Skip to main content

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge Book 3: The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian

The English Civil War really makes my blood boil. So much violence and bloodshed, so many families torn apart, whole communities devastated, the cultural landscape permanently altered. The 1640s are pretty far down my list of decades I wish I could visit. They do make an awesome setting for a historical novel however and Giles Kristian has captured the chaos and uncertainty of the period really well.

The Bleeding LandSet in 1642 the story follows the Rivers family, landed gentry from Lancashire. Sir Francis is loyal to the King, and expects his family to follow suit. An unexpected but avoidable tragedy sends his younger son Tom on a self-destructive journey during which he signs up with the rebel army. He is not fighting for any cause except personal revenge. This is one of the aspects of the book I enjoyed immensely. Whilst there was much genuine ideology on either side of the conflict, the civil wars were also an opportunity for settling private scores. Rivalries amongst the aristocracy could be played out on the battlefields, grievances against landowners taken out on the womenfolk left behind.

It's all in here, the anger and rage felt on both sides, the lack of organisation, the killing and mutilation. As I have already admitted, I'm not a squeamish sort. The battlefield action is vivid; blood and body parts churn up with mud and excrement. Where people are concerned it takes a lot to make me wince. Animals, however are my weak spot; I have to turn over RSPCA adverts on TV because they make me cry. I mention this for a reason - in the 17th century the aristocracy, and anyone else who had the resources, fought on horseback. The horses didn't all survive. There, you have been warned.

The Bleeding Land is full-on and hard to put down. That most cavalier Royalist Prince Rupert plays a fairly prominent role in proceedings, but the man at the heart of it all is largely absent. King Charles puts in the odd cameo appearance, but is almost incidental to the action. I wonder if this reflects Kristian's opinion of the man or if this most uncharismatic of monarchs will make a bigger impact in the next book? I wouldn't mind a little bit more Charlie, for all his faults he was an interesting chap. This is the first in a series, and despite the appalling destruction these are only the initial stages of the conflict. The story ends in a bit of a cliffhanger for the Rivers family and I'm interested to see where Kristian takes them next.

I'm rather pleased with myself for choosing this one as part of the Transworld Reading Challenge, I knew it was going to be a good one as soon as I felt that first twinge of anger at the futility of the fight. My hackles rose, my eyes narrowed and my shoulders tensed - and all without even a sniff of old Cromwell. Well done Mr K on getting so convincingly under my skin!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Interview With The Vampire: Claudia's Story by Anne Rice and Ashley Marie Witter

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

'Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone... Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?
This book illustrates how special a thing it is to have people send you books out of the blue; it's a privilege and a pleasure. I wouldn't have known about this book, let alone read and loved it, if it hadn't landed in my letterbox. I'm …

Reading Resolutions

Happy New Year!
That's 2015 done and dusted, here's to 2016 and let's hope it's filled with love and laughter, friends and fun, books and cake. And really, that's about as far as my resolutions go but I do have a few projects in mind for the coming year and beyond.

This year there are two anniversaries I want to celebrate. The first is the two hundredth anniversary of Charlotte Bronte's birth on 21st April.
Jane Eyre is one of my most favourite stories of all and I've lost count of the number of times I've read it over the years. I'll be re-reading it yet again come April, but before then I plan to read the other three novels Charlotte wrote starting with Shirley this month. I'm quite keen to read the new Claire Harman biography of Charlotte Bronte too at some point.

The other anniversary is that of Shakespeare's death 400 years ago on 23rd April. I've finally admitted to myself that reading the same half dozen plays over and over isn'…