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A Cruel Fate

3.10  ·  Rating details ·  150 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Martin Watts, a bookseller, is captured by Royalists. Jane Afton's brother Nat is taken too. They suffer inhumane treatment as prisoners-of-war. In Oxford Castle jailor William Smith tortures, beats, starves and deprives his helpless victims. Can Jane rescue her sick brother before he dies of neglect? Will Martin dare to escape? Based on real events in the English Civil Wa ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published February 3rd 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton
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Average rating 3.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  150 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Fiona Hewlett-parker
Mar 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014-reads
I knew nothing about the horrors of the English Civil war and this quick Read book has given me the urge to read more on the subject. I really did not like they style of this book, but now I understand it was written for people who have not learned to love to read. with that in mind it is simply told, and a good story.

I love Lindsey Davis, but will stick with Falco from now on...
Liesl de Swardt
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I would love for this to have been developed as a long work. Davis is a brilliant writer and handles her subject masterfully.
Ruth Ellis
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it
As a quick read it's historical but it didn't hold me that's why I gave this 3stars😕
KL Caley
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Premise: Martin Watt’s is a bookseller who has never stepped foot out of line, is captured for being on the wrong side of a war he didn’t care much about. This short novel follows his story as a prisoner of war and the treatment and brutality received. The novel also contains the story of Jan Afton whose brother has also been captured during the turmoil. Jane being regarded as a spinster to her family is sent to find out what has happened to her brother and retrieve him.

I really enjoyed this sh

Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
One of the Quick Reads series issued as part of World Book Day, these short novels are aimed at people who don't have time for long reads or who struggle with the written word or for whom English is not their first language. QR realise that to get people 'into' reading requires the proper temptation, so have got a wide range of writers and well known celebrities to join the scheme.
I am enjoying reading Lindsey Davis' Roman Detective, Marcus Didius Falco, who is a bit like Bogart but before the f
Owen Townend
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I never realised just how brutal the English Civil War was. Not only were there staggering battlefield casualties but apparently there were a lot of fatalities during captivity as well. Davis writes about the torturous practices of William Smith with vivid detail that had me hooked from the moment non-royalist civilians were first forced into Oxford Castle.

However I was more than a little disappointed at the telling. For a story about confinement and isolation, we only spend a small amount of t
Judi Mckay
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
The descriptions of the cruel treatment given to Royalist prisoners were really interesting (& appalling!) However the way it was written, to me, was off putting. It’s part of a series intended to help people discover the joys of reading for pleasure and if I’d been a non reader and picked this up, it would have turned me off reading. It reads to me like a voice over for one of those history documentaries where the events are depicted as someone relates the events; not as a story to get lost in. ...more
Eden Gruger
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really interetsing historical read
May 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Being a Quick Read I was expecting an easier read, given the intention of this range, however this book is almost like it's gone a couple of steps too far, the sentences are short but are quite stilted.
The content, as you might expect, being in times of war and the era, is awful, in fact it's just plain brutal and horrific! There is hope and a slither of romance but mostly it's horrid!
Hannah Brown
Feb 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: quick-reads
The English Civil War has begun, and has been raging for months. Michael Watts, who fights with the Roundheads, is taken prisoner and forced to walk for days to get to Oxford, where he is locked in the Saint George’s Tower, along with hundreds of other sick and dying prisoners. Meanwhile, Nat Afton is taken prisoner too, and, whilst thousands of others in his village change sides to support to the King to go home, he doesn’t. He stays. Gets himself locked up, leaving his sister Jane to make a da ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: kindle, fiction, history
I was really disappointed in A Cruel Fate.
I liked the idea of the quickread books; I love books and think that it would be great if more people realized how wonderful they are. I love Lindsey Davis, and figured anything she'd written would be great. I expected a short, well written historical novelette with great characters, humor, and plot twists, and since I could get the ebook for less than a buck and read it immediately, how could I lose?
The best thing I can say about it is that I only was
Oct 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
It is a short read so don't expect too much. Even so. I have read some of Lyndsey Davis before and heard some dramatisations but this was so unlike anything before. Ok so it is English Civil War not Ancient Rome but that is not my criticism. The writing style is like. A slightly gifted 13 year old. Little characterisation. The only description is of the truly awful nature of prisoner incarceration, although it does make emergence to the practice and custom of war. Before Haig and Geneva conventi ...more
Apr 13, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is one in a series called Quick Reads (, a UK program designed to encourage adult literacy with short stories told in simple English by real, really good authors. I loved Davis' Falco series and wanted to support the program, so I ordered 'A Cruel Fate'. I found the simple English a bit distracting and jarring at first, but I mostly got used to it. Being a short story, it naturally lacked much of the depth that draws me to novels, but I think it ...more
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
I love Lindsay's writing, so picked this up at the library in the hopes of a quick fix before the next Flavia Albia book comes out. I hadn't realised that it was written for those who aren't really readers and in fact it reads a bit like a staged reader for someone who is learning English. The sentences are short and simple and it feels a bit like a history lesson in places. Good story, just a bit over-simplified for me.
Joanna McDarby
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Lindsey Davis' stories and while this one was written in much simpler language, it lost none of the gritty reality of the events that she was portraying. The characters were engaging and the book lost none of her style. However I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed.
I can see the value in books like these for people who want to improve their reading skills, and I'm proud of authors who take on the challenge of writing these books so that they can be enjoyed.
Annette Gisby
Jul 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I picked this book at the library, thinking it was a self-contained short story. I've since discovered that it was aimed at people who are new to reading. That explains the simplicity of the writing, which was a bit jarring at first. Everything was a bit too simple so it felt like it lacked depth. There was a lot of telling, rather than showing, and there was sparse dialogue. It read a bit like a skimmed down textbook rather than a story.
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
The sentences are too simple even for me, as English learner. Almost all in simple present. It was like as somebody retold a film in simple words. I'd read quite a lot of Quick Reads books, because they are nice for English learning, but this was the worst book from this series, I've read.
Dianna Rostad
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful little short about a spinster who goes to rescue her brother from the Oxford prison during the civil war. The despicable treatment of the inmates by Captain Smith will keep you on edge. Gruesome and apparently true.
Derek Audsley
Apr 27, 2015 rated it liked it
A good story that gives you a brief insight into the horrors of the English Civil War.
John Lane
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book it had a good plot and was interesting outcome
Zoe Obstkuchen
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Simply written for emergent readers this tale of the suffering of prisoners of war during the English Civil War was interesting
Oct 10, 2014 added it
Bookclub read for November - will grade later
Wilde Sky
May 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Prisoner abuse during the English Civil War is described in this book.

An interesting story, but I found it so badly written that it killed any real enjoyment.
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A great quick read (I stopped to read some other books halfway through hence the 4 months it took me to finish!) set an interesting time. I learnt a few historical points along the way.
Carl Heinz
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting perspective on the British Civil War.
Markie Jones
Aug 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
You can find my review for this book here:
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A great insight into a historical period I don't know much about... yet!
rated it liked it
Aug 23, 2016
Hazel Weller
Very disappointed :(
rated it it was ok
Feb 09, 2014
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Lindsey Davis, historical novelist, was born in Birmingham, England in 1949. Having taken a degree in English literature at Oxford University (Lady Margaret Hall), she became a civil servant. She left the civil service after 13 years, and when a romantic novel she had written was runner up for the 1985 Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize, she decided to become a writer, writing at first romanti ...more

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