This review and giveaway are part of an online book tour for The Bronze and the Brimstone, Book #2 in the Verona Trilogy, by Lory S. Kaufman. Kaufman considers his fiction to be post-dystopian. In his novels, the world has already fallen apart and has been rebuilt into a new and often more lasting type of civilization.
The Verona Trilogy is a time-traveling YA series featuring teens from the 24th century who get stuck in 14th century Verona, Italy. Although The Bronze and the Brimstone is Book #2 in this series, it can work fairly well as a stand-alone novel. I’m sure I could have gotten into the story faster if I had read The Lens and the Looker first; however, I was able to figure out the basics of how they got there fairly easily. Adults who are interested in the 14th century may find this novel interesting historically, and it seems better suited for teens who are history buffs.
In the 24th century, life is just about as perfect as it can get. Because the Elders know that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, teens are routinely sent to History Camp, a special camp that provides an in-depth historical period experience so they can learn the hard way just how good they have it. That way it’s hoped that they won’t repeat the historical mistakes which almost caused the planet to die. And then there are the hard cases, those teens who still don’t get it. They’re put through a more rigorous camp experience.
Our trio fall into this latter category. What no one bargained for was that they would be kidnapped, transported to the real 14th century, and abandoned there to fend for themselves. Hansum is 17, Shamira is 15, and Lincoln is 14. The only resource to help them literally survive is Pan, a mischief-making AI who also thankfully has a vast storehouse of beneficial knowledge.
When The Bronze and the Brimstone opens, Hansum and Lincoln have become apprenticed to an optical lensmaker, Master Agistino della Cappa, while Shamira has become his kitchen maid. All three have settled into 14th century life as much as they can because by now they believe they will live the rest of their lives there. One way they’ve managed to survive is by making themselves indispensible to Master della Cappa by introducing the more modern invention of the telescope into the 14th century and giving him full credit.
“Shamira was always drawing, and everyone was in awe of her talent. She had drawn the plans Pan had devised for an advanced lens-grinding lathe. This, along with the plans for the telescope…was what had given Master della Cappa’s little shop such a high profile. It had also made him rich.”
Giving Master della Cappa credit for the new inventions his shop is using doesn’t fool everyone; however, and it leads to Hansum being regarded by powerful and ruthless men as some kind of savant inventor. Of course the only inventions are those Pan can pull out of his memory. Shamira’s expert drawing skills are needed to translate the inventions into drawings and schematics the craftsmen can understand. Hansum and Lincoln can only explain the inventions when they are hooked into Pan or after Pan has tutored them in all aspects of them.
“’You should familiarize yourself with these plans before you show them to the Podesta della Scalla.’ Mastino della Scalla, the all-powerful Podesta of Verona and the region, had taken a special interest in the teens.”
In the best tradition of “what have you done for me lately,” the trio believe they constantly have to prove themselves to these powerful men to ensure they survive. In that vein, they introduce cannons and black powder to the 14th century. To say that is a huge and bloody mistake is a gross understatement, not even considering the impact to the future. The introduction of those inventions puts them in so far over their heads – it lands them in the highest levels of court and political intrigue, a place in which no coddled teenager from the 24th century has any hope of surviving even with a brilliant AI’s help.
“’These designs for cannon, cousin, they are astounding,’ Nicademo began. ‘And if these powders are what they seem, pphht, down go the fortifications of the Gorzaga, down fall the turrets of Venice. Scattered are the knights of the Este.’
‘And from my conversations with Ludwig and Karl the other week, if we make an alliance with them and supply, nay, sell them these new cannon and powder, we will be the rulers of Europe in ten years.’”
To make matters even more complicated, Hansum and the lensmaker’s daughter, Guilietta, get secretly married even though his new powerful benefactor, the Podesta, insists Hansum marry his daughter, the Lady Beatrice, instead. Hell hath no fury like a rich and powerful father scorned – a rich and powerful father who has people put to death on a whim. Ahem. Doesn’t look good for our Hansum, does it?
Will the trio work their way out of this mess they’ve gotten into? Will they survive the 14th century despite themselves? I’ll never tell. *cue the evil book reviewer’s laugh*
Once I got into the story, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Bronze and the Brimstone. Truthfully, what I enjoyed most was the historical detail. The research in this novel is excellent! I had to shake my head at the Podesta’s machinations, which you could easily see play out in any corporate boardroom. And how these three teens, even with Pan’s help, thought they could trust and potentially outwit such powerful men was beyond me but I realize those are life lessons no teenager has learned yet. This series really is designed for teen readers but it may also appeal to history buffs.
The Bronze and the Brimstone was released in June, 2011, so it should be available at your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
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One lucky reader will win an autographed copy of The Bronze and the Brimstone by Lory S. Kaufman!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 1/21/2012, at 11:59pm EST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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