An entertaining tale that puts the reader in the midst of an attempt to claim the kingship of Alba. Finlay was once the principal heir of Malcolm II, but was pushed aside for the scheming Duncan. The ensuing struggle is played out on many levels; not just the political angle, but also on cultural and even personal levels. The author has imbued the story with a bounty of great characters who bring out the sense and feel of 11th century Scotland. Along with the intrigue and chaos there is also the story of two people struggling to reconcile their duties as noble born with their past, and with the love growing between them. Indeed, dear reader, you will be thoroughly engrossed in this tale of Alba. 4 stars
Imagine that you’re a young King, a Christian one, in a time and place where the old gods still hold sway over your subjects and your allies…allies and subjects that you desperately need to not only strengthen your hold but to even survive. Hakon faces many challenges to his rule and to his chosen religion and during the course of this tale, seems to do all the wrong things to meet those challenges. An entertaining story of a man facing an increasingly impossible situation…a tale of courage and steadfastness … a tale of intrigue and danger… a tale of unwavering belief. Immerse yourself in a time and place of great deeds and even greater changes. 4.3 stars
The Engeln have now settled on the isle of Britannia and are intent on staying, and will fight to maintain and expand their territory and culture. The people of Powys are not too happy with this and are intent on driving the invaders out as they expand their own reach. A clash is inevitable and the author is on top of his game in this tale of that confrontation. Great characters, wonderful verbal byplay, thrilling action and an insightful look into Dark Age Britain make this book hard to put down. A good tale needs to be able to surprise the reader on occasion and The Scathing certainly fulfills that requirement. In fact, it is the surprise element that has me looking forward to the continuation of this series. 4.7 stars and The Hoover Book Review’s prestigious “You Just Blew Me Away” award. 🙂
An interesting tale of the first Christian King in Norway, Hakon, a son of King Harald. Sent to England as a young boy to be fostered by King Aethelstan, he is weened off the old gods and when he returns to claim his kingdom, he comes as a baptized and committed Christian. As you can well imagine that presents some challenges as Hakon strives to garner support for his rise to power. The author’s depiction of the young, naive and certainly impetuous Hakon, who is thrust into the mayhem of war and the strictures of the old gods, is well done. The story flows nicely and gives the reader a chance to experience life in a time and place that is full of conflict; not only for the throne but also the clash between Odin and the White Christ. Old ways die hard and that is certainly the case in this intriguing story; one that will continue in book 2, Raven’s Feast. 4.3 stars
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