I really enjoyed Severin's Viking trilogy a few years ago, so when I saw this the first in a series seemingly about Saxons I jumped in. Only to find it really isn't about the saxons at all. Well it's about one of them, who within the first few pages finds himself in Charlemagne's Frankia! Bothered? No not really because it was a cracking little book!
What I like about Severin is he writes with a warmth and wit, and he is a writer first rather than a historian 'having a bash' so it's a seamless and relaxed read with no jarring, wincing or groaning.
Severin also knows how to steer a clear path around cliche. The story moves smoothley but quickly with constant scene changing so there was no 11.30pm waking up with a jolt to find the book still in front of me and the bedside light still on or reading the same paragraph 20 times. I love the way Severin portrays people and dialogue, it feels real and engages me. He tells a 'romp' rather than an all action war book. So readers buying what they think is a Saxon 'ala Uthred' type story may be disapointed but I wasn't.
Vague non spoiling plot synopsis for those who want one.
Sigwulf, a young Saxon finds himself despatched to the court of Charlemagne with his slave Osric. There he befriends that hero of french poetry Hroudland (Roland), becomes the lover of a princess and interprator of royal dreams. He has enemies too and is stalked by a would be assassin. What follows is adventures on the royal hunt, on the road and in Saracen held Hispania and the encountering of a rich cast of characters.
In summary, exciting, witty, and occasionally moving. Count me in for book 2.