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WARNING - as the review of the third volume in the Brethren trilogy, information about the previous books is referenced. Read these books, Brethren and Crusade, before reading this review.
Requiem is the third volume in Robyn Young's excellent Brethren trilogy. Requiem was the first book for about four years I had been anxious to get hold of weeks before its publication. Now I know what the people in bookshop queues felt like the night before a new Harry Potter book was launched.
The story continues the saga of Will Campbell, who began his journey two books and thirty years earlier as a sergeant in the Templars. Over those two books we saw him gain influence in the Temple and become an even more prominant member of a secret group within it, the Anima Templi. There aims were to seek an end to the destructive cycle of crusades and jihads that blighted the Holy Land.
By the end of the second volume, this objective has been lost, as has Outremer itself. This was what led to my anticipation of the third book. Crusade had dealt with the escalating conflict between the Christian and Moslem worlds, culminating in a decisive victory. Where could the story go after that?
Requiem is a different animal to its predecessors. We trade in the dusty streets of Acre and Jerusalem for the claustrophobic alleys of Paris and London. The narrative is more complex as well. Rather than two powers manouvering around each other like predators, we have multiple layers of intruige eating away at European politics like parasites.
Will Campbell's last thoughts in Crusade are continued in Requiem, becoming the catalyst that effects all other characters. His hatred of and desire for revenge on Edward transport him across Europe and the loss of Elwen leaves him angry and rudderless.
Robyn Young has once again successfully interwoven history and fiction into a gripping narrative. From King Edward's wars in Scotland to the decline of the Templars themselves, we watch history unfold through the eyes of Will Campbell. Young continues to excel at story-telling, moving effortlessly from sickening violence to heart-aching love with no let up in quality or pace.
The only problem I had with Requiem was feeling a little bogged down in politics at times. Knights clobbering each other I can understand, french aristocrats whispering in dark corridors I struggle with. There is an awful lot of that - Francis Urquhart would be proud of the efforts to undermine various powerblocks. At times, all this politics left me mentally exhausted, as though I'd been swimming through treacle.
It's worth keeping going because there are some great moments and it is a worthy conclusion to the Brethren saga.