10th Century AD
Book 1: The Byrhtnoth Chronicles
Everyone who knows their pre-Conquest history will have heard of Byrhtnoth. Christine Hancock undertakes to give us a series of books about his remarkable life and Bright Sword kicks off with the young Byrhtnoth being sent away from his village to be trained as a soldier of King Edmund. As he grows into his mid-teens, it is obvious that he is charismatic, a good fighter and an intelligent leader. Because of these qualities he makes both friends and enemies amongst his peers.
One thing drives Byrhtnoth: his mother was sent away when he was a child and he does not know the name of his father. The man who could tell him, the lord of his village, dies before he can reveal the name. Byrhtnoth finds himself named as the new lord and heir to a tantalising sword which he cannot yet claim as his own.
Meanwhile, the king has been assassinated and, charged with looking for anything suspicious, Byrhtnoth is distracted and fails to stop the deed. He is distraught and believes that he was responsible and runs away. He is injured in a great forest and likely to die, but is rescued and taken to a nearby abbey. Here he meets an nun called Edith, and Byrhtnoth's life changes …..
There is a lot of pace to this book, short chapters that compel you to read 'just one more' and great descriptions of locations, mostly in the east of the country around Ely. One underlying theme is the way women were looked upon and treated; no preaching, just stating what was most probably so in those times.
There are few answers to Byrhtnoth's problems in this, the first of the series, but no doubt these will come in the volumes to follow; if you enjoy this book as much as I did, you will be looking out for the publication of Byrhtnoth's further adventures.
The cover by www.avalongraphics.org is beautifully simple yet immediately eye-catching.
© Richard Tearle