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.
Another great story by Matthew Harffy! If you have read the first two books in the Bernicia Chronicles, you already know that this one is going to be packed with action, perfectly described battle scenes, and the sort of bantering that only takes place between men who risk their lives together. What makes this series stand out is that all that testosterone is balanced by Beobrand's deeper search for love and meaning in his life. His character continues to develop in this story as he serves King Oswald.
When we first met Beobrand in The Serpent Sword, he was young and impetuous, full of righteous indignation, and attempting to discover if he could be a better man than his father had been. Some of that struggle continues, but he has also been through much of the refining fire of life that has formed him into a man who others depend on despite his youth. He is still impetuous, and to some extent still trying to figure out what the future, or the gods, or the One True God, have in store for him. Whatever it is, he will face it head-on with sword in hand.
Besides the ongoing battles for supremacy in the land that would become England, Beobrand has personal demons that make him a more complex character than what one typically finds in this type of story. He misses his wife, isn't sure what to do with his infant son, and has feelings for a woman that leave him feeling confused and guilty. If I have any criticism of this wonderful novel, it would be that I would have loved to see Beobrand with his son more and Reaghan less. It struck me as odd that little Octa, Beobrand's only remaining link to Sunniva, was rarely on his mind, while the girl he barely knew rarely left it. Yet, this is a minor point an is only my personal opinion.
What makes this book - this entire series - amazing is that Harffy transports the reader into the 7th century. The lifestyles, the beliefs, the struggles, the raw reality of it. The reader may not always find themselves agreeing with Beobrand, but they will always be cheering for him.