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The King's Hounds (The King's Hounds series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Martin Jensen , Tara Chace
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (309 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The first in the bestselling Danish series of historical mysteries

The newly crowned King Cnut of Denmark has conquered England and rules his new empire from Oxford. The year is 1018 and the war is finally over, but the unified kingdom is far from peaceful.

Halfdan’s mixed lineage—half Danish, half Saxon—has made him a pauper in the new kingdom. His father, his brother, and the land he should have inherited were all taken by the new king’s men. He lost everything to the war but his sense of humor. Once a proud nobleman, Halfdan now wanders the country aimlessly, powered only by his considerable charm and some petty theft. When he finds an unlikely ally in Winston, a former monk, he sees no reason not to accept his strange invitation to travel together to Oxford. Winston has been commissioned to paint a portrait of the king at the invitation of his new wife, and the protection of a clever man like Halfdan is well worth its price in wine and bread.

But when the pair’s arrival in court coincides with news of a murder, the king has a brilliant idea: Why not enlist the newly arrived womanizing half-Dane and the Saxon intellectual to defuse a politically explosive situation? The pair represents both sides of the conflict and seem to have crime-solving skills to boot. In their search for the killer, Halfdan and Winston find seduction, adventure, and scandal in the wild early days of Cnut’s rule.

Books In This Series (3 Books)
Complete Series

  • Editorial Reviews

    From Publishers Weekly

    Fans of historicals looking for something different will find much to savor in Jensen's first book to be translated into English, a mystery set in 11th-century England. Winston, a former novice monk who's become an illuminator of manuscripts, receives his most high-profile assignment yet when the consort of Cnut of Denmark, who recently conquered England, asks him to paint the king's portrait. On the way to Oxford, where Cnut holds court, Winston joins forces with Halfdan, a roguish half-Dane, who rescues him from thieves and serves as the tale's charming narrator. Once they reach Oxford, Cnut asks the pair to solve the murder of a Saxon named Osfrid, whose widow accuses the king of being her husband's killer. With Cnut's hold on power fragile, he hopes that the team of investigators from different backgrounds will not only solve the case but keep the political peace. Readers will want to see more of the astute Winston. (Oct.)


    “Winston’s intellectuality plays off of Halfdan’s womanizing rogue…the casual brutality of the time as well as the politics are aptly portrayed, and the suspects plentiful.” —Historical Novels Review

    Product Details

    • File Size: 2162 KB
    • Print Length: 274 pages
    • Publisher: AmazonCrossingEnglish (October 29, 2013)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Enabled
    • Lending: Not Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,538 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    3.9 out of 5 stars
    3.9 out of 5 stars
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars An old fashioned mystery on an underappreciated period October 16, 2013
    By Mohe
    Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    This is basically an old school country house mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, but instead of being set at an estate over a long weekend, a tour group, or a train, the setting is a political gathering in late Anglo-Saxon England. Our two protagonists, one a manuscript illuminator and the other a déclassé half Danish nobleman, stumble across a murder with significant political overtones early in the reign of King Canute. Canute promptly sets our heroes to work, and they begin trying to track down and interview a wide range of suspects. It is quite a fun outing, and while I sort of guessed the solution very early, I was not sure until more than two thirds through the book. There was no cheating.

    The history is basically fine, the atmosphere is very good, and it is fun to see this all from a Scandinavian perspective since the book is translated from Danish. The ethnic conflict and relationships between the three main groups, Anglo-Saxons, Danes living in England for centuries, and Viking adventurers is very elegantly handled.

    One interesting aspect is that at the end several loose ends in the investigation are left; this is lamp-shaded by on of the characters who suggest that sometimes it is very awkward to get to the bottom of everything, a suitably Nordic medieval sentiment, but I would have enjoyed the whole puzzle more if they had been addressed.

    The translation is solid, better than some other Amazon Crossings tiles, with a good command of the two languages. It does not feel like a translation.
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    53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
    Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    England, 1018. Invasions of Angles, Saxons, Danes and others are stripping the country of food, livestock and whatever peace the local villagers can wring behind their palisades. Cnut of Denmark wants to bury the hatchet between all the warring factions and requisitions the talents of Winston, the bookish ex monk who has come to illuminate Cnut's sterling qualities in a rich book for Cnut's wife. Instead Winston and his traveling companion Halfdan,a disenfranchised nobleman, are set to solve a murder in Oxford, where Cnut has convened the Saxon witan,a local council of elders, and demanded that the heregeld, a tax on the losers paid to him, be sent. With the blessing of the witan and the dispersal of the heregeld to Cnut's army as pay, Cnut's position as king will be solidified.

