The Bleeding Land (Hardback)
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Short Description for The Bleeding Land 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.
- Published: 14 May 2012
- Format: Hardback 432 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780593066140 ISBN 10: 0593066146
- Sales rank: 214,752
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Reviews for The Bleeding Land
A bloody & brutal novel of the English Civil War
In 1642 the two Rivers brothers, born of the landed gentry, find themselves on opposing sides in the English Civil War. The elder, Edmund, follows his class and tradition by supporting the King, while the younger, Tom, is led (through a sequence of tragic events) to support Parliament. As the war goes on the strength of family ties comes into question during a series of brutal battles and the siege of their family home.
I need to say right away that The Bleeding Land is an extremely violent book with many scenes that I found hard to stomach. If this had been a film or TV series I would have had to cover my eyes or switch the TV off during many of the explicitly violent scenes. I am obviously aware that battles taking place during the historical era in question were largely undertaken on a hand-to-hand basis and were therefore bloody and brutal in the extreme - this novel portrays this in precise detail, which I found a little too much. Definitely not for the weak of stomach or the easily upset.
I was also unhappy to find that there was a scene explicitly describing bear baiting in the book. Again I'm aware that this happened and that the scene was probably used to indicate the character of the people involved, but it was too much. This is the second historical novel I've read in recent weeks that contains a bear-baiting scene - it seems to be becoming some kind of historical novelist's shorthand used to emphasise the nastiness of particular characters. Time to stop this I think or at least not portray it in such upsetting detail.
The Bleeding Land seemed to me to be aimed more that male readers than female ones. There's lots of action, mainly male characters, bucket loads of gore and lots of emotion flying about such as hate, anger and revenge. There are female characters, but I didn't think that these were portrayed as well as the men and I found them a bit one-dimensional - either a saint or a whore. The male characters aren't themselves hugely three-dimensional, but are more real than the women. As a female reader I'm generally more interested in the characters and the plot of a book, rather than wanting to read it for the action alone - though I realise this is probably a massive generalisation. I didn't find enough in this book to really engage me and skipped a lot of the battle scenes and military strategising.
What I did like, however, was that the book doesn't take sides in the Civil War - it presents both sides as equally flawed and out for their own ends. Neither side appears as the obviously correct one. I also liked the scenes set in London, with all the hubbub of Cheapside and the inns lining the river.
Without giving away too much, I must also say that I didn't find the ending of the novel hugely satisfying. This is down to the current (and in my view irritating trend) for routinely producing novels as trilogies. In my experience this tends to mean that each novel cannot stand alone and you have to read all of them. It causes me a great deal of frustration when I think I'm going to get closure to a book and then it suddenly veers off in order to set up enough loose ends to be tied together for the start of a potential sequel. The Bleeding Land stands alone better than some other first novels in a trilogy, but there was still enough left unresolved to leave me with a sense of anticlimax when finishing the book.
My summary of The Bleeding Land would therefore be that it's probably aimed at men, but provides an interesting read so long as you're not bothered by extreme violence or abuse of animals.
I received this book as part of the Transworld Historical Fiction Challenge. by CuteBadger
Musketry & Mayhem
The Bleeding Land is the first in a new trilogy from the author of the popular Viking saga Raven (Blood Eye; Sons of Thunder; Odin's Wolves). The setting this time is 1642 England - a country on the brink of disaster. Growing parliamentarian forces are threatening to overthrow the King, and the novel's two protagonists - brothers Edmund and Tom Rivers - find themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield, each with his own reasons for fighting and each willing to lay down his life for what he believes in. But can blood ties ever truly be severed? Which allegiance will prove the strongest?
From the very first page, I was immersed not only in 1642, but in the drama of the Rivers family. Though the novel is lush with factual descriptions and period detail, Kristian manages to distribute it in such a way that the characters and their situations are always the main focus. Readers are introduced to a range of weaponry, clothing and customs without any slowing of the action or resemblances to matter-of-fact, non-fiction history books.
Each sight and sound comes alive. Each grips you and pulls you into the action. At times, it's hard to remember that you are not on a horse yourself, riding swiftly into battle. There are moments of elation, and moments of despair. Kristian not only captures these moments well, but releases them to the readers, who cannot help but share in the excitements and disappointments the characters are feeling.
As a writer, I also love to look beyond the storyline and discover the author's style. I noticed whilst reading The Bleeding Land that Kristian uses a number of techniques to pack a solid punch at pivotal plot points - for one, a lot of alliteration. He also alters the rhythm and length of sentences depending on what's happening, using shorter, punchier sentences after a few longer ones when the action is heightened, or when a character is affected in some profound way. Which can be quite effective. Crows, rooks and ravens often appear as ominous foreshadowing devices, and a few other allusions to the Raven trilogy might just be spotted by those who look closely enough...
Giles Kristian plunges readers back to a time in our nation's history that is largely neglected in the world of historical fiction. After reading The Bleeding Land, I imagine that interest in the English Civil War will blossom from the literary seeds Kristian has planted.
Overall, The Bleeding Land's first installment is a vivid, compelling tale with an epic span. Bring on book two! by Lois Bennett