14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A strong novel bu rather long............,
This review is from: Crusade (Brethren Trilogy) (Paperback)For what it's worth, I thought that Brethren, the first in this yet-to-be-completed trilogy, was very good - the characters had depth, the storyline had credibility, it was a page-turner (never a bad thing if one has had to endure the hideous gloom of Thomas Hardy in one's youth) and the lovely Miss Young writes excellent and well-constructed English. It was a fine effort from one so young and also showed evidence of a great deal of careful historical research to root the novel in a bed of basic fact.
Unusually for me, I actually sought out Crusade with real eagerness and settled down on a particularly wet and horrible weekend (which also featured much Gordon Brown on the tele - that's how bad a weekend it was) to enjoy it. Enjoy it I did, but with some reservations and it seems unkind to criticise adversely because Miss Young has achieved a great deal. Here, again for what it's worth, are some of my reservations:
1. The novel is about 150 pages too long. There is no doubt that the author wanted to cram in as much as possible and build the book up to a cracking ending - but there are long passages where not a lot happens, and more by circumstance than by style, they plod.
2. The characters have become a little formulaic. The Sultan's evil advisor never talks, he hisses. Will's girlfriend is such an unspeakable drip that one is surprised she hasn't dissolved by the 4th chapter. The wronged friend who betrays his old mate and yet comes good at the end is tiresome. Yet I have to say that once again Robyn's depiction of life in Acre during the Crusades is good - hot, miserable, disease-ridden and run through with finance and the intrigues that always follow war and conflict. As J B Priestly said, "Sex, money and food cross all borders."
3. Robyn Young's writing is efficient but no so vibrant as in the first book.
All that said, I shall seek out the final chapter and no doubt read it with pleasure. Whenever I have tried to write a novel I have run out of ideas by page three so I have no right to judge Miss Young. I do hope, though, that she is economical with the story and with the various plots. She is a fascinating writer and I have no doubt at all that her books over the years will become more and more interesting. To her great credit, nowhere does she affect to be writing history and one is aware that this is a real novel.
A sensible and well-thought out novel, but not so available as Brethren. Nonetheless, far, far better than a holiday potboiler.