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Edwin: High King of Britain: 1 (The Northumbrian Thrones) Paperback – 21 Mar 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Lion Fiction; 1st New edition (21 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782640339
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782640332
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"Edwin, High King of Britain, brings to life the heroic age of our distant past, a splendid novel that leaves the reader wanting more." -- Bernard Cornwell

"In the first instalment of The Northumbrian Thrones, a new historical fiction series, Albert launches readers into the tumultuous world of 7th century Northumbria. Edwin, the deposed king of the region, forges political alliances, is betrayed, and fights critical battles that form the arc of his rise and fall as High King of Britain. As he ages, he fears for the future of his kingdom, and war has simply become a necessary evil. His shifting worldview leads to conversion to the Christian faith a slow process given special attention by Albert. But it is not a clear path, and sometimes Edwin and his subordinates doubt the validity and the power of the Christian God, as opposed to the pagan deities they have left behind. Albert's focus on the religious element does not detract from the political and dramatic aspects of the history he is portraying. Rather, it lends an extra dimension of psychological turmoil, because characters must deal with the problem of not only individual identity but also the beginnings of a national identity related to religion. Albert's offering is a highly entertaining and refreshing work of historical fiction thanks to his emphasis on the precarious intersection of religion and identity." --Publishers Weekly

"At the dawn of England seven kingdoms struggle for supremacy: but there is more than honour and power at stake; paganism, Christianity and the future shape of the English nation will be decided. A fast-paced and gripping tale of the great Northumbrian King Edwin, reclaiming one of our great national figures from the shadows of history." --Justin Hill - author of 'Shieldwall'

About the Author

Edoardo Albert is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Time Out, History Today and The Daily Telegraph, among other places. His book on the history and archaeology of Northumbria: The Lost Kingdom was published in October 2012 by The History Press. Getting on his bike, he also edited the Time Out Cycle London Guide.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Since reading T18643058he Ecclesiastical History of the English People, a famous work of history by the eighth century monk named Bede as a teenager I have been captivated by Edwin of Northumbria’s story. When I discovered a novel about him published by Lion (a well known-Christian publisher) I snapped it up, and the effort of reading was well worth it.

A novel about Edwin is long overdue, and Mr Albert has written a magnificent one, though I long dreamed about writing one myself and he has beaten me to it.
It is the mark of a good writer indeed that I enjoyed this book so much despite knowing what happened to Edwin already from Bede.The story is bought to life with beautiful deception of a long-departed landscape, and intriguing details revealing a strong sense of period and a familiarity with the culture, customs and beliefs of the early Saxon people.
Warriors, feasting in the hall, listening to a bard singing tales of the gods and heroes of old, bound by promise of gold- and sometimes bonds of loyalty to their lord. Kings, the chief of warriors, givers of gold to the men who stood beside them on the shield-wall- on whose loyalty their very lives and kingdoms may depend.

In was in this world that Edwin rose to High King of Britain, conquering or gaining the fealty of most of the Kings and Kingdoms around him with the strength of the sword, marriage or diplomacy. Yet Edwin does not act entirely out of a desire for glory and fame, but a wish to unite his people. He and his fellows are well-drawn and believable characters, coming to terms with a changing world in which they were in many ways behind.
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By JPS TOP 100 REVIEWER on 30 May 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good piece of historical fiction that tells the adventurous and eventful story of Edwin of Deira, of the House of Yffings, who had to flee for his life and live a dozen years in exile after the murder of his father by his brother-in-law Aethelfrith, who became King of Northumbria and usurped the throne.

As others have mentioned, one of the great qualities of this book is that it is largely faithful to what little we know about the events that took place and most of the characters are historical. For instance, Edwin did seek refuge at the court of King Raedwald of East Anglia, after having been hosted by other Kings, including the King of Gwynedd, and having to flee to another court as Aethelfrith sought to have either murdered on handed over to him by his previous guests.

This time, however, Edwin chooses not to run, and King Raedwald does not betray him. Instead, they stand up against the domination of King Aethelfrith, defeat him and kill him in battle and, as a result, Edwin becomes King of Northumbria in AD 616. He rules until AD 633 when he is in turn defeated and killed in battle.

Most of the main characters that appear in this book are historical, including the Roman missionary Paulinus and the Kentish and Christian princess Aethelburh whom Edwin marries. It is through the influence of these two, and with Edwin’s tolerance and acceptance, that Christianity begins to spread into Northumbria, with the King himself and his followers accepting baptism although whether this was a sincere conversion, a way to hedge his bets, a political ploy, or a bit of all these elements together is unknown.

This is where the fictional elements come in. The events described in the book are historically recorded.
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Format: Paperback
King Edwin is one of the more forgotten characters of Anglo-Saxon history and it's to the credit of the author that he turns this 7th century footnote into a living and breathing character. The story covers him from his period of exile to his conquest of the other kingdoms of Britain and the claiming of the title of High King. In a pleasing contrast to much contemporary historical fiction which is purely interested in warfare, here we get religion, marriage and politics too. Which might sound dull, except that it is all suitably cut-throat and vivdly described. It also manages the rare trick of being unromantic about history whilst conveying the romance that was present; a final stand by a warband evokes a real lump in the throat. It's also particularly good on the transition from paganism to Christianity, without the anachronism which blights so many other books; here it makes sense how heroic German warriors could convert to such an antithetical faith. There's no sex, no violence for its own sake and no cartoon dramatics; with it's light wearing of deep historical knowledge, highly practical characters and adult attitudes it reminded me of the novels of Alfred Duggan. I should disclose that the author provided me with a copy of this book and was very pleasant in our email correspondence. That hasn't affected my review at all though; if the book had been bad I would have said so. As it is, I will be buying the next in the series. Worth reading once or more.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really like this period in our history and I especially like anything about the north east region, so I thought that I'd give this book, the first in a trilogy, a go. I'm really glad that I did. Although it took me a short while to get into the story, the pace picks up and the story just gets better and better as it progresses. The writing style is quite crisp, with well-rounded characters and evocative descriptions of areas.

As is always the case with books set in this period, the names are confusing in several ways; spellings have lots of use of the 'ash' (a combined A and E that is intended to sound like the 'a' in cat) and are also very similar (AEthelburgh, Aethelbert, AEthelfrith, Ethelthryd etc) and, in addition, some names that sound feminine to our ears are, actually, masculine and vice versa. These days, many people talk about 'The Game of Thrones' when wishing to describe political intrigue and, especially, the convoluted family connections arising from inter-marriage and political alliance, but, in fact, the real life convolutions of these royal dynasties surpass anything in fictional works. Keeping straight who's who in this world where one king might apprentice his son to his rival, to try to ensure strong alliances, and where kings might have several wives (but not at the same time), resulting in various offspring, can be confusing. I have no magic solution to these problems but it's worth persevering for a story this good.

One of the best things about this book is that it manages to stick very closely indeed to accurately evidenced historical fact while weaving in only those elements of fiction / imagination required to make the story flow, That authenticity really bolsters this book.
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