Title – Cometh the Hour – (Tales of the Iclingas Book 1)
Author – Annie Whitehead
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 249 Pages
Publication – September 2nd
My Rating – 5/5 Stars
In seventh-century England, a vicious attack sets in motion a war of attrition which will last for generations.
Four kings, connected by blood and marriage, vie for the mantle of overlord. Three affect to rule with divine assistance. The fourth, whose cousin and sister have been mistreated and whose friend has been slaughtered, watches, and waits.
He is a pagan, he is a Mercian, and his name is Penda.
By his side is a woman determined to escape her brutal past. She aids his struggle against his treacherous brother and their alliance founds a dynasty with the potential to end injustice and suppression, if only they can continue to stand together…
A story that spans generations, and travels from Sutton Hoo to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and back to the buried treasure of Staffordshire, this is the first volume of the tales of the Iclingas, the family who ruled Mercia, fighting to avenge their kin and to keep their people free.
Annie is great a weaving a historic tale that much I already know, so this one had to give me something more to top her last effort. I’m glad to say this indeed gave me the oomph I wanted.
What set this book apart from the rest was that it covers a wide period of time and you see events through many different perspectives. This gives you get much fuller picture of events as they flowed from one King to another, you can see how things fit together and overall get a much clearer picture.
This tale really shows that being King wasn’t always the position you’d want to be in, war can breakout at any time, you are constantly watching your back as even your friends might not be as loyal as they say they are and marriage is a political tool and to survive you need to be able to navigate all.
Penda was the biggest draw in the book for me, a lot focuses around him and rightly so, but what I really enjoyed was insights into the man I’ve read about before. I know we don’t know truly what went through people’s heads but we do have a lot of evidence to events that happened and I like how Annie manages to put fact and fiction together in a way that brings life to a historical individual.
What the author gets spot on for me is the flow of the story, effortlessly mixing detailed descriptions of places and people but at the same time never slowing down the pace of the tale.
Religion plays its part in this book and I felt the author depicted this period of transition well, when people changed from worshipping one god to another and highlighted how many would not change their beliefs along with some who would gladly worship anyone as long as it meant they would come out on top.
I’m not going to give away the plot of the tale but it really shows the political nature at the time. Sons are groomed to be King’s while daughters are simply seen as bargaining chips to create power links to other kingdoms.
To sum up, a wonderfully detailed account of the power struggles during the 7th century. There’s a lot of players involved so don’t rush it, take it slow and enjoy. Annie Whitehead has manged to again give me another action packed, engrossing historical read that I highly recommend to all.