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Lost Legend of the Thryberg Hawk (ePub)

The Mystery Crossbow Boy who Saved the Fortunes of York at the Battle of Towton

Historical Fiction

By Jack Holroyd
Imprint: Pen & Sword Fiction
File Size: 27.5 MB (.epub)
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9781473838567
Published: 4th August 2014

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Marksmanship skills honed to perfection, driven by necessity and desperation, Edmund Hawksworth hunted with his crossbow to keep his ailing mother alive, only to have her die in his arms. Deserted by his father who had left to fight the Lancastrian cause, the embittered and determined lad set out on a mission of vengeance and became embroiled in the bitter struggle for the throne of England between the Houses of Lancaster and York. There were those in 1461 who avowed that Edmund had been divinely chosen and anointed to be the Avenger of Righteous Blood – something the boy himself never claimed. What is certain, in command of the Wespen (Wasps), an élite unit of crossbow mercenaries, he turned events in York's favour at the decisive Battle of Towton.

Despite protests from Yorkist lords, King Edward IV (himself a youth of eighteen), gave the accolade to the former herder of pigs from Thryberg declaring him to be 'The truest and most loyal knight in all England'. With the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and the ascent of the Lancastrian Tudors the many stories of the Yorkist boy hero were supressed. However, for fifty years fanciful tales of 'The Hawk' lingered on in the towns and villages of the West Riding of Yorkshire until in 1509 Edmund's brother arrived in chains at Conisbrough Castle. Before his burning in Doncaster Fish Market the condemned heretic tells the true story of the Lost Legend of the Hawk.

This is an enjoyable and compelling tale that sits somewhere between fiction and non-fiction. ... Well worth reading.

Firetrench

This book is a well-written story as well as an informative work on the period.

Historical Novel Society

The period which became known as the Wars of the Roses is of particular interest to me, and so I looked forward to reading the book with great interest. And I was not disappointed. Jack Holroyd's description of events are so vivid that the reader can imagine it happening before their eyes. The book charts the legendary rise of Edmund Hawksworth, from the lowly position of swine-keeper to a member of an elite squad of crossbow troop called the WASPS, told through the eyes of his brother John. The description of the battle of Towton on Palm Sunday of 1461, I found particularly thrilling. I was absorbed in the glorious and courageous deeds of that day, to the killings of those vanquished warriors fleeing from the battle. Said to be one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on English soil, Jack Holroyd's book does not fail, as it sweeps the reader along with the narrative. Edmund's brother John's delivery from execution by a last minute warrant of Henry VIII was completely breathtaking. The characters are memorable and make the story not only a thundering good yarn, but one which is hugely entertaining. The fact that the story is based on local folklore, probably handed down in oral tradition before being first written about in 1585, only adds to the fascination. Jack Holroyd's take on the Lost Legend of the Thrybergh Hawk is well worth reading. I would recommend this excellent book to anyone interested in historical adventure novels.

MD Amazon

I find it hard to pick up a book if it's not going to teach me anything (I'm still making up for lost time after not concentrating at school) which leads me to pass over a lot of fiction. But faction is a perfect format for me, and Jack Holroyd's new hardback 'Lost Legend of the Thryberg Hawk' could have been tailor-made. Not only is it written about a period that I know little about - the 15th century civil wars in England known as the 'Wars of the Roses' - it helpfully lays the ground by explaining, through colour plates and appendices, the historical events and characters that are covered by the story. The plates in the middle of the book include painted scenes of the bloody Battle of Towton on Palm Sunday 1461, photographs of key battle sites, a guide to the standards of the various families involved, and a drawing of the 'Thryberg Hawk' himself - Edmund Hawksworth - crossbow in hand. In appendicest the end of the book, the story behind the War of the Roses is summarised, there are diagrams explaining the armour and weapons used at the time, and a bibliography lists the source material (dating back to the 15th century) that Holroyd used for this excellently researched story. All this set me up for a throughly well-informed read. And so to the story...It centres on young Edmund Hawkesworth, a lad spurred on to revenge when his father abandons him and his mother, and progresses to the decisive Battle of Towton and the key part Edmund played commanding an elite unit of crossbow mercenaries. The story is told retrospectively by Edmund's brother, John, as he prepares to be burned as a heretic. It's gripping story full of medieval menace and all rooted in fact. I couldn't have asked for more.

