The Serpent Sword
Beobrand is a young man who travels from his home in Kent to join his older brother, Octa, in far off Bernicia. On arrival, he learns that his brother is dead, an apparent suicide, although he is told that it may have been murder. Beobrand is determined to find and kill his brother’s murderer. Whilst staying at a monastery, a small band of lord-less warriors threaten the sanctuary of the place but Beobrand stands up to them though, recognising a youth he had met at Bebbanburg (Bamburgh), he decides to join them. This proves to be a bad choice as the men are violent killers with their leader, Hengist, the worst of them all. However, the experience does lead him to discover the identity of his brother’s murderer. Leaving them, Beobrand joins the army of King Eanfrith and faces the army of Cadwallon in the shield wall.
Matthew Harffy’s tale of England in the Dark Ages is nothing less than superb. The characters are lively and believable, true to their times and Beobrand is a likeable hero whose progress from farm boy to seasoned soldier is well traced. The tale is fast paced and violence lurks on every page, whether it be murder or war.
The cover is glossy, professional and eye-catching and leaves the casual browser with no illusions as to the content. The Serpent Sword is the first of a projected series and, having been fortunate enough to have read it, I look forward to its sequels. Highly recommended and a five star read from this reviewer.