Carn's Hideout

Book Review of The Gray Man


Feuds and fighting are a common thing for the young squire Lancelot Kennedy, so when the earl asks Lancelot's master to help recover a stolen treasure Lancelot goes along and helps in the fight. But when they take the captured treasure to a nearby inn no one is expecting what happens next: the innkeeper is killed and treasure is stolen by "the gray man."

S. R. Crockett is not a very well known author: his most famous book, The Black Douglas, is mainly picked up after being mentioned in a Tolkien biography. I started reading him that way but after finishing The Black Douglas I tried a few other of his books. While I enjoyed several of them, this book became my favorite as it combines his characteristic rich action with a continuous plot(something his books often lack).

Told in the first person point of view, the first part of the book portrays an immature and cocky Lance(lot) - elated when pronounced a criminal and gloomy when ignored by girls. Because of this, the beginning of the book can be a bit slow. But as the book continues on, Lance does mature and the book picks up in pace and action.

The setting of this book is a Scottish late-medieval one: swords and spears see use alongside pistols and hackbutts. I don't know how many(if any) of the characters are real, but at least one of them, Sawny Bean, may be historical. Sawny Bean is a cannibal of Scottish legend; but whether he actually existed is unknown. This book does a great job of bringing this cannibal to life and even ends his part in the story in a way that bears resemblance to the legends.

Some of my favorite scenes in The Grey Man are ones that typify the medieval ages. The horror over a Bible being burned and the "ordeal of touch" both demonstrate the Middle Ages' reverence for God. This medieval reverence seems to be an underlying theme in this book and the turning point of the story comes with the declaration that "there is a God in heaven." It's the setting's details like this that make the book so realistic.

The Scottish country dialect is another of my favorite parts of the book. While some books overdue local dialects and become unreadable, Crockett uses it only when it adds to a character and nowhere in the book is it used in an overt amount.

Though this book starts out slow, the story soon launches into action that sucks the reader in. This book is one of my favorite books in the medieval-fiction genre and I definitely recommend it.

Download it for free on Gutenberg.org: The Gray Man
Book rating: ✔✔✔✔
Content rating: ✔✔✔


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