Amazon customer review - JW

Two Yorkshire swine herders and their role in the bloodiest, messiest, political storm of all time. For those of you who are used to reading the formulaic works of Bernard Cornwell, the plots of which, though praiseworthy, are thoroughly predictable, here is a breath of fresh Yorkshire air. This was a very complicated period of England's history and Holroyd has made it his own. Obviously a keen student of the period, he has created a vivid portrait of its characters and history and one cannot but keep turning the pages to see what happens to the individuals concerned.

If this is a history lesson (based upon the fact part of `faction'), then it is one which is lapped up eagerly and almost subconsciously as the narrative bowls along at great pace. This does not distract from the book's inventiveness or historical accuracy, which are both to be highly commended.

All the reviews for this book are full of praise though some suggest that the appendices, which feature at the back, should have been placed at the front. The fact that they appear at all is a bonus, and show that the author is well aware that some background is required for those assiduous enough to care. Is it really so difficult to use these details whether they are at the back or the front of the book? I think not.

Whoever Mr Holroyd is he should be congratulated for producing a spellbinding first novel and whatever else he is doing at the moment, he should really be working on the follow up. Publishers take note, this man has an exceptional talent, had this book been published by one of the foremost houses in the UK, and had been backed up by a healthy marketing budget, I am certain it would have made the best-seller lists.

Highly recommended.

amazon

Two Yorkshire swine herders and their role in the bloodiest, messiest, political storm of all time. For those of you who are used to reading the formulaic works of Bernard Cornwell, the plots of which, though praiseworthy, are thoroughly predictable, here is a breath of fresh Yorkshire air. This was a very complicated period of England's history and Holroyd has made it his own. Obviously a keen student of the period, he has created a vivid portrait of its characters and history and one cannot but keep turning the pages to see what happens to the individuals concerned.

If this is a history lesson (based upon the fact part of `faction'), then it is one which is lapped up eagerly and almost subconsciously as the narrative bowls along at great pace. This does not distract from the book's inventiveness or historical accuracy, which are both to be highly commended.

All the reviews for this book are full of praise though some suggest that the appendices, which feature at the back, should have been placed at the front. The fact that they appear at all is a bonus, and show that the author is well aware that some background is required for those assiduous enough to care. Is it really so difficult to use these details whether they are at the back or the front of the book? I think not.

Whoever Mr Holroyd is he should be congratulated for producing a spellbinding first novel and whatever else he is doing at the moment, he should really be working on the follow up. Publishers take note, this man has an exceptional talent, had this book been published by one of the foremost houses in the UK, and had been backed up by a healthy marketing budget, I am certain it would have made the best-seller lists.

Highly recommended.

amazon

I have recently read this book and can really recommend it to anyone who enjoys finding out about history through 'faction'. It was really informative about the period (during the Wars of the Roses) and I learnt a lot. The story was exciting and I really empathised with the characters. In fact by the end, I had become a firm Yorkist supporter - 'Down with the House of Lancaster!'. I hope it becomes available in print soon as I have enthused about it to friends and family. I look forward to the next book from this author.

amazon

As an author of accounts of the Great War period I picked up this book on recommendation - fiction is not my usual reading choice. I really enjoyed this tale of Edmund and John. This book in the main rattles along at a good pace. The entire tale is greatly enhanced by graphic descriptive passages which leave little for the reader's imagination to conjure up. The battle accounts are tremendous. It feels as if the reader is there as an onlooker, rather like the `mother' of the crossbow boys - die Mater. The suspense concerning the fate of the storyteller, John Hawksworth, is compelling with a nice twist in the tale. John's reply to the questions concerning Edmund and the Wasps merits a lengthier explanation: the siblings who fought as comrades in arms would later fight in opposing armies, could this be partly attributable to the growing jealousy of John towards his legendary brother? Are these revelations being saved for a further book? I keenly await a possible sequel to find out what happened next. I am sure it will be as entertaining a read as Lost Legend of the Hawk.

