Rebellion’s Forge: The Blood of Kings #3

Written by K. M. Ashman
Review by Viviane Crystal

In 1109, a weak peace exists between England and Wales. The King of Wales, Gruffydd ap Cynan, is getting older and is glad to stay at home without worrying about devastating battles, as well as the loss of money and lives. King Henry “Beauclerc” of England is also satisfied, but he is also looking for any excuse to take up arms again and subdue Wales and all its recalcitrant local warlords. So the reader is not surprised when Nesta daughter of Tewdwr, the son of her husband Gerald, and one of their shared children are kidnapped by Owain ap Cadwgan, who has for years been haunted by an obsessive lust for Nesta. In addition, a Welsh lord known as “Devil” attacks a group of English soldiers and murders all of them except their leader, whom he permanently and brutally maims. King Henry immediately declares war on Gruffydd, as well as his feisty daughter Gwenllian, who is as skilled in warfare as any man.

What stands out starkly in this conflict is the passion of love and war that every character exudes. Although Welsh kings, lords, and ladies are self-serving rulers who often make unwise choices, their belief in Welsh independence is deeply moving as we observe their fierce battles and dialogue. The identity of the “Devil” is stunning when discovered, more for his painful history than his audacious acts. The arrogance of the English stirs the reader with understanding but also a sense of dislike. Rebellion’s Forge is the thrilling final novel about this small portion of Welsh history.