Cover Image: The Complete Mirrored Sword

The Complete Mirrored Sword

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Member Reviews

Allan Hands’ “The Complete Mirrored Sword” is a vibrant dive into medieval England, balancing dark, Plague-era humor with the chaos of the Wars of the Roses. While the narrative starts slowly, building its world and characters with a meticulousness that may challenge some readers, it sets the stage for the intertwined destinies of a Yorkist painter and the famed Lancastrian warrior, the Beast of Ferrybridge.

The initial slow burn of character development in Part One, “The Dance,” pays off richly in Part Two, “The Tour,” rewarding readers with a reversal-filled journey echoing Shakespearean drama. As our protagonists travel with the king from London to Lincolnshire, the story unfolds into an enthralling mix of treachery, romance, and poetic justice, all delivered in Hands’ distinct style—a blend of high art prose and accessible storytelling.

Hands’ unconventional narrative and unique voice might not appeal to all, but for those with an appreciation for historical fiction laced with theatrical flair, “The Complete Mirrored Sword” is a delightful read. This novel, rich with color, character, and adventure, earns a well-deserved four stars. It’s particularly recommended for those who relish historical tumult, a bard-like turn of phrase, and a taste for the original in their literary fare.
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A witty, entertaining tale with quirky characters and many elements.  There are historical details to learn from as well. 
Many thanks to the author and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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DNF. Thank you NetGally for an advanced copy of this book. 

Unfortunately I could not get this book off the ground. I tried but after countless attempts just couldn’t find my groove.
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I love big books and I love historical books. So this book checked those boxes. The War of the Roses is an interesting time in history so I loved that this book was set in this period. 

This book is full of details without losing the flow of the story. It was so easy to picture the events It held my attention from the first page to the last. I loved the characters which were well fleshed out. Susanna and Tom made me laugh a lot with their interactions and banter.

I spent a wonderful few days reading.
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This historical fictional novel is very witty and uses such natural dialogue, the dialect from “ up North” , once you become accustomed to the speech, is an unexpected treat! 
Rural Lincolnshire in 1470 is a hotbed of political intrigue. Many Fen dwellers keep themselves close, and are especially close to traders of the Hanseatic League, regarding them as closer friends than what is happening in London. The War of the Roses in some areas has little or no impact to a predominantly farming community, and they have various Lords and Earls to give servitude towards.
The language throughout is bawdy and very expressive, especially in sexual matters. A good old fashioned romp through a complicated period in history, where a Yorkist King has usurped a Lancastrian monarch, men become turn coats for safety and financial gain, with much back stabbing involved. 
The heroine is Susanna Mandeville, she is devoted to the Yorkist King Edward, she danced with him once and dreams of becoming a mistress to this mercurial personage. She is stubborn, wilful, strong willed, and not above using violence to make her point. Her Father, and his workers are in fear of her. 
Fate intervenes in the shape of Tom Rousseau, The Beast of Ferrybridge, who is an ardent, defeated Lancastrian. Opposites attract, and a complete company of likeable rogues royally entertain the reader on the journey from Lincolnshire to London. 
Escapades in London, a unknown traitor, a missing brother, a few complicated weddings and divorces, a kiss that is totally unforeseen, leads our merry band fleeing back to Lincolnshire to save their necks, in book two.
Two books in one is a demanding but very enjoyable read. Rather wordy and lengthy, but so worth it. There is humour, disguises, interfering females, and battles that are not always fought on a field. 
There are very strong characters in these two books, that you really have empathy with. Susanna and Tom almost steal the show for me, but Lord Grey, who has an unfortunate speech impediment gives the whole book a sense of the ridiculous, and sympathy. 
Having grown up in rural Lincolnshire, and knowing many of these places, it has been a lovely re acquaintance and a lovely education for myself. 
A five star read. I will leave reviews to Goodreads and Amazon. My thanks to the publishers , Independent book publishers for my advance digital copy, given in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the  electronic review copy of this book. This is an entertaining historical fiction full of wit, strong characters, and adventure. The writing style is very original and might not be to everyone’s liking. Part 1 was a bit slow to get into due to character development and world building, but if one perseveres — the reader is rewarded with more fun in part 2. Great read, recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction, Shakespeare, and a different, original writing style.
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As someone new in historical fiction, I didn't think I would like this book so much, but I did!

The characters are pretty nicely written. The timeline of the book is 1471, set in England during the War of the Roses. The book was humorous, adventurous, tragical and I liked the author's writing style. The only reason I'm giving it a 4 star because it dragged on some parts and was hard for me to stick to it. But I'm so happy I finished it rather than giving up on it. 

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The Complete Mirrored Sword by Allan Hands.

Thank you Netgallery for a copy for an unbiased review.

I love Shakespeare. I enjoy a lot of dark comedy. So the description on this book was one that made me want to read it.

This is a book of two parts, as it is two books brought together as one volume, so is quite a lot in one go and I know from experience of other larger books, some might well find that intimidating. It would be a shame if this did put potential readers off, and I'd urge them to perhaps consider buying the volumes separately if this was the case.

It's writing style is rather different to most and as such could well be problematic for some to get into. Thankfully it wasn't something I found to be an issue. It isn't like Shakespeare in the use of language but more modern in its approach, which will be a relief for a lot of people. After all, a story set in a time period such as this doesn't need language to reflect it in my opinion, as long as it isn't filled with too many modern idioms. 

Overall I enjoyed the story. It has plenty of dark humour as promised in the synopsis and as stated, reminded me of a comedy in the era of Shakespeare in its execution. There were some real historical events that some of the story was based on, that lent well to the story telling. 

