For those of you who love historical fiction, Katerina Dunne’s novel offers a rare and unique glimpse into the tremendous struggle that took place between the Kingdom of Hungary and the expanding Ottoman Empire.

The second part of the Series

We must appreciate having such a well-written and profound historical novel because this period is not often portrayed in books written in the English language. This era is all the more important because the Hungarian Hunyadi Clan gained precious decades for Europe to flourish before the full fury of the Sultan’s power pointed at Vienna and the rest of Western Europe to devour them mercilessly. The struggle for survival of the Hungarians in the 16th and 17th centuries cannot be grasped without knowing the wars of Governor John Hunyadi and his son, King Matthias Corvinus, in the 15th century.

Fortunately, Katerina helped us to understand this so easily forgotten but vital time when not only Hungary but the whole of Europe was at stake. We could read the adventures of her heroes in her first book, “Lord of the Eyrie”, which introduced us to the dark forests of Transylvania, once part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Unlike many historical novels, the story did not have a typical happy ending, but I read the book in one sitting because it was so engaging, a very good read, and a page-turner. I could hardly wait to get my hands on the next part of the book.

The Return to the Eyrie was by no means a disappointment. The story took me from Belgrade (Hungarian: Nándorfehérvár) to the royal court in Buda, and the truth finally triumphed in Transylvania. The main character is a girl whose determination drives her through hardships and adventures to regain the castle and domain that were seized from her. We see how she acquired her fighting skills and how she was helped by a Muslim friend on her journey.

Certainly, love and despair accompany her path, and a mysterious knight is part of the fabulous story. On the other hand, we can dive into the late Gothic and Renaissance world of Hungary and get acquainted with the great King Matthias, the Raven King. The environment and the details are based on the author’s delicate and precise research. Nothing fantasy, all history.

Again, as in the previous part of the Eyrie series, I enjoyed discovering the realistically described battle scenes. I am a HEMAist, and I wield the longsword to experience the thrill of history in earnest, and I immediately saw that the author had a profound knowledge of historical martial arts. I, for one, would not attack her with a three-edged dagger called a roundel. She would probably make a quick work of me. Yes, Katerina was involved in Buhurt fighting, an armed variant of the full-contact medieval martial arts.

This book reassured me that sometimes better historical novels about Hungary can be born outside Hungary, in faraway Ireland, from the pen of a Greek lady. Read her work, treasure it, and ask for a third book.

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My books "33 Castles, Battles, Legends" and "The Ring of Kékkő Castle"
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