Sunday, June 1, 2008

Review: Theirs Was the Kingdom



Theirs Was the Kingdom by R.F. Delderfield is one of those "family saga"/"sweeping epics" that I would have eaten up when I was in high school.  There is more interwoven historical detail than bodice ripping, but otherwise this book is right up there with John Jakes's "Kent Family Chronicals" and other books of the 1970s school of historical novels.  Meaning that the men are all strong, the women are all lusty, the hero is moral but misunderstood, the villans are evil and usually deformed.  The characters do not have much depth, but there are a lot of them, and separate plots involve each of them.

Unfortunately, while the story is interesting, the writing is a little much. This is a typical sentence (yes, one sentence):
It was only then that he remembered the fearful risks Avery was running by coming here, a man with a double murder charge hanging over him and no means, at this distance, to establish his innocence, for who would be likely to believe that a rake like Avery had shot a man in self-defence after a whore had squeezed him dry, and afterwards fled into the night in the back of one of Swann's frigates as far as Harwich, where he had bribed a Dutch skipper to carry him to the Continent.
Whew! I give it a 3/5 stars because I think it is a two-star book for adults, but would be a four-star book for younger readers. If younger readers stil read historical fiction, this would be appropriate -- it is definitely PG and the history is interesting.


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