Pestilence (Second Son Chronicles) - Book Review

Pestilence (Second Son Chronicles)

Author: Pamela Taylor
Genre: Fiction - Historical
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date Published: June 11, 2020
ISBN-10: 1684334810
ISBN-13: 9781684334810

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Book Review of :  Pestilence (Second Son Chronicles)


The title of Pestilence, by Pamela Taylor, refers to one of the definitions of the word and sets the scene for this historical, Renaissance-era fiction. Pestilence is “something that is destructive or pernicious" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary), and from the introductory paragraphs with King Edward dead, family conflict pits brother against brother. Pestilence is Volume Three of the Second Son Chronicles, however with backstory intricately woven into the dialogue and plot, the novel reads as a stand-alone.

Told in the voice of Lord Alfred, the second son, the kingdom becomes divided as the new heir, his older brother King John, changes policies with his reign. His actions and consequences reflect his belligerence and scheming for personal power. King John’s resentment toward Lord Alfred and what he represents becomes a contest of wills. Pestilence is a character-driven novel with Lord Alfred trying to follow protocol and proper duty to the king, but fearing allegiances are being shattered, while King John’s destructiveness and discord lead the kingdom into violence and despair. The juxtaposition of the psychologically intriguing characters lends much to the steadily rising tension.

Lord Alfred tries to discern King John’s sinister plot. Why is he building up the army of knights and ignoring the welfare of the kingdom? Under King John’s rule, the kingdom starts to disintegrate. Lord Alfred and other Lords, who were originally rulers of independent fiefdoms, begin a subterfuge to contribute to the greater good of the original kingdom. The inverse of spying, they began gathering information in the open and then share what they have learned. Lord Alfred’s future had been predicted as one where he has a mysterious special destiny. Is he able to aide in restoring his father’s kingdom? He considers himself a traitor to the king, not the kingdom.

In an unusual twist, the author has Lord Alfred begin to record the building tensions and conflict in a journal. Not only does the journal move the plot along, but the journal is written in an old English calligraphy style, using an old English text font and conventions with standardized spelling. Taylor also uses the dialect of the era in the dialogue with servants, enhancing the authenticity of the story.

The dowager queen, mother of King John and Lord Alfred, is another memorable character. She states that she hoped she’d never see the day when one of her sons would plot the destruction of the other. Her wishes are not fulfilled because her son, King John, attacks an adjoining territory in spite of a truce between Lord Egon, the ruler of the territories, and brother Lord Alfred.  The nature of Taylor's writing style also puts you right there and is quite effective at emphasizing the brutality of the times.  In some ways, the starkness of Taylor’s prose makes the conflation of bloody savagery seem so much worse.  She does not spare the reader from the darker, bloodier side of forging a kingdom. Taylor describes the horror scenes of battle in. “The melee below is ear-shattering. Swords and armor clashing. Men shouting battle cries or orders. Horses and men screaming in agony…Blood everywhere, turning the ground into bloody mud under the churning of scores of hooves.”

This multi-part saga of deceptions, triumphs, passions, and bloodshed will grip readers from the first page to the last page of Taylor's captivating and epic story. Readers will want to read the next installment, Upon this Throne, Volume 4, of her series to learn more about kingdom building, and the rivalry of the brothers.

Reviewed by: Carole W

About Pamela Taylor

Pamela Taylor brings her love of history to the art of story-telling. An avid reader of historical fact and fiction throughout her life, she finds the past offers rich sources for character, ambiance, and plot that allow readers to escape into a world totally unlike their daily lives.

"I'd tried my hand at several ideas and wasn't quite satisfied with any of them," she says. "I've always been intrigued by the importance of first sentences and first paragraphs. So when the opening of Second Son came to me, utterly unbidden, during one of those nights when one's mind won't shut down and let sleep take over, I knew I had to see where it would take me.

"Once I found Alfred's voice, his story began to unfold. By the end of the first book, I was completely in love with him and knew that he had so much more to tell.

"Step into Alfred's world. Once you do, I'm confident you'll be as eager as I've been to discover what happens next."

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