Lionheart Review

Lionheart Review | Ben Kane

Good morning! I’m whizzing back in time with one of my favourite historical fiction authors today: Ben Kane. Having always thoroughly enjoyed his work in the Roman era, I was intrigued to see how he would handle a different time period – and it did not disappoint! Check out my review on Lionheart.

Publisher: Orion Publishing House | Date: 2020 | Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: 1179. Henry II’s Norman conquerors have swept through England, Wales – and now Ireland.

Irish nobleman Ferdia has been imprisoned in Wales to ensure the good behaviour of his rebellious father.

But during a skirmish on a neighbouring castle, Ferdia saves the life of the man who would become one of the most legendary warriors to have ever lived: Richard Plantagenet. The Lionheart.

Taken as Richard’s squire, Ferdia crosses the Narrow Sea to resist the rebellious nobles in Aquitaine, besieging castles and fighting bloody battles with brutal frequency.

But treachery and betrayal lurk around every corner. Infuriated by his younger brother Richard’s growing reputation, Henry rebels. And Ferdia learns that the biggest threat to Richard’s life may not be a foreign army – but Richard’s own family . . .

I received Lionheart from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Lionheart Review

Lionheart Review

Ben Kane is solely responsible for why I started reading historical fiction. When given the chance to be part of the blog tour for his new book, there’s no way I was turning it down.

Unlike his previous novels, Lionheart is not set in the Roman era, but just before the time of Richard the Lionheart (hence the title). Despite loving the Robin Hood legends (no, this book has nothing to do with that!), it’s not an era I’ve previously read and I was interested to learn more.

I knew it would be a good read – I’ve never come across a Ben Kane book that disappointed me. I was right: emotive and in-depth characters, a historically engaging plot, a pace that keeps you page-turning and the perfect rise and fall of tension.


Our main character is a young man named Ferdia – nicknamed as Rufus due to his colouring when he becomes a hostage in England after his father’s Irish uprising. Despite swearing to never kneel to the English, Rufus becomes awestruck when meeting a young Duke Richard and fate makes the two men cross paths enough that Rufus eventually becomes Richard’s squire

Ferdia/Rufus is an instantly-likeable main character. We meet him beaten and humiliated but with his pride intact and a refusal to take the easy road when given the chance to name his abuser. It sets him up for the rest of the book: Rufus’ pride may be shelved when it comes to serving the Duke, but he won’t forget past ill-deeds.

Philip’s eyebrows rise. “You have changed, Ferdia.”

He was right, I thought. War and death do that to a man.

Lionheart by Ben Kane

It would be easy to make Rufus hostile, but that’s far from the case. He swiftly makes friends and accepts the hero-worship of a young orphan – Rhys – with a good heart, trying to do his best by the boy. He’s warm, likeable and you root for him from the beginning.

There is a scattering of secondary characters; Rhys, the duke, the king and Richard’s scheming brothers (I had no idea John wasn’t his only brother), as well as various knights (including Rufus’ tormentor) and squires. Rhys takes the spot as a favourite – I love how doggedly loyal he is to Rufus despite everything.


The novel spans a number of years and the pacing is fairly gentle, reflecting that long time-span. There are battles scattered throughout but not many big clashes with the enemy as peace talks often interfere. There’s a sense of anticipation throughout the entire novel. You root for Rufus, wanting him to have his moment, and that heightens the tension.

When there are battles, they are written with the finesse often found in Ben Kane’s novels. You’re never confused who is where but your heart is in your mouth in regards to whether a main character will make it out alive or not.

Final thoughts

It’s not action-packed from beginning to end and a knife in the back is a bigger danger than a battlefield. But your attention is gripped throughout and you engage and empathise with the characters right from the start.

An intense and powerful read.

Are you a historical fiction fan? Is this an era you’ve read before?

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33 thoughts on “Lionheart Review | Ben Kane

  1. Thanks for the awesome review! I haven’t picked up a book by Ben Kane, but he’ll be my next read if I’m looking for a kickass historical fiction story. Rufus also sounds like an impressive main character – I’m so glad you enjoyed this book!


  2. I love love love historical fiction and this one sounds AMAZING!!! I dont think I’ve read anything from this far back as I’m usually a tudors up to sort of victorian kinda girl but I do love Robin hood so I am absolutely trying this book!!! An amazing review!! Xxx


  3. I’m not sure I’ve ever read historical fiction but this sounds like a great read! Would you recommend anything else to get started with this genre? Thanks for sharing!


  4. I don’t think I’ve read anything from this time period either. Thanks for the review, I’ll look into the author!


  5. I’ve never heard of Ben Kane but I will look forward to reading his books sometime because of your praise! Lovely review 🙂


  6. Reblogged this on JJ GRAFTON and commented:
    A really good review of an historical novel. Not my usual cup of tea, but I’m interested enough to buy this one and escape 2020-reality for a while.


  7. I haven’t heard of this book before or the author. I am so closed off with books, I only have a handful of authors I have read, thank you for sharing this one! You have shared a well written review! Xx


  8. I love reading historical fiction. This book seems interesting. I will surely check it out. Thank you for sharing!


  9. Such a good review! Historical fiction is such a good genre, I need to add this one to my TBR list!


  10. I’ve never read this and am not sure it’s my cup of tea but sometimes i like to go outside my comfort zone.. I may just have to give it a good read!

    Liked by 1 person

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