It isn’t often that I rave about a book or anything to be honest. Perhaps I need to do it more often? However, I recently took advantage of a Free Kindle offer to download a book called The War Wolf: The Sorrow Song Trilogy Part One (Volume 1)
by Peter C. Whitaker. Peter is a fellow Hull man that I somehow met on Facebook in the last year or so who writes too and very well. The book is part one of a trilogy of books called The Sorrow Song Trilogy and all three books cover just a few days and weeks in 1066. I have always enjoyed good historical fiction or perhaps faction especially if the author can really talk the period and Peter can do just that. He has obviously researched the remarkable events of 1066 and all of the main antagonists like William of Normandy, King Harold and his family and King Harold Hardrada of Norway. These characters are well developed and one really feels particularly for the tragic King Harold. The story centers around a set of mostly fictional characters however and as these develop, they suck you into the drama and events of late summer 1066.
At the center of the story is Coenred the huscarl, a fighting man and an upright saxon proud of his heritage. There is love interest for Coenred too in the form of a widow and a cut throat antagonist who fancies his chances of bettering himself via the same widow. I found the characters compelling and the historical detail interesting throughout.
This first book features the largely forgotten stand of the northern Saxon army against the Norwegian invasion at Fulford Gate. A battle lost by the Saxons but by a Norwegian King who for some reason didn’t take full advantage of that fact and faced another saxon army led by King Harold at Stamford Bridge losing his life in the process. Peter’s battle descriptions are incredible as well and one can almost hear and smell the sweat, blood and guts of it all.
I really loved the book and immediately bought the second – The Rapture of Ravens and am finding it equally enjoyable. I cannot wait for the third book to come out and yet I can as I know that Harold was defeated at Hastings and the Saxon dream was smothered at that point. It’s a strange dichotomy of wanting to know what happens to the characters and yet knowing the final outcome!
One last thought. I have always sided with the Normans. My family name – Vasey – is a derivation of de Vescy, William’s cousins family that held Northumbria for a hundred years or so before dying out so I have always sympathized with Williams claim to the English throne. This book however, managed to get me to change my mind and side with the Saxons – thats how powerful it is.
I can’t recommend this book more highly to those who enjoy a good historical story.