The biggest let down for me was at times it was pretty convoluted, particularly in the 1st part with the number of characters involved, and that definitely affected the pacing and led the story to drag at times. For that reason I'm giving this 4/5 stars as my rating.
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It took me a while to finish this one but I am glad that I had read it.  

Recommended for those looking for a light humorous read with a dash of banters and roller-coaster rides.
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An entertaining, darkly humorous, and compelling historical fiction. A dark comedy set at the time of the War of Two Roses.
Strong characters, a lot of adventure, and fun moments.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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This is very much in the style of The Taming of the Shrew but in prose.  Set in 1471 in England during the War of the Roses, it is filled with intrigue, comedy, some tragedy, and adventure.  The language is very understandable if a bit flowery at times.  You do not have to spend several minutes understanding a sentence like you would if reading Shakespeare.  

At times it is very bawdy like a Restoration Comedy.  The attitude of the men towards women might offend modern readers but it probably pretty realistic.  On the other hand, the woman characters—particularly the main female lead—are strong characters with their own ambitions and thoughts outside of only being a mother and wife.  

This is a historical fiction story. While the main characters are not real-life people many of the people in the story are.  Also, some of the events really happened.  Intrigue, back-stabbing and politics were rampant and bloody during this time period.  That is reflected in this book.  But there is also a lot of humor and romance (eventually).  You don’t have to know the history but I think it will appeal more to people who have some knowledge of the events.

Some of it is a bit slap-stick but it is also smart.  I enjoyed it but it did drag on in places.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.
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Witty and Humorous!

It took me a while to finish this one but I am glad that I had read it.  Recommended for those looking for a light humorous read with a dash of banters and roller-coaster rides.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This read took me a while, it was slow to get going at first and the world building was a little complex; which only shows the amount of research that has gone into the book. 
Being English and from former Lancashire (changed to Cheshire when I was a child) the story was something I was really looking forward to reading because of the historical element of it. I'm sure it is probably more enjoyable for people who have an interest or knowledge in the subject area, which I was. 
The character dynamic definitely had a Taming of the Shrew vibe - whether this was done purposefully I'm unsure. 
Definitely not a quick read, and something you need to concentrate on when reading, I would recommend this book if you are a fan of world and history building, mixed with a handsy FMC and witty commentary.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The world building took a while, but I enjoyed the descriptions and getting to know these characters. The dialogue was especially enjoyable, and for me.the dialogue is one of the most important aspects of a great story. I'll be looking forward to the next in this series.
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Lancaster verses York, romance and intrigue.   It's a captivating mix.   Allen Hands does a good job of stirring the pot and mixing the characters and loyalties around.    

There were some sections that were a bit slow but it's a good story.
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What happens when the world’s worst shrew meets the world’s most formidable warrior?
MIRRORED SWORD, a comedy as black as the Plague, as turbulent as the Wars of the Roses (a fifteenth century dynastic struggle for control of the English throne). She is an aspiring painter and devoted Yorkist. He is the legendary but ageing Beast of Ferrybridge – a Lancastrian stalwart! Rebellion in Lincolnshire throws them together, the Yorkist king keeps them together, and thus they must work out their destinies and England’s, in an epic story that combines laughter and tears, romance and adventure, history and make-believe, high art and vulgar entertainment: a medieval banquet, loaded with surprises, colourful characters and poetic justice.
I couldn't imagine it. It is just too black of a comedy for my taste.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley.  This in no way affects my opinion of this book which I read and reviewed voluntarily.
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I really enjoyed this read, it was well written with a captivating and enchanting storyline and well developed characters that were relatable and intensely likeable. 
I found the storyline so interesting and I was completely gripped, I couldn't put it down and it was more emotive than I expected it to be I think I went through every emotion possible when reading this book and when I finished I just wanted to read it again. In all honesty I didn't want it to end.
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I love indulging myself in a good historical fiction novel, and this one did not disappoint. I really like how the author wrote the dialogues and relationships between the characters as it was very convincing. I found myself super immersed in the world that I could hardly put the book down. Looking forward to reading the sequel to this one!
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The Complete Mirrored Sword started off very slowly and perhaps meandered a bit too much as it set all the characters in place. There were some humorous moments along the way and some aggravating ones.
One of the main protagonists of the novel Susannah Mandeville was a pain in the neck from the very outset. As keen with her hands (slap or punch) as she was with her tongue. Irritating beyond belief and reminiscent of Katherina, the headstrong, uncompromising shrew from Shakespeare’s' play.
Her meeting with Tom, the so-called Beast of Ferrybridge, a comical coming together involving a hawk, set the foundation for the narrative.
I got the impression that the pair's relationship was loosely based on the above-mentioned play, but that was woven into a much bigger picture of war and politics.
The Mirrored Sword is a fun read, the humour is clever and full of wit and charm but not really laugh out loud.
The author has obviously done some amazing research because I was fascinated with all the political machinations going on throughout the two parts of the book. This was more evident in book two as things came to a head with the revealing of information at the culmination of the conclusion of the epic tale.
The author manages to paint a vivid picture of the sights and sounds of the relative period. A brilliant array of characters adorns the two parts of the book, and that also includes all the wildlife.
The way the chapters are presented as calendar dates in the year 1470 makes for easier reading. I am all for the decorative map of medieval England, showing the towns visited. I do wish more authors would take note of this.
Readers can track different points of view by means of a chart, bolded names heading different sections, and headers on alternate pages. I found this easier to backtrack when I needed to jog my memory, especially after laying the book down for a while.
All in all, The Complete Mirrored Sword by Allan Hands is a fascinating read if a little long. But I do recommend it.
Thank you, NetGalley and Allan Hands, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), for the opportunity to view the ARC.
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