Top positive review
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A well-crafted historical novel
on 17 June 2017
Many historical novels I have read fall into one of two traps: Either they try and keep strictly to historical "facts" (or what their authors assume as such) and make for reading that is about as exiting as an undergraduate course book, or they descend into full-blown fantasy about a very romanticized version of the past. Not so this novel. The author, an accomplished academic, too, keeps the main facts straight and paints a convincing picture of the period after King Alfred's death, not glossing over the harsh realities with many people finding early, not always peaceful, deaths.
I particularly liked the angle the author chose. Most novels about the period focus on the Vikings as victorious, masculine heroes, and usually the main protagonist is a historical person. By chosing West Saxons and Mercians, Whitworth manages to show what the Viking Age must have felt like if you ended up on the "losers' side". Picking an "average", not even particularly heroic person as her main character enables her to portray daily life very well.
The background seems thoroughly researched, and I liked the detailed explanation of some terms.
And, most importantly, I really enjoyed the story. It was exciting, fast-paced and made me spend every free minute reading. I'm now looking forward to starting the second volume, and I can absolutely recommend this for anybody who has an interest in the period or generally enjoys a well-crafted historical novel.