Newland’s latest historical fantasy offering is an enjoyably atmospheric look at 18th Century Prussia, and specifically the Seven Years War, in which he continues to explore the themes that seem to run like veins through his work (I previously reviewed ‘The Old Dragon’s Head’, here).
Belonging / outsiders, politics, religion / spirituality, the effects of war, and the lives of ‘every day’ people, are all filtered through the lens of the ‘other-worldly’; or is that ‘beyond-worldly’? Or ‘same-worldly’, but difficult to accept or understand?
These are some tough subjects to address but Newland does it with ease and accessibility, aided by his in-depth research (which is extensive and extremely capable); his knowledge of the times and places in which his tales are set, really helps readers to immerse themselves in the story.
The characterisation is solid – especially that of our protagonist, Marion Grafin von Adler – and the handling of the storyline / arc is very proficient. I found myself enjoying the book and learning about history at the same time – without even noticing, which was great.
It is 1761. Prussia is at war with Russia and Austria. As the Russian army occupies East Prussia, King Frederick the Great and his men fight hard to win back their homeland.
In Ludwigshain, a Junker estate in East Prussia, Countess Marion von Adler celebrates an exceptional harvest. But this is soon requisitioned by Russian troops. When Marion tries to stop them, a Russian Captain strikes her. His Lieutenant, Ian Fermor, defends Marion’s honour, but is stabbed for his insubordination. Abandoned by the Russians, Fermor becomes a divisive figure on the estate.
Close to death, Fermor dreams of the Adler, a numinous eagle entity, whose territory extends across the lands of Northern Europe and which is mysteriously connected to the Enlightenment. What happens next will change the course of human history…
I do not get paid for blog tours or reviews, and this is my honest feedback.