Children's fiction has become more realistic and darker these days but I am sure there is still room for simple escapist adventure of this type.
The plot follows the adventures of a Saxon lad who is sent for help to the King of Mercia shortly before his home town of Bedanford (Bedford) is destroyed by Vikings. Fatherless he grows up in the Mercian court training to be a warrior. Then he is sent on a mission to Witancaester (Winchester) and subsequently sent to spy on the Danes in Grantabrycge (Cambridge). Throughout the placenames are written in the old Saxon; the book benefits from a lot of research which supports but never intrudes on the story.
The plot device by which the adventuring boy spies escaped their hostile escort was audacious to say the least.
The ending is abrupt but it promises a sequel.
There were some brilliant lines:
- "The land of dreams and dragons" (Chapter 3)
- "With this sun you'll leak sweat like an old leather bucket" (Chapter 4)
- "The solid stone of sadness that seemed to be lodged somewhere in the middle of my body." (Chapter 7)
- He "drank his ale as if the supplies were about to fail" (Chapter 17)
- "The shadows started to creep out from behind the trees" (Chapter 19)
Great fun. June 2017. Kindle.