Review: Edwin; High King of Britain by Edoardo Albert

My TBR list grew exponentially last year without me much whittling it down. With everything going on I had loads of time but little inclination to read, and actually writing anything was hellish. Then along came Edoardo Albert’s ‘Edwin’ and a stunning series set during the Heptarchy that I devoured, and it really shook me out of my miasma. Twitter isn’t always a hive of scum and villainy, sometimes you can find great books and writers on there too…

Edwin is the first book in the series and details the life of the historical Edwin of Northumbria. Now, this is a period I know; I have read my Bede, and it’s no secret I am a big fan of Matt Harffy’s Beobrand series, but after the first few pages I relaxed, confident that I was in the hands of an outstanding storyteller and accomplished historian. Albert’s descriptive prose is wonderfully evocative and his dialogue fast and believable, and you quickly become immersed into the world he reveals.

The novel opens with our protagonist Edwin an exile in East Anglia with a price on his head, and follows his rise to reclaim his throne in Northumbria and ultimately take the title of Bretwalda – High King of the English. There are some wonderful scenes as the story unfolds that firmly root the story in its historical setting. The clash of religion in a world where Christianity is a minority cult comes across very well. Christianity does not have the all encompassing authority of later centuries and there are no anachronistic values on display here. However, it is in the battle scenes where Albert really excels. The armour and weapons, tactics and abilities of seventh century Britain’s warrior world are spot on, and the action is brutal and bloody but never gratuitous. The whole series really rattles along at breathless pace.

When I finished Edwin, I downloaded the final two books in the trilogy: Oswald and Oswiu and finished them a week. They are all fantastic. I can recommend Northumbrian Thrones series to anyone who loves a well researched and thrilling piece of historical fiction.

Next up A Time for Swords by Matthew Harffy; a brilliant return for one of my favourite writers.

Buy the Northumbrian crowns series on Amazon

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