An uneasy peace exists between Alfred and the Danish warlord, Guthrum, but there are other Danes with designs on Wessex. In the continuation of Alfred’s quest to rule England; all of it, the author has wrought a tale of tested loyalties, difficult loves and the emotional stability of a warrior caught in a frenzied blood lust. The twins, Ulf and Inga are now part of Alfred’s retinue and this story finds them learning who and what they are. As in the other works by Martin Lake, I was drawn into the mindsets of the protagonists, in this case English and Dane, as each group struggles to maintain and increase their hold on English soil. The history between Saxons and Danes is long and bloody, making any semblance of peace, compromise or acceptance virtually non-existent especially since the divisions are multiplied by religious fervor – reminds me of today actually. The author superbly brings those challenges to the fore and has produced another delightful page turning journey into the making of England. 4.3 stars
It’s a tough gig to move an entire nation to a new home. It’s even tougher when you have enemies everywhere bent on destroying you before you leave. Gods of War continues the story of the Engeln people migrating to Britannia and the exploits of Eofer; a.k.a. King’s Bane. A gritty tale of courage, drama and a fierce determination to succeed, the author paints a vivid picture of the times while drawing on the somewhat meager historical record, doing with it what all good historical-fiction authors do – make the story believable. A wonderful cast of characters bolstered by the author’s ability to describe the terra-firma, the action, and the emotions of this intrepid band of warriors. I am looking forward to the continuation of this tale, a tale of how Britain came to be.
The third installment of this engaging series finds Ahl Brightsword continuing to tell his story. The crew of The Eagle are still trying to gather the riches needed for them to return home and end their banishment but are co-opted into a fleet carrying warriors to help the Greek Emperor at Miklagard defend against an invasion. The story moves quickly and is filled with action, drama and a wonderfully descriptive narrative; especially the portaging of ships overland to avoid dangerous rapids. I highly recommend this book and the series to young readers who are interested in the history of that period; and who doesn’t like good Viking tales? 🙂 4 stars
The 6th century was a time of migration as many groups sought to better their prospects by moving to a more favorable location. Of course, those favorable locations were either; already occupied, or being sought by more than one group. This was especially true of northern Europe and the island of Britain. Fire and Steel brings this migratory/conflict filled era to life in the person of an English/Angle/Engeln warrior, Eofer; nicknamed King’s Bane for his killing of the Swedish King during an attempt by the Swedes to migrate. The English, under their king, Eomaer, are making plans to relocate from their home on the Jutland Peninsula to the bountiful, fertile island across the sea, Britannia but need to settle things with their enemies, The Jutes and The Danes first. A tale packed with action; be it crashing shield walls, individual combat or heroic deeds, the author paints a picture filled with bloodied swords and spears but also the picture of the camaraderie of the ale house and the loyalty to one’s lord or king. In King’s Bane 1, Mr.May has set the stage and I eagerly await the next act. 4.4stars
It seems that just about everyone wanted to rule England…the French, the Godwins, Edward and his heirs, the Danes. It also seems that anything that could go wrong for Wulfhere does go wrong. In the sequel to Sons of the Wolf, the author pulls out all the stops and delivers a scintillating run up to the cataclysmic events coming in 1066. Wulfhere is a prime example of the range of emotions the author uses to bring the reader into the mindsets of the main and bit players in this chaotic, uncertain time. A champion fighter, respected thegn and loyal servant to the King, Wulfhere endures much turmoil and suffering and has to dig deep to survive everything thrown at him. The author also gives the reader a penetrating glimpse of the dance between the parties vying for power; be it the throne of England or the Earldom of Mercia. Duplicity, underhanded dealings, and the pragmatic approach to the politics of the day are dealt with in an informative and entertaining fashion. A page turning delight awaits, dear reader. 4.3 stars
The finale of this most entertaining series about Beowulf concerns not only him but the Geatish King, Hygelac and his raid on the Frisians. It is an exciting romp filled with insights into the culture of the Dark Age warrior; the bond between sword brothers, the need to die well in battle with your sword in hand so to feast at Woden’s table in Valhal ( the scene from the movie The Vikings springs to mind where Tony Curtis gets Ernest Borgnine a sword to face the wild dogs in the pit he is being thrown into). Fast paced action is interspersed between some wonderful dialogue; especially between Hygelac and his vastly outnumbered raiding force as they prepare to face, not one, but two armies arrayed against them. Meanwhile, Beowulf has been tasked by Woden to attend a religious festival; one where the author’s descriptive imagination brings the reader into the realm of Woden and Thunor. Naturally, for Beowulf, this errand, while necessary, is somewhat of a distraction as he longs to be involved in the battle play with his King. All in all, this is a page turning foray into an age that will soon be overtaken by Christianity and a most fitting end to the Sword of Woden series. 4.8 stars
I’m sure that somewhere during my school years I was subjected to the Beowulf poem; I think I even remember a comic book version, however, back in those days I wasn’t too interested in poetic writings, so my knowledge of the story is, or I should say was, limited basically to knowing it existed. Then along comes this prose version of the story; a historical fiction/fantasy that has filled the Beowulf void in my literary adventures. In this, the third volume of the series Beowulf continues his quest to be a well renowned and remembered Geatish warrior. The author has done a fantastic job in taking the tale to a very entertaining level. The fights with Grendel and then with the Mother are the focal points of this volume but certainly not the only ones. Plenty of action, lots of warrior camaraderie, and a poignant look at the Dark Age civilizations of northern Europe. One of the particulars that I really enjoyed is the influence and meddling of the gods, most especially Woden. Incorporating the beliefs of the time into the telling of this tale is a definite plus and puts the reader into the mindset of Beowulf and his crew. The descriptive talent of the author is on display throughout whether it be on land or aboard ship. All in all, another job well done by Mr. May and I look forward to the conclusion in book four, Dayraven. 4.3 stars.