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Kin of Cain: A Short Bernicia Tale Kindle Edition
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But… I wanted to know what the hype was all about. I’d seen his name pop up within the same social media circles, and decided to give Serpent Sword a try. And to say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement.
I have already reviewed the main novels in the Bernicia Chronicles here and here, so I won’t reiterate why I love the series. To summarize for purposes of this review however, I will say that the key to my love is the in main protagonist of these tales, Beobrand. I love that Beobrand is a hero, but he is also an imperfect hero. He has a darkness lurking somewhere inside him, and it’s this darkness which propels and motivates him throughout the plot of each book. He has strengths and weaknesses, just like a real person, and he wrestles with them, second guessing decisions, dealing with past hurts and loves. He may be a character in a story set over a thousand years ago, but in this, he is just like any modern human alive on the planet today.
Kin of Cain takes a step back in time from the novels in The Bernicia Chronicles. It is a book set in the Bernicia Chronicles “universe”, but it is a sort of prequel in novella form. Readers of The Serpent Sword will immediately remember Beobrand’s brother Octa. The death of Octa (only referred to in that book and not covered in Kin of Cain) forces Beobrand into motion, setting off the series. Kin of Cain takes a look at one figurative chapter in Octa’s life, before we ever meet Beobrand, chronologically speaking.
The novella is a wonderful story, something I’d expect from Harffy in the style and telling of it. The pace is good, and the characters are familiar. I don’t read thriller/horror fiction, so I am probably not doing the genre or this novella justice by using a comparison, but I will. Because the main action of the story is set at night, in a misty, swirling swamp, and the antagonist of the story commits grisly atrocities, the novella feels like a thriller to me. Hound of the Baskervilles, anyone? — minus Sherlock Holmes and inserting Dark Age warriors carrying swords and other sharp bits of steel, of course. It was creepy, but the horror is suggested and happens off the page, making it more thriller than horror.
The only down side to the novella, which really isn’t saying much, is Octa. Don’t get me wrong: I like the guy. But because this is a novella, I felt that we didn’t really get a chance to know him very well. Several times he echoes regret at leaving his mother and little brother at the mercies of his brutal father, Grimgundi, as he goes off on the king’s service, but beyond those reveries we don’t see much of the inner Octa. I don’t fault the novella for this. It’s a novella. There isn’t a lot of literary real estate for such luxuries. I have just been spoiled by the superb development of Beobrand over the course of several novels.
The novella ends with one little surprise for lovers of classic literature. I won’t spoil it for those who have yet to read the book. But this one is a delight, and I have to chide myself for not catching on a little sooner to what Harffy was doing over the entire course of the novella. Especially when you consider the fact that I remember, in retrospect, his social media posts about the fact that he was going to do it!
I recommend Kin of Cain to fans of The Bernicia Chronicles, but because the story is set independently outside the series, it works very well as a stand-alone. For this reason, I also recommend the novella to those who think they might enjoy Harffy’s writing but don’t know if they want to commit to a feature-length book.
Exciting and fast moving, this is a prequel of sorts and features Octa, elder brother of the hero of the Bernica books. Also appearing is the sword Hruntung and it's original owner. Enjoy reading this addition to the Benicia novels.
Well now we have the chance to see a little of the man himself in a short story set before the events The Serpent Sword.
86 pages is a decent amount of pages for a short tale in my opinion and Harffy doesn't hold back. For me what I really enjoyed was this tale has a bit of fantasy and mystery to it. The unknown force that is attacking people..is it human or beast.. either way the King wants it dead!
Octa sets out with a band of men to prove himself to his King and one of my favorite characters is included in this group, Bassus! oh how I love that man.
Harffy weaves a tale which includes the death and gore we are used to but it also manages to give some depth to Octa that wasn't possible before.
The tale is full of suspense, it's dark, gritty and gruesome..what more could you possibly want?
When I was reading the tale I couldn't help but see Octa as Beowulf and reading the author note it was really great to see the Harffy's thought process on this. It really made the tale stand out.
Personally I feel Harffy has loads to offer and I hope to see more shorts in the future as I feel they bring depth to the authors world and allow them the chance to share some great stories with us the readers. When I commit to an authors work I want to feel like they are committing to me also..to give me their best and Harffy never disappoints.
Kin of Cain is thriller/mystery/fantasy/myth/folklore and so much more wrapped in to 86 glorious pages and it's well worth the asking price.
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