The Amber Treasure

Written by Richard Denning
Review by Eliza Bryan

All good stories are about a sword.” This delightful tale for young adults is just that. Good, and about a sword.

Set in Anglo-Saxon Northern England, it is told by Cerdic, the nephew of a great warrior hero who died, gloriously, in battle. Cerdic’s world revolves around the stories of the past, of brave and daring deeds, his Uncle’s revered sword, and some amber jewels. The ideal of glory in battle is ripped apart when Welsh invaders destroy his home, kill his brother, kidnap his sister, and make off with the sword and amber treasure. The ensuing adventure of revenge against the Welsh and getting his sister and the treasure back is a roller-coaster ride. There are battles, brutality, broken friendships, and thoughtful relationships. There is courage, tears, and the occasional glimmer of laughter. In other words, this is the reality of Anglo-Saxon England brought to life through the words of well-written fiction.

The characters in The Amber Treasure are very real, as are the bloody battle scenes, but this was an age of warfare where death lurked around every corner, and a boy on the brink of manhood had to fight to stay alive. The research is as well done as the story telling, and any school library that did not stock this book would be letting down their readers, especially the boys, who will enjoy the energy of this splendid tale.

My only critical remarks are that younger readers may find the names of people and places difficult, but that is determined by the need for historical accuracy when writing historical fiction and is not the author’s fault. And that the cover could use a bit of colour, as the overall “greyish” tone is perhaps not very eye-catching for children.

Adults who love Anglo Saxon fiction will also enjoy this tale for its detail. Recommended.