camps of foot soldiers who wear armor in hand combat, into the private counsels of generals who control the fate and direction of political rule of the British Empire and eventually into the hovel of a barmaid who later produces him a son.
Torn by issues of fidelity and responsibility, Sir David's dilemmas are as poignant now in contemporary times as in the 1460's, at the hands of Odell's sensitive portrayal of personal conflict, religious belief, tragedy, courage, friendship, parenthood, grief, transformation and resolution. The author's background in ministry and therapy lend a convincing edge to his characters, rendering them in humble simplicity and honest detail. Sir David's obsession with his estranged son is literally felt by the reader, along with his undying devotion to his wife and homeland in Odell's well-edited first novel.
The story is complemented by pictures, drawings, maps and details of the period, lending convincing evidence of accuracy and dedicated research by the author. Contrasts and comparisons to current times are well-disclosed by adherence to facts of warfare, geography and psychology.