THE RING OF MANN is the second book in the Circles of Time series by David Thomas Kay and is set during the period of the Stuart monarchy in 17th century England. The book begins in the 13th century in Furness Abbey where Brother Joseph, Brother Phillip, and Daniel arrive to investigate its administrative affairs. Among other interactions, Brother Joseph talks to Rolf, a local mason, who displays his Viking ancestry in the form of a runic ring that he wears as an amulet. The story then fast forwards in time to the 17th century where the ring is now in the hands of Mary, passed down to her through generations. Mary is convinced that the ring is responsible for making her see the “Man of Death” causing her to behave in strange ways. Meanwhile, Phynius Clayton, the Hawkshead School headmaster learns of the existence of the runic ring from Mary’s brother Thomas, who is one of his students and is fascinated with its history. So are a few others. The presence of the ring is the connecting thread between a series of incidents that take place in the book, including James Pritt, a tree-feller, who disappears mysteriously. The story then branches out from James’ disappearance to include several other interesting characters and subplots.
THE RING OF MANN is detailed in its descriptions of village life during the 17th century. It was a time of religious, social, and political turmoil and author David Thomas Kay has set the scene exceedingly well. The in-depth research of real events on which many aspects of the book are based on, is evident throughout, particularly in the conversations between the Major and Vicar Braithwaite. Against this backdrop, Kay explores family life among the upper classes (the Major and Penelope) and the tradesmen (Robert, Thomas, Mary, and John), the difference in their beliefs, and their outlook towards society. He uses Damian’s character to explore psychological issues, who, along with Mary, add spades of intrigue to the plot. Kay is an engaging storyteller, and the length of the book (over 500 pages) sits lightly on the reader. The plot moves fast thanks to the twists and turns at regular intervals and is interlaced with progression in the stories of individual characters, which makes it very vivid and real. Surrounding it all is the aura of the ring, a brooding, inexplicable presence that causes things to happen. Laced with humor, emotionally charged scenes, and very descriptive prose, THE RING OF MANN maintains an evenly good pace and keeps the reader engrossed.
THE RING OF MANN is a fast-paced, engaging and well-written historical thriller with an intriguing plot that skillfully intersperses fact and fiction.
~Swati Nair for IndieReader