Giles Kristian – Brothers’ Fury

gileskristian-brothersfuryRebel Cast out from his home, rejected by his family, Tom Rivers returns to his regiment. But his commander believes the young hothead’s recklessness and contempt for authority has no place in his troop. But to a spymaster like Captain Crafte, Tom’s dark and fearless nature is in itself a weapon to be turned upon the hated Cavaliers – who else would dare to infiltrate Oxford, now the Royalist capital, to destroy the King’s printing press and strike a blow at the very heart of the enemy?

Renegade Raw with grief at the death of his father, Edmund Rivers rejects the peace talks between Parliament and the King. He chooses instead to lead a hardened band of marauders across the moors, appearing out of the frozen world to fall on unsuspecting rebel columns like wolves. But Prince Rupert – recognising in Mun a fellow child of war – has other plans for him, from stealing a colossal gun, to tunneling beneath the walls of Lichfield. The only peace the enemy will get from Mun Rivers is that of the grave.

Huntress Her heart broken following the deaths of her beloved Emmanuel and her father, Bess Rivers takes the hardest decision of her life: to leave her new-born son and depart Sheer House in search of the one person who might help her re-unite what is left of her broken family. Risking her own life on the road, Bess will do whatever it takes to find her brother Tom and secure his Royal pardon, but can she douse the flames of her brothers’ fury and see them reconciled?

The first book in this series The Bleeding Land, made the top 5 of my favourite books of 2012, so my expectations for Brothers’ Fury were high. How would Kristian follow up the harrowing and fascinating experience of that book? Quite well, actually. In fact, I could just copy/paste my review for The Bleeding Land, update some of the details so they’d apply to this book and you’d have a pretty good description of how I felt about this book. Of course, I won’t do that, so I’ll focus on some different elements than I did last time. 

Before I do so, however, just a quick look at our three protagonists. Like last time, we still follow all three Rivers children, though I did feel Bess was rather under represented. Every time I really started to wonder what Bess was up to, however, Kristian would switch to her arc, so perhaps the pacing on her arc was expertly done. Still, I would have loved to have seen more of her and her companions on their quest to find Tom. Of the two brothers Mun is still the more sympathetic one, as he seems to really believe in his cause, as opposed to Tom, who is in this for a change at revenge. Had Tom chosen to fight for Parliament from a deep-seated conviction that they were in the right and that the king was wrong in his governing of the country, I might have found his actions less troubling. As it is, he comes across as a bit of a sociopath, who lives to fight and sees himself as a killer pur sang. Mun also enjoys battle perhaps more than he should; he seems to revel in it less than Tom does. Neither of them doubts whether they are fighting on the side of the angels; it’s Bess who shows us the consequences of war for the non-combatants and who, despite remaining a royalist, fears the troops on both sides.

In my last review I mostly focused on Kristian’s use of language and his battle descriptions, both of which are still awesome, but what I said last time still applies, so this time I’ll focus on the mirroring bond both brothers have with a ‘second-in-command’. Mun has a good friend and someone to watch his back in O’Brien, his corporal. O’Brien is a loyal companion and he’s a fierce and seasoned warrior. Tom has a similar companion in Will Trencher. What is different in these friendships is that Mun and O’Brien share the same convictions and outlook on life, while Tom and Trencher are quite different; for all that they are loyal to each other. Where Tom is truly a soldier of fortune, choosing to fight for Parliament to achieve his revenge, Trencher is a true believer and is convinced that ‘King Jesus’ will effect the saviour of England through Cromwell. It’s also through these two men that both brothers learn to lead men and to take responsibility for those who follow them. But it is Tom who will grow in his leadership role the most. Another way the brothers mirror each other is in the bond they share with their horses. Kristian puts a lot of emphasis on this, both with the stallions they took from home and the various replacement horses they ride. The men consider these horses their friends and valuable allies in battle. I loved this depiction of the bond between a cavalryman and his horse, how much the horse becomes part of the man and Kristian also made it clear that a real cavalryman looks after his horse before he looks after himself. Both brothers keenly miss their stallions and it is especially Tom’s longing for his Achilles that humanises him. Also it took me two books, but I found the fact that Mun’s stallion was called Hector and Tom’s stallion was called Achilles a rather telling detail.

With a little more political scheming, diplomacy and spying added to the straight-up gripping fights, Brothers’ Fury is an awesome sequel to The Bleeding Land and again a contender for best book of the year. I adore Kristian’s clear, visceral, and riveting storytelling and while I know how the Civil War ends, I can’t help but hope there will be a somewhat happy reunion in the Rivers family’s future. For now, Kristian leaves this book hanging on several cliff hangers, far more so than the previous book, and you can be sure I’ll be back for the next one. If you’re a historical fiction reader and you like good sword work and gripping battle scenes, do yourself a favour and go get both The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury and read them now. You can thank me later, after you’ve surfaced from Giles Kristian’s fascinating Civil War England.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.