Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Bronze and the Brimstone by Lory S. Kaufman

Title: The Bronze and the Brimstone
Series: The Verona Trilogy
Published: June 7th, 2011
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Pages: 336 (paperback)
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

What could go wrong in the 14th-century
for three time-traveling teens?
How about – EVERYTHING!

Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln, three teens from the 24th-century, are trapped in 14th-century Verona, Italy. They’ve survived many deadly experiences by keeping their wits about them and by introducing futuristic technology into the past. Principal among these inventions is the telescope, which brought them to the attention to the rich and powerful.

But standing out can get you into unexpected and dangerous situations. The nobles of Verona now believe Hansum is a savant, a genius inventor, especially after he brings them plans for advanced cannons and black powder. Being the center of attention is great, but the potential for trouble is now exponentially greater because people are watching Hansum’s every move.

Meanwhile, artistic genius Shamira has fallen for a Florentine artist with bloody and disasterous consequences. Lincoln, considered an incompetent back home in the 24th-century, has blossomed – at least until he’s shot in the head with an arrow. And Hansum, after secretly marrying his new master’s beautiful daughter, Guilietta, is offered the hand in marriage of lady Beatrice, daughter of the ruler of Verona. To refuse could mean calamity for all the teens.

Amazingly, none of this is their biggest challenge. Because a rash illness is spreading across Verona – and it is threatening to consume everyone.

Do they have a future in this past?

As far as sequels go, The Bronze and the Brimstone was a solid A. After a somewhat misleading dream sequence, the story picks up right where The Lens and the Looker left off. Hansum and the gang are still working in the shop, living the good life (or as good as life can get for three teenagers trapped in the past), making lookers for their reigning lord. But when Hansum is asked to move into the palace, he’s thrown into a world governed by political relationships, religious loyalty, and lies. While we don’t learn much more about the gang’s past lives in the future, it was nice to see them mature in the past as they work towards maintaining a comfortable lifestyle with their new family. Again, we see them accomplish this by bringing in new technology—this time, a deadly cannon with the ability to rewrite the history of war.

A good chunk of the book is dedicated to experimenting and constructing the cannon. Though it sounds like the reading could get tedious, the plot moves along smoothly, with enough fiction and drama to balance the historic/scientific details. I think the majority of the credit for this can be given to Hansum’s and Gui’s clandestine relationship. Even though I still didn’t see the chemistry between them (they don’t spend a lot of time together, despite the fact that they are *spoiler alert* married), the risk of exposure increased the complexity of the relationships in the plot, and Hansum’s family was forced to constantly act like they were walking on glass.

Overall, The Bronze and the Brimstone was a much better sequel than I could have hoped for. It was complex, thrilling, educational, with a cast of characters that just continues to grow on the reader until the very end. My only complaint is that the tagline on the cover of the book (“Can he get back IN TIME to save her?”) is sort of misleading…It feels like more of a spoiler for book three, not what book two is really about.


P.S. For my review of The Lens and the Looker, click HERE!