Book Review: A Land Divided by K.M. Ashman

This month’s Kindle First choice was out of six books and this one, set in Wales, caught my eye. And for the second month in a row I enjoyed my free book.

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The novel presents a fictionalised version of Welsh history (dates are changed, characters altered), and tells of the Battle of Mynydd Carn. Three Welsh kings form an alliance, backed by the English and decide to eliminate the other Welsh leaders.
Against them are two kings, Tewdwr and Gruffydd. Tewdwr has been ousted by Caradog from his kingdom in Deheubarth and Gruffydd has returned to Wales to reclaim his throne in Gwynedd and get revenge.
Ashman takes these events and crafts a fast paced, enjoyable tale of battles, treachery and heroism. He quickly sets up Gruffydd and Tewdwr as the heroes, and builds the story around their alliance, occasionally shifting focus to their wives and other supporting characters. It whips along at quite a good pace, and kept me engrossed, the battles are written with vivid, speedy verve and Ashman doesn’t shy away from the nastier elements of war. No shining knights, just dirty fighting in the mud and blood.
It’s not perfect, some of the dialogue is a bit stilted and a few of the characters are a little bit shallow. I struggled to warm to them beyond a simple white hat/black hat level.
The ending with a double cross and some grizzly scenes comes over a bit George R. R. Martin, and leaves the door open for the continuation of the series. I’ll check out more of Ashman’s work because he does manage to craft a gripping historical novel.
Verdict: I whistled through this and despite the characterisation being weak in places, it was a decent read and Ashman keeps the story moving well. Will check out part two when it’s released. 6/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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