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Blood and Blade (The Bernicia Chronicles Book 3) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Please write faster Matthew Harrfy! We Americans love you!
Right up there with Cornwell, Nelson, Long, etc...
This third novel in the Bernicia Chronicles starts off with an encounter between Beobrand and his arch enemy, Torran. Not only does this initial chapter set the tone for the historical time in which this story is set (635 A.D., Albion) but it also brings the reader immediately into the life and death struggles between the Saxons and the Picts. Beobrand is still recovering from an arrow wound in his leg received from Torran in their last meeting plus another healing wound which makes it impossible for him to hold his shield. This is fighting hand-to-hand in the Dark Ages.
New readers to the series are artfully drawn into the storyline by writing which includes good information regarding place names and their modern equivalent as well as a map. Author Matthew Harffy was excellent with his portrayal of Beobrand and his struggles with both physical and mental problems. He is trying to reconcile his mourning with his physical attraction to a thrall within his household. I liked the way Harffy didn't make this a main theme which took away focus from the warrior life of Beobrand, but did allow the reader to see how other concerns and distractions filled out his personality. This is definitely not a one dimensional character. Another element in the plot which I found enjoyable was the returning character of Nelda and the mystical aura her malevolence embodied whether she was present at that point in the story or only spoken of and remembered. That touch of magic added so much to the atmosphere and, for me, added to the growing importance of those who believed in the Christ and the monks who practiced those teachings which are so different from the old beliefs.
Beobrand and his men are summoned to attend King Oswald and find that they are going on a trip as escort for Oswald and his brother Oswiu. Oswald has decided to marry the daughter of Cynegils so a trip all the way to Wessex is to be undertaken.
I enjoyed this story quite a bit. I began the series here and had no difficulties in understand what had come before in the first two novels even though I had to refer to the place names listing quite often at first. The introduction of the Christian faith and the development of medical advances used by monks is presented in a low key manner and yet it is obvious these things are going to play a great part in the series as it progresses. This is one readers will want to follow because of the historical realism and the character development of not just Beobrand, but all those who contribute to the story and help it move forward.
When we first met Beobrand in The Serpent Sword, he was young and impetuous, full of righteous indignation, and attempting to discover if he could be a better man than his father had been. Some of that struggle continues, but he has also been through much of the refining fire of life that has formed him into a man who others depend on despite his youth. He is still impetuous, and to some extent still trying to figure out what the future, or the gods, or the One True God, have in store for him. Whatever it is, he will face it head-on with sword in hand.
Besides the ongoing battles for supremacy in the land that would become England, Beobrand has personal demons that make him a more complex character than what one typically finds in this type of story. He misses his wife, isn't sure what to do with his infant son, and has feelings for a woman that leave him feeling confused and guilty. If I have any criticism of this wonderful novel, it would be that I would have loved to see Beobrand with his son more and Reaghan less. It struck me as odd that little Octa, Beobrand's only remaining link to Sunniva, was rarely on his mind, while the girl he barely knew rarely left it. Yet, this is a minor point an is only my personal opinion.
What makes this book - this entire series - amazing is that Harffy transports the reader into the 7th century. The lifestyles, the beliefs, the struggles, the raw reality of it. The reader may not always find themselves agreeing with Beobrand, but they will always be cheering for him.
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