The Last Saxon King (A Jump In Time, 1)

Written by Andrew Varga
Review by Valerie Adolph

Daniel Renfrew is a home-schooled teenager bored with his life and the large amount of history that his father insists on teaching him. Coming home unexpectedly one day, he finds his father being violently attacked by a man called Victor, who wants a certain metal rod. Daniel’s father tosses Daniel the rod for safe keeping. Holding it, Daniel finds himself in northern England in the year 1066.

After initial problems adjusting to the language, clothing, and customs, he finds himself on King Harold’s side at the successful battle of Stamford Bridge against the Viking invaders and then on the forced march south to face William of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings. Along the way he discovers he must fight not only medieval enemies but enemies from the 21st century trying to wrest away his treasured rod that has the power to return him to modern times.

Written for the young adult male reader, this is a gripping tale giving a deeper dive into the fateful year 1066 and the two major battles that determined the future of England. The author handles Daniel’s jump in time to and from the 11th century smoothly and has created a character who functions effectively in both worlds.

Deft characterization of both 11th-century and 21st-century personality and idiosyncrasies bring the story to life and carry the vast amount of historical research along seamlessly. Kudos to the author for searching out details of the little-known Stamford Bridge battle and of the lives of the men on the forced march between two major battles. His portrayal of the army of mixed soldiers and housecarls is realistic, even graphic, in a way that will appeal strongly to his audience of young male readers.