- File Size: 2551 KB
- Print Length: 470 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Longship Publishing (August 20, 2016)
- Publication Date: August 20, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01IS4CIPY
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,220 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Wolf Banner (Sons of the Wolf Book 2) Kindle Edition
|Length: 470 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Further to the setting, Ms Lofting adds a well-developed plot and an interesting cast of characters. Not all of these characters are likeable – notably Wulfhere’s wife Ealdgytha is very difficult for me to warm towards, no matter that the woman has her fair share of woes – but then that is how it is in real life as well. The protagonist is Wulfhere, thane of Horstede and sworn to serve King Edward the Confessor. Other than doing his duty by his lord Wulfhere has a somewhat infected situation at home and a bitter feud with his nearest neighbour to handle. Plus there are all his children, from his eldest daughter Freyda to Tovi, the son who is treated like an enervating afterthought by both his parents.
Ms Lofting does an excellent job with Tovi who very quickly grows into the character I care the most about. Some scenes involving this young boy and his parents are quite heart-breaking, and I can only hope we will see more of Tovi as the story progresses.
The personal lives of Wulhere and his family are interwoven with the political events of the times. King Edward, Harold Godwinson, the Welsh king Gryffud ap Llywellyn, the ever-present Danes – they all affect the narrative, culminating in vivid—I would even say excellent—battle scenes with Wulfhere in the thick of things.
The Wolf Banner is a sequel to Sons of the Wolf and to fully enjoy it I recommend the reader starts at the beginning. Likewise, The Wolf Banner does not conclude all the stories begun in it. For that we must await the next instalments of the saga.
At times, I feel the novel would have benefited from some abbreviation—this is a very long book and some pruning would, in my opinion, have enhanced the narrative. At times, the prose is a tad too convoluted, too flowery. But all in all The Wolf Banner is a gripping read, offering quite the insight into pre-Conquest England.
Sons of the Wolf focuses primarily on the family of a thegn (a retainer of the king ranking below an ealdorman, what would eventually come to be known as an earl) of Edward. Wulfhere, the thegn, as he struggles to balance family life with the duties he owes the king, risking much and making many mistakes along the way. These mistakes impact not only the economic future of his family, but also its relational well-being. His children are growing, and as they do, each makes his or her own choices which bring a parallel future ramification. These choices build the plot, propelling the story alongside the historical events.
The Wolf Banner picks up where Sons left off. The storylines of Wulfhere, his wife, and their children is continued, but we also meet new characters whose stories move the action to other parts of England and Wales, revealing the complexities of the politics of this era through the shifting of power and control, and the subterfuge and greed that creates it.
Lofting’s first book was good, but like most second novels, The Wolf Banner shows a maturing of the author’s writing. The plot is more complex, the pace is faster, the characters deeper and more nuanced. Among these characters, there are the basest of military men, politicians with single-focus, fathers who use their children solely to meet their selfish ends, laid-back fathers who shrug their shoulders and trust their children to wyrd, flawed people, guilt-ridden people, boys who want to be men yet don’t know how, fickle and flighty women, emotionally strong women who carry those around them, mothers who fail their children, mothers who do what they can for their children with little success and few resources… all in all we see a vast canvas of personalities and maturities, some who gain ground and others who lose it. I often say that a strongly developed character can carry any book. Had there been little to no plot in this book (and there was), I still would have enjoyed it for the sake of the individuals filling the pages alone.
The pace of the book is good. The first 40% or so continues in a similar cadence to the first book. Around this point the reader is left with some closure regarding many of the earlier events, and this was satisfactory. But then… look out. The pace picks up, and the book turns into a page-turner with non-stop action and adventure. Lofting’s battle scenes are magnificent, leaving little to the imagination. Readers who are a bit squeamish may want to skim through these as the battle gore is somewhat graphic at times. Yet even in the violence we find an illustration, and Thegn Wulfhere capitalizes on this as he implores a group of young men on the eve of battle not rest on false bravado or to glory in the upcoming death-giving and gore. He relates the terror of battle in full color so they proceed with eyes wide open, harnessing their energy to survive rather than dissipate their energy through ignorant bravery as untried young men are wont to do.
Lovers of historical fiction who enjoy thoroughly drawn characters along with their action and adventure will not be disappointed by this book. I enjoyed the story, but even more so did I enjoy exploring the thoughts and motivations of the characters behind it. Even though I know the history and what awaits these characters in their literary futures, I eagerly await the next book, The Wolf’s Bane, coming in 2017.
A page turner!