    However one of Cnut's future subjects, a local Saxon chief, turns up dead in Oxford during the gathering after confronting Cnut in public. With Winston, a Saxon, and Halfdan, a Dane, on the investigation, both sides of Cnut's kingdom can be satisfied a clean investigation will result. Halfdan woos the female population to weasel out information and provides a strong sword arm when they are attacked while Winston flexes the mental skills he's acquired in using the smaller details to paint the overall picture of this, and the ensuing murders, and uncover the final plot.

    These books are translated from the original Danish and it was interesting to get a take on the history of that unsettled time from somewhere other than the usual Anglo-American point of view. The ability to pick up numerous languages, Danish, Saxon and other dialects is emphasized as England was a polyglot society. The rudimentary detective skills displayed (by today's standards) is entertaining and the epilogue promises more adventures as a series. Recommended for fans of Oliver Potzsch Hangman's Daughter series without much of the buffoonery of his more recent books.
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    22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent piece of historical who done it. . . January 4, 2014
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    Prior to writing this I read some of the other reviews and was amazed that so few readers thought it worthy of 5 stars.

    I LOVED THIS BOOK.... The main protagonists kept the the story light and enjoyable, whilst at the same time the author has recreated a little remembered part of English history. I noted one reviewer compared this novel to the likes of an Agatha Christie novel and she is probably right, but again I hark back to the historical content. The characters in this novel (with the exception of Halfdan and Winston of course) are real. This is a great read and we learned something along the way.
    After you finish this novel check out King Cnut on the net. More great reading.
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    32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars The setting is more interesting than the mystery January 18, 2014
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    This is well-researched and, as another reviewer observed, makes the polyglot, multi-cultural society of England in Cnut's time vivid and realistic. However, the mystery itself is weakly constructed. As the two unlikely partners (who meet in the beginning of the book and are compelled by Cnut to find the nobleman's killer) blunder around Oxford, most of their incorrect suspicions seem to exist only to display the many different peoples that had gathered there -- Dane, Saxon, Viking. The solution to the mystery was less than dramatic.

    The main problem I had with the story, however, is apparently the fault of the translator. The book is filled with anachronisms that jar the ear -- modern terms that make the story seem less authentic than it is. A few examples: partner Halfdane "scarfed down" some food -- a term that originated in the 1960s. Winston (the other partner) suggests that he is offering the nobleman's widow a "worst-case scenario." Another character refers to someone's "buddy" -- a term that did not exist until the 19th century. Winston later tells a soldier that he had "better listen up." There are many more such as these. Cnut, in his unification speech to the gathered multi-nationals, sounds more like a Silicon Valley CEO than an 11th century monarch. It made the story less enjoyable, much as I liked the setting and the historical authenticity.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read
    I enjoyed this book. Reminded me of a medieval Holmes and his not quite as smart sidekick Watson. The characters weren't very deep. Read more
    Published 2 days ago by A. Caporaso
    1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry example of a historical murder mystery...
    As other reviewers mentioned, the preoccupation of Halfdan, one of the two protagonists, with satisfying his carnal pleasures is disturbing (in the case of the initial rape scene)... Read more
    Published 7 days ago by SW Va.
    3.0 out of 5 stars Medieval Whodunit.
    A whodunit that uses common sense, instead of fancy computers and modern science. If you enjoy Micheal Jenks, then you find " Kings Hounds" delightful.
    Published 9 days ago by Rudie 2
    3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
    Good read. Entertaining.
    Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
    3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing Sometimes. Too Slow
    While the tone of this book is light-hearted and funny, the story moves too slow. The author gives a lot of biographical information about the characters, but they really never... Read more
    Published 24 days ago by Savannah
    4.0 out of 5 stars The two men were perfect for each other personality wise
    I found the book to be humorous and interesting. The solving of the murder kept you guessing until the end. The two men were perfect for each other personality wise. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Wil
    3.0 out of 5 stars The Hounds win
    Lots of writing, writing, writing. Less of investigating. It was an okay read, but not terribly suspenseful except for the demands of the king. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by one of three
    4.0 out of 5 stars "King's Hounds" is a fun read with good characters; needs more history
    Very enjoyable. A good read with a good plot and engaging characters. I plan to read any new volumes in the series. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by KGE
    4.0 out of 5 stars the country's best illuminator. They arrive in Oxford just at the ...
    Martin Jensen's The Kings Hounds is a delightful mystery set in the time of King Cnut in ancient England. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Margaret C.
    4.0 out of 5 stars good story
    Well-written. It piqued my interest due to its setting, and the author did a good job of throwing in some twists and turns.
    Published 1 month ago by Rick Radzville
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    More About the Author

    Bestselling Danish novelist Martin Jensen was born in 1946 and worked as a teacher and a headmaster in Sweden and Denmark before becoming a full-time writer in 1996. The author of twenty-one novels, he has been honored by the Danish Crime Academy twice and was awarded the Royal Library's Prize for his medieval novel Soldiers' Whore. He and his wife are botany enthusiasts who also enjoy bird-watching and gathering mushrooms.

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