Monday, June 16, 2014

Edwin: High King of Britain (The Northumbrian Thrones 1) by Edoardo Albert

ISBN-13: 978-1782640332
Lion Fiction/Kregel Publishing
About the book: Edwin, the deposed king of Northumbria, seeks refuge at the court of King Raedwald of East Anglia. But Raedwald is urged to kill his guest by Aethelfrith, Edwin's usurper. As Edwin walks by the shore, alone and at bay, he is confronted by a mysterious figure - the missionary Paulinus - who prophesies that he will become High King of Britain. It is a turning point. Through battles and astute political alliances Edwin rises to great power, in the process marrying the Kentish princess Aethelburh. As part of the marriage contract the princess is allowed to retain her Christian faith. But, in these times, to be a king is not a recipe for a long life ...This turbulent and tormented period in British history sees the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon settlers who have forced their way on to British shores over previous centuries, arriving first to pillage, then to farm and trade - and to come to terms with the faith of the Celtic tribes they have driven out.

My thoughts: I enjoy reading books based on real history and written with historical authority.  Edwin High King of Britain is authored by Edoardo Albert who has taken the early history of England (Britain) in the 6th century as recorded by historian Bede, who lived during the period and is accepted as authority in his writing, and fleshed it out to give us Edwin, the first High King of Britain.

When I agreed to read Edwin, I did so with some feelings of fear that I would not enjoy it. Frankly, I do not like reading about this period as much as later periods of history. I was very pleasantly surprised at the readability and feeling of the author holding faithful to the actual recorded history in his story. I found the story interesting and it gave me some insight, albeit fictional, into the early history of my own people.

The time is after the conquest of the Roman Empire in the land that is now England, Ireland, and Scotland and after the Romans had left. It is 625 A.D. This is the story of uniting the people to form a nation.The inhabitants are pagan in religion and clannish with individual kings for each group. The area has been settled by the Germanic people, the original Britians, and invaders from the North.  Edwin is an actual person recorded in the Ecclesiastical History the English People by Bede. The story opens with Edwin in exile and out wandering when he is approached by a mysterious stranger who predicts that Edwin will be a ruler.

This was a barbaric land and people, and the story portrays this well. It was also a good portrayal of the beliefs about the hereafter that these early people held as well as that of their many gods. The introduction to Christianity by the new wife of Edwin who brought with her a Roman Catholic priest, Paulinus, is interesting. A blending of the barbaric warring and piety made for a different and interesting read.

While based on the history of Bede, the reader must keep in mind that this is not a record of what took place. It is, in fact, a novel and should be read as such. I enjoyed the book and will recommend it to those who enjoy reading fiction based on this time period.

I've always enjoyed a bit of history, so here is a bit about Northumbrian, Bamburg Castle History which includes information about Edwin.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Edwin: High King of Britain from Kregel Publishing in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

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