Dark Winds Rising

Written by Mark Noce
Review by Val Adolph

It is the year 602, and Wales is not yet united. Small neighboring kingdoms fight viciously against each other. Amid this disunity, and continually threatened by the Saxons from the east, Wales is now attacked by Picts from the north—outsiders always hungry for richer lands. The kings and queens of these small Welsh kingdoms rely on both force and strategy as they battle back and forth between themselves, with alliances forming and failing. Queen Branwen is determined to unite these small kingdoms even as they threaten each other and weaken what should be a united position. Meanwhile, the Picts entrench themselves even more strongly, and eventually they must be faced.

This is largely a book about fighting and killing. The battles are linked by the strategies of Queen Branwen, the viewpoint character who manages to fight while hampered by her pregnancy. Although apparently a woman’s story about touching family affections and uniting kingdoms, what comes across is a man’s love of exciting battles.