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Warrior of Woden (The Bernicia Chronicles) Kindle Edition
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"Bones Don't Lie" by Melinda Leigh
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Let me preface this by saying I couldn’t write a book in ten years. Twenty years. But I just wish they came out more quickly because I find I don’t remember what happened in previous books. Took me half this book to recall who Cynan was. I have an idea that in the next book Beibrand has a certain king he will want to have a long talk with, and I’m looking forward to that encounter, but fear by next summer I will hardly recall it.
From Matthew Harffy’s Warrior of Woden
I’m really not sure how it is that I have fallen so hard for a fictional warrior from Bernicia, a kingdom from 7th century Anglo-Saxon Britain. Beobrand is a huge warrior, a man who thrills at the blood and violence of war, who fights with a skillful blade, who lives to gain glory and renown for himself and his gesithas (his war band). Not really much like me, to be honest. I’d never heard of Bernicia before meeting Beobrand, and I don’t know how to use a sword. And I don’t have gesithas, unless you count my dog. Or my kids. Or my husband.
But really, to be honest, it’s not his battle-glory that gets me. What I love about this character is not his strength, but his weakness. And after five books, Beobrand just gets better and better.
The scene quoted above is a perfect example of why I love him so much. He is dark and brooding, most definitely complex, but there is a deep conviction of integrity about him which, even when he feels he’s lost himself (and this happens to him quite often), he is drawn back to the reality of his humanity like a lodestar. Even if it takes the defiant reminder of one of the men who should serve him without question. Beobrand never seems to forget the most important things.
In this 5th book of the Bernicia Chronicles, Beobrand faces some of the biggest challenges of his entire life. There are many times the outcome of these challenges seem bleak and hopeless. Harffy definitely keeps the tension of the plot and pacing going through this book. Yet somehow, as Beobrand always manages to do, he crawls away from the edge of disaster, scraping and clawing his way, surviving for another day. And somehow he does it with his humanity still intact. Even if it is a near thing.
I feel like I’d be repeating myself drearily if I go on and on about just how much I love Harffy’s Bernicia Chronicles. Because I would. I say it with every review. This book is no exception. To be honest, when I started reading it, I wondered if he could keep delivering, over and over. Would this one keep my interest like the ones before it, or would Beobrand’s magic finally sputter out? When I finished it, would I find myself bereft over the loss of Beobrand and his faithful gesithas who have become like another group of friends in the last couple of years? At least until the next book anyway.
I needn’t have worried. Matthew Harffy once again delivered, and with the completion of the book, those familiar waves of sweet melancholy washed over me. I felt delightfully bereft after I’d finished, making me smile, because it’s a sure sign that the book was a good one.
Over the course of five novels, I have grown to love this huge warrior from a very distant past, a man whose culture and society is so different from my own, whose world would scare me to death if I were to somehow be transported back to it. And yet Beobrand has become like family.
Full of non-stop action, palpable tension, and danger, there is plenty in Warrior of Woden to keep the thrill-seeker occupied. And for those of us who enjoy the deeper elements of character development and the examination of the human condition, it will not disappoint. Warrior of Woden is a gut-wrenching, blood soaked, follow-up to Killer of Kings, and as always, once Beobrand and his gesithas set out to serve their king, heroism follows along with heartache very close behind.
Speaking of heartache, this book packs a wallop. Keep the proverbial tissues handy. And if you aren’t prone to eye leakage, you should still be careful: you might just get a little something in your eye.
Most of us have read the many books associated with Viking raiders attacking Britain. The Bernicia chronicles have been a refreshing departure from those. The story of Beobrand takes place in an earlier time of England. There are still great battles and savagery but we are not fighting outsiders. Mercians and Northumbrians are fighting one another with Picts siding with the Mercians. This is history as it happened and Matthew Harffy has kept the tales intact but made them more enjoyable than a dull retelling of battles that have little information of them in print. But he has done an admirable job of research and used what remains to pull us in and make us a part of the action; the victories, the defeats, the heartbreak, the sadness, the inner war of the mind.
Warrior of Woden will keep you turning the pages, wanting more and more. You’ll follow as Beobrand and his hearty warband ride across Albion to do the will of the king. Harffy keeps you on the edge of your seat as he shifts from the midst of battle to the apparent tranquility of Ubbanford, Beobrand’s home, and back again. You’ll rejoice with him and you will join him in his anguish and torment.
This is a book you will love reading and feel sad once you finish, because you want more.