Saturday, 5 October 2013

Bandit Book Bloggers Tour- The Art of Forgetting (Rider)

As part of the Bandit Book Bloggers Tour Group, every month I'll have an awesome book to promote. October brings us Joanne Hall's novel The Art of Forgetting- Rider. It offers a lot more than your usual fantasy, so take a look:

  “Rhodri!  Rhodri, leave him!” Jime’s voice cut through the roaring in his head. “It’s not worth it!  Let it go!”
  “I’ll kill him!” Rhodri thrashed wildly, but Jime’s grip was firm. “I’ll bloody kill him!  He said --”
  “It doesn’t matter what he said, let it go!”
  “I heard what he said,” Nik supplied, “and it was foul. He deserves it.”
  Dru sat up. His hand was clamped over his eye, blood trickling between his fingers. He started towards Rhodri, and at Jime’s nod the inhabitants of the destroyed tent piled in to restrain him.
  “You leave him alone,” Jime told him. “Lay off, or I’ll let him go, and watch as he beats the blue out of you. You and you,” he clicked his fingers, “get those tents picked up. You, fetch a healer. Bron, if he’s free. Rhodri.” He put his arm round his shoulders and steered him away, gesturing for Nik to fetch a drink. “Your nose is bleeding.”
  “Is it?” Rhodri dabbed his nostril, and sniffed, feeling the blood clog like mucus at the back of his throat. He coughed bloody sputum, and wiped his mouth with his thumb.
“How’s your leg?”
His calf felt sore, and when he pulled up the leg of his breeches a long ugly burn blistered on his shin. Jime forced him to sit, and pressed a hip flask into his hand. The adrenaline was wearing off, leaving Rhodri sick and light-headed. His shaking hands spilt ale down his torn shirt.
“Hey!” Jime protested. “Don’t waste it!”
  “Sorry.” His throat was raw.
  “Nik told me what Drusain said. He deserved a punching. I would have hit him if he’d said that to me.”
  Rhodri stared at the ground, watching as the steady drip of blood from his nose stained the grass black. His leg throbbed. “It’s more than that,” he muttered.
    “Something personal?” Rhodri shrugged, refusing to be drawn. “I won’t pry. You wouldn’t beat on a man twice your height without good reason. You’re not a fool. Here’s Bron, show him your leg.”
   Bron hurried towards him, Captain Garrod strolling in his wake. Rhodri hung his head, ashamed of his outburst. He had betrayed the trust the Captain had shown in him, but he was cursed if he would apologise to Dru.
  “That’s right, keep your head down. Pinch the bridge of your nose.” Bron’s deft fingers explored Rhodri’s skull. He winced as they smoothed over a bump. “Nothing broken. Any other hurts?”
  “Only my leg.” His voice was distorted by the pressure on his nostrils. He could see up to Captain Garrod’s waist.
  The Captain drummed his fingers on his sword hilt as he surveyed the carnage. “Jime, come with me. The rest of you, get this mess cleared up, or its extra drill for the lot of you, is that clear?”
  Rhodri looked up in surprise, to see Jime departing with the Captain. Bron pushed his head down again. “Sounds like you’re reprieved,” he said in a low voice. “Don’t make a fuss. Did Drusain start this?”
  “He said something I didn’t like.” It sounded pathetic, put like that.
  Bron sighed. “So you decided to stick one on him?  Even though he’s twice your size?” He finished bathing the burn and sat back on his heels. “You never seem to learn, Rhodri. You’re not a boy anymore.”
  “I know.”
  “You’ll get a reputation as a man of violence. Is that what you want?”
  “Of course not!” Rhodri jerked away. “Is that what people think?”
  “Hold still!” Bron wrapped a hand round the back of his knee, forcing his leg straight. “I can only speak for myself. I know you’re mourning Astan, but this isn’t the way to heal your wounds. How’s your nose?”
  Rhodri wiped it experimentally, dragging a long smear of crimson across the back of his hand. He sniffed, feeling the blood bubble in his nostrils. “Still bleeding.”
  “Head down, then.”
  Rhodri watched Bron dress the burn, thinking of blood. “Bron?  Can I ask a question?  It might sound foolish...”
  “A foolish man doesn’t ask, and pretends he knows,” Bron said, tying off the bandage. “That should be fine. Make sure you keep it clean. What was your foolish question?”
  “About blood... Can an inclination, for violence or sadness, be passed down through the blood?”
  “From father to son, you mean?” Bron scratched his head, puffing out his cheeks. “I wish I could tell you, Rhodri,” he said. “I’ve seen men brought up in violent homes who couldn’t swat an insect, while their brothers go out and commit murder. The sons of violent fathers tend to be more aggressive, but whether that’s their blood, or their upbringing, I couldn’t tell you. Your guardian was harsh to you, I recall?” His eyes narrowed.
  “Only when I deserved it. I caused a lot of trouble when I was a boy. I was thinking of my real father... His blood is my blood, and I don’t know what he was like, not really. What I remember of him... it’s the memory of a little boy whose father could do no wrong. It might not be the truth.”
  Bron patted him on the shoulder as he rose. “Remember this,” he said. “You are not your father. You’re your own man, and make your own choices. You can’t blame your misdeeds on your heritage. If there’s violence in your blood, it’s up to you to find the strength to control that urge.”
  Rhodri looked around, at the disturbed campsite, the tents being repaired. Drusain was having his eye stitched, just below the brow. His leg stung from the salve, and his shirt hung in ribbons. His loss of control had caused chaos, and the strength Bron spoke of felt far beyond his grasp.

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