To Be A Queen
By Annie Whitehead
By Annie Whitehead
Page Length: 406 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
One family, two kingdoms, one common enemy ...
This is the true story of Aethelflaed, the ‘Lady of the Mercians’, daughter of Alfred the Great. She was the only female leader of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom.
Born into the royal house of Wessex at the height of the Viking wars, she is sent to her aunt in Mercia as a foster-child, only to return home when the Vikings overrun Mercia. In Wessex, she witnesses another Viking attack and this compounds her fear of the enemy.
She falls in love with a Mercian lord but is heartbroken to be given as bride to the ruler of Mercia to seal the alliance between the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
She must learn to subjugate her feelings for her first love, overcome her indifference to her husband and win the hearts of the Mercians who despise her as a foreigner and twice make an attempt on her life.
When her husband falls ill and is incapacitated, she has to learn to rule and lead an army in his stead. Eventually she must fight to save her adopted Mercia from the Vikings and, ultimately, her own brother.
To Be A Queen was Long-listed for HNSIndie Book of the Year 2016 and has been awarded an indie BRAG Gold Medallion.
She sat up, pulled on her boots and left the tent. Wulfnoth had disappeared. She was not concerned; he would not have left her unless he knew it was safe to do so. With a growing sense of hope, she walked through a camp which was now near deserted. Dear God, they must have breached the walls, or the gates, or both. Coming to the edge of the encampment she saw the gates of the town hanging open, one almost off its great hinges. Beyond the open gateway, the Danes, surrendered and surrounded, had been herded together.
A Mercian banner fluttered from the watchtower. A thegn on the tower pointed his sword at her and began a victory chant. It was taken up by those below, who all joined in, shouting their triumph in the name of their lady. But Æthelflæd was looking at Frith, who walked towards her with his sword still in his hand, hanging low, dragging. He had blood on his face and his long hair was matted. He had his mail coat on and she gave thanks for his innate tendency to be sensible at such times. But he walked like a wounded man, though she could see that he was whole.
He bowed on one knee before her. “Lady, Derby is yours.”
She put a hand on his shoulder. “Tell me. Who do we mourn?”
His blond brows came together to form a single line above his eyes. Beneath those blue-grey eyes, dark shadows of exhaustion robbed him of his beauty. Careworn, fatigued, speaking carefully through a cut lip, he could give her no more than a list of names.
"Helmstan, Ælfric, Eadwine, Wulfwine.” The rest of her personal guard. “Eadric.”
She opened her mouth but stood, gaping. What did she think to say? No? You are wrong? I misheard you? Of course he was not wrong; he would not break his own heart with lies. He struggled to his feet and she squeezed his arm. Nodding towards the inner courtyard she said, “Do what needs to be done here. I will speak to Elfwen.”
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My passion is for all things Anglo-Saxon, and Mercian in particular. I've written four novels set in Mercia, featuring the lives of Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, King Edgar, King Penda and his children, as well as contributing a Mercian story to a fiction anthology about 1066. My non-fiction book, Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom, was published by Amberley Books in September 2018. My latest non-fiction book, Women of Power in Anglo-Saxon England, was published by Pen & Sword Books in June 2020. I also contributed a story set in Mercia to the 2020 anthology, Betrayal.
I'm an editor for and contributor to the EHFA (English Historical Fiction Authors) blog, and a member of the HNS (Historical Novel Society) 2018 Short Story Competition judging panel. The winner of the New Writer non-fiction prize in 2012, and the recipient of two Mail on Sunday Novel-Writing awards, I was also the winner of the inaugural HWA/Dorothy Dunnett Short Story Competition in 2017 and am now on the judging panel for that same competition.
My first two novels, To Be A Queen and Alvar the Kingmaker, are set in the later (9th & 10th centuries) Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. My third novel, Cometh the Hour, goes back to the seventh century. The follow-up novel to that is The Sins of the Father, released in September 2021
In 2016, I collaborated with eight other authors to produce a collection of short stories, re-imagining the event of 1066. 1066 Turned Upside Down is available as an e-book and in paperback from September 2021.
I blog regularly on three sites: Casting Light upon the Shadow, Time Traveller and Reads,Writes, Reviews.