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Gods of War: Volume 2 (King's Bane) Paperback – 17 Aug 2016
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We are back with Eofer, King’s Bane and it was genuinely a thrill to get back in the action with him and his warband.
For me what made this book a step up from the first is the bond Eofer has with his men. The connection they have with each other is more developed and believable.
This bond is strengthened throughout the book when Eofer is in need of his men more than ever.
The plot has a lot of meat on the bone as I like to say, lots to get to grips with but not so much that you are bombarded with too much info. If anything it was the sheer amount of action and the fast flowing plot that sucked me in.
The Angles are leaving, headed for what they hope is a better future but while the last of them race to get aboard a ship there’s still the chance of attack.
Eofer’s men have great comradery and some very fun conversations which give some light relief at times from all the heavy action.
Spearhafoc, who you may remember from the first installment is back and her story gets dark and complicated, I really enjoyed it but I do hope that her story isn’t over.
What I really liked about this book is the setting. As there’s not a lot of information known about the events it’s given the author the chance to weave a believable tale at times but also exercise his imagination. I want to say more but I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.
For me this is a complex tale, it's a battle to see which tale is more important, Eofer's tale or the historical tale. There’s a lot crammed in with this one but it all worked for me. Fun, exciting and it’s left me wanting to get on to the next book in the series quickly.
The action is spot on but varied in such away it doesn’t feel repetitive. We are given raids, full on wars, surprise attacks and you just never know where the author will take you next and that made it all the more exciting to read.
There are a few really emotive scenes also which knock the wind from your sails, this gave another edge to Eofer and for me these moment stole the show, I hope the author throws in more moments like this in book 3.
With the threat posed by the Jutes to the north eliminated, an invasion of Danish lands is planned to keep the Danes from interrupting the migration of the Engles. Step forward the fame-bright Eofer, Slayer of the king of Sweden and burner of Heorot, charged by his king to raid the eastern shore of the Danes’ territory to draw off Danish warriors from the English invasion in the west.
Loved by Woden, Eofer may be, it must be remembered that the All-Father is fickle and has unpleasant surprises up his sleeve for all; whether they are foreign kings, or a favoured Eorle and his loyal hearth troop. After all - Wyrd bið ful aræd – Fate remains wholly inexorable.
Once again CR May delivers, bringing the heroic world of Dark Age Northern Europe to life in his savage and glorious style. So take your place on the oarbenchs of the Hwælspere and brave the seas and swords of your enemies with Eofer; you won’t be disappointed.
This book is therefore mainly about the raids and campaigns that will ensure that the Danes are neutralised, even if left facing a half-deserted peninsula into which they will be able to expand. Expect lots of lighting raids, surprise attacks, marching and fighting, as the Angles deceive the Danes and their new murderous King and run circles around them.
The story is rather well told and the author displays his usual attention to detail and to recreating life and warfare in the North. Some events, in particular the rather miraculous rescue of Eofer from certain death, are a bit far-fetched and perhaps somewhat hard to find plausible. Nevertheless, the book is an exciting one to read and Eofer, with a rather interesting mix of outer strength and inner doubts, is a more complex and original character than most of those I have come across in other Dark Ages novels.
Another interesting piece is the migration itself. We know just about nothing about it and this of course gives the author lots of possibilities for weaving his plot. Here, the choice made is to show the bulk of the Angles finally joining, after much effort and hardship, pre-existing and vassal Angle settlements in what is now Norfolk and Suffolk. They will likely attempt to expand towards the North and West at the expense of the disunited Briton Kingdoms in the next (and last?) episode.
One of the valuable points that I expect to find will be to discover how the author continues to present the slow conquest of former Britannia in general, and East Anglia and Mercia in particular, by the Angles and Cerdic’s Saxons which Eofred already befriended in the first volume. I am looking forward to reading about this conquest but seen from the side of the conquerors for once, as opposed to the numerous and ever growing number of books about or around Arthur and the slow loss of Britannia.
Four strong stars.