God’s Vindictive Wrath: 1 (Divided Kingdom)

Written by Charles Cordell
Review by Susie Helme

1642 Warwickshire. Francis Reeve looks up to the hill carving, the Red Horse, and down upon the king’s forces, among whom is his half-brother, Ralph. On the other hill, Ralph thinks about Francis. Why had he sent that angry letter? Perhaps Francis was still angry with Ralph for being caught with his master’s wife.

This is an exciting minute-by-minute story of the English Civil War, from the Battle of Edgehill to the Battle of Brentford. It’s told from multiple points of view, enabling us to see battles from all angles, but largely through Francis and Ralph. On opposing sides, the half-brothers must ultimately confront each other. That the author was a career soldier himself is evident in the detailed descriptions and analyses of battle strategies. We learn about Dutch-style defence, Swedish King Gustavus’ brigade formation, as well as the mechanics of cannons and muskets.

We are used to looking at historic battles from a bird’s-eye view, since we know the outcome. This is from the soldiers’ point of view—do-or-die determination for the cause, hearts filled with fervour yet terror, eyes witnessing pain, blood and death, never knowing what the overall state of play is until it is all over. Most of these characters are known to history. Though the detailed accounts of battle and multiple points of view don’t leave much time for character development, their lively interactions bring the reader right into the scene.

The attention to historical accuracy is fantastic. I was impressed by the duplication of the religious expression that was especially characteristic of this revolution. Also well portrayed are the lifestyles of people at the time, not to mention the gore and mayhem of war. Both the storyline and the writing style are tremendously exciting.

Contains some sex, swearing and gore. Fans of military fiction will love this.