Publishers: Eamonn Martin Grifffin
Tom, Challis, Daniel
This year (2016) is the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of London. New £2 coins are going to have a really cool impression on them that marks the anniversary. Therefore, I thought I should read Eamonn Martin Griffin’s novel The Prospect of the City; Being a novel of The Great Fire first this year, as it is set during 1666 and gives an interesting twist on the fire’s origin and the people that lived through it.
|New £2 Coins|
The novel is based around two main characters; Tom and Challis. Challis is a mysterious rake who is hired by the Dutch Government to sabotage London. The Dutch are extremely angry after their naval defeat to the English and hope through his cunning and cruelty, Challis can gain some pay back against their enemy. An ex-soldier with an extremely religious ethos and moral code, Challis does not think twice about killing in God’s name. Upon entering London and discovering the cesspit that it is, Challis murders a prostitute to start his cleanse of the once great and virtuous city.
Living across the road from a well-known pub/whore house, Tom is contemplating his life as a baker’s apprentice. However, his fairly simple life becomes much more dangerous as he witnesses the murder of his friend Lizzie at the hands of Challis. Tom decides to take judgement into his own hands and plots to have Challis killed and gain revenge for Lizzie’s murder. However, Tom underestimates Challis’s skill with a blade and his ferocity, leading to Tom’s assassins easily being dispatched. Challis now knows he has an enemy in London and this triggers him to hasten his sabotage. Yet, when Challis gains an opportunity to wreak his own revenge on Tom, he takes it and causes a knock-on effect that quickly brings London to its knees.
|The Great Fire of 1666 burned 2/3 of London|
I really enjoyed this book and I think that is mostly down to Griffin’s writing style, but I think it needs to come with a warning! That is because Griffin writes this novel as if it was written in 1666 using ‘ye olde’ English. I loved this, I thought it added so much character to the novel and depth to Challis. However, at first when reading the novel and not knowing its style, the writing can seem quite long winded and confusing. Nevertheless, when I realised Griffin was writing in a 17th Century style of English, the book became more enjoyable and easier to understand. In addition, I thought the premise of the book was really interesting and put in to the context of the time, actually seemed very plausible. It always disappoints me when historical-fiction writers move around dates to accommodate their plot lines. Griffin does not do this and makes a very compelling and believable story out of the historical facts.
However, I did have some small points that I didn’t like about the book. Firstly, is its cover art. Now, I have to admit that I was sent a copy of the book by Griffin and don’t know if it’s a preview copy or the finished piece so the cover may have changed. The copy I received has a plain white background with the title written in black ink in the style of an old printing press. Now if I saw this book on a shelf I would automatically assume it was a non-fiction book about the Great Fire and would not buy it. I think Griffin needs to make the cover much more eye catching to try and draw new readers into his very good novel. Throw a few flames on the front, maybe make the cover look like it’s a burning page of a bible (which gives a hint to some aspects of the book), anything that makes it more appealing to readers than a plain white page.
Secondly, I really wasn’t a fan of Challis’s Christian rhetoric. He seems to drone on and on about the damnation of this and the righteousness of that, which sometimes really slowed the book down. I get the impression that Griffin is trying to make a point using the bible and religious rhetoric but it goes totally over my head! Maybe that’s my fault, but as a casual reader of this book it confused me and sometimes felt like it was there just to add to the final number count.
To conclude, The Prospect of this City was a very good read and a good starting point for my 2016 reading list. It is available in ebook or as a paperback via Amazon. I’d suggest it to fans of historical fiction, or to anyone who is interested in Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.
Make sure to check out Eamonn’s website and twitter by clicking here