A Wandering Warrior, set in 12th Century England, follows the life of young Thomas Beaumont, a common soldier who has just learned of the death of his honorable older brother and uncle. With no family left, Thomas sets out in search of Simon Mowbray, the man responsible for his brother’s death. Once Thomas has avenged his brother by taking Simon’s life, Thomas plans to give thought to perhaps taking a wife and beginning a family of his own.
While wandering west in search of Simon, Thomas rescues two noblewomen, one of whom sets her sights on Thomas. Though he finds Lady Juliana beautiful, it is a Traveler woman named Emalda who may be the one to steal Thomas’s heart. After Thomas fulfills his vow to his brother, he attempts to make his way back to Emalda, only to learn that her people have moved on.
A Wandering Warrior is the eighth novel by Harry E. Gillenland, Jr., and shows off his creative imagination. The author is definitely a storyteller, but to me this novel seemed incomplete; at only 199 pages, there was certainly room to flesh out descriptions and develop the world just a bit more. At best, A Wandering Warrior in its current state felt more like a rough draft than a polished novel.
The editing, as far as grammar and sentence composition, seemed fine. Where the editor lacked in assisting this book to be all that it could be was with the exposition and dialogue. In the opening chapters, everything was so rushed. The entire back story is given to the reader through third person narrative in one large clump. For my tastes, I prefer back story to be delivered more creatively, using techniques such as dialogue, flash backs, and a small bit of narrative summary to move the story along. The dialogue felt forced; yes, the novel is set in a different century, but it didn’t have a natural flow to it. There was never any guessing about the characters; they all said exactly what was on their minds, which didn’t make a single one of them all that interesting.
Thomas was a little too unbelievable to me. After all that he goes through in A Wandering Warrior, he’s just a little bit too trusting, forgiving, and happy. He trusts people with his true identity and purpose, merely based on a hunch. He’s lucky more times than nearly all people are, which doesn’t ring true to life. He loses important people, and doesn’t seem to grieve their deaths. When coming face to face with the person who indirectly caused one of the deaths, he is forgiving. Thomas’s life isn’t easy, but through it all he is too positive.
A Wandering Warrior is an interesting story, and I’m sure it will please some readers. I’m a sucker for happy endings and romance too, and this novel offers plenty. Everything was simply too easy for Thomas, and parts that could have packed a more emotional punch were not developed well enough to make me feel anything. Simply put, I think this should have gone through several more rounds of contemplation and editing before being published.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided by Harry E. Gillenland, Jr. Compensation was received but in no way influenced the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review.