Book Review: The Herald of Day (The Boar King’s Honor, Book 1) by Nancy Northcott
The Herald of Day
(The Boar King’s Honor, Book 1)
By Nancy Northcott
A wizard’s fatal mistake
A king wrongly blamed for murder
A bloodline cursed until they clear the king’s name
In 17th-century England, witchcraft is a hanging offense. Tavern maid Miranda Willoughby hides her magical gifts until terrifying visions compel her to seek the aid of a stranger, Richard Mainwaring, to interpret them. A powerful wizard, he sees her summons as a chance for redemption. He bears a curse because an ancestor unwittingly helped murder the two royal children known as the Princes in the Tower, and her message uses symbols related to those murders.
Miranda’s visions reveal that someone has altered history, spreading famine, plague, and tyranny across the land. The quest to restore the timeline takes her and Richard from the glittering court of Charles II to a shadowy realm between life and death, where they must battle the most powerful wizard in generations with the fate of all England at stake.
“If you would right a wrong, Sir Knight, see the serving maid at the Golden Swan Inn on the Folkestone road, outside Dover. Tell her a dragon called you the herald of day…”
It was hard to have magical powers when those around you executed such people. Miranda Willoughby tried her best to blend in, not to be noticed, to pretend she is something that she is not. To pretend she is ordinary. Always pretending. It might have been different if her mother had lived. Unfortunately, her mother had been accused of witchcraft—her life had been cut cruelly short on the end of a rope. But then the visions came—frightening in their intensity. Due to her mother’s premature death, Miranda does not possess the skills needed to interpret these visions. She needs help. She needs the knight in her vision—the knight who will fight the red dragon and defend the white boar. Sir Richard Mainwaring, Earl of Hawkstowe, knew all about keeping secrets. For years his family had hidden their true allegiance—Loyalty binds me. They had fought under the banner of the white rose, not the red. However their family had also been cursed. It was a curse which Richard had long given up hoping would ever be lifted. However, the appearance of the dragon and the incomprehensible wrongness in the air warned of a threat yet known, let alone understood. Richard had no choice but to obey the dragon. He would go to the Golden Swan Inn and present himself to this serving maid, whoever she was. Little did he know that Miranda was more than a witch whose talents had yet to be explored. She also saw the future, a future which cannot be allowed to come to pass. It soon becomes apparent that someone is going back in time and manipulating events. But who was it, and what did they want? Only together will Richard and Miranda find the answers they are seeking… There are books, and then there is Herald of Day (The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy, Book 1) by Nancy Northcott. Do you like historical fiction? This book will tick that box. Do you like alternate history? Sorcery? The paranormal? Romance? Good versus evil? I could go on. The Herald of Day ticks every single box. It is a monumental work of scholarship, but above everything else, it is one of the most successful novels that I have ever read. The narrative is enthralling—this is quite a long book, but time ceased to matter because I was completely captivated by this story. It is immensely readable and, more importantly, very enjoyable. Northcott has a novelist’s intuition for what makes history worth reading. And on top of that, there is enough adrenaline in this book to keep a reader up all night. I cannot even begin to describe how brilliant this novel is. The amount of planning that has gone into this story has to be commended. I have read my fair share of alternative historical fiction, but this novel is in a league of its own, and I don’t say that lightly. Northcott begins by presenting her readers with a very realistic 17th Century setting with all the key players in the English court in place, and then her antagonist goes back in time and changes history and only those who are gifted notice the devastating consequences of the antagonist’s actions. By changing time, there are historical people as well as fictitious ones who are alive who should be dead and vice versa. Events that should have happened no longer have, and events that should not have happened, do. This story is a complicated web of what-ifs and maybes, running alongside actual historical fact. Northcott takes 191 years of English history, the reign of nine monarchs, as well as the Commonwealth, into account as she penned this remarkable book. The attention to the historical fact, and not forgetting the attention to the alternative historical detail, is staggering. This book isn’t some romantic dream of a different historical reality where the hero lives and the villain dies, which is so often the case with such books. The delivery of this story is somehow plausible. This alternative history has credibility. It comes across as authentic in the telling. The what-if becomes why not? I cannot think of another author who has written an alternative history novel with such skill and diligence. Bravo, Ms Northcott, for your time and attentiveness has undoubtedly paid off. Miranda is a character that I instantly connected with. She is a very humble young woman who has been dealt a cruel hand and, to top it all, she is all alone in the world. Miranda is gifted, but she lacks the training. The controversial and terrifying realities of the witch hunts that stain the Stuart's reign is played out in all of its darkness and misunderstanding in this tale and Miranda is at the very centre of it. At the very beginning of this book, Miranda watches a woman executed for witchcraft—a woman who Miranda knows is not a witch. She desperately wants to help, but by doing so, she would expose herself for who she really is, and that is someone who is incredibly gifted with magic. To stand there and not be able to do anything is torture for someone who is overflowing with empathy. This opening scene sets the tone for this character. Her compassion is perhaps a greater gift than her magic. Miranda goes on quite a journey in this novel, and she faces many dangerous situations. But it is her relationship with Richard that fascinated me the most. Richard shows her a world that she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams. He also challenges her, and Miranda rises to that challenge every time. She is an inspirational character who I adored. Richard, oh my goodness, he is the epitome of a very heroic, courageous person. His self-sacrifice and his desperate desire to right any wrongs make him extremely likeable. But he is no caricature. He is no fairy-tale knight. He is fallible—he makes mistakes, which I thought made his character all the more appealing. I thought his depiction was absolutely fabulous, and he really drove this story on. The magical composition of the prose makes this a book that is not only utterly compelling but also wholly unforgettable. This is a novel that keeps on giving. Add to that the paranormal and you suddenly find yourself reading a story that is next to impossible to put down. This is a book that I could not wait to get back to. I loved everything about it. The Herald of Day (The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy, Book 1) by Nancy Northcott is one of the top five books that I have read this year. I could have happily read another thousand pages of this book, and I would not have grown weary of it. It is absolutely brilliant from beginning to end—a priceless masterpiece that deserves a place on your bookshelf and in your heart. I Highly Recommend Review by Mary Anne Yarde The Coffee Pot Book Club
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Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance.
Nancy earned her undergraduate degree in history. Her favorite part of her course work was a summer spent studying Tudor and Stuart England at the University of Oxford. She has given presentations on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III to university classes studying Shakespeare’s play about that king. In addition, she has taught college courses on science fiction, fantasy, and society.
The Boar King’s Honor historical fantasy trilogy combines Nancy’s love of history and magic with her interest in Richard III. She also writes traditional romantic suspense, romantic spy adventures, and two other speculative fiction series, the Light Mage Wars paranormal romances and, with Jeanne Adams, the Outcast Station space mystery series.
Reviewers have described her books as melding fantasy, romance, and suspense. Library Journal gave her debut novel, Renegade, a starred review, calling it “genre fiction at its best."
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Publication Date: 20th May 2020
Publisher: Falstaff Books
Page Length: 356 pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy / Time-Travel