BOOK REVIEW: The Bleeding Land By Giles Kristian

The English Civil War is a genre of storytelling that is still woefully underappreciated and has so much to give. We dived into the latest book by Giles Kristian, (author of the Raven Viking saga), 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. Sir Francis’ loyalty to the crown and his desire to protect his family will test them all. As the men march to war, so the women are left to defend their home against a ruthless enemy. Just as Edmund, the eldest of Sir Francis’ sons, will do his duty, so his brother Tom will turn his back on all he once believed in…

A war that will change everything.

From the raising of the King’s Standard at Nottingham to the butchery and blood of Edgehill, Edmund and Tom Rivers will each learn of honour, sacrifice, hatred and betrayal as they follow their chosen paths through this most savage of wars.

Check out the trailer first for the book:



The date is 1642 and England is at war with itself. Parliament’s men are rebelling against King Charles and it is going to get very nasty. Civil War has begun.

The Bleeding Land tells the story of the Rivers family, headed up by Sir Francis a man loyal to the King, his wife Lady Mary, his daughter Bess and two sons Edmund and Tom. Through a series of events where duty, honour and betrayal will be difficult to separate they will find their loyalties to the King and to each other tested to the limits. And as the men go to the war, the women are left to defend their home against the rebels.

As the book begins we get a strong sense of the depth of the bond between the brothers, Edmund and Tom, even to the extent of going against their Father’s wishes. But when tragedy strikes family loyalties are broken and whilst Edmund remains loyal Tom flees and the brothers soon find they are facing each other on two different sides of the war. And when Tom is captured, Edmund is put to the test and forced into making some difficult decisions in world confused by war.

Before reading The Bleeding Land I had no previous knowledge of or interest in the English Civil War so I was worried that it could be an arduous read. I had no need to worry, as I loved this book. The story is full of action; Edmund and Tom are characters you can relate to and the themes of loyalty and betrayal kept me gripped from the moment I picked it up. Kristian’s detailed descriptions of the battles are sometimes disturbingly good so that you could almost see, taste and hear the battle as clearly as if you were there yourself. So keen was I to find out what happened next, had I been able to I would have happily read this book in one sitting. If I had any reservations about the story it would be concerning the female characters and how realistic it was that Lady Mary and Bess would have been expected or able to defend Shear House.

As the book ends the relationship between Edmund and Tom is tested once again and even though Tom was painted as the rebel my sympathies remain with him. I have been left with some unanswered questions – I would like to know if the war is over and I need to know whether Tom gets his revenge. I am guessing that as The Bleeding Land is part of a trilogy we have not heard the last of the Rivers Family. I hope not.

GS Rating 4/5

Source: Giles Kristian
GS Reporter: Sunshine Girl, Montoya

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