There is a problem with reading a novel set in this turbulent period; understanding would have benefitted greatly had I read the War of the Roses appendix prior to reading the previous chapters. The enlightening appendix would serve better at the front of the book, thereby allowing those less acquainted with the events to grasp the confusing historical background. A very useful History Trail map on page 352 allows the reader to trace the ebb and flow of the battles and also geographically supports the previously shown detailed sketches of the fields of conflict. A glossary is needed for bacele, vinteners, decaners etc. I managed to find destrier, palfrey, breviary in a dictionary and Encarta. - likewise John Wycliffe.

amazon

As an avid reader of historical fiction, I first saw this book on Amazon and it instantly appealed to me. Being both a fan of the Wars of the Roses and a born and bred Yorkshire man, I took the plunge and decided to give it a go. What ensued were 352 pages of pure historical gold, excellent prose, impeccable research and a fitting climax to a truly outstanding story.

The story follows the exploits of two brothers, John and Edmund Hawksworth, which sees them rise from lowly pig herders into the saviours of the Battle of Towton for the Yorkists. The author has an excellent writing style, with fantastic character development which really makes you feel as the characters are old friends. In my opinion, a novel that can do this is a rare find indeed. When Edmund attends Church and is chosen as the Avenger of Righteous blood (a title which is bestowed upon him when a ray of light shines on him) we go on a journey as Edmund develops from a shy, stuttering boy into a fearsome and deadly warrior. After being left to fend for themselves when their father left them to join the Lancastrian cause, the reader shares the boys struggle to tend and care for their sick mother. After her death, Edmund is filled with thoughts of revenge and we see a marked change in Edmund as the thoughts of revenge slowly envelop him. Edmund then joins a group of crossbowmen known as the Wasps and immediately shows that he is a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. From winning the golden bolt at an archery competition to developing new friendships within the band of crossbowmen, Edmund quickly distinguishes himself as an excellent tactician and expert leader on the field, qualities which see him become the bands leader. Edmund and the Yorkists then fight a series of monumental battles, first at Ferrybridge, before facing the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton. All of this leads to a fitting and well received climax which leaves the reader wanting more.

As historical fiction goes, you'd be hard pressed to find a book that does it better. The balance between fact and fiction is spot on, meaning you learn about the Wars of the Roses whilst enjoying a cracking good story to boot. Of course, there is some artistic embellishment as you would expect from a period where not that many primary sources exist, but all of this is entirely believable and in no way farfetched. The author has done a great job filling in these historical blanks, providing a novel that is entirely believable and gripping from the first page to the last.

However, I do think there are points which could be addressed to improve this book further. I totally agree with another Amazon reviewer that the Appendix at the back explaining the background information and the situation between the Yorkists and Lancastrians should be at the beginning of the book. The Wars of the Roses spans an extremely complex and intricate period in British history and for a self confessed novice in the field like myself, I found myself getting a little confused as to who was fighting who and why they were doing it. Moreover, I think the book would benefit massively from a list of characters placed either at the front or back for the reader to refer to.

My other minor niggle would be that, for me, the story should have been a little grittier and bloodier. My nearest comparison would be a war film from the 60s, where every character was clean shaven and in freshly pressed trousers that had never seen dirt, and when they get shot they just fell to the floor theatrically with no blood. Not that this is a bad thing, it's just that my interpretation of medieval Britain is one of grime, plunder, excrement filling the streets and soldiers wielding great long swords and cleaving enemies in two.

