Monday 1 April 2024

Book Review - The Rise of Synne (Destiny's Embrace Book 1) by LP O'Bryan

The Rise of Synne 
(Destiny's Embrace Book 1) 
By LP O'Bryan

Publication Date: 17th March 2024
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length: 446 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

1066: While England reels, a young woman reaches for her destiny.

In the chaotic aftermath of the Battle of Hastings, Synne, an orphan healer, chooses a dangerous path. She has royal blood in her veins, but can she survive long enough to even rescue her sisters?

Soon she becomes entangled with Magnus, the disturbingly arrogant son of the fallen King Harold. He offers her a dangerous mission.

Driven by a fiery determination to rescue her sisters from slavers, Synne agrees and becomes a spy in the enemy's camp. Her inherited seer's gift lies untapped, a powerful force waiting to be unleashed.

Captured by the man destined to be King of England, William the Conqueror, Synne finds herself before the assembled nobility at William's coronation feast, branded a traitor.

In a world where alliances are shifting sands, Synne must fight for her life. But why does her accuser want her dead, and what has her involvement with Magnus got to do with it?

Dive into a rich saga where history and destiny collide.


Was this the end of the beginning? Against all odds, William, Duke of Normandy, emerged as the winner in a battle where Harold Godwinson and his Anglo-Saxon army were favoured to win. Now, Harold was dead, his body mutilated, and those who survived the fray were fleeing towards the relatively safety of London where they could regroup and decide the next course of action.

Among their number was Synne and her brother Stefan. After the murder of their mother, the capture of their sisters, and the banishment from the only home they knew, Synne, and Stefan, travel across the country. Synne is a gifted healer, and healers are always in demand. Synne holds onto the hope that someone, somewhere, has information about the location of their sisters, Tate and Gytha. It was why they had joined Harold and his army in the first place. Unfortunately, Harold’s death meant that the possibility of finding her sisters was dwindling with each passing minute. But Synne was not one to give up easily.

Despite Stefan’s urging, Synne chooses to stay and see if any of the nobility has survived before the Normans catch up to them. This decision would change the course of her life forever.

LP O’Bryan’s The Rise of Synne is a gripping account of war, betrayal, and the unbreakable bond of kinship. O’Bryan’s novel, based on real events and includes many historical figures, is poised to captivate readers with its brilliance, authenticity, and historical precision.

O’Bryan possesses an instinctive comprehension of history’s captivating allure. The Battle of Hastings irrevocably changed the course of England’s future and signalled the near end of Anglo-Saxon rule. Still, the victory at Hastings was not the singular event that established William as king. After the battle, he had to solidify his position and form alliances with English nobility, while neutralizing any potential challenges to his aspirations. O’Bryan’s story begins where the battle ends, and what an extraordinary story it is! The attention to the smallest historical detail demonstrates the hours of research that have gone into writing this book. Such dedication is to be praised for this novel screams authenticity and makes this book all the more appealing.

The narrative features a highly appealing ensemble of characters. Told in the first person, the reader experiences the events of this story through the eyes of Synne. Synne treads a fine line between the spiritual world and the religious one. The prophecy stated that she would follow in her mother’s footsteps as a seer. However, due to her mother’s identity, she has experienced profound and inexplicable heartbreak, which makes her cautious of men of the cloth especially at the start. She has to hold her ground again and again and convince them she is a good Christian woman and not a threat. Initially, there is suspicion in her relationship with the monk, Ulf, but it transitions into trust as the story unfolds, unlike her encounters with a certain Norman clergyman!

Synne, despite her healing background, becomes embroiled in a tragic power struggle. This struggle involves not just the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans, but also the Anglo-Saxon nobility who are torn between national interests and personal gain. Who should they stand with, the Norman outsider or the hastily approved Witan appointed Edgar Ætheling? The illustration of the Earls of Mercia and Northumbria was stunning, highlighting their deceitful nature in their interactions with the House of Godwinson. In the same way, Harold’s other children, Edmund and Magnus, grapple with diverse personal beliefs in which direction to take, but they maintain a united front as a family, at least publicly. The portrayal of these historical figures greatly enhanced the story’s credibility and made it an absolutely captivating read.

Although the looming threat of William, Duke of Normandy, persists throughout the book, readers only meet him near the end of the novel. The combination of his arrogance, ambition, and battle prowess propelled him to his current status. He is no man’s fool and knows when to withdraw and when to advance. Although when he withdraws the local population pays a heavy price. Similar to historical events, William seizes control of the treasury in Winchester, giving him an advantage over Harold’s followers who are regrouping in London. The novel expertly showcases this advantage, revealing that even supposed allies can be bought if the price is right.

In my opinion, this book struck the perfect balance between history and fiction. The Rise of Synne by LP O'Bryan, is so captivating that once you begin reading it, you won’t want to stop. There’s no such thing as too much when historical fiction is written like this. This story is brilliant from beginning to end and will leave a lasting impression on you. Without question, this is a book that requires your undivided attention until the final full stop. Discovering that this novel is part of a series was a delightful surprise, and I am eagerly anticipating reading the other books in what is sure to be a memorable saga.

Pick up your copy of
The Rise of Synne 

LP O'Bryan

I spent over 2 years researching this series, including a week at Christ Church College, Oxford, to ensure I understood as much as I can about the period described in these novels. That was a time of real change, like what we are living through today. I live to write and I appreciate all feedback and reviews. They will help as I expand the series beyond what you see here.

Connect with LP O'Bryan:




  1. How have I never heard of this author before? This book sounds right up my street.

  2. This one sounds interesting. Is it on Kindle Unlimited?


    2. Thank you, Mary Anne. I have just picked it up. I can't wait to read it.

  3. Thank you for sharing. I shall certainly be taking a look at this book, when I find the time!

    1. I think you will really enjoy The Rise of Synne, Jamie. It is a really great book.

  4. I have read books about The Battle of Hastings, but never one about the aftermath. I have ordered a copy. I am really looking forward to reading it.

  5. Oh, this does sound enticing. The Battle of Hastings has always fascinated me. In 2016, I had the opportunity to go to the 950th anniversary celebration hosted by English Heritage. It’s an unforgettable experience.

    1. Oh wow, Lizzy. I was there too! It really was an amazing event.

  6. You always write such lovely reviews, Mary Anne.

  7. I wish I could write reviews like this, mine are usually only a couple of sentences! The book sounds amazing.

    1. Authors do not mind how long your review is, they love hearing readers thoughts.


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