Monday, September 21, 2015

Oswald: Return of the King By: Edoardo Albert [Historical fiction amid Dark-Ages Britain]

ISBN: 9781782641162
$14.99 Paperback
Lion Fiction
About the book: The second book in The Northumbrian Thrones series follows the young prince Oswald as he seeks to regain the throne taken from his family by Edwin.

The exiled family of King Æthelfrith of Northumbria arrive, after much hardship, on the island of Iona, where the monastery founded by St Columba has become a center of worship and learning. Amid the violence and turbulence of Dark-Ages Britain, the island appears a sanctuary to the hunted princes and Oswald, having become firm friends with a novice named Aidan, enters the church along with his younger brother, Oswiu.

My thoughts: I read the first book in this series, Edwin High King of Britain, and you can read my review by clicking here. In  Oswald Return of the King Edoardo Albert writes about the early shaping of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. The land was peopled by clans and kingdoms constantly contending through conspiracies and war to maintain control. Families of high rank called forth loyal men to follow them into war to claim or reclaim lands previously belonging to their own kings or lords.

Oswald, eldest son of a deposed and slain king, wants to remain on the Holy Island as a monk spending his time in prayer, worship, and quiet but the Abbot of the monastery sees the need for Oswald to claim his right to be king because in doing so, Oswald will have the opportunity to bring Christianity to the pagans. So Oswald and his younger brother Oswiu leave the Holy Island and begin to rally their army to go forth and claim his kingdom. The book is subtitled Return of the King.

The entire story is moving toward the goal of Oswald and his kingdom. As it unfolds, the author's writing skill and strong knowledge of history is evident. While it is difficult to follow the roaming of the characters and to grasp their strange names, it is none-the-less a good read and pleasant. The subtle humor in spots and the turn of a phrase that brings speech authenticity to the characters makes the story enjoyable.

This was a brutish, pagan, harsh people to whom death and war were close companions. The world is termed "middle earth" by the people as it is between heaven and hell (or the lower regions).  The religious beliefs flux between whatever god the religious leader (each clan called their religious leader by a different term) claimed was favoring them at the time.

Edoardo Albert has given us another look into what life was probably like in the mid-600s AD.  The land area had been settled as far back as memory allowed and long before the Romans arrived or before Christianity arrived.  The characters in the story mention large stones from the old people who were giants (Stonehenge?) and of the large wall (Hadrian's Wall?) from the "time before."
Bamburg Castle in Northumberland, England
Of note, the cover features a stylized raven. The raven plays a major role in the story. There is a raven that is a "pet" of Oswald's. For a raven to "friend" a king, it bespeaks special powers for that king. The people are very superstitious and believe that raven's foretell what is to come.  And of course, the ever present dead on the battlefields being ravished by ravens.

A good read. There are bits of information online that the interested reader can pursue:

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Kregel to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.

1 comment:

  1. This is a hard time period in history for me to connect with. I may have to give this series a go. Thanks for linking up at Booknificent Thursday at!


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