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Brothers' Fury by Giles Kristian

Brothers' Fury
Hooray, the second book in Kristian's civil wars saga is here!

Brothers' Fury is the sequel to The Bleeding Land, published last summer. The story revolves around the Rivers family and their part in the civil wars that wracked Britain during the 1640s. Although I think it is possible to read Brothers' Fury without having read The Bleeding Land first, I personally wouldn't recommend doing it. The first part of the saga is fantastic; I reviewed it here. It's a gripping read and the background to why the two Rivers' brothers end up on opposing sides is such a fundamental part of the story that to miss out is to do the series a disservice. I'll stop trying to persuade you to read two books instead of just one now, and focus on Brothers' Fury!

It opens at the beginning of 1643 with both Mun and Tom battling their own demons. Mun, Sir Edmund Rivers, is a die-hard Royalist but his experiences on the battlefield and on his own estate have hardened and embittered him. Death and destruction are no longer abstract concepts and he is driven by a desire for revenge as much as duty now. Tom's actions were driven by vengeance all along. A Parliamentarian by circumstance rather than conviction, I think, he's earned his nickname Black Tom. Back from the dead he is more angry and determined than ever to avenge the woman he loved. In everything he is motivated by his hatred of Lord Denton.

In this book a third Rivers sibling sets out on a journey of their own. Bess can no longer bear the rift between the brothers and wants to bring them together once again. She carries her own grief and loss, and it is perhaps this that impels her to leave her newborn son behind and travel the dangerous roads accompanied by only a young servant. She surely gets more than she bargained for along the way, but the Rivers' blood is infused with fortitude.

Much of the action takes place on the battlefield; 1643 was a bloody year. The fighting is brutal and gory (and as with The Bleeding Land I warn you that horses die). Swords glance off buff-coats, musket balls impact breast-plates, limbs are severed, bodies are reduced to pulp. The battle-scenes are frenzied and chaotic, punctuated by periods of agonising tension awaiting the order to fire or charge. Some of my favourite parts took place away from the heat of battle, although contained no less danger. Both brothers are dragged from their increasingly renegade ways and charged with leading a secret mission. Tom's is to take a small group to Oxford, the Royalist stronghold, and deal with a major thorn in the Parliamentarian's side. Following orders isn't always his greatest strength, especially if there's a chance to forward his own agenda. Mun has to take his Shear House men and steal a cannon. From his own side. I loved the layers of subterfuge, loyalty, and authority at play in these parts.

There are also a couple of great new characters, who I hope survive long enough to appear in the third book. Bess gets an unwelcome protector in the shape of Dane, a hard-drinking hard-fighting man, loyal to his purse. She finds him abominable, but I adore him! Mun finds himself saddled with a green young lad, Jonathan, desperate to escape his father's yoke and prove himself. He's got great potential too. I said I hope we get to see them again, but nothing is certain. Brothers' Fury ends on such a cliffhanger it's almost cruel. Nobody's fate is certain, except perhaps Lord Denton's. Scumbag in the first book, deranged in the second. There's a sword coming for him, mark my words!

Brothers' Fury is out today in Hardback, thank you very much to the publisher for sending me an advance copy for review. The Bleeding Land is available in Paperback.

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