The Du Lac Devil is the second book (third story, when you include the novella, The Pitchfork Rebellion) in the Du Lac Chronicles series. My review of the first book can be found here. I received both free as part of a review tour.
The Du Lac Devil
As one kingdom after another falls to the savage might of the High King, Cerdic of Wessex, only one family dares to stand up to him — The Du Lacs.
Budic and Alden Du Lac are barely speaking to each other, and Merton is a mercenary, fighting for the highest bidder. If Wessex hears of the brothers’ discord, then all is lost.
Fate brings Merton du Lac back to the ancestral lands of his forefathers, and he finds his country on the brink of civil war. But there is worse to come, for his father’s old enemy has infiltrated the court of Benwick. Now, more than ever, the Du Lac must come together to save the kingdom and themselves.
Can old rivalries and resentments be overcome in time to stop a war?
I couldn't wait to get stuck into the Du Lac Devil, after I had finished The Du La Chronicles and The Pitchfork Rebellion. In both of these stories, the character of Merton had stood out for me and this book is more about him. Merton is in many ways the typical tortured hero, bad boy who is misunderstood, or the victim of his circumstances type of character. I have to admit that I do have a bit of a soft spot for similar characters. There is something about Merton that really draws you to him.
Time has moved on from the first book, Merton has been working as a mercenary, using his talent with a sword to earn money. His only aim is to help keep Alden's kingdom safe. Not only is the money he earns used to rebuild Alden's stronghold, but he is also being blackmailed by Wessex. As long as he keeps paying and spies for him, then Wessex will not attack Cerniw. Wessex is greedy, the more that Merton pays, the more that Wessex wants.
Merton has found himself doing more and more things that have led him further down the path to become known as the feared Du Lac Devil. Not all that they say about him is true, he hasn't completely sold his soul to the devil, but as far as he is concerned, the more feared that he is the better.
After finding himself in an impossible position, which he does not expect to get away from alive, Merton makes his way back to his brother Budic's castle, Benwick. Here he finds that Budic's wife and heir have died and that Alden is also there to pay his respects. Danger surrounds the three brothers, but are they able to unite to face it?
Merton also comes back into contact with his one time sister in law, Lady Amandine. Merton discovers that the feelings between them are far from brother or sisterly. Soon, it becomes clear that she is what he wants and that if he is to have a future, then he wants it to be with her. Amandine returns his love (who wouldn't after all, there is something lovable about him). There is the small problem of her marriage to another man, that stands in the way.
One thing I love about this series is the way that the characters sometimes question themselves and each other. Although Merton and Alden are loyal to one another, they don't just accept that as a given. They always have the possible fear that those that love don't return that loyalty and love completely. I think that this makes it more realistic and the characters more rounded.
I loved this book, just as much, if not more, than the previous book. The story of the Du Lac brothers was gripping and I really can't wait to read what will happen next. I love the historic feel to this book. Of course some of the language may be a little modern, but the joy of writing about a period like this, is that it doesn't matter. The people then spoke very different languages to the ones we speak today, any language would be different to what they spoke, so it doesn't seem out of place. It probably does help that the author is English, so it sounds more natural to my English ear.
I highly recommend this book and this series. If you are going to read it, please start with the first book, it would be a shame to miss the start of the series.