Cloak of Ashes: The Women of Beowulf

Written by Donnita L. Rogers
Review by Susan McDuffie

Seventh-century Scandinavia: Freawaru, the daughter of a king and the lover of the renowned warrior Beowulf, is a seer in her own right and a devotee of the Goddess. Disturbing visions of her mother, whom Freawaru has not seen for years, compel her to leave Geatland. Freawaru assembles a crew and a ship and takes the whale road. Accompanied by a few loyal followers she journeys first to the Norwegian court of King Brecca, and then to her own childhood home of Heorut, in Denmark. She meets old enemies, with unexpected consequences, and discovers that her mother has left Denmark for distant Angle-land. Freawaru follows, seeking an end to her quest. In East Anglia, she is tested by new challenges as she confronts the black robed emissaries of a strange new religion and tries to aid the noble King Raedwald as he struggles to forge a kingdom.

Cloak of Ashes is the third book of a trilogy. Exceptionally well researched, the book’s epic scope immerses the reader in the ocean ruled world of Viking-age Scandinavia and Britain. It might be helpful to read the trilogy in order; the story is rich and complex, and I found myself curious about Freawaru’s earlier life as I read this final volume. The book is illustrated with drawings of interesting and relevant artifacts of the era, and several maps.