1630: after long years of peace the reign of Charles I brings brutal civil war to England. The clash between King and Parliament is echoed at Morland Place when Richard brings home a Puritan bride while his brother, Kit, joins Prince Rupert and the Royalist cavalry, leaving their father Edmund desperately trying to steer a middle course between the fighting factions. As the war grinds on, bitterness and disillusion replace the early fervour, and the schisms between husband and wife, father and son, grow deeper.
Edmund struggles grimly through it all in an attempt to keep the Morland fortune intact, but he is thwarted by the estrangement between his sons and then alienated from his beloved wife, Mary.
This is perhaps the best of the four Morland Dynasty novels I have read. It is set during the Civil War in England, beginning in 1630 and closing with the execution of Charles I in 1649. The history unfolds through the lives of various members of the Morland family who find themselves divided by their loyalties and forced along different paths, often at odds with those they love most. The fictional characters here are, on the whole, more engaging than in the previous novels, and through their stories, I began to have a far better understanding of what had transpired during these years.
To be sure, I had been taught about the Civil War in England, and of course I knew that Charles I had been beheaded by his political enemies. But in spite of this, I did not understand much about it, especially the causes of the war and reasons for such bitterness and extreme action. Viewing the history through the eyes of “real” people made it concrete and far more tragic than it had ever appeared during a high school/college lecture or in the pages of any history book I had read.
This book was worthwhile and I certainly will continue my journey through British history with the Morlands. There are at least 35 books in this series, so it will be a long journey for sure. If the accuracy of the history and the quality of the narrative continue, I most likely will as well.
What disappointed you about Dynasty 4: The Oak Apple?
The narrator for this book is simply awful. His voice is cloying and over-dramatic. So much so, that I had to turn it off after thirty minutes. I can't bear to listen to a narrator who sounds like he's telling a pirate adventure story to a seven year old. It's annoying and exasperating.
What could Cynthia Harrod-Eagles have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Unless the choice of narrator was hers, I'm not sure. I don't k ow how the story is, as I couldn't get through more than a half an hour of it.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
See above. Cloying, breathy, over-dramatic. I was totally distracted by this and wasn't able to follow the story line. I kept thinking (hoping) it would change, but I couldn't bear to listen any longer. A good narrator makes you forget that you're listening to a story at all. A good narrator lets your minds eye take over and the story unfold naturally. A good narrator should never be the main character, but should slip into the background. Terry Wale seems to read the story as if HE is the primary character, and it's HIS voice you bought the book for. Over-acted and in the way.
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Dynasty 4: The Oak Apple?
Any scene read by Terry Wale.
Any additional comments?
I find it hard to believe that this actor was hired to read the rest of this very long series! The first three narrators were all very good - each a little different (one very different, as she was a woman) - but all were very believable. I'm so disappointed, because I was beginning to really like this series, and was excited that between the umpteen more books in it I had at least fifty or sixty more hours of listening time. I absolutely love falling into a good historical novel, and because I travel so much for work I don't have a lot of time to read. Now I feel like there's been a death in the family. Boo on you Hachette for hiring this wanker to read the entire series!