Monday 16 December 2019

#BookReview — Bright Blade (The Byrhtnoth Chronicles, Book #3) by Christine Hancock #HistoricalFiction

Bright Blade:
(The Byrhtnoth Chronicles, Book #3)
By Christine Hancock

Byrhtnoth thinks only of killing the man who stole his sword and wounded his wife. But the blade of revenge can strike both ways.
Erik Bloodaxe has broken his oath and claimed the throne of York. In his anger, King Eadred sends his army to ravage Northumbria.

Sent north with the ships, Byrhtnoth suffers storms at sea and fire on land.After an encounter with an old enemy he is left broken, in mind and body.

Can Byrhtnoth survive until help arrives?

Will he ever fight again?

"Does the king think that by laying waste to the country, he will make peace? He can't kill everyone in Northumbria..."

Who says he cannot?

King Eadred is determined to bring Northumbria back to heel, and most of his earls were in favour of war. For Thegn Byrhtnoth, his first duty would always be to his king, and Lord Athelstan. Which means that even though Byrhtnoth had no desire to fight in King Eadred's war with the North, he has no choice but to obey. Byrhtnoth's search for his father and his vow to avenge his wife against the man who had used her so terribly would have to wait — for now, at least. 

By order of the King, Byrhtnoth finds himself in Devon and overseeing the repairing and the preparation of a small fleet of ships that had long since been abandoned by the sailors who grew tired of waiting for the money owed to them by King Eadred. To get these ships ready in time is an enormous undertaking, but with wit and coin, Byrhtnoth is determined to have the boats as prepared as they can be on such short notice.

Yet, this war, when it comes, would be unlike anything Byrhtnoth had ever witnessed. This is a war on the people of the North, not just her army and her king. Such a war can only bring out the very worst in men. While Byrhtnoth tries to bring order to the chaos, and stop his men from murdering and raping indiscriminately, he is naively unaware that his old enemy, Egbert, is closing in on him.

Only time will tell if Byrhtnoth will ever see his wife and his beloved Essex again.

From doubts of a king's fitness to rule, to the burning of the monastery at Ripon, and a fight against time to save a man's life, Bright Blade (The Byrhtnoth Chronicles, Book #3) by Christine Hancock is the memorable story of Thegn Byrhtnoth as he tries to balance the want of his king with his own desire for revenge.

Bright Blade is the impressively dramatic account of King Eadred's wrath on the North, seen through the eyes of a young Thegn. Hancock immerses her readers in the turbulent world that was the 10th Century. This was a time when loyalties were sorely tested, and war left a bitter taste in the mouth as well as blood on the ground. Hancock has masterfully brought this world back to life.

We experience the preparation, the raids and the war on the North through Byrhtnoth’s eyes. Byrhtnoth has a sharp intelligence and such a loving heart, which made his character utterly irresistible. Here is a hero that a reader can really get behind, and get behind him I did. He is a man of deep morals and one that I enjoyed reading about very much. As a historical character, Byrhtnoth is quite challenging to pin down, but I thought Hancock did an excellent job of bringing this little known 10th-century Saxon Ealdorman back to life.

As before with Book #2, I adored the characterisation of Saewynn. Saewynn was subjected to terrible abuse in Book #2, and in Bright Blade, we see the consequences of this abuse. Her bravery, her courage, and her determination to face her fears, made for an unforgettable read. Her narrative, particularly in the latter half of this book, really drove the story forward and made this book unputdownable.

Throughout this novel is a thinly concealed menace that means neither Byrhtnoth nor Saewynn can ever feel completely at ease. Egbert is as vile in this book as he was in the last one. His desire to harm both Byrhtnoth and Saewynn is an ever-present threat. He really is an utterly despicable character. But, Hancock lets her readers glimpse into the reason why he behaves how he does. It, in no way, excuses him, but Hancock has given her readers a little insight into what is going on in his mind.

Hancock pays meticulous attention to the historical detail while having a keen eye on what makes for an entertaining read. In particular, Hancock's depiction of the preparation, sailing, and the battles on the ships was incredibly realistic in the telling. These scenes, especially, were written with a great deal of imagination and energy. Hancock has an intuitive understanding of what makes history worth reading, and she has shined a light into this somewhat dark period in British history.

Hancock writes with both grace and authority, and although Bright Blade is book #3 in this series, it stands very firmly on its own two feet. The impressive narrative is not only enthralling, but it is also unashamedly compelling. I was utterly enchanted with the story from start to finish. There was nothing about this book that I did not like. It is an immensely readable tale and a very enjoyable one as well.

If you are looking for your next great historical fiction novel series set in the Dark Ages, then look no further than The Byrhtnoth Chronicles.

I Highly Recommend.

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

Pick up your copy of
Bright Blade

Christine Hancock

I was born in Essex and moved to Rugby, Warwickshire when I married. I have a husband, two sons and two lovely grandchildren.

I am a long-term family historian, leader of the local history group and town guide.

I had never thought of becoming an author – I just wanted to write about some of my ancestors. In 2013 I joined a writing class. The class turned out to be about writing fiction. Before I knew it, I was writing a novel.

Byrhtnoth was a real warrior who died in the 991 Battle of Maldon, made famous by the Anglo-Saxon poem of that name. Growing up in Essex, I visited Maldon often, and attended the 1000 year anniversary of the battle in 1991.
I wanted to find out what made Byrhtnoth such a famous warrior.

I finished the book but found it had become a series – how long, I have yet to find out.

Connect with Christine: Blog • Facebook • Twitter

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