Tribulation Jones leaves home and joins with a band of rough neck southerners that are off to fight in the American Civil War. Tribulation goes along in fear of the bleak future the group paints for the south if they don’t all stand up and fight. Tribulation, not fully understanding what he’s getting into and why he’s even doing it, is drawn in by the comradery. But the war takes its toll on him, the South, and the North. Through the horrible fighting, witnessing his men die horrible deaths, and all the trials and miseries of war he comes to understand what he’s fighting for and questions if it’s worth all the suffering that he’s endured. But all the death and strife and brooding reflection is only a prelude to a tangled story of magic, conjuring and the afterlife.
Tribulations War is a remarkable story with some of the best battlefield descriptions I’ve read in a long time; covering all the senses; touch, hearing, smell, and sight.
“Flying metal shards slammed into them, hissed like snakes around their heads. Yankee cannons stood on the crest and a rain of canister burst at their mouths. Men fell, ripped open, blinded, spewing blood. Someone shouted “Wheel right–File–Goddamn enfilade -” and the voice turned to a howl. Tribulation peered through acrid clouds, aiming at gunners, the sergeant there with his hand on the lanyard.”
Author Kyri Freeman writes some of the most elegantly incisive descriptions that I’ve read. The book has a spectacular ability to deliver quick pacing with a deeply detailed story world and characters. The character dialogue, while not deeply engaging, was well fitted to each character. They each had their own mannerisms and again was all done with superb ease. The story takes place during the American Civil War and, I’m no history expert, but the battles, places, dates, weapons, and speech were all believable. The story covers a lot of the pivotal times in the Civil War, with one in particular being a central point of the novel; the death of General Stonewall Jackson. I won’t give away the intriguing twists and turns that follow, but I will say that they are engrossing and engaging and all told with a deft handling of language and pacing that is rare for many writers. The book is broken up into two sections. Book one covers the Civil War and Tribulations life through it and can be considered a Civil War era fiction novel. While book two, in stark contrast, is an exquisitely bleak look at the dark side of magic, conjurations, necromancy, and potions. Ten years after the war Tribulation is now trying to make his way in post-Civil War America while he suffers from post-traumatic stress. He wanders for several years and through many jobs before he finds himself at the Woodman’s hovel where he was first cursed early on in the book. He’s taken on as an apprentice by the Woodsman and is taught some conjurations and potions and other magical things that he learns through bitter trial and error and force on the Woodman’s part. Tribulations War is an exceptional book with a story that is deftly executed with superb writing, spot on pacing and deep character development.