Pamela Taylor’s “Pestilence: Second Son Chronicles, Volume 3”

Blog Tour for Pamela Taylor’s book, Pestilence: Second Son Chronicles Volume 3

Welcome Back!

If you are just joining us, this blog is part of a book tour promoting a new historical fiction novel by Pamela Taylor, Prestilence: Second Son Chronicles Volume 3.

Note: The author sent me an autographed copy of the book in exchange for this review.

Pamela Taylor’s book series, Second Son Chronicles, is a historical fiction series using familiar historical settings to tell the story of a family that is fictional. It is not a reimagining of actual people or events–like some historical fiction–and readers may have to remind themselves of that as they read.

The book opens with the sudden death of a beloved king and his rapid replacement by an impetuous son. It doesn’t take long to see that this new king is going to lead the realm in a downward spiral. The story is all told to us by a second son and brother of the new king who has some mysterious destiny of his own yet to be fulfilled.

This book begins mid-action with characters and plots that have been brewing for two books prior to this one. Though the writer does provide a family tree and a sketch of the kingdom at the start of the book, it is hard to understand what is happening if you haven’t read books one and two first. If you read excerpts of the books on the author’s website, linked here, you get a sense of the story without the full depth of it. This is about a family of royals where the second sons–unlikely to become kings–have value and voice. This is also a story that rarely sits still; some scheme or battle is always in the middle of happening or being plotted.

Though there are uncanny resemblances to Henry VIII in some of what happens in Pestilence, the author makes it clear that this is a work of fiction inspired by events of the past but not about any person(s) in particular. The author responds to this idea in the book:

Readers will note similarities with northern Europe, but my decision to fictionalize the setting was a matter of practicality for my characters. European history from this period and its major actors are too well known for it to be plausible that a different set of kings and nobility might actually have existed.

Taylor, Pamela. Pestilence: Second Son Chronicles Volume 3, “Author’s Notes”, Black Rose Writing: Texas, 2020. pg 218.

Pamela Taylor’s work is particularly well designed to showcase language. At one point, the narrator creates a historical record of the new king’s reign that looked and sounded like an actual document that I could research and find. The characters, too, feel real because of the depth of research behind authenticating them within their era. Taylor transitions seamlessly from formal to casual speech; she is surprisingly eloquent as a noble as well as an accented servant. I can only imagine this book series would come to life in full cast audio production.

Taylor’s work would have every right to be laden with words we cannot understand outside of the context, but she makes it a particular point not to do that. Language is intentionally modernized slightly to save readers from referencing dictionaries to understand her work. It is a subtle nod to the audience that does not affect the story but greatly assists the reader.

I greatly respect the work Taylor has put into creating this entertaining series, and I plan to order books one and two to get the full story. If you are looking for an adventurous, mysterious, historical novel full of scandal and glory, check out the Second Son Chronicles. It will not disappoint.

Allegory and Underline Themes in “Pestilence” and the Second Son Chronicles Series by Pamela Taylor

The following is a guest post written by the author, Pamela Taylor, for the WOW blog tour promotion of her newest book.

From Dickens to Tolkien, from Molière to Gene Rodenberry writers through the ages have used their pen to comment on political and social issues of their era. Dickens chose stark realism while Molière opted for broad comedic satire. Tolkien embedded his message in a fantasy world; Rodenberry’s
métier was science fiction. I don’t even pretend to place myself among that pantheon of authors, but I chose them to make the point that exploring challenging issues often succeeds best within the context of entertainment.

My primary goal in writing the Second Son Chronicles is to entertain readers. I hope they enjoy the journey of Alfred (the series protagonist) as much as I’m enjoying bringing it to life. But for those
readers who like to look below the surface, there are some themes to be discovered. And for me, the past was a good, non-threatening setting in which to do so. I specifically chose the beginning of the Renaissance because it was a time when new ideas were spreading rapidly – and yet skepticism
still abounded and those in positions of power were often quite happy to quash anything that didn’t fit their narrative of what the world should be.

The full series examines a wide range of social and political issues of the last fifty or sixty years.
Modeling Alfred’s wife on some of the strong women of medieval and early Renaissance times allows me to explore women’s roles and rights. Having a less enlightened society bordering Alfred’s
kingdom provides the opportunity to discuss cultural differences and questions of nation-building.
The rise of the merchant class at this time in history is an excellent context in which to explore the growing influence today of big business. And the overall state of medicine at the time lends itself easily to the topic of health care.

Pestilence takes place at a time of serious upheaval for Alfred’s kingdom. The disruptions engendered by the new king’s authoritarianism highlight class divides and pave the way for the
emergence of demagoguery, xenophobia, militarism, and neglect of basic functions of governing.
What happens illuminates the very real human cost of a lack of social supports. And the situation forces those who still believe their duty is to the common good to find unexpected paths to achieve those ends.

My goal for the allegory underlying Alfred’s story has never been to be prescriptive or pedantic. I hope only to encourage readers to think.

As the dedication reads: “This series is dedicated to the hope that thoughtfulness, compassion, respect, and rational dialogue can triumph over bigotry, greed, mistrust, and self-righteousness to create a world that is truly a better place for all of
humankind.”

Thank you, Ms. Taylor, for stopping by our blog today. Check out the blog tour for more posts and reader reviews. You can find our review here on July 1st.