Book review - The Bone Thief by V. M Whitworth
review by Becky
Edward, son of Alfred the Great, has inherited the Kingdom of Wessex and achieved a precarious set of alliances through marriage and military conquest. But the alliance is uneasy and the kingdom of Mercia has more reason than most to fear the might of Wessex. Their Lord is elderly and perhaps mortally sick, and his wife fears that she does not have the power to withstand hostile takeover. She also knows too well what her neighbour is capable of -- after all, King Edward is her brother.
The chance to rescue St Oswald's bones, beloved patron saint, to consecrate her new church and unite the people behind her, is too good an opportunity to miss. But they are rumoured to be buried a long way north -- outside Lincoln, deep in hostile territory. Her secretary, Wulfgar, groomed for the priesthood since he was a boy in the elegant cloisters of Winchester cathedral but naïve in the ways of the wider world -- is surprised to be sent on this mission. It will prove an incredibly dangerous journey, requiring resources and courage Wulfgar did not know he had, and support from surprising allies along the way including a maverick priest and a Viking adventuress whose loyalties are far from clear.
Available on Amazon.com: The Bone Thief: 900 A.D. A time of turmoil. A kingdom in dispute. An unlikely hero...
This book is a very charming and delightful piece of historical fiction that takes a fresh new stance in the genre by having the main character not a young earl/lord wronged by some ancient family feud but a humble deacon in the church of Gloucester in the old kingdom of Mercia, who loves his Lady, Athelflead and is sent on a quest which is guaranteed to take him out of his comfort zone and prove his worth to her in ways beyond his role as secretary. Yet little does this quiet man or indeed the reader know the many challenges, conflicts, dangers and enemies that will appear along his journey.
I am really excited by the way Whitworth reveals a world to the reader that is often forgotten when looking at this turbulent period in history, a land splintered and divided between varieying loyalties in the aftermath of King Alfred the Great's death with his young son King Edward on the throne. Whitworth also introduces the reader to how the Anglo-Saxons of the south may have lived alongside the danish populace of the north, the Danelaw. This is perfectly embodied in the norwegian descendant of a raider from the great army in the 800s. She demonstrates on many occasions throughout the book why the vikings were so good at what they did and maybe perhaps why the Anglo-Saxons kept surrendering land and danegeld to them for many, many years.
The overall pace of the story may seem slow but when you inspect the timeline it is actually quite fast, the slowness is only due to the short but sweet and still incredibily touching/dramatic/gripping chapters which makes this book perfect for those who are just dipping their toes into this genre.
I do sincerely hope that this isn't the last adventure Whitworth has planned for any of her amazingly lively characters in this book. I would definitely purchase a sequel if there was one. .
Becky also have a review of the second book in this series: The Traitor's Pit
Want to adventure throught the lands of the Vikings? The height of the Vikings is an amazing period of time and there is a lot of great fiction that is based on historical facts from that period and place. Rebecca Wilson has written a guide to the genre and to some of the best works in the genre.
If you are fascinated by the subject of Vikings you should check out her blog at: http://www.soulchaserbecky.blogspot.com/
You can follow her on Twitter @soulchaserbecky.
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