I like history. In school it was one of my favorite subjects- even when I had to read it out of a dry textbook. As my children have grown and we have been in the thick of homeschooling, I've learned that accounts of history don't have to come from dry and dusty textbooks. They can come from rich, full living books that are true history but that read like a novel. Edwin: High King of Britain was one of the latter.
I was intrigued from the moment that I read the book's description:
"In 604 AD, Edwin, the deposed king of Northumbria, seeks refuge at the court of King Raedwald of East Anglia. But Raedwald is urged to kill his guest by Aethelfrith, Edwin's usurper. As Edwin walks by the shore, alone and at bay, he is confronted by a mysterious figure--ÂÂthe missionary Paulinus--who prophesies that he will become High King of Britain. It is a turning point.
Through battles and astute political alliances Edwin rises to power, in the process marrying the Kentish princess Aethelburh. As part of the marriage contract the princess is allowed to retain her Christian faith. But, in these times, to be a king is not a recipe for a long life.
This turbulent and tormented period in British history sees the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon settlers who have forced their way on to British shores over previous centuries, arriving first to pillage, then to farm and trade--and to come to terms with the faith of the Celtic tribes they have driven out.
The dramatic story of Northumbria's Christian kings helped give birth to England as a nation, English as a language, and the adoption of Christianity as the faith of the English."
The kids and I studied the Middle Ages in our school this year. So I was especially interested in this account that took place during this historical time.
The glossary, map and cast of characters in the front of the book help the reader keep straight the information. The pronunciation guide made me feel as if I were at least close to saying the unfamiliar names correctly in my head.
The story jumps in to the midst of Edwin's life rather abruptly, so it took me a little while to catch up. At first I thought that I might not like the book so much because of this, and I anticipated that it might be difficult to follow. I didn't need to worry, however. Within a short while I was caught up and found the story easy to follow.
The book is as historically accurate as the author could make it- given the time period. (There's more information about that at the book's end.) But it also reads like a great novel, building connections between the reader and the characters, relating the story in such a way that you can't wait to find out what happens next.
Only this year as the kids and I were studying, had I really considered the growth of Christianity and its spread into the pagan British lands. Edwin: High King of Britain deals much with this as Edwin is brought to the consideration of this "new religion" by his new, young wife and by the events that surround him.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I see that it's the first in the Northumbrian Thrones series, so I plan to look for the others as they are available.
I give this one 5 stars and a PG13 for content. (The times are bloody and violent.)
***During the week of the blog tour, Edwin: High King of Britain can be purchased at the reduced price of $1.99 for an ebook. See the details here.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.