Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
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This skillfully constructed story resurrects Edwin, High King of Britain, from the 7th century. The reader is introduced to Edwin in a seemingly impossible situation. He is in exile at the court of a supposed friend when he learns that his life has been sold to the man who already stole his kingdom.
From this inauspicious beginning, Edwin goes on to reclaim his kingdom of Northumbria and become High King of all the English kings. This idea of a high king is one that most of those around him don't completely understand, but Edwin realizes that Britain must be united to survive. Once his place is secure, he finds a bride who brings with her a Roman priest. This leads to the biggest dilemma of Edwin's life. When he decides whether or not to accept this new God in favor of the old gods, he decides for an entire nation.
Though this novel tells the story of Edwin's entire reign, the focus is on his conversion to Christianity. Many conversations take place between Edwin and the priest, Paulinus, which may disappoint some readers who were expecting more in terms of battle and gore.
Not that violence is in short supply. He may become a Christian, but Edwin is first and foremost a warrior, who does not back away, even from impossible odds. This novel turns into an odd combination of blood and piety, which I suppose is fitting for the time and the king that it is written about.
A well-researched novel that successfully brings to life and gives personality to those long dead, I recommend "Edwin: High King of Britain" to anyone who is interested in learning more about this man, who in many ways was ahead of his time.
I received this novel from NetGalley in return for an honest review.