The Bulls of War is Book I of The Chronicles of the Andervold Thrones, a historical novel in e-book format by E. M. Thomas.
Plot: In a time of almost constant tribal/clan/territorial warfare, Kyrus, a young warrior on patrol with his father’s division survives an attack by Valogarians who kill his father and brother. As time passes he becomes the leader of the distinguished unit. His closest friend Tyghus rises through the ranks with him, and when Kyrus, unexpectedly and unwantedly is appointed Khorokh (Emperor) of the Unified Rokharians and Ten Provinces, he appoints Tyghus to take his place as the commanding general. Kyrus had been appointed by Rensyus, the dying Emperor, and accepted by the reigning council of Peers of the Realm. Rensyus had kept peace in the realm in spite of the exact split in voting by the Council with respect to war/peace. Tyghus’ sister, Tigra was to become the bride of the leader of the Valogars to further the peace that Rensyus was maintaining and he had believed Kyros could be persuaded to follow in his footsteps. Instead Kyros, separated from his close friend and convinced by rumors and innuendo by and from the war-inclined group that Tyghus no longer was a friend, becomes paranoid in the extreme. He sides with the hawks, declares war on the Valogarians, alienates other powerful members of the Peers and proceeds to become a devious tyrant. Tyghus and incidentally his sister are caught up in the viciously burgeoning set of inter-territorial circumstances. A host of other characters play parts at varying levels of importance in this tale as it gradually advances to provide a provoking base for the next episode in The Chronicles.
Discussion: The author has made an intriguing interpretation from existing records of a long-ago era to present a fascinating story of court intrigue, a paranoid ruler, and honorable individuals who become unfortunate pawns in a vicious game that leads to horrendous destruction and devastating loss of human life. Most regrettably, this magnificently researched presentation provides at least for this reader, a degree of disappointment. A map is provided, but a magnifying glass is required when attempting to find/revisit the territories and other features involved, and portions of the rhetoric although of historic importance, often slow, rather than advance the storyline. Also for some readers the plentiful supply of characters with historically correct but unusual names, possibly are enough to provide a pause in assimilation, thus further interfering with the story’s pace.
Conclusion: A minutely detailed fictional story recounting political maneuvering resulting in massive land/human destruction based upon research of a seldom examined pre-Christian era. Historically and fictionally engrossing presentations where, regrettably at least for this reader, either or both could be greatly enhanced with judicious editing.
A parenthetical and perhaps totally irrelevant but depressing comment is the notable reoccurrence today of the political maneuvering that existed then and no doubt even in earlier times. It is hoped that the destructive resultant activity so graphically and well described by this author remains only historical and/or fictional.
5* Engrossing history/fictional tale; 3* judicious editing would greatly enhance for this reader.