A Wounded Realm: The Blood of Kings, Book 2

Written by K. M. Ashman
Review by Kristen McQuinn

This is the second installment of the Blood of Kings series by Ashman. I also read and reviewed the first book of the series, and the second book picks up roughly twelve years after the first left off. The struggle for control of the Welsh house of Aberffraw continues, with the rightful ruler Gruffydd ap Cynan missing and unable to claim his place as the leader who can try to unite the warring houses of Wales.

Nesta ferch Rhys, the daughter of Gwladus, Queen of Deheubarth, is just as much a prisoner as Gruffydd, though of a different sort. She is taken to the court of William II as a royal hostage, where she eventually becomes the mistress of the eventual Henry I. She learns to navigate the morass of court politics and becomes a strong and capable woman in the process.

I have to confess that the first book in the series didn’t do much for me, but this second book held my interest very well. The writing is more sophisticated and the action more organic. Similarly, the character development is strong throughout the novel, as are the scene descriptions. Ashman has moved beyond telling rather than showing, which does wonders for the narrative. Based on these changes within the novel, I will gladly look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.