Wednesday 7 December 2022

The Drums of War by Michael Ward BLOG TOUR #TheDrumsofWar @mikewardmedia @RandomTTours #BookExtract


London 1642.

The King has fled London with the drums of war ringing in his ears. Across the country, lines are being drawn and armies raised.

Influential royalist Lady Carlisle switches sides and presses spice trader Thomas Tallant and his partner Elizabeth Seymour into Parliament's service.

Soon Thomas faces double-dealing in his hunt for a lethal hoard of gunpowder hidden on the river, while Elizabeth engages in a race against time to locate a hidden sniper picking off Parliamentary officers at will in the city.

The capital also witnesses a vicious gang of jewel thieves take advantage of the city’s chaos to go on the rampage, smashing homes and shops, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. They hand pick their targets but refrain from selling any of their loot. There are more questions than answers.

When war finally erupts, Elizabeth is caught in the brutalising carnage of Edgehill while Thomas joins the Trained Bands in their defence of the city. As he mans the barricades at Brentford, in a desperate rearguard action to repel Prince Rupert’s surprise attack, he realises the future of London rests in the hands of him and a few hundred troopers.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth believes she has identified the jewel thief and goes underground to trace his hoard.

But all is not as it seems.

The Drums of War by Michael Ward was published in paperback on 14 October 2022 and is the third in the Thomas Tallent Mystery series. 

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you here today. 

Extract from The Drums of War by Michael Ward 

Little Salisbury House, Strand, London
August, 1642

The Countess of Carlisle swept into the room, a three-masted galleon under full sail. It was ten o’clock in the morning but there she was, in an exquisite dress of crimson silk dressed with pearls, softly rustling as it kissed the floor on her voyage towards Elizabeth Seymour. The Countess always made an entrance, even for a mere acquaintance.

‘Elizabeth! How good of you to come. I hope you are keeping well?’

She studied her ladyship as they exchanged pleasantries before moving to a window overlooking the rear garden and the Thames beyond. Lucy had been the darling of the royal court and the Queen’s confidante. But now the King had fled London in the face of mounting opposition, both from Parliament and the people. Always politically astute, the Countess had switched her support to the King’s opponents before his departure. How was she faring in her new world?

The Countess invited Elizabeth to sit by the window. ‘Have you heard about William Harvey?’

Elizabeth gave a start. Harvey was a scientist whose brilliant theories on blood circulation in the body had prompted a correspondence between them two years ago. She now regarded him as a friend. What had happened?

‘Oh, do not look alarmed. As far as I know, Mr. Harvey is in good health. But I’m afraid bad news awaits him. His lodgings in Whitehall have been ransacked. Much damage has been done.’

Elizabeth pictured Harvey’s home, crammed with the results of twenty years’ research. Her mouth went dry. ‘Was anything taken?’

Lucy paused, her face mournful. Even she understood the import of her next words. ‘I believe so. A gang was seen leaving with bags full of written notes, and others left strewn across the street.’

Elizabeth felt the air leave her body, and her head dropped. She pictured Harvey’s reaction to the loss of a lifetime’s work, the details of his dissections and findings painstakingly noted for future reference and publication. He would be shattered. ‘William was not there?’

‘No. I understand he is currently in Nottingham with the King.’

As Harvey’s star had risen in the medical world, he had been appointed Physician in Ordinary to King Charles and was often required to attend him. At least he was safe. ‘Am I right to assume his house was targeted because of his link to the King?’

‘I fear so. Such loutish behaviour. Yet another inundation of the vulgar. Although Harvey does not help himself. I understand he previously described the King’s opponents as fanatics, robbers and murderers!’

‘Feelings are running high. Many fear what the future holds.’

Lucy scowled. ‘What my future holds is a dull existence without the court. The sooner this argument with the King blows over, the better.’

There was a knock on the door and a manservant entered, carrying a silver salver. He bowed. ‘A letter for you, my lady.’ Lucy took the envelope, glanced at the writing and placed it on the table, as her servant retreated from the room.

‘How apposite. It is from Mr. Pym, and I was about to mention his name.’ John Pym. The leader of the Puritan cabal in Parliament opposed to the King and, it was said, Lucy’s lover. Elizabeth had marveled at Lucy’s ability to move her support from King to Pym in a heartbeat, yet still retain her influence.

‘Despite Harvey’s political persuasion,’ Lucy continued, ‘Mr. Pym does not approve of the destruction of his property and life’s work. Such pillaging does the Puritan cause no good, especially when it will be reported extensively in the Mercurius Aulicus.’ Elizabeth nodded her agreement. The rapid growth of radical pamphlets was now matched by Royalist newsletters that would jump on this news.

‘His lodgings have been secured but others may attempt entry again, now it’s known he’s not at home. Mr. Harvey must be informed and any remaining papers secured and evaluated for their scientific value, awaiting his further instructions.

Writing has been central to Mike Ward’s professional life. 

On graduating from university he became a journalist, working in newspapers and for the BBC.
He then went into journalism education, teaching and researching journalism practice before becoming head of the UK’s prestigious Journalism School at UCLan. 

For the last eight years he has run his own content creation company.


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