The Princes of Albion: The Long-Aimed Blow Book I
The Princes of Albion is a violent, brutal piece of historical fiction that you will either love or hate. It has the workings of a Biblically themed Game of Thrones series—minus the dragons and the dwarf—with the heart of a terribly tragic love story. While this isn’t exactly a romance, you will find yourself falling for the characters and forming a strand of hope for something good to happen to someone…to anyone.
I am always saying I love finding Christian fiction that takes a step into the open—does something you wouldn’t expect to be done in the Christian realm—and I think I found that here. There is fighting, death, brutality, love, kindness, hatred, jealousy, sex… all the things you would find in a tragic story about love and loss and it all takes place in an AD setting, centering on a young Jewish woman who will have to question herself, her faith, and her own culture throughout the story.
One of the things I loved most about this book was the intense honesty in it. Humans are not pretty, gentle creatures; for some reason, people like to believe in the ‘good old times’, we like to think that humans were kinder ‘back in the day’ that children were more well behaved, men more chivalrous, women more modest. The fact is, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Humans have been murdering, raping, abusing, and pointlessly fighting each other since the beginning of time. The Princes of Albion highlights the tragedy in humanity, it shines a spotlight on how cruel our world was and, in many ways, is still that way today. This is a painful journey, but it has its ups and downs and it has the ironic charm of truth that holds it together.
What I find odd about this piece is that the thing I like most about this story is also my biggest complaint. The writing was incredibly good and well detailed, the setting, storytelling, characterization was all spot-on. But what I didn’t like was the brutality of it all. I loved that this work of Biblical/historical fiction went there… I loved that it pushed the boundaries of what we imagine Christian fiction to be. But I didn’t like the ways in which that boundary was pushed.
Wanting more action in Christian fiction does not equate to unnecessary bloody violence, beheading, and abuse. Asking for more intimate romance does not mean including rape and molestation. Asking for Christian fiction to push the limits does not mean all the dark parts of humanity should be explored. While I enjoyed seeing the truth in our cruelty as humans being put out there, I think there were cases where it was unnecessarily over the top. I think the message in this story could have been just as strong without all the violence and abuse—even with half of it. There’s a good amount of action and violence for entertainment purposes, there’s a good amount of action and violence and brutality for spreading awareness, stressing a point, and sending a message….and then there’s The Princes of Albion level of brutality and violence that is entertaining, stressing a point, sending a message, and just being so…. extra.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that Biblical fiction shouldn’t have action, violence, or brutality—this complaint has nothing to do with the book’s relation to the Christian genre—I simply think the violence in this particular story was at a level that exceeded both entertainment and purpose, Christian or not. But this is just my opinion. There are readers out there who will love the graphic details and enjoy all the blood. I’m simply the type of reader who prefers her books to stay in the PG-13 area MAYBE poking around in the rated R area, but certainly not rated M to triple XXX.
In the end, this is a great book I would certainly recommend to readers probably sixteen and up. Anyone who likes Biblical/historical fiction will eat this up and those with an interest in adventure, loss and love will want to take a look at this too.