This is the second book in Pamela Belle’s Heron series, set in the 17th century and following the adventures of Thomazine Heron and her family in an England torn apart by civil war. I loved this one almost as much as The Moon in the Water, which I read last month, and would highly recommend these books to anyone who enjoys family saga-style historical fiction. The only problem is that they are now out of print, but I definitely think it’s worth trying to find copies.
*Spoiler warning – As this is a sequel and as the previous book ended on such a big cliffhanger, it would be almost impossible for me to discuss this novel without making references to the first one. If you’re interested in this series, please see my review of The Moon in the Water before reading any further!*
The Chains of Fate begins where The Moon in the Water ended, with Thomazine embarking on a journey north to Scotland in search of her cousin and lover, Francis Heron. Believing Francis to have drowned, Thomazine had married Dominic Drakelon before discovering that she had been misled and he was not dead after all. Leaving her husband and baby son behind, she sets off to find Francis with only her friend Grainne, servant Holly and Grainne’s two young children for company. The road north through a country at war is not without its dangers but Thomazine eventually arrives at the Borders home of her Graham cousins – only to discover that convincing Francis of her innocence will not be as easy as she’d hoped.
Will Francis and Thomazine find happiness together in the end or will they be separated forever by war or by the evil scheming of cousin Meraud? I’m not going to say any more because the story that unfolds throughout The Chains of Fate is a wonderful, epic tale of love, war and betrayal and I wouldn’t want to spoil a single page of it for you.
Much as I enjoyed reading this book, however, it’s not without a few flaws that prevented me from loving it quite as much as the first book. While I love Thomazine as a narrator, the fact that she is telling her story in the first person means that she is usually far removed from the centre of the Civil War action. The outcomes of various battles and the movements of the armies are described to Thomazine through letters or gossip picked up in taverns and I thought this became a bit tedious at times. Having said that, I am not a big fan of battle scenes, so I did appreciate the focus on ordinary families and the people who were forced to stay behind, worrying about their loved ones in the thick of the fighting.
I was also slightly disappointed that Thomazine and Francis are kept apart for such long stretches of the book. The other storylines the author brings into the novel – the relationship between Thomazine and her little boy, Kit; the love affairs of Grainne, Lucy and Jamie; and the question of who will inherit Goldhayes – were compelling too and did interest me, but I still found myself getting impatient wondering when Francis was going to make another appearance!
Anyway, this was another great book and I’m now looking forward to reading the third one, Alathea – but apprehensive too because I’m aware that it’s about the next generation of Herons and in my experience sometimes a series is not as good once we leave the original characters behind. I’m hoping this won’t be the case with Alathea and it shouldn’t be too long before I have the chance to find out.