Once seen in the heat of battle, Captain Stryker is never forgotten. A hardened veteran of the wars in the Low Countries, he has come home to England to seek revenge on the man who left him for dead and scarred him for life. Stryker is driven by loyalty rather than conviction to serve King Charles's cause. He has no truck with aristocracy, preferring the company of a handful of trusted men, including sometime actor Lancelot Forrester and his foul-mouthed sergeant, Skellen. But when the existence of a dangerous spy at the heart of the Royalist establishment is discovered, it is Stryker whom Prince Rupert chooses to capture the man before he realises the game is up. Lightly armed and with only a handful of men, Stryker must journey across a country riven by bitterness and beset by marauding bands of soldiers in a race against time. But unbeknown to Stryker, someone else is also closing in on his quarry, someone whom Stryker has sworn to kill: Captain Eli Makepeace, his nemesis, the man who nearly destroyed him . . .
Winter 1644, and a Parliamentary victory at the battle on Nantwich is quickly follwed by news that the Scots have invaded, placing the King's northern territories in jeopardy. This novel about the relief of Newark was specially commissioned by the English Civil War Centre.
England stands divided: King against Parliament, town against country, brother against brother. For Captain Stryker, scarred hero of a dozen battles, the rights and wrongs of the cause mean little. His loyalties are to his own small band of comrades – and to Queen Henrietta Maria’s beautiful and most deadly agent, Lisette Gaillard. So when Prince Rupert entrusts him with a secret mission to discover what has happened to Lisette and the man she was protecting - a man who could hold the key to Royalist victory – nothing, not false imprisonment for murder, ambush, a doomed siege, and a lethal religious fanatic – will stand in his way. From the bloody storming of Cirencester, to the siege of Lichfield and finally to the killing fields of Hopton Heath, Michael Arnold brings all the drama and the passion that lay behind the English Civil War vividly to life.
Posted to the hostile territory of Dartmoor, Captain Innocent Stryker and his men are attacked by an elite cavalry unit commanded by the formidable Colonel Gabriel Wild and suffer heavy losses. Stryker has already clashed once with Wild, and the Roundhead has sworn to seek his revenge. After the attack, Stryker is faced with the annihilation of his company as he is hounded across the moor, eventually seeking shelter on an isolated tor populated by an enigmatic former priest who harbours no love for the King's cause. Colonel Wild is assisted in his revenge by Osmyn Hogg, Parliamentarian Witchfinder, who shares his own deadly history with Stryker. To save his honour and his life, Stryker must lead his men to glory from the protection of the lonely granite-topped hill. Into this atmosphere of intrigue and danger comes the beautiful but mysterious Cecily Cade. Stryker comes to her aid, unaware that she carries with her special knowledge that may prove the key to Royalist victory. The battle between Stryker and his old foes takes him from the bleak isolation of Dartmoor, through the war-ravaged lands of southern England and finally to Stratton, where the bloody battle between Cornwall and Devon will decide the fate of the south-west.
Summer, 1643. The forces of King Charles are victorious; their Parliamentarian enemies in deep crisis. In the west, the crucial port city of Bristol has fallen, and Royalist eyes fall quickly upon neighbouring Gloucester. Stryker and his men march with them. Still reeling from the bloody Battle of Stratton, Stryker is ordered to infiltrate the city. Its walls are weak, its garrison under strength and its governor, Sir Edward Massie, is believed to be sympathetic to the King. But Gloucester’s defenders are more resolute than any had imagined, and catastrophe soon befalls them. With his life seemingly forfeit, Stryker is spared by an unlikely saviour; Vincent Skaithlocke, his former commander. The mercenary has returned to England to fight for Parliament and offers Stryker his protection. As old friends adjust to life fighting for opposing sides, Stryker begins to question his own loyalties… but a chance discovery makes him realise that all in Gloucester is not what it seems, for a hidden menace threatens his own life, and that of King Charles himself.
Autumn,1643. As an increasingly bitter war rages across England, Captain Innocent Stryker leaves Oxford with orders to recover a lost treasure, vital to the success of the Royalist cause. But a seemingly simple mission to the remote Scilly Isles is soon jeopardised, for enemies lie in wait. A formidable Parliamentarian agent has been sent ahead of Stryker's force, intent on defeating Royalist plans. Feared by ally and enemy alike, he is a man whose determination is only matched by his hatred for Stryker. The quest for the gold takes Stryker across storm-ravaged seas, through enemy territory and finally to the Royalist stronghold of Basing House. And it is there that Stryker will face his most dangerous challenge yet.
2nd July 1644 - Five armies converge outside York.
It will be a battle for honour, glory, and the fate of three kingdoms. And it will pit two great leaders - Oliver Cromwell and Prince Rupert - directly against one another for the first time. It is a day that will change the course of our history. Into the cannon fire and musket smoke marches Major Innocent Stryker, battle-scarred hero of the Royalist cause. He must not only lead his men through the bloody horror and outwit his Parliamentary enemies, but uncover foul treachery on his own side. He will need every shred of experience and determination to survive. Marston Moor will be the decisive turning point in the English Civil War. This is the thrilling and shocking story of that battle.