Book review

Watchers: The Battle For The Throne
William Meikle
KHP Publishers

Watchers: The Battle For The ThroneWatchers: The Coming Of The King tells of the struggle of men against a malevolently intelligent race of vampires. The year is 1745, some years after the execution of Charles II but before the restoration, and the Watchers of the town of Milecastle hold the evil at bay behind a fortified Hadrian's Wall. One lonely night two figures approach the wall, very much in trouble; a young girl, Mary Campbell, and her father Duncan. They are the only survivors of the destruction of their ancestral home by the vampire race know as 'the Others', and Mary has been bitten deep and raped by the Boy King; song of Charles and the vampires' leader.
    In the ensuing struggle the tale follows the exploits of two young men of Milecastle; Sean, a well meaning scoundrel, and Martin, the only son of the Thane (Scottish Lord) of Milecastle. Sean is tasked with leading the now pregnant Mary to safety, While Martin heads beyond the wall in an attempt to scout the movements of the Others' rapidly increasing army. The expected attack from this gathering army comes in the dead of the night and we are left wondering what the aftermath will bring . . .

Watchers: The Battle For The Throne leads straight on from The Coming Of The King and the pace does not slow for an instant. There's barely time for breath as our heroes' situation goes from bad to worse. Milecastle barely survives the attack and the army moves on further into English territory, swelling its undead ranks as it goes. It is up to the survivors of Milecastle to sound the alarm for the rest of the country.
    Sean ventures into hostile territory with Duncan Campbell, intent on rescuing the captured Mary, and thwarting the machinations of the Boy King who means to have his child born during a sacred rite. Meanwhile, Martin is burdened with the mantle of his late father's position, the government of Milecastle and command of the local militia. These personal battles are immersed in the wider struggle between the weak and the strong, as the humans desperately try to hold back the ever increasing hordes of undead that threaten to engulf them.

There are successes and there are many more failures along the way, but our heroes are not without their own supernatural allies and manage to scrape through, albeit not unscathed. This eventual triumph in the face of insurmountable odds could be seen to be a predictable turn of events, but Meikle is able to make even these time worn plot devices seem fresh.
    As with its predecessor, Meikle has taken on a much abused genre and re-invented it to present us with a refreshingly different and sinister tale. The historical setting, with familiar names and events subtly twisted, really grounds this tale in the imagination. I cannot wait to read what happens next.

:: Sarah Oliver

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