Today I’m reviewing The Northern Throne by Steven A. McKay, Book 3 in the Warrior Druid of Britain series! It’s just out today!!!
First things first.. that cover! I’m bloody well quoted on it!!! Now is that going to make me take it easy on McKay? No no no.. If my name is added to something it bloody better be a 5* read!
Here’s the blurb
Northern Britain, AD431, Spring.
Bellicus the Druid and his friend Duro, a former Roman centurion, have already suffered a great deal in recent years but, for them, things are about to get even worse.
Britain is changing. The Romans have gone and warriors from many different places seek to fill the void the legions left behind. In the south, the Saxons’ expansion seems unstoppable despite the efforts of the warlord Arthur, while north of Hadrian’s Wall various kings and chieftains are always looking to extend their borders.
In Dun Breatann, Bellicus believes the disparate northern tribes must put aside their differences, become allies, and face the Saxon threat together, under one High King. Or High Queen…
Small-minded men don’t always look at the bigger picture though, and, when Bellicus and Duro seek to form a pact with an old enemy, events take a shocking and terrible turn that will leave the companions changed forever.
This third volume in the Warrior Druid of Britain Chronicles is packed with adventure, battles, triumph, and tears, and at the end of it a new course will be set for Bellicus.
But at what cost?
Times are changing for Bellicus.. the land is in turmoil, the Druid order’s reach is being curtailed by the growing Christian faith and there is a real threat being posed by the Saxon’s. The only way to save Alt Clota along with his ways is if everyone bands together to face the Saxon threat..but that’s easier said than done.
No one trusts each other and there is more than one person who feels they should be High King.. Or Queen.
Bellicus sets out to unite the people and face the threat head on and that means joining the warlord Arthur.. he is in great need of men and Bellicus and Duro are just the ones to help!
Clearly things aren’t going to just go their way..that’s the way of war.. and it wouldn’t be much of a story if it did..we see our heroes face probably their biggest challenge to date. I was torn as I read, I felt a wedge growing and was dreading either one not making it out alive.. or simply parting ways.
I’m going to skip Bellicus a little.. not that he isn’t a major part of book because he clearly is.. but Duro.. my god Duro.. what a guy.. this is his book for me. He has got to go through some of the worst trials in his life and that’s saying something after losing his wife.
Bellicus has his own challenges to face, mainly being human.. I think the power given to a Druid made Bellicus a little blind at times and he’s certainly knocked down a peg or two as he is shown his own weaknesses.
I’m a big fan of flow.. a book has to progress at the right speed but McKay did something I didn’t see coming. He’s used recent events of the global pandemic/lockdown to feed his plot..lets just say Duro has some hard times ahead.. our lockdown is nothing compared to his ordeal. Was I bored? Did I skim read.. NO! McKay managed to keep the story flowing even when I didn’t see/feel it.. I was just honestly hooked in.
I really don’t want to spoil the plot at all but I was very pleased to see Cai make his “mark”.. who doesn’t love a faithful hound?? I’m also already in love with Aife, A Pict who I’m sure we will be seeing more of… She is clearly one to watch.
As a fan of the author when he started this series I was torn a bit.. I loved the comfort of his Forest Lord series and Robin Hood but that only had so much life in it… The Druid series has given the author the time to showcase his skills more..it feels like anything is possible.
For the people of Alt Clota war is coming.. it’s going to be brutal for sure and the build-up has been immense and gripping. For the actions junkies there is definitely some heart stopping moments. (you know, those moments you stop reading, sit up and focus, take a breath before continuing) and a few good twists thrown in there.
One thing I really liked about the book was the detail.. the numbers given to the warbands. You imagine a fight scene with hundreds..thousands.. sometimes all it takes is 20!
Overall I think this book packed a punch, the author manged to give me exactly what I needed but at the same time through some curve balls to give me a little scare… remember no one lives forever.
The plot was superb and leaves me in little doubt more will follow..
I eagerly wait the next instalment!