4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bleeding Good Book
Some time ago, I launched into Giles Kristian's Raven Saga. You may have seen my reviews knocking around, as they were so good I ran from one to the next seamlessly and enjoyed all three immensely. They were up there with some of the best adventure/historical fiction I've read. I never flinched from recommending them. But recently, Giles has turned his not-inconsiderable...
Published 16 months ago by SJATurney
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of two Rivers
A strong finish to this novel was not quite enough to drag it up to 4 stars for me though it was enough to make me want the second installment.
I think like Kristian's first book it took a while for the story to find it's rythm, the characters to become consistant and the plot to find a direction. The Raven viking series got better and better and I expect this...
Published 18 months ago by Mr. A. I. Harrison
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bleeding Good Book,
This review is from: The Bleeding Land (Bleeding Land Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)Some time ago, I launched into Giles Kristian's Raven Saga. You may have seen my reviews knocking around, as they were so good I ran from one to the next seamlessly and enjoyed all three immensely. They were up there with some of the best adventure/historical fiction I've read. I never flinched from recommending them. But recently, Giles has turned his not-inconsiderable literary talents toward a new theatre: the English civil war
The civil war is not a period I know a great deal about and, while I have a passing interest in it, it's never hooked me so much that I sought out things to read about it (I much prefer looking at historical sites relating to it than reading about it.) It may be that, for me, the civil war has always been just a little too recent.
Saying that, I knew Giles was a good writer from his earlier stuff, and the promo video produced for the book pushed me ever further towards it.
And so I settled into the book not really knowing what to expect but, perhaps, waiting for a Raven-esque adventure saga with lots of God's Teeth and Damn Your Eyes and Have At Him, Sirrah -s. Ok, there are a few of those, but the novel is totally not what I expected. I suspect, furthermore, that a number of people who were real Raven fanatics will dislike this shift into a deep, thoughtful and saddening world, while other folk who would not consider Raven will flock to it.
The Bleeding Land, you see, is not a war story. It is a tale of a torn family, of the love of brothers and sisters pulled by the fickle strands of fate in different directions to such an extent that they are at war. It is a tale of love and loss and heartbreak and strength and perseverance and duty and honour. In fact, the tale actually ends just after the first major battle of the Civil War, which gives you an idea of where the meat of the story lies: not in battle, but in the story of those who fight it.
That's enough of the plot. Don't want to ruin it for you. I will say three things in particular that I consider strengths and which should draw you to want to read it.
Firstly, there is the sheer visual nature of the narrative. It is almost impossible not to completely visualise every scene he writes. In fact, there is such depth of feeling in the descriptive that you can even smell, hear or taste the scene. It was such a shock from almost the opening scene to be drawn so completely in that I felt I was there. This alone is phenomenal and a rare gift.
Secondly, there is the nature of the battle scenes. Battle scenes are very easy to write (from personal experience) for excitement, for horror, for gore, for valour and so on. What Giles manages is to write his civil war millitary engagements from the smallest skirmish to the great ckash at Edgehill with such care that they are all-encompassing. They are all of the above and more and, given the descriptive I mention previously, they are evocative of every clash you've seen in a classic movie: the cannon fire in Cromwell, the volley fire in Zulu. They are scenes that will stay in your memory.
Thirdly, the simple skill with words. A score of times or more in the text, I read a phrase, a line, a description, that made me wish I could write even half that well. It is a beautiful piece of narrative.
So go on... You need to follow the tale of Tom and Mun, their parents and sister, of Emmanuel and the folk of Lancashire good and bad. And cheer Prince Rupert (and the King, for I am and will always be a Royalist at heart). This emotional roller-coaster of a tale will tear out your heart and rebuild it only to batter it again. As a last word, I would compare Kristian's treatment of a torn family to the standalone works of Guy Gavriel Kay (and I can think of no higher praise, Kay having been my favourite writer for decades.)
Buy the Bleeding Land and experience it.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleeding Marvelous,
This review is from: The Bleeding Land (Bleeding Land Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)Description:
England 1642: a nation divided. England is at war with itself. King Charles and Parliament each gather soldiers to their banners. Across the land men prepare to fight for their religious and political ideals. Civil war has begun. A family ripped asunder. The Rivers are landed gentry, and tradition dictates that their allegiance is to the King. Sir Francis' loyalty to the crown and his desire to protect his family will test them all. As the men march to war, so the women are left to defend their home against a ruthless enemy. Just as Edmund, the eldest of Sir Francis' sons, will do his duty, so his brother Tom will turn his back on all he once believed in... A war that will change everything. From the raising of the King's Standard at Nottingham to the butchery and blood of Edgehill, Edmund and Tom Rivers will each learn of honour, sacrifice, hatred and betrayal as they follow their chosen paths through this most savage of wars.
