Title – Alvar the Kingmaker
Author – Annie Whitehead
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 329 Pages
Publication – Feb 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars
In 10th Century England, nobleman Alvar knows that securing the throne for the young and worthy King Edgar will brand him as an oath-breaker. As a fighting man, he is indispensable to the new sovereign, but his success and power gain him deadly, murderous enemies amongst those who seek favour with the king. Alvar must fight to protect his lands, and his position, and learn the subtle art of politics. He must also, as a man of principle, keep secret his love for the wife of his trusted deputy. Civil war erupts, and Alvar once again finds himself the only man capable of setting a new king upon the throne of England, an act which comes at great personal cost. His career began with a dishonourable deed to help a good king; now he must be loyal to a new king, Aethelred, whom he knows will be weak, and whose supporters have been accused of regicide. Can he bring about peace, reconcile with his enemies, and find personal happiness, whilst all the time doing his duty to his loved ones? And what of the fragile Queen, who not only depends upon him but has fallen in love with him? Aelfhere (Alvar) of Mercia was known to the chroniclers as the “The blast of the mad wind from the Western territories” but also as “The glorious earl.” This is his story.
I’ve been looking forward to reading this book ever since I finished To Be a Queen. While the books are standalone tales I very much recommend reading them both. Annie has a way of writing her female characters which makes these novels stand out for me.
For the main this book follows Alvar as he tries to guide the king as best he can with numerous things getting in his way… mainly the church.
It’s another beautiful piece of work from the author who manages to make the pages cover alive with her descriptions of the surroundings and her way of describing death manages to humble the reader.
One of the things I liked the most about this book is once again Annie has managed to write a love story amongst all this war/hatred and backstabbing. It takes a while for Alvar to get to grips with the political game he’s forced into.
As mentioned I loved the female characters in this book, two stood out Kata & Alfreda.(although there were more). I won’t spoil the story but the author manages to show real strength within these two for different reasons and for me these two made the book what it is.
As far as historical accuracy goes Annie Whitehead takes a great approach, sticks to the facts when possible and uses her imagination where needed. The author handily gives the characters nicknames since most of the real names would be unpronounceable to most of us. I felt this gave the book a better flow as I would have been stuck every time a name popped up. All of these name changes along with any other liberties the author has taken are explained at the end of the book..this shows just how good of an author Annie is, The perfect mix of fact and fiction to showcase her talent.
This book is full to the brim of love & deceit.. it keeps you hooked wondering what else can happen.. Then when events play out your left with a lump in your throat. Real emotion from words set on paper is a wonderful thing.
I only wish we knew more about what happened to Alvar..