Where do I begin?
Perhaps with the fact that I wrote most of this review days ago on a Spanish keyboard and was totally unable to upload it from my position in the south of Spain. So… instead of the book being released today, it’s already been out several days and will hopefully already be a bestseller.
On to the review…
The Bleeding Land was my top book last year, despite some hefty opposition. It was, for me, a game-changer of a book and certainly propelled Giles from an entertaining Skald to a first-rate producer of literature. It was also something of a self-contained novel. I worried upon starting Brothers’ Fury as to whether he could really keep up the dreadful heartbreak of the first into a second book. Well in a way, he hasn’t. And in a way that was the best thing to do.
TBL was harrowing and dark, bleak and soul tearing. Oh, it entertained and there was humour, but the darker side of it was extraordinarily powerful. I did suspect that Giles would struggle to reproduce that for a second run with the same effect on the reader. But he has, I suspect, not tried to. Instead, this novel takes a more active, immediate and even at times positive direction, which adds a new dimension to the saga and makes it fresh and gives it a new draw. Where the first book was a dark tale of grief and struggle with flashes of humour and adventure, this is more a story of war and action with flashes of the darkness that pervaded the first. In short, where the first novel left the reader fearing for the future of the Rivers family, Brothers’ Fury provides sparks of hope for the future.
It is not quite so much a self-contained novel in the way of the first, but appears as something of a bridge between the introductory heartbreak of TBL and the epic conclusion that is to come in book 3. You see, this is a trilogy, and I often find trilogies fall easily into the Star Wars analogy. The first book was Star Wars. It was almost a complete tale in itself. The third book will be ‘Jedi’ it will finish the tale with gusto and edge-of-the-seat action. The middle tale (Brothers’ Fury) is ‘Empire’. It is an exercise in the building of character and the deepening of the situation. It places the protagonists at their most crucial moments and spins the threads that will allow the conclusion to draw together. Mun, Tom and Bess are (to analogise further) frozen in carbonite, flying out in the Falcon and recovering in sickbay (no guesses who’s doing what). For a while I felt that the plot was a little disjointed until I realised what it was doing: it was preparing me for what was to come.
Brothers’Fury takes us from a solid conclusion in book 1 to a breath-taking ‘Dear God‘ situation at the end of the second by way of epic battles, heart-stopping sieges, close encounters and stealthy forays into enemy territory. The three main characters grow and deepen and to some extent become more understandable and sympathetic, and the introduction of new characters is also welcome. Jonathan Lidford in particular was a highlight for me.
Giles has lost nothing of his style, language and storytelling ability. Brothers’ Fury was a joy to read and continued the tale of the Rivers children in just the right manner to avoid treading the same ground again and just right to thoroughly entertain. It left me wanting part three straight away, which is always a good sign.
A highly recommended read for the summer. Go get it, people.