Walking home blind drunk from a night out resulted in the purchase of this book. It is not a good idea to have a 24 hour Tesco on the route home from the local club. Well, for me anyway. Especially with change in my wallet.
However, unlike the many other things I’ve bought when I haven’t had complete control over my sense, Brethren is actually far from the worst. Or the mostly costly (Amazon has had an adverse affect on my bank balance over the years.)
Brethren takes us back to the crusades and follows the main protagonist Will Campbell through his young life. The first strikingly strange thing is Will’s name and how he is surrounded by other characters with far more historically general names than his. For example, his best friend is Garin de Lyons, his mentor Owein and a few other friends. Basically he is the only character with a generic surname like Campbell.
The main problem with the book is its length of 653 pages. There are many sections of the book which give bits of history that are unnecessary to the story. It really takes away from the story and character development when you are removed from it for a long irrelevant history lesson.
It seems that Robyn Young is more interested in writing about the history of the crusades as opposed to developing her characters and their individual stories. If I wanted to learn more about the crusades I would have picked up a non-fiction book.
One of the most interesting parts of the story is the relationship between Will and his love interest Elwen. They develop a secret love at a young age. Inappropriately young some might say, and it very interesting to see how their relationship affects Will’s anger levels. Unfortunately, tying in with the history stuff above, there isn’t enough of their relationship on paper, which is a real shame.
After their young love comes to end though, Will Campbell’s mood develops more swings than a children’s play park. At the start he is confident slash arrogant with his approach to becoming a knight. Then he becomes insanely angry due to his circumstances and then depressed but also angry and then back to happy in the space of a few pages. I don’t think this is a character flaw but more a problem with the language used surrounding his moods. This more generally happens with characters in action scenes where the words describe them as pretty much dead yet somehow they claw their way back to victory. Despite the fiction, it takes away from the believability of the characters.
That aside the book has some enjoyable moments. It kept me entertained enough to see it through to the end – and not just because I’m wired that way. Despite the history breaks it was good to see the young characters develop over the duration.
Brethren by Robyn Young was published by Hodder and Stoughton in 2006. RRP £6.99 (Paperback)