The Bleeding Land
The Bleeding Land by Giles Krisitan is very different from his previous series the Raven. This book may be set at the outset of a bloody and violent Civil War and have Raven fans slavering for blood, but the book is very much about family, familial bonds and how they become tested strained and broken by War (especially Civil War). ....dont worry there are battles.
There are some great insights into the relationships between the Brothers Tom and Mun and also the strain that exists in any time period between a father and his sons who are bordering adulthood, and asserting their opinions and thoughts over the opinions and thoughts of the man who has guided them to maturity.
Add in the devoted sister and the strength of the mother, who is the backbone of every family, especially in a time of War when she has to run and guide the family and this alone is a tale well worth reading.
But that is only a single facet of the Bleeding Land, because as the title suggests, religion and politics are tearing the land apart and so into this normal family mix you can throw 17th Century life, society/ hierarchy, politics and family dynamics, and a country tearing itself apart over Monarchist power v Parliament, religion and as some might see it a popular uprising (English Revolution).
In this tumultuous backdrop Giles introduces us to and weaves us into the lives of the Rivers in such a way that you feel part of the family, the hurts the trials the passions, the success and the failures they belong to you the reader as much as the characters.
I have read quite a few civil war titles and the only one before now not to bore me was Plague Child by Peter Ransley. Both that title and this one took the civil war to a new place for me, removed it from the boring drone of a History teacher who hated the subject, and who's voice had stuck with me for anything to do with that period, to something new exciting, something relevant to me my family and my history and something i want to learn about.
Any book and writer that can achieve the above for me has a huge success on the cards, i just wish that Giles was up to 2 books a year, the thought of an entire year before the next in the series is a hard pill to swallow.
I highly recommend this book, for writing skill, story telling and because its so different in style from the Brilliant Raven series, and yet also a Brilliant read, not many authors can pull off a change in period and style and do it so well. A rare talent.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic start to a new thrilling series by one of the best storytellers of historical fiction about,
This review is from: The Bleeding Land (Bleeding Land Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)If it weren't for Giles Kristian it's very likely that I would have left the Vikings where I last saw them - in the exam hall at University. But meeting Giles at English Heritage's Living History Festival with its Festival of Historical Writing in Kelmarsh in July 2011 changed all that. I was persuaded to pick up an oar and sail with Raven: Blood Eye and his lord Sigurd aboard the dragon vessel Serpent. Giles' Raven trilogy is superb (I read all three in a weekend) and so when I heard that he was turning his attention to another time I'm not too familiar with - the English Civil War - I was surprised, intrigued and most definitely not worried. That is because, if ever you should need a storyteller guide, that guide is Giles Kristian.
The Bleeding Land is the story of two brothers, Edmund and Tom Rivers, who stand on opposing sides of the great and terrible battle of Edgehill in October 1642. One brother, Tom, fights for Parliament while Edmund, or Mun, fights alongside their father for King Charles. However, neither fights out of any sense of glory or God's cause. One fights for little more than tradition while the other, Tom, has been driven to it because he can do nothing but oppose the royalist Denton family that brutally defiled his true love, Martha. She had sought vengeance from Lord Denton for the cruel death of her father but instead found her own end by his brutal hands.
This is no ordinary or familiar tale of families split by war. There is no glory here, no right and no wrong. Charles I is no majestic being and Parliament has yet to demonstrate anyone worth dying for. Prince Rupert, the nephew of Charles and his most enthusiastic and perhaps most able military leader, may be a tall, peacock cavalier but it's hard to ignore the petty reality of the man inseparable from his little dog. While Edmund must deal with the fear that the man facing the wrong end of his musket may be his own brother, Tom is adrift. The scenes describing his desolate search for refuge in London are alive with the smells and sights of the time and place.
But war doesn't just affect the soldiers on the field. In Civil War there are no safe places. Armies march up and down roads, towns are robbed of men and resources and family estates pay with violence for the choices of their sons. The Rivers home is no different and as Edmund and Tom fight their battles, their mother and sister are caught up in their own war, trying to save Shear House from cannon while worrying about the fate of their fathers, husbands, sons, brothers. Women more used to drawing room arguments now have to don armour plate and lead their households from the front.
