Monday, 16 December 2013

Sure Is A Bloody Aftermath: THE SPLINTERED KINGDOM by James Aitcheson


Splintered Kingdom by James Aitcheson
In this, the second instalment of the Bloody Aftermath of 1066 series by James Aitcheson, we meet our hero again in happier times. Only this book is set against the Welsh Marches and a backdrop of violent reprisal against the Norman invasion, so happier times be damned. 
The story begins with our hero nicely settled. Something I think he deserves after the life of upheavals he led in book one.
 A lord of his own manor, he is living out his days in a rural idyll. The fields full to bursting with crops. The mill wheel turning in the stream. A woman to warm his nights and his heart.

Not very interesting really is it? For an action adventure? Well, I kind of liked it. Was looking forward to a story about our hero making a life for himself. Defending all that is his from raiders and whatever ill wind blew his way..
But, as with all rural idylls in action adventures, they are smashed apart and torn asunder. Rural idylls are for the light-hearted. And being light hearted was never this books intention. Didn't you learn that in book one?

Rural idyll is replaced by a bloody battle for survival. Not only in war against new and old enemies, but in personal battles against men who should be allies.

After a while, this book was dense with action. Battle after battle. Swords clashing. Disastrous bivouacs. Armies against armies. Urban warfare. And so on and so forth.
I confess, despite liking the book a lot, some of the long fight scenes I had to skim read and that is the reason I could not squeeze this book to the full 5 stars. In my opinion, some of the protracted battle scenes could have been less so. Of course others will disagree. Those who love battle sequences will relish this read to its climax.

If battles and fight scenes in historical fiction are your poison, then you are going to love this book. If you are like me and prefer battle or fight scenes to take up minor parts of a book, then you may not love the book entirely, but I still suspect you will like it a lot for, outside of the battles, it has plenty to offer.

I liked the first book of this series. It got raw sometimes and there was much room for improvement, but I found here in Book two, this rawness was not present. A much more refined read..
 The author has fine skill and a bright future in the genre of historical fiction if he chooses to stay in it

- MM

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