Saxon Tales: The Lord Who Lost His Head

Written by Terry Deary
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

The Lord Who Lost his Head is set in the 8th century in the reign of King Offa of Mercia (famous for building Offa’s Dyke, a 150-mile-long ditch and bank to keep out the Welsh). Marian is a peasant girl who lives in Clun, near the Welsh border. Most unfairly, she is forced to take her village’s taxes to cruel King Offa. Worse, she has to go through a forest and somehow avoid the outlaws living there. On the way she meets Kenrick, a young lord whose father, Ethelbert, thinks that he should be king. Ethelbert has even had some coins made with his own head on them, not King Offa’s.

Marian is in a nasty position. Can she outwit Kenrick, the bandits, and King Offa and return home safely? Or would she be better off in the forest with outlaws Robert Good and his Merry Men?

Deary adds an epilogue to tell us about the real King Offa – and also about the legends of an outlaw who stole from the rich to give to the poor. Tambe’s illustrations ensure that the young reader knows who is a goody and who is a baddy. For children of 6+.