The Bleeding Land is the beginning of a new saga for Giles Kristian and for us. Despite the change in period it has everything we'd expect from the author of the Raven trilogy - thrilling battles, colour, pace, violence, gore, drama, meticulous historical detail and, above all, superb character insight and development whether male or female. All of whom are paying for the decisions of kings and parliamentarians who don't care a jot for them. It was a traumatic time for England but The Bleeding Land makes it personal and heartfelt.
This review is from a review copy which I lapped up!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of two Rivers,
This review is from: The Bleeding Land (Bleeding Land Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)A strong finish to this novel was not quite enough to drag it up to 4 stars for me though it was enough to make me want the second installment.
I think like Kristian's first book it took a while for the story to find it's rythm, the characters to become consistant and the plot to find a direction. The Raven viking series got better and better and I expect this series to do the same now it has grown it's roots.
Meet the Rivers boys. One is a dutiful, nobleman who honours his father and King and the other is a bit of a good egg gone bad but for entirely understandable reasons, which I won't 'spoil' for you here but needless to say events give him a chip on the shoulder bigger than the QE11. He, in classic civil war tradition, finds himself on the opposing side to his brother.
It's 16 hundred and something and the English civil war is just warming up nicely. So the noble brother finds himself riding with Prince Rupert and the maverick son jions the opposing rebel forces to try and facilitate an act of revenge. Into that throw in some loathsome villians serving on both sides of the war, some religeous persacution and the woman of the houshold trying to keep the wolves from the door whilst the men folk are away.
There are some truly horrific and disturbing passages, particularly early on in the book which did make this a tough read for even an old grizzled consumer of war books like me. The violence feels a whole lot more real and upsetting than even the more graphic sections of the Raven books which were a bit more 'Boy's own' and fantastic. This on the other hand was gritty, visceral and genuinly shocking.
There were a few cliche's and the style got more Cornwall with every page. Edmund (noble son) soon acquires a celtic side kick who is pretty much interchangeable with Sharpe's Patrick Harper or Ballista's celtic ex gladiator mate in Harry Sidebottem's excellent Roman books and a few more I can think of too. Could we have a rough speaking, hard drinking loyal side kick who is not from over a celtic border someone?
The other thing that grated where the afore mentioned villians who were a bit like moustache twirling pantomime baddies at times. Evil for evil's sake and so a bit hard to believe in.
Anyway on a more positive note about two thirds in the book changes up a gear and finds itself and becomes not only a lot more readable but hard to put down and sets up a series that should keep the writer in employment for a few years yet and I shall certainly be waiting for the next installment myself, though if Giles has a spare weekend dashing off another Raven adventure would please me even more!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking and extraordinary,
This review is from: The Bleeding Land (Bleeding Land Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)Heartbreaking, harrowing, visceral, inescapable, detailed, stunning, gorgeous and riveting. Those are some of the first words that sprang to mind after finishing Giles Kristian's The Bleeding Land. I'm having a good reading year historical fiction-wise and this book was another highlight. Kristian takes his reader along on an adventure and while you know, overall, how it's going to end - this is historical fiction after all - I found myself holding my breath at key scenes, hoping against hope that things would turn out differently. If that isn't a testament to the author's skill, I couldn't think of a better one.
The Bleeding Land opens on the fields at Edgehill, just before the first pitched battle of the English Civil War in October 1642. To me the Civil War was only some lines in my history books, something which led to the execution of King Charles I, the Commonwealth and to the Protectorate led by Oliver Cromwell, to an era in which Puritan morals led to the closing of theatres and a forced conforming of the Arts to their strict world view. With The Bleeding Land, Kristian made the era come alive for me, made it three-dimensional and took it beyond the political reasons behind the War to the motivations of the people not in power who fought its battles.
There are three components that make The Bleeding Land such a fantastic read: its characters, the battle descriptions and Kristian's carefully woven prose. Of course the plot is exciting enough in its own right, but it's these three things that lift it up to something extraordinary. To start off with the last element I named, the prose in this book. Kristian chooses his words carefully and - according to the Author's Note - strives to both reflect the language and tone of his chosen era, but at the same time keep the text accessible to modern-day readers. An example of this is his use of the verb gnar, which means to snarl or to growl; I'd never encountered this word before, but understood it immediately and it fit the narrative perfectly. Gnar was used relatively often, but other words weren't used as extensively, but were dropped in and added just that right touch to remind the reader that this is a different era and the language spoken quite different from ours. Kristian's writing is evocative and I found myself shivering on the couch at the freezing weather in the book even if we're currently having the hottest week so far this summer.
