Review: Wolf of Wessex by Matthew Harffy

I was a little bit nervous about this new book from Matt Harffy. It’s no secret I adore his series of books set in the Heptarchy, and his monumental character Beobrand of Bebbanburg. What if I didn’t like the new series… Matt is a nice guy and great to have a pint with, and there was a genuine fear I wouldn’t enjoy his new book.

That fear proved wonderfully unfounded.

It is 838 AD and Dunstan is a middle aged loner living in the woods with a secret past. He stumbles across a brutal murder and his hound Odin (I loved Odin) finds the victim’s daughter Aedwen. From that point Dunstan and the young girl are thrust into an adventure as the old man must use all his hunting skills to keep her alive and both get to safety. Dunstan is delightfully miserable at the whole situation, claiming he wants only to go home but growing slowly through the book into the man he was (and I think secretly enjoying himself).It is his basic decency that makes it impossible to turn his back on the girl.

We are taken on a ride through Ninth Century Wessex that has some delightful vignettes of pre-conquest life, as well as some humour to counterbalance the darkness and brutality. There are Vikings and Cornish and danger at every turn, and action galore. One of Harffy’s great strengths is his ability to depict brutal bloody battle and violence. Even so, it is Dunstan’s character (like Beobrand) that is so delightful in Wolf of Wessex. I adore the way this is an older man looking back, rather than following the 17 year old Beobrand through his victories. Obviously the idea of an old man’s secret past is going to appeal to me given my Blandford books. There is also more than a hint of David Gemmell’s Waylander in Dunstan’s story which is never a bad thing. Gemmell was, in my opinion, the absolute King of heroic fiction be that historical or fantasy, and Matthew Harffy is rapidly proving that he is the heir to Gemmell’s crown.

Wolf of Wessex is available on Amazon and all other good retailers.

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