The Testament of Leofric the Black: Volume One, 1040-57

Written by Edward Cartwright Beard
Review by Cindy Vallar

It is 1071, and William the Bastard has taken the Isle of Elig after an 18-month siege. The betrayer is Leofric the Black, or so rumors say. Now on the run from Norman and Saxon alike, Leofric vows to find the real traitor. Should he die before he succeeds in proving his innocence, he begins writing a testament so all will know the truth about him and how he and other Saxons fought to free Englaland from Norman invaders.

His tale begins in 1040, when he has seen nine winters. Leofric wishes two things from life: to be a warrior and to gain his father’s respect. But life rarely grants such wishes, especially to a timid cripple. Others think him better suited to take holy orders and work as a monastery’s gifted illuminator. But the old gods and a sorceress foretell a different destiny, one closely tied to four different kings. Against the odds, Leofric overcomes his handicap. His penchant for helping underdogs, however, gains him enemies who thwart his desires and lead him on a path rife with treachery, murder, kidnapping, and death.

This first volume of the testament spans 1040 to 1057. Beard spins a poignant tale that tugs at the heart strings, eliciting a wide gamut of emotions with which readers will identify. He seductively weaves history with fiction to craft a gripping tale of intrigue, war, perfidy, and love. His vivid descriptions of characters and places make the latter days of the Dark Ages seem all too real, yet Leofric’s honest telling of events compels readers to return for the next book.