Kristian's evocative prose is at its most graphic in the battle scenes contained in the narrative. They are visceral and harrowing. Don't look for descriptions depicting battle as glorious and honour-filled, no, Kristian shows us the fear the men feel just before going into battle, the way their bowels turn runny and panic sours the gullet; the way that once the charge has started, it's either kill or be killed and you don't have time to have scruples about killing a man; the way that after the battle, after you've come down from the adrenaline rush it invokes, you're haunted by memories of what you've witnessed; and how there is nothing glorious about death in battle. He writes this so well you can almost smell the stink of the battlefield and hear the ear-deafening noise that accompanies a pitched fight. Kristian also seems to know what he's doing with regards to the weapons used and how they can be used and as regards the choreography of a fight, as you will, the natural ebb and flow of it and the strategies that were used, which makes it all the more convincing.
The last leg of Kristian's tripod is his characterisation. Not just or even mainly the Rivers family, but also those we catch glimpses of briefly and those that surround the different Rivers' children. The story is told from the points of view of Mun (Edmund), Bess (Elizabeth) and Tom (Thomas) Rivers, the three children of Sir Francis and his wife Mary. They each have their own tale to tell, Mun is a staunch Royalist and fights for the King in an elite horse troop, while Bess and their mother have to fight to protect their home, Shear House, from the rebels who want to take it. Tom chooses to fight on the Parliamentarians' side, not from a deep-seated conviction that they are right, but because they oppose everything that he hates and give him a chance at vengeance. They are each given believable motivations, sympathetic qualities, flaws and interesting conflicts to resolve; in short they're complete characters. Of the three, Tom is was my least favourite, not because he chose the 'wrong' side, but because he made his choices from a place I found it hard to connect to, that deep a rage and hatred is something not many people will experience. In contrast, Mun and Bess were easier to connect to, Mun because of his sense of duty and Bess, because of her loving nature and her circumstances during the siege of Shear House.
With The Bleeding Land Giles Kristian has opened up a whole new era of British history, which has been largely unexplored in historical fiction, and shown that it was more than a political schism that tore the land, it tore families, lovers and friends apart and divided them sometimes right down the middle. It was a painful time, but also a formative one. The Bleeding Land is a stunning opening to what promises to be a fascinating trilogy and I can't wait to see how the Rivers family will deal with the consequences of events from this book. This was my first experience with Kristian's writing, but hopefully it won't be my last, I'll be keeping my eyes out for his Raven books and for the next books in this new trilogy. The Bleeding Land comes highly recommended and was definitely one of the best reads of the year so far.
This book was provided for review by the publisher as part of the Transworld Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable,
This review is from: The Bleeding Land (Bleeding Land Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)Having fallen for Giles' writing charm with the Raven series, I was a little apprehensive when I learned that he was jumping forward in time to one of the most tumultuous times in English History. Don't get me wrong but I did expect a good story but when you change weapons you have to adapt strategies, tactics and of course learn about their use and effects on the battlefield to give the story a real hint of authenticity.
What Giles presents is a story of family, of love, vengeance and of course warfare in the English Civil War. The characters are interesting, their personalities ideal for the readers and when added to the authors no nonsense prose, top action sequences alongside a breakneck pace really makes this a book to devour. For me the only downside is the wait for the next title. Great stuff.
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended,
This review is from: The Bleeding Land (Paperback)Found this book a riverting read,and as I lived in both areas ie. Lancashire and Worcs. it was very enlightening.
4.0 out of 5 stars English civil war brought to life,
This review is from: The Bleeding Land (Kindle Edition)Good simple plot which keeps the reader entertained throughout and the characters come to life throughout. Will buy the next book in the series. This book brings to life a period in history which is not covered by other authors.
5.0 out of 5 stars A swashbuckling tale,
This review is from: The Bleeding Land (Bleeding Land Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)Brilliantly written, with an excellent plot that really makes it hard to put down. You can only feel for the Rivers family which is torn apart by the turbulent events of the English Civil War.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read,
This review is from: The Bleeding Land (Paperback)This is another great read. A cliche perhaps, but Giles does bring this era to life. I love how the brothers' lives are interwoven through the story and you wonder how and if they'll meet again. My favourite character is O'Brien though and the banter between him and Mun often has me laughing out loud. (Please don't let anything happen to O'Brien in the next book) It's ended on another cliff-hanger and I'd like to know how Dane and Bess fare after Lord Denton has finished with them. I'd highly recommend you read this.
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The Bleeding Land (Bleeding Land Trilogy 1) by Giles Kristian (Hardcover - 26 April 2012)