These niggles in no way spoil the story but if you're reading, Mr Holroyd, more blood and guts next time please!! Overall, this is a superb novel that I heartily recommended to anyone interested in historical fiction, or even for those looking for a good, honest yarn. Eat your heart out, Bernard Cornwell. 5 stars!

amazon

The Battle of Towton is generally accepted as the bloodiest battle ever fought on British soil. Fought during a snowstorm on Palm Sunday 1461, this Wars of the Roses engagement claimed the lives of 28,000 men and boys - an horrific number considering Britain's limited population at that time. Like the battle of Wakefield in which the Duke of York lost his life three months earlier, no quarter was asked and none given. It staggers me, therefore, that so few people understand what was happening at this amazing time when England had two kings - Henry Vl and William lV - and the reasons for it. Jack Holroyd has attempted to alter that with an absorbing novel which I unreservedly recommend to all.
Lost Legend of the Hawk interweaves a story of two South Yorkshire teenage swine-herders, John Hawksworth and his able but stammering brother Edmund, into those dark days in an intriguing manner. The story is related by John 48 years after the events of 1461 as he faces being burnt at the stake as an enemy of the Church. It tells how his father-hating younger brother rises from his disadvantaged position to being acclaimed as an avenging hero of the Yorkist army at Towton through feats of daring requiring unrivalled skill with a crossbow and the wisdom of a far older man.
Thankfully the author escapes the story becoming overly fanciful as he demonstrates his knowledge of the conflict, the parties involved and 15th century warfare. His detailed knowledge of the area in which the action takes place, accompanied by maps and diagrams, and the role of the Church add to the believability of this blend of fact with fiction. The result is a work perhaps equally suited to those interested in military history and those seeking a first-rate historical yarn.
As a journalist in South Yorkshire for more than 40 years, I recognise that the story benefits from land between Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Wakefield being home to many with Yorkist sympathies while the North of England was predominantly for the Lancastrian cause. I hope this gripping story will tempt people to visit Conisbrough castle, the more ruinous Sandal and Pontefract castles and battlefield areas. Most of all, I share the hope of a fellow reviewer in that it will attract film-makers.

amazon

The Wars Of The Roses featured some of the bloodiest battles in English history yet it's a period that has been largely ignored by story-tellers - up until now. At first, I was a bit sceptical about a book written largely in 'olde English' but the reader swifty becomes accustomed to the language in 'Lost Legend' and, if anything, it adds to the atmosphere of a book that not only spins a good yarn but throws a history lesson in for good measure about some of the darkest and most brutal days in England's past. Being familiar with the area in which the book is set, it's obvious that the author has done his research and there is only one small criticism - the ending is rather tame in comparison to the rest of the story but maybe that's left the door open for a sequel!

amazon

After reading the first chapter of this endearing story, I couldn't help but move onto the next, one after the other, until I'd finished the whole book within a couple of days! Each chapter grew my interest more that the last; I was found asking as many questions as were answered and needed to turn every page to discover what would lay ahead for John and Edmund "The Hawk" Hawksworth.

The story is set before the infamous battle of Towton during the Wars of the Roses - the bloodiest battle ever to take place on English soil. Our hero is pulled early on towards the Yorkist cause, owing to his growing hatred for his father, who left the boys and their mother with nothing when Edmund was only a small boy, and partly down to his own experiences of Lancastrian supporters. Holroyd brings the characters and scenes to life with a vivid, in-depth writing style and the use of intercourse from the period adds to the authenticity of both.

The Wars of the Roses is an often confused period in history, with most newcomers to the topic surprised to find the wars weren't even battles between the counties of York and Lancashire, but the author obviously has a strong knowledge of the era and writes with a refreshing confidence when referring to particular Dukes, Kings and Lords. So much so that the boundary between fiction and fact becomes blurred, making this brilliant faction more interesting that a history book, yet more believable than a fictional story.
Hints towards the fact part of this faction come in the form of an appendix at the back of the book, which I often found myself referring to for the family tree of Yorkist and Lancastrian Kings and Dukes.

Apart from the sometimes over-used religious references our hero seems to enjoy reciting (maybe due to them being drilled into him as a boy by his devout Mother?) the story is extremely enjoyable and each character has a well thought out role to play. And although shy of a little gore and blood considering the period in history, the Legend of the Hawk is certainly a legendary title to be included on anyone's book shelf.

amazon

The Lost Legend of the Hawk is probable best described as a faction, telling the story of a lad from South Yorkshire, who started life as a swine heard in the 1400's and got very involved in the so called `wars of the roses'.

