Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.
You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.
Oswald: Return of the King is the second book in Edoardo Albert's planned Northumbrian Thrones trilogy. The first book, Edwin: High King of Britain, demonstrated how early Christianity and kingship came together for Edwin to win greater territories and followers than those who had come before him. Oswald is the nephew of Edwin encouraged to take up the kingship after Edwin's fall.
Though it is subtitled Return of the King, Oswald takes his time claiming his uncle's throne and never seems much to want it. The people seem to accept his claim quite easily for one who has been in exile throughout the former king's reign, and the politics were not as clearly examined as in the first book of this series. The only one not prepared to clear the way for Oswald is Penda of Mercia, who had killed Edwin. Unfortunately, Oswald doesn't seem any better equipped to handle the Mercian warmaster made king than his predecessor.
Oswald longs to be a monk rather than a king and is probably better suited to that life. His devotion to God and desire to see the best in people leaves him open for betrayal and disappointment. Though this is an era of history that I am not as familiar with, I had no trouble seeing how Oswald's end was going to come about long before it occurred. Still, I enjoyed his character and only wish that he could have seen other people's motivations more clearly.
The author has taken a scantly documented reign and fleshed it out quite nicely with personalities and events that fit known facts very well. The clashing of pagan and Christian beliefs continues to be a significant story element, as it was in Edwin's story and as I'm sure it truly was in the 7th century battle for supremacy. I look forward to the final book which will pick up with Oswiu, who becomes king after Oswald's death.
I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions stated are my own.