Review – A Land Divided by K M Ashman

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

A Land Divided is a historical novel set in 11th century England, Ireland and Wales. Although it is based on real events, the author has taken certain liberties, largely for the sake of plot convenience. It tells the story of a family, and a nation divided by a civil war.

It is a very well-written book, with epic brutal, fast-paced action scenes, where I understood what was going on most of the time. But it is also a book filled with lovely quiet moments, particularly around the Queen and her daughter. In fact, I would say that the female characters are the most well-developed in the story, and certainly the most interesting.

It is not without its flaws, however, and this may be a case of my not being used to Welsh names, but so many of the major characters just seemed to all roll into one. There’s Gruffyd king of Gwynned, and Rhys ap Tewdwr (mostly called Tewdwr), and a whole bunch of other names who held similar titles or positions on opposing sides, I often struggled to remember who was who. There is a guide to pronunciation at the beginning, which helps with understanding how their names are pronounced, and it may have been useful in a hard copy book as a point of reference, but with an ebook I really should have made a bookmark.

A lot of these problems clear themselves up towards the end of the novel, as through natural attrition the number of characters are diminished. (war is hell, right?) All in all, I enjoyed the book, and look forward to reading more of the series.

3.75/5 stars

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