I found the book enjoyable on many levels showing a detailed knowledge of Yorkshire brought to life by good descriptive writing.
It illustrated a fascinating insight into the life and times of people living in that era. It gave a glimpse of how different parts of society and Church related together.
The descriptions of tactics command structure and weaponry used in battles was of interest although I found some detail of times and dates a little dry.

The story itself develops well gaining pace through out.
The lives of the main characters `The story teller, Edmund, Eleanor, Isabel and the wasps' are all woven together into the factual historical setting. They each add something different to the intrigue humour bloodthirstiness and suspense of the story.
There were enough twists turns and surprises to make me not want to put it down and possible just a few unanswered questions that may allow for a sequel.

All in all a good read from one who does not read a lot cannot wait for the film to come out.

amazon

Fiction it might be but the Lost Legend of the Hawk has the ring of authenticity that grips the reader. Jack Holroyd knows the country, the sequence of events and the nature of the Yorkshire people. Central to his story his level of scholarship is impressive and allows us to comprehend the scale of this English civil war and how ordinary people were swept along at the whim and personal allegiances of their landlords.
Stir into this mix a burning desire for revenge within a whispering swineherd of exceptional skill with a crossbow and a care, and concern for a waif of a kitchen maid, and the humanity that any successful foray into the murky depths of history becomes the essential ingredient that drives the story.
As the story unfolds, told with dignity in the most trying of circumstances by the brother of the enigmatic Hawk, the horror and bloodletting of warfare is revealed. Characters with traits we recognize flit in and out of the story; the pompous cleric, the hand-wringing squire, the blunt butcher/cook, a veteran of earlier conflicts, the evil heartless warriors on the make, a kingly king and a highborn beauty widowed at an early age. We can identify with them all.
A satisfying read that moves with pace towards the bloodstained landscape that is Towton where the Hawk and his Wasps revive the Yorkist's fortunes in a decisive manner. Jack Holroyd helps us understand how a country suffers in warfare and how the human spirit reacts to adversity. We believe him and learn the stories that the bare stones of Conisbrough Castle conceal.
I urge you to read it.

amazon

The Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York..... got to admit did not know much about it as I am a Great War buff. But, what a cracking story set in turbulant times of our English history. Could not put it down as I wanted to know what happened next. The various maps within the book helping to assist the storyline is a great idea. The research that intertwined the story with actual events must have been phenomenal. Full marks to the Author Jack Holroyd... We need more to wet our appetites.

Terry Carter author "Birmingham Pals" The history of Birmingham's three Pals battalions raised for Kitchener's New Army in September 1914. Officially known as the 14th, 15th & 16th Battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

amazon

I found `Lost Legend' a really good read! It's Boy's Own Annual thriller stuff for boys aged seventeen to seventy, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story cracks along, maintaining the tension and the interest, and although pressure of other things prevented me from doing so, it deserved to have been polished off at one lengthy sitting.

There are some superficial parallels with Robert Louis Stevenson's `Black Arrow' which is also set in the Wars of the Roses and whose central character is a young man skilled with the crossbow. However, this story holds together better than Stevenson's, and the use of the John Hawksworth character to tell the Edmund saga, together with the continuing suspense about John's fate, maintains the pace and the interest. The descriptive passages concerning mediaeval warfare also ring true, and serve to spur the reader to delve deeper into the subject.

amazon

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had the quality to keep me enthralled all the way through. If I'd nothing else to do I would have read it in a couple of days but I'd finished it in just over a week. I knew little about the time period, which is set in the 15th century, England, but thanks to the Appendices which I read first (if, like me, you're the same I recommend these first)it helped me to understand who were the 'goodies and baddies' before I began. I feel I've no need to tell you the tale of the book, as most of the other reviews do that sufficiently. Like it's been said it's a cracking tale well told. Just wait till you get to the chapter about the Silver Bolt! It also contains humour but it's not bawdy. I hope there is a sequel, I shall be the first to order it. What it has made me want to do is visit some of the castles such as Conisborough, Sandal and the other historical sites mentioned in the book, so I think some of these places should consider having the book in their Gift Shops. Yes a thoroughly enjoyable book.

