The Bronze and the Brimstone: The Verona Trilogy, Book 2
By Lory S. Kaufman
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2011, Fiction Studio Books
Paperback, 334 pages
What could go wrong in the 14th-century for three time-traveling teens? How about – EVERYTHING!This book is the sequel to The Lens and the Looker: Book #1 of the Verona Series (History Camp: the Verona Trilogy) and opens with the main character, Hansum, in a dream. This is actually rather confusing, as I don't realize he is dreaming until afterwards, and it seems like a poorly-timed ploy to re-introduce the reader to what has occurred so far in the series.
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 of 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 disastrous 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?
Early in the book, Hansum is separated from his friends, but not before he manages to marry Guillietta in secret. What bugs me about this is how Guillietta's father still treats him like a child, even though he is certainly entitled to be treated as an adult by this time. Hansum exhibits a certain level of maturity that few seem to recognize or respect. Once Hansum is moved to a private estate, his story exchanges with the rest of his friends in alternating sections.
The drama that occurs between Shamira and the artist is quite transparent to me. I am not sure if the author intended for the reader to discern the artist's true intentions so easily, but the artist's lack of talent combined with obvious lies and an obsessive interest in the lookers made it apparent what he was really about. I can only feel sorry for Shamira in her first foray into the realm of romance.
Hansum does well at creatively avoiding an engagement to Lady Beatrice, but I had to wonder how long he would be successful at this. With Hansum's almost constant protectiveness over the genie, Pan, I also wondered how long he would really be able to keep up the ruse.
With a greater focus on the technological advancements that Hansum is introducing, and less of a focus on the relationship-building of the first book in the series, this book was better written and a more enjoyable read for me. The author's evident strengths lie in his knowledge of the technology used in the series and the history of 14th-century Verona, so when those are brought to the forefront, the writing is quite intriguing. I still feel that the author is trying to do too much with this novel and trying to appeal to a too-large audience with everything from romance, history, suspense, political intrigue, and technology, to numerous science fiction themes, but it is better written than the first book in the series.
The Cover: Much like the first book in the series, I find the cover to be too busy, somewhat blurry, and the mysterious hand poking out of the bottom out of place.
First Line: "Why don't I feel any pain?"
This is an interesting way to start a book, and it sets my imagination whirling.
Read For: Off the Shelf Challenge
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*