Brethren is a new edition of Robyn Young’s best-seller first published in 2006, the first of her Brethren trilogy. The novelty of this edition is that it is a flipback.
So far Hodder has published 18 flipbacks. These are tiny books (4 ½ inches x 3 inches), about the size of a pocket diary, printed on thin paper. The special feature is that they are read horizontally, flipping each page up and over the spine like a flipchart. This allows for longer lines and slightly larger type. The publicity promises that it is the printed book’s answer to the Kindle.
Flipbacks are undoubtedly very handy, especially for reading on public transport: handier than a Kindle. However, there is only one book per flipback, not a whole library as with a Kindle. Of course flipbacks are far cheaper, so until Kindles come down in price I’ll be taking a flipback to the airport.
What of the novel? Robyn Young is a woman who writes what is generally regarded as ‘men’s fiction’. Her heroes are just that, heroic males, usually warriors. She does not shrink from describing pre-firearms battles in all their brutal butchery (but I wish her heroes would not order their mangonels to ‘fire’). Nonetheless she knows that even Crusaders do not spend all their time, or even most of it, fighting. The strongest feature of her book is the feel it gives for the everyday life of a Knight Templar or sergeant.
Do not worry about the far-fetched plot, about a lost book with a dangerous secret – Da Vinci Code without the codes. It is an excuse for a colourful and perilous journey from Scotland to the Holy Land that will leave you wanting to read her next book.