If you like an action-packed book, this one’s for you. The story moves along with plenty of fighting, blood, and death. The English War of the Roses was a bloody time: Author Birks doesn’t spare the gore. The novel frames itself around a local feud between the Elder and Radcliffe families as the War of the Roses tears the countryside apart.
I enjoy historical fiction, but I prefer a heavy emphasis on the historical, political intrigue, and the culture of the time : readers who prefer an emphasis on action with their history lessons will love this book. It is well written, feels historically accurate, and the action never lets up.
As the storyline moves from battle to battle, Ned Elder, the hero of the novel, ends up getting a very large number of his loyal people killed, warriors and small folk alike. This, of course, is what happens in war. What I took away from the book was an overwhelming feeling of the senselessness of all of it. Nothing was really won. Many, many lives were lost. (In other words, the book was accurate to what really happens in war…it was not glamorized nor sanitized.)
In addition to the battles, there were human stories (including romance) that provided sub-plot and motivation for the characters. The emotional elements of the story were not as well drawn as the action elements, but this also allows the book to keep its strong masculine appeal. Men who tend to avoid historical fiction because of the overly romantic element often present in similar novels should be pleased by the relative lack of importance of romance in the telling of this tale.
Overall, I give the book a 4 star rating and recommend it to fans of action-oriented fiction. If you enjoy action and have never read historical fiction, this novel would be an excellent place to start. It doesn’t come on strong with setting and historical detail, giving just enough to place the events in context. I also think men will be more likely to appreciate this one than women due to the emphasis on battle over relationships.
You can purchase Feud (Rebels and Brothers) on Amazon.com. At the time of this review, the novel is priced at $1.50, which is a bargain for a 500+ page novel!