Tag Archives: Annie Whitehead

Cometh the Hour by Annie Whitehead – Review

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

Synopsis

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.

Review

I’ve been a fan of Annie’s work for a while, Click to read my reviews of To Be A Queen and Alvar The King Maker if you’ve not seen them already!

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.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

To Be a Queen by Annie Whitehead – Review

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Title – To Be a Queen
Author – Annie Whitehead
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 406 Pages
Publication – Nov 2013
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

This is the true story of Aethelflaed, the ‘Lady of the Mercians’, daughter of Alfred the Great. She was the only female leader of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It is the tale of one family, two kingdoms and a common enemy. Born into the royal house of Wessex at the height of the Viking wars, she is sent to her aunt in Mercia as a foster-child, only to return home when the Vikings overrun Mercia. In Wessex, she witnesses another Viking attack and this compounds her fear of the enemy. She falls in love with a Mercian lord but is heartbroken to be given as bride to the ruler of Mercia to seal the alliance between the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. She must learn to subjugate her feelings for her first love, overcome her indifference to her husband and win the hearts of the Mercians who despise her as a foreigner, twice making an attempt on her life. When her husband falls ill and is incapacitated, she has to learn to rule and lead an army in his stead and when he subsequently dies, she must fight to save her adopted Mercia from the Vikings and, ultimately, her own brother.

Review

Where to begin..I really enjoyed this book. It’s a powerful coming of age tale of Aethelflaed or Teasel as she’s referred to in the book.

At first I didn’t like her but after she was wed to Ethelred and she starts to warm to him I found myself warming to her. Although I have to admit Ethelred was my favourite character in the book. He oozed power and respect and I loved reading any scene with these two in.

The tale is set over many years and we see Teasel grow from a little girl into a powerful woman who manages to break down her defences and those of the Mercians to win their loyalty and to fight for their lives and their land.

We see Teasel deal with love & death.. and a lot of it. You could imagine yourself in her position having no choice to marry a man for convenience.. whilst being in love with another. As she grows she has to deal with those she cares about dying around her.. ageing.. fighting and you sometimes feel that she is about to crack.

The book is full of detail, add to this an insightful historical note from the author left me in no doubt this is a 5 star book. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

Annie Whitehead manged to make the character of Aethelflaed come alive for me.. I felt for her..i didn’t want to put the book down

I’ve used this word before but indeed the word that springs to mind when I think about this book is Powerful! Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will enjoy this and anyone who loves a female heroine will absolutely fall in love with it. The development of the two main characters was superb.

This book is a perfect mix of historical detail, love and death to engross any reader.

I was also left thinking about the frailty of life and how things don’t always go the way we would like but that doesn’t mean you give up.. you fight. Not many books leave me with afterthoughts such as this. Credit to the author.. this book had a lot of depth in my view and I loved it.

To find out more head to Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or Goodreads.