The Bone Thief
Anglo-Saxon England, 900 AD: Athelfled, the late King Alfred’s daughter, is married to the ailing Lord of Mercia, and she wants to keep the kingdom separate from acquisitive Wessex. But her brother King Edward clearly has other ideas. So Athelfled sends her faithful cleric Wulfgar to find the bones of St Oswald which are languishing in the Viking-held Danelaw to the east of England. Athelfled wants to found a new church with the holy relics and unite the people of Mercia. Decidedly un-heroic Wulfgar sets off on his perilous quest to eastern England, accumulating a small band of companions as he goes. Can Wulfgar and his friends find the bones and not lose their lives in the process?
The depth of the author’s research shows but isn’t heavy-handed. The exploration of Anglo-Saxon and Viking mind-sets, believable settings and a plausible story all help to give the story a very authentic feel: farmers don’t care who is king as long as they can till their fields in peace, there are myriad political machinations, violence is sudden and casual, and loyalties can easily shift. This book covers the cusp of Anglo-Saxon and Viking England. It’s a complex period, but the author sure-footedly manages to tell a compelling and exciting tale in her debut novel. Highly recommended.