Review: Blood’s Revolution – Angus Donald

Blood's Revolution Angus Donald

Series: Holcroft Blood 2

From the cover:
England, 1685.
Newly returned from years of secret work in Paris for the late Charles II, Lieutenant Holcroft Blood, a brilliant but unusual gunnery officer in His Majesty’s Ordnance, must now face James II’s enemies in the gore-drenched battlefields of the British Isles.
But many powerful men have grown tired of Catholic James’ brutal, autocratic rule and seek to invite William, the Protestant Prince of Orange, to seize the thrones of the Three Kingdoms.
While revolution brews in the gentlemen’s clubs of London, Holcroft discovers that a murderous French spymaster has followed him across the Channel. Worse, Holcroft must decide whether to join the conspirators, including his old friend Jack Churchill, now Lord Marlborough, and support Dutch William’s invasion – or remain loyal to his unpopular king.
Facing danger from all sides, Holcroft must now choose whether to follow his friend – or his conscience.

A strange start to book two of Angus’ Holcroft Blood series: Holcroft is back in Britain, and the ‘back’ should give the game away…where has he been? Well, it’s explained, and plays a significant part in the plot, he’s been away in France, the mortal enemy, at various colleges and institutions, learning his artillery trade and, spying for King and country. Sounds really interesting. However, obviously not interesting enough for Angus to write about. I’ve got to say it gave me a couple fo false starts to the book – having to have a look at the cover, see if I could find a list of the books in the series, and convince myself that I had indeed seen a comment from Angus that book three was off at the editor’s getting, erm…edited. So, yes, this is number two, yes the previous (only other) one was number one, no I haven’t missed one in between and this was number three…Nope, I’ reading in the right order. All because of that gap. A couple of years if I remember rightly. Yes, it is used in the plot, as old ‘acquaintances’ play a pivotable role in the story, but why wasn’t it written up, in a book two? It fair took the edge off the first parts of Revolution, I must say. It bothers me as much as the comparable, though longer, unexplained Mitch Rapp gapp (see what I did there?), in the Vince Flynn series. There, between books one and two, or two and three I forget, there’s a roughly ten year gap. Unexplained. Hardly even used in the later series, like it never happened.

If you can get over that, and I did eventually, then Revolution really comes into its own. Holcroft develops nicely – the gap year(s) in France have done him good – and he comes out from under his loveable (murdering) rogue of a father’s shadow. He’s still not devious enough for the age, but is adapting, though his ‘illness’ or condition, rather, doesn’t quite allow it. But his friends and his ability to learn from his mistakes, all help him along. The French are the villains of the piece here – as they should be. Especially their spymaster, whose identity no one knows, though, if you have your eyes peeled, you can get on the right path before his unmasking. It’s still a surprise to have it revealed, so there’s nothing lost by giving it a couple of educated guesses beforehand. All in all, Holcroft’s situation reminded me of that we find ourselves in at Aarhus Universitetshospital, where everyone knows there is a problem, except the leadership. Everyone knows what the solution is, except the leadership. It seems like the ones you need to convince the most that there is a problem, are your own bloody leadership. Seems like Holcroft had the very same problems some four hundred years earlier, trying to convince people who don’t want to be convinced.

The ‘Revolution’ of the title is interesting too. If you’re old enough to have lived through it have been taught the period at school, Angus puts it in perspective and reading this book could have saved me many dull hours and/or clips round the ear for not paying attention.

And then there’s that wife. That voice! He’s got nerves of steel, that Holcroft lad, I’ll give him that.

Revolution all in all, is a better book than Game. Not that Game was bad, or worse, or…well, Revolution carries on and builds on the good work of Game. As always with Angus’ books, the period detail is effortlessly And effectively worked in to the story and the various elements of the plots are subtle and devious. It is inevitable that idiots like me will still continue to mention Robin Hood, but that is what Angus is famous for just now. However, Holcroft Blood, if book three follows the upward curve of one and two, might soon have something to say about that.

You can buy Blood’s Revolution from The Book Depository

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