An excellent historical novel of the 14th century England, centered around Yarmouth, ably written, full-bodied and rich, with a wealth of colorful detail and a good story. The author has caught England at a point when actual power, though not its political counterpart, was shifting from the feudal barons to just such people as his central characters, the Elyses, merchants in wool. Geoffrey is as gallant as any knight, there is enough romance to add spice to plentiful adventure, for it is he who undertakes the dangerous shipping assignments for his house. In the course of one of them, he stumbles upon the secret of gunpowder, takes his find to his king, Edward III, and eventually is put in charge of the first embryonic cannon at Crecy. A magnificent picture of Crecy is given, the splendor, the futility of Edward's campaign for the French crown -- and the horrible aftermath of the Black Plague. A man's book, primarily, perhaps, but the tender scenes are as ably handled as the swashbuckling.