amazon

I'm not given to writing `feedback' and reviews but this just bhas to be an exception. What a cracking book! Who is Jack Holroyd and where has he sprung from?
I have never read faction before and did so with `Lost Legend' on the recommendation of my wife, an avid reader of fiction. As a military historian I am faced with the prospect of preparing to make a documentary film on the Wars of the Roses next year; a period of history that is new to me. Looking for a gentle entry into a distinct form of warfare, I picked up my wife's just finished paperback copy and was hooked within minutes.
Not only is it seriously good history, as my subsequent reading has confirmed, but it is also a cracking good tale to boot. It made a task that I was not frankly looking forward to, a real pleasure and gave me a sound grounding in the intricacies of the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, their causes and outcomes, which I have been able to build on.
So my verdict; this is one of those books that meets the needs of the fiction reader (my wife) and the military historian. This must surely be rare.

Note to self - track down Jack Holroyde as an expert for the film.

amazon

Why is this not a film already??? If this book lands in your lap I suggest you read it! You will not certainly not regret it. I couldn't put it down - even with a 1 year old in tow. I'm not usually a fan of faction but this book has everything, offering an action packed story full of great characters whilst offering generous amounts of historical facts of local battles and history without ever feeling your having a history lesson. Less than two chapters in I had already chosen my favourite characters and plotted out how I wanted their stories to unfold. I truly believe people of all ages will love this book, if your looking for your next great read than choose this book.

amazon

As a historian I do not read a lot of fiction. But this work of 'faction' is a remarkable recreation of its period. The so-called 'Wars of the Roses', the 15th Century civil wars in England between Yorkist and Lancastrian factions. Jack Holroyd has gone back to original period documents and records to gain a thorough understanding of the age: its people, their language, and especially the weapons and tactics of the era. I learned far more than I expected from reading this solidly researched story. More than just a story, we get also appendices covering timeline, dynastic genealogy, weapons and armor, and some very detailed maps of the localities mentioned in the main text.

One detail deserves a mention. Many historians have wondered how armies of this period were organized at the small-unit level. How were orders given (say) to direct archers' targets, volleys, etc? Jack Holroyd uses a mixture of archival information and logic to present some credble answers to such questions.

My only problem with this excellent book is that it is not available in hardback. Fantastic value.

amazon

Lost legend of the Hawk is the first book I downloaded for my new Kindle, I couldn't stop reading the heady tale as regards the battle of Towton Moor Palm Sunday 1461, I live near very Towton and to read about my local area, Sherburn in Elmete and Lotherton was exhilerating. Jack Holroyd has researched the subject well and encompased history with a facinating insight into the horrors of medieval warfare. An absolute must read for anyone interested in this subject.

amazon

The Lost legend of the Hawk was a total eye-opener. If you like History, carefully researched from the original Latin documents, and transcribed in an entertaining,factional, but totally logical way, read this book. You will not be disappointed.Hopefully, Towton and the amazing battles that changed the face of English history within it`s borders will now get some recognition.

amazon

About Jack Holroyd

Jack Holroyd has had a lifelong interest in military history and has given valuable input into many Pen & Sword publications. He has authored two other works of non-fiction (SS Totenkopf France 1940 and American Expeditionary Force: France 1917–1918 ) and also one work of fiction (Lost Legend of the Thryberg Hawk), all of which are published by Pen & Sword. When Jack isn’t researching military topics he spends his time cooking, reading poetry and gardening.

Perfect Partner

Towton The Battle of Palm Sunday Field (ePub)

The battle at Towton in Yorkshire on 29 March 1461 was the largest, longest fought and bloodiest day in English medieval history. In terms of the number of troops involved, the ruthlessness of the fighting, the quantity of casualties and the decisive nature of its outcome, Towton stands out from the long sequence of battles fought for control of England in the fifteenth century. This bitter contest of arms was a turning point in the Wars of the Roses and - as a result of the discoveries of modern archaeological research - it is one of the best known. John Sadler, in this vivid reconstruction of…


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