This is the second in a series of historical novels set in early dark age Northumbria, just before the formation of that kingdom. The first book covered the period of the battle of Catraeth, an Anglo-Saxon victory over the northern British. This book takes us on to the battle of Degsastan, a major victory for the soon-to-be Northumbrians.
Our hero from the first book, Cerdic, desires to live in peace but is endlessly dragged into public events that force him to criss-cross the north of England and southern Scotland, as the king of Bernicia and Cerdic's half-brother plot to eliminate their rivals. As in the first book there is an excellent feel for the period, and it is refreshing to see this period from the point of view of the early English, rather than from that of the beleaguered Britons.
This is an entertaining read, and a plausible recreation of a very poorly documented period. The neighbouring English kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira were soon to merge to form Northumbria, and Denning has created a convincing version of that process involving ambitious kings and double dealing, all based around the few facts that we have.
Author: Richard Denning
Publisher: Mercia Books