The Wolf Banner (Sons of the Wolf Book 2)
This is the second book in Paula Lofting’s Sons of the Wolf series, first published in 2016 and now republished in revised and shorter form. The third book, Wolf’s Bane, comes out later this year. The series is set in the final years of Anglo-Saxon England, in the run-up to the Norman Conquest.
Not having read the first book in the series (Sons of the Wolf, 2012) I found myself plunged into a sprawling saga with a complex back-story which I found hard to disentangle, with seemingly dozens of characters all with strange Anglo-Saxon names. However, as I pressed on, it grew increasingly rewarding. My, how Lofting can describe a fight, whether a battle or a duel! She has the reader reaching for the First Aid box, surprised to find that the blood he can smell is not his own. All Anglo-Saxon life is here, in all its brutal, bawdy, full-blooded exuberance. Now that I know what is going on, I can look forward to the next book.
The story revolves around an abortive invasion of England in 1056 by a Welsh-Viking- dissident Mercian coalition. It reminds us of the extreme volatility of the political situation in the last years of Anglo-Saxon England and that the Norman conquest was but the final act in a complex power play.