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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Book Review: Ceridwen of Kilton (Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy #2) by Octavia Randolph

A great sequel to the first book in this series. 

Ceridwen of Kilton has a very different feel to the first book - due largely to the fact that Ceridwen is now a wife and a mother. She does not move from Kilton during the duration of the story. However this does not slow the plot down at all - plenty happens at Kilton to keep the reader engrossed! During the first novel, she is very young, optimistic and naive about herself and others. During this novel, she starts to mature.

Warning: a few potential spoilers ahead!

Ceridwen's new life is overshadowed by the threat of Viking attacks on Kilton, and she cannot forget the Dane, Sidroc, who she left behind in the north. Gyric, Ceridwen's husband, is a changed man when he returns to Kilton. The loss of his sight has stripped him of any sense of self-worth, and although Ceridwen initially ignores this, hoping that their love will conquer his maiming, it eventually starts to affect their relationship. To complicate matters, his brother reveals his obsession for her, which results in an odd - and slightly uncomfortable - episode between the three of them (I won't elaborate here, or I will spoil the story for those who have not yet read it!).

Once again, Octavia Randolph brings Anglo-Saxon England to life in this richly detailed tale of one woman's survival in a brutal time. The character development is excellent and, once again, I can't wait to read the next installment!

Buy a copy of this book on Amazon.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Book Review: The Circle of Ceridwen (Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy #1) by Octavia Randolph

I loved this book! It's set in a period close to my heart - Anglo-Saxon England - and evokes this era beautifully. 

The story is told in the first person, from the point of view of Ceridwen, a young woman from Mercia. She is orphaned and brought up by her uncle. After his death, she is brought up by local monks. At the age of 15, she has two choices: marry locally or take the veil. She chooses neither and rides away in search of a new life.

What I truly enjoyed about this book was that the author immerses us completely in the world of Anglo-Saxon England, at the time when the Vikings had invaded and were settling the land. The atmosphere is completely different to that of the medieval period, and Octavia Randolph has clearly researched every aspect of her novel, from what people ate and wore, to customs and beliefs. Every page rings true.

Ceridwen is an interesting, complex character. She develops a bond with the Danes she initially lives with, forming a particularly strong bond with one of the warriors, Sidroc. However, she is conflicted by her loyalty to her own people. She does make one or two decisions I didn't understand, but then that's to be expected as the story is entirely from her perspective - and she's not always honest with herself, let alone the reader!

All the relationships in this novel are complex, and this was something else that made it hard to put down. Danes and Saxons alike have their strengths and flaws, which makes the story all the more gripping. Also, I'd like to mention how beautifully edited this book was - not a word out of place!

I have already bought the second book in this series, and can't wait to read it.

Highly recommend - Five stars!

Buy a copy of this book on Amazon.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Bringing Sutton Hoo to life in fiction

Nearly 1,400 years ago, a king was buried in a treasure-filled longship on the banks of the River Deben in Suffolk, England. Welcome to Sutton Hoo - one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries ever made.

Many historians believe it is the burial site of Raedwald, the charismatic king of the East Angles. But, the truth is, we will never know for sure who was buried among the treasures of Sutton Hoo. 

When I visited Sutton Hoo over ten years ago. As I wandered over the gently undulating land under the wide East Anglian sky, the seed for a story took root in my mind. I imagined the tale of a great Anglo-Saxon King, and a series of events that took place during the last year of his life. The premise for my first novel set in Anglo-Saxon England, Dark Under the Cover of Night was born.

Today, you can view the Sutton Hoo treasures in the British Museum.

Watch the story of the discovery and subsequent restoration of the Sutton Hoo treasure.

Live the history of Sutton Hoo

A king's daughter, the son of his sworn enemy - and a reckoning...

Discover the stories of the men and women who lived in 7th Century Britannia, through the eyes of Raedwyn - King Raedwald's headstrong daughter. 

Dark Under the Cover of Night (Quarter Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, 2013 - Romance Category), will be available for free on Amazon, for 3 days only, from 12-14 November 2015.