Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Wolf Banner - Sons of the Wolf Book II - Paula Lofting ~ Preorder now!

"1056...England lurches towards war as the rebellious Lord Alfgar plots against the indolent, King Edward. Sussex thegn, Wulfhere of Horstede, must defy both his lord, Harold Godwinson, the Earl of Wessex, and his bitter enemy, Helghi of Gorde, to protect his beloved daughter. "

I was offered an ARC of this fine book by the author and have been reading it avidly. It was complex, involved and needed careful reading - and so very enjoyable. Paula Lofting is a fine historian and the events are true to what we know of them. With little to go on from either version of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle or Annales Cambriae , the author needed to tell the events of 1058 and Alfgar and did so in fine fashion.

My own favorite family, which was Harold Godwinson's provided my most enjoyable parts of the novel. Wulfhere's family is not going to win any awards for cohesiveness, nor is Alfgar's except for his mother, Godgifu ( Lady Godiva).

The book is put together in an unique way with alternating vignettes, consisting of 2-3 chapters, woven together to depict one time period. This "Crisis of 1058" started with Alfgar being expelled as Earl of Mercia, and King Edward's court and the Godwinsons' efforts to keep him away from Mercia and East Anglia. The vignettes or threads of stories involve the main characters just discussed: Wulfhere,Burghred, Alfgar and Harold ( and the King)

Alfgar married his daughter "Aldith" to Gruffudd, King of Wales and became estranged from his son Burghred. Both father and son would be dead in a few short years although not in one of the hair raising battle scenes which are vividly described. Aldith, we know marries Harold who ascends to Edward's throne, some of that for another outing we may hope?

Recommended to all who like this period of history and this group of characters. One of my very favorite era's and very well executed

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Vita Brevis ~Ruth Downie - An Awesome Read

I was very excited to get an ARC of this book from Bloomsbury. Thanks Sarah! It was delightful and I am so hoping that more are planned. I love the era and this series best exemplifies Roman Britain, or so I believe. Ruth Downie's great author's notes tell what little is known about Britain at this time, as well as the wealth of information about Rome in the same period She does it so very well!

What really works for me is the balancing act between accurate period detail and the extraordinarily vital character development. No amount of adequate historical knowledge can make that happen in my opinion. My very favorite of the several series that are in print about this time and place.

I was happy to meet up with Ruso and his wife Tilla and their baby Mara in Rome. Ruso, Medicus for a Roman Legion and a native of Gaul and Tilla his wife, a former slave from a Northern Celtic tribe in Britain have been given a marvelously rich "give and take" relationship in this series. 

They and their comtemporaries are lively, and the dialogue is never flippant or stilted but flows easily. One can easily imagine them in Roman Britain or any other period of time.

So who was the man in the barrel and what might he have had to do with the complicated political landscape Ruso finds himself in there in Rome? Tilla, described as a "magnificent woman" by a colleague of the Medicus from the Roman Legion, is level headed and can roll with the punches even better than those surrounding her.

A favorite line in this book is "The magnificent lady was bearing down on them, carrying the three-toothed daughter who might or might not have called him 'Pa' this morning."

To have a similar reading experience, may I suggest strongly that you purchase the whole series at once ? This 5 Star rated book is now out in kindle. Get your copy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Faithful Traitor - The Story of Margaret Pole - Magnificent and Moving

 A magnificent and moving book that appealed to me on many dimensions. I had previously read about Margaret of York in books about the era and one book just about her. I feel this one is very important as it illustrates her life a bit differently which is necessary to understand the history of that time.

An important dimension, in my estimation is how she looks back at her life trying to make sense of events, and her own, as well as God's, participation in it. I am a similar age and think that is a very astute angle for the writer to have pursued. 

In that same type of thought, how Margaret's relationship is with her children made me think in context my own four, each one having a unique place in the family. The difference, of course is her ingrained view of what it means to be a peer of them realm, and related to the King and his parents.This family had a long and convoluted history of attacking their cousins and anyone who threatened them.

How different might Margaret's life had been if her mother had lived, had her father not been executed by his brother and had Richard Pole who had stabilized her life not died? The events of her childhood alone were horribly traumatic and left little room for coping skills. 

God and her Catholic faith were indeed what she depended on, as did her quite religious children, or at least some of them.

A very fine treatment of a family matriarch who was both progenitor and descendant of the ruling class of this era. 5 Stars ~ I am off to the Elizabeth of York book by Samantha Wilcoxson to take to the beach with me..