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A Bright Winter Sun: Trouble in the Forest    by Trystam Kith order for
Bright Winter Sun
by Trystam Kith
Order:  USA  Can
Five Star, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

After the cliff-hanger ending of the first in the Trouble in the Forest duology, A Cold Summer Night, I was anxious to see how Trystam Kith's twisted tale of Robin Hood ended. A Bright Winter Sun picks up exactly where the first episode left off: the Sheriff of Nottingham, Hugh deSteny, has just put in motion his plan to trap Hood and his band of vampires.

In order to protect the people left in his care by his brother the king, Prince John journeys to Nottingham to help the Sheriff with the Feast of All Saints fair, that is to lure Hood and his men inside the city walls. Prince John also brings a little extra help with him in the form of a book written by a monk who fought the vampires in the Holy Lands. Aided by knowledge of their foes, the Prince and Sheriff put their plan in action. Unfortunately, Hood has a plan of his own.

Dressed as a band of traveling players, Hood and a few of his company enter Nottingham and establish themselves as a highly entertaining group of actors. In order to gain access to the Prince, Hood's right-hand man, Will Scarlet, convinces a Lord's visiting son, Sir Gui, to let the troupe perform for the nobles on All Saints Eve. During their performance of The Truest Arrow, Scarlet shoots the Bishop (the only holy man at the performance) and the rest of the vampires attack the assembly. The Prince and Sheriff survive and create a new plan to fight the monsters at the nearest Lord's castle. Since vampires are not easy to kill, it will take all the strength the people of Sherwood Forest have, to vanquish them.

In this concluding episode, Kith begins to really stray from the original Robin Hood legend. At the fair, since vampires cannot venture out into the sun, the famous arrow-shooting contest cannot occur. Instead, a very similar story is acted out in the play that Hood's troupe performs. Also, once the battle is moved to the castle, Prince John, with the help of a Jewish man, uses mysticism to call upon ancient spirits to aid the men of Sherwood Forest in their fight against Hood and his band. The mystic spells came as a pleasant surprise in a story whose first book had vampires as the only supernatural elements. I appreciated the author's twist of having conjuring spells, usually left to the bad guys, being used in the name of God.

Though this duology is not for everyone, those who read A Cold Summer Night will want to finish A Bright Winter Sun to see how the tale ends. While it starts slowly, it picks up (focusing more on plot than on characters) to become one of the fasted-reading vampire novels that I have come across.

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