Friday, 22 March 2013

Becky Bookworm Review: The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian

The Bleeding Land (Rivers Family, #1)The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For a girl with a viking heart I had to be brave and open minded when I decided to follow my favourite author into a period of history I have no clues about. At first I did feel uncomfortable as I adjusted my mind to the turmoil bubbling up in London with all the mention of papists and apprentices and riots flying around. However it is here that the beauty and strength of his writing really comes through. For this is not a story about Kings, princes, and soldiers but of the turmoil of one family. Of the bonds of blood, the loyalty of family, the unity of a family and the unfortunate divide between brothers. It is a story we can all relate to without having to know anything about where the story is set. I also was impressed by how much of a character and symbol the brother's individual mounts became, like animal-twins, used artisticly to display and match the mood and atmosphere throughout the story. I also loved the descriptions Giles used whenever there was a host of craws and rooks in the scenery. He uses them cleverly and differently each time to make each one uniquely powerful. Yet I noticed some nordic elements albeit behind the scenes so to speak in that each brother in their battles and wars discovers their own unique companions of war, sword-brothers, who prove as loyal as any band of viking warriors do to their chosen Jarl. That is the honourable side of vikings and indeed such partnerships are formed in any war/battle throughout history but there is also present the unhonourable aspects. In the form of the many mercenaries who join for gold not glory and make a strong and intimidating presence throughout the plot whether in person or in conversations.
As Giles himself points out in the afterword of the book he can name very few good fictional accounts of this period despite the vast number of authoratitive non-fiction and he couldn't understand why not until he himself started writing The Bleeding Land. Yet, as every good writer knows, if you get the majority of facts right, with a little artistic license, ultimately you should produce a good story at the least. And I can say that the human epic of family and loyalty set in this war torn environment is successfuly pulled off. If a viking-wanna-be like me can like it, I see no reason why others shouldn't.
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  1. Hi Becky, thanks for posting this most enjoyable review of a book I am keen to read and like you not in my favourite comfort zone of the 10th and 11th centuries. However your great ability to review a book with a thoughtful analysis has helped me to make my mind up. This one just has to go on my To buy pile

  2. I've been looking for a blog like your's to follow. Ace review.


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