Saturday 17 August 2019

Book Review — The Warrior With The Pierced Heart: The Shadow of the Raven: Book 2 by Chris Bishop #HistoricalFiction #AngloSaxon @CBishop_author

The Warrior With The Pierced Heart
The Shadow of the Raven: Book 2
By Chris Bishop

In the second book in the exciting and atmospheric Shadow of the Raven series we rejoin novice monk turned warrior, Matthew as he marches ahead of King Alfred, to Exeter to herald the King's triumphant return to the city, marking his great victory at Edington.
It should have been a journey of just five or perhaps six days but, as Matthew is to find to his cost, in life the road you're given to travel is seldom what you wish for and never what you expect.

In this much-anticipated sequel Chris Bishop again deposits the reader slap-bang into the middle of Saxon Britain, where battles rage and life is cheap. An early confrontation leaves Matthew wounded, but found and tended by a woodland-dwelling healer he survives, albeit with the warning that the damage to his heart will eventually take his life.

Matthew faces many challenges as he battles to make his way back to Chippenham to be reunited with King Alfred and also with the woman he wants to make his wife. This is an epic tale of triumph over adversity as we will the warrior with the pierced heart to make it back to those he loves, before it is too late.

“In life the road you’re given to travel is seldom what you wish for — and never what you expect…”

Matthew was tasked with riding on ahead of King Alfred’s army to announce his imminent arrival in Exeter. Matthew knew the risks of going through the forest, but speed was of the utmost importance, and therefore, the risk, he considered, was worth taking.

But as Matthew lies on the forest floor, with an arrow in his heart, he knows that not only did he make a mistake, but that he will never see Exeter yet alone King Alfred again. There is nothing left for him to do except listen to the desperate battle and the cries of his men as they succumbed to a Viking ambush. He can only pray that the Vikings will allow him to die quickly. However, the Vikings take delight in misery, and they are not known for their mercy.

As bleak as it might be, God, fate, whatever you want to call it, has not finished with Matthew yet. Nursed back to health by a Celtic healer, Matthew must confront an even bigger challenge, one in which new friendships will be forged, and enemies faced.

Will the Warrior With The Pierced Heart, be victorious, or will his enemies vanquish him, once and for all?

Brutal beginnings can only lead to unmerciful ends, and there are those aplenty in The Warrior With The Pierced Heart: The Shadow of the Raven Book #2 by Chris Bishop. This book is not for the faint-hearted. Bishop throws his readers straight back into the action, and the story begins with a slaughter. This fast-paced narrative continues throughout the course of this book. There is hardly a moment to catch one’s breath as the story continues to pick up momentum. The more I read, the more immersed I became in the story and the characters that graced the pages.

Like before, in Book 1 of The Shadow of the Raven, I simply adored Matthew. He has grown spiritually as well as worldly. Matthew has tasted defeat. He has danced with death, and yet through it all, his still-beating heart dares to hope. Matthew is a protagonist that readers can really get behind. He is not only brave and honourable, but he also makes mistakes, and I think that is what makes him so appealing. Matthew finds himself fighting for not only his own life but for those around him. He is appalled by the atrocities he witnesses, and he desperately desires to help, even when there is nothing he can do. Matthew is a character who is continuously conflicted. The things he has done, the things he has seen leave their mark, which I thought made him very human in the telling.

Bishop has introduced several new characters into the story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Aelred and Brother Benedict as they try to help Matthew on his journey.

The antagonists are once again the Vikings, in particular, some slavers, who are vile and cruel, but they are not the only ones. The people who Matthew fought at Edington to protect, turn their back on him because of superstition. He has come back from the dead and therefore must be in league with the Devil. This, I thought, was wonderfully insightful. Christianity was the religion of King Alfred and therefore his people, but the religion of their forefathers still had a hold on them, and this made things far more difficult for Matthew than they needed to be, and it makes absolute sense for Bishop to have written these scenes this way.

The breathtaking historical accuracy of this book has to be commended.  Reading The Warrior With The Pierced Heart was like stepping through time. I found myself in this foreign yet strangely familiar world that we call The Dark Ages. I thought the Dark Ages was masterfully portrayed and as historically accurate as the surviving sources allow it to be.

Not only does Bishop excel at writing vivid battle scenes, but he also demonstrates the hardship of everyday life and how dangerous it was to live during this time. If you like your fiction battle-heavy, then The Shadow of the Raven series would undoubtedly appeal.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
The Warrior with a Pierced Heart

Chris Bishop

Chris Bishop was born in London in 1951.  After a successful career as a Chartered Surveyor, he retired to concentrate on writing, combining this with his lifelong interest in history.  His first Novel, Blood and Destiny, was published in 2017 and his second, The Warrior with the Pierced Heart was released in July 2018.  Both form part of a series entitled The Shadow of the Raven.

Chris is a member of the Historical Writers’ Association as well as the Historical Novel Society.

Connect with Chris: Website • Blog • Twitter • Goodreads.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx