It is 741. After subduing the pagan religions in the east, halting the march of Islam in the west, and conquering the continent for the Merovingian kings, mayor of the palace Charles the Hammer has one final ambition-the throne. Only one thing stands in his way-he is dying.
Charles cobbles together a plan to divide the kingdom among his three sons, betroth his daughter to a Lombard prince to secure his southern border, and keep the Church unified behind them through his friend Bishop Boniface. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles's death is chaos. His daughter has no intention of marrying anyone, let alone a Lombard prince. His two eldest sons question the rights of their younger pagan stepbrother, and the Church demands a steep price for their support. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles's daughter flees his court for an enemy's love.
Based on a true story, Anvil of God is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal that follows a bereaved family's relentless quest for power and destiny.
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ANVIL OF GOD
Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles
By J. Boyce Gleason
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2013 J. Boyce Gleason
All rights reserved.
Quierzy AD 741
Stepping into the darkness of the stairwell, Sunni inhaled the musty scent of aging stone and stretched out her hand as a guide. Although the stairs were steep, she climbed with ease, having made this journey to watch for Charles every night since her husband left for Narbonne.
She did this more out of duty than necessity. When the army's banners were sighted, news of their arrival would be shouted from the rampart and echoed throughout the town. The fate of the entire court was tied up in Charles's success, and everyone from the lowest servant to Bishop Boniface would storm the staircase to see who had returned from campaign and who had not.
The banners would appear above the horizon along the eastern road, advancing in successive waves of color. The ranks of cavalry and foot soldiers would follow. In time, the sounds of their march would reach the walls, and the court would strain to see the knights' standards.
Because the absence of a standard from the ranks foretold a knight's death, those who could see would call out to those who could not, and a strange dichotomy would take over the assembled crowd. Cheers would greet the names announced while shouts for those unnamed were called forward. "Where is Stephen D'Anjou? Can you see Stephen?" and "What about Wilfred? Oh my God, not Wilfred!"
Sunni had seen families collapse in grief beside others who danced in celebration. Sobs and laughter would blend on the rampart in a discordant release until the hands of the celebrants stretched out to those who mourned, and the court would grieve its loss.
Arriving at the top of the stairs, Sunni discovered she would not be alone. A dozen steps away, Charles's daughter Trudi stared out at the horizon. They watched as the sun dipped low, casting a reddish glow to the underside of the cloud cover. A cold blast of wind made the girl shiver. Without thinking, Sunni kissed the locket she wore around her neck to ward off the night spirits.
"God help me," Trudi said. There was pain in her lament, but Sunni was reluctant to intrude. Stepmothers, she knew, are not always welcome. She found her own place on the rampart to watch the eastern road.
Trudi had her own reasons to await Charles's return. She was eighteen, old for a maiden. Charles had declared that, upon his return, he would decide whom the girl would marry. Although Trudi had never spoken to Sunni of this decision, her distaste was visible to any that knew her. Her body was coiled tight, her face a stew of emotions.
Sunni had argued for the girl, hoping to stop Charles from using his daughter as an instrument of his diplomacy, but he had insisted. Trudi would wed someone of noble blood. Charles would send her away to marry a noble on the Roman peninsula, or in Alemannia or Frisia, wherever there was an alliance to solidify, a political gain to be made. Her marriage would seal a bargain she knew nothing about.
She would be forced from the people she loved, away from the life she knew. She would be alone. Sunni's eyes welled. It was not so many years ago that she had shared a similar fate. It was, perhaps, the only thing they had in common.
Trudi had her father's face, which, although a man's face, was still handsome on her. Unfortunately, it was not the only trait she had inherited from him. She was tall for a woman, with broad shoulders and uncommon strength. Thank God, the girl had breasts and hips, Sunni thought, or she might be mistaken for a man. Trudi's hair was by far her best feature. It cascaded past her shoulders in waves of brown curls that Sunni envied for their thickness.
To Sunni's frustration, Trudi rarely did anything to enhance her beauty. Most girls her age were using the latest creams and powders. Trudi wore none. She refused to wear a dress, preferring pantaloons and vestments more suited to boys. Sunni had never seen her flirt. She had never seen her blush. The girl talked to boys her age the way they talked to each other.
Sunni had, over the years, tried to involve Trudi with the other girls at court. Such efforts, however, never kept Trudi's attention.
"They spend their time spinning thread and mooning over knights," Trudi would say, her eyes rolling. "They talk about each of the boys as if he was a prized horse. 'Look at his legs,' or 'I just love his shoulders.'" Trudi preferred to find her friends among the boys her age.
Making matters worse, Charles had indulged the girl's fantasy of becoming a warrior. Against Sunni's objections, he let Trudi train with the boys who would become his knights. Trudi strutted about court in armor and dismissed Sunni's advice. Sunni gently persisted, only to suffer the girl's continued rebuff. The one time Sunni's advice had been welcomed was when the girl's menses had set in. Even then, Trudi had declared it nothing more than "a nuisance."
"How do you stand it?" Trudi demanded, without turning to look at her. Sunni jumped in surprise. She hadn't thought the girl was aware of her.
"How do you stand being married to someone you don't love?"
"I do love your father."
Trudi turned to confront her. "It wasn't even an arranged marriage. He just took you."
"That's not true."
"Of course, it's true." Trudi turned back again to the horizon, reciting the history. "When Charles stormed Bavaria, he deposed the crazed pagan duc—"
"Grimoald isn't crazed."
"Grimoald married his own brother's widow, flogged a priest, and performed pagan rituals over his own son."
"His son was dying. The doctors couldn't save him," Sunni said.
"So Charles got rid of Grimoald, put your uncle Odilo in his place, and married you, a Bavarian princess, to bear his third son. Am I missing anything?"
Sunni's face flushed. She looked down at her hands.
"So how do you stand it?" Trudi repeated.
How dare the girl? Of course, Sunni knew the stories. She had helped spread most of them. She was the "price" for making young Odilo duc de Bavaria in place of Grimoald. She had been "tamed" by Charles, who subdued her pagan upbringing through his iron will and firm hand.
The truth was that Sunni had seduced Charles from the start. She had seen the reality of their situation. The Bavarian royal family was in disarray, and Charles's army was too large to resist. Poor Grimoald would never be acceptable to Charles or his alter ego, Bishop Boniface. And an alliance between her family and the Franks offered not only a solution, but a tremendous advantage to both families.
The day she met Charles, Sunni knew she would have him. Tall, strong, fearless, Charles had been forty-two and a widower for a year when he came to Bavaria. He had a light in his eyes that made everyone else's seem dull. He was magnificent.
And he looked at her in that way that a man does when he needs to bury himself between the legs of a woman. In less than a week, she had bound him to her. He was bound to her still.
Now at thirty-two, she played the part of the "tamed" Sunnichild for Boniface and the court. She said all the Christian words, performed their rites so that she could have Charles. But she was no Christian. She still had her cache of herbs. She still prayed to the morning sun and the phasing moon. She still communed in secret with her brethren. She even shared some of their rites with Charles. Wedding Charles Martel had been her choice. She hadn't lied to Trudi. She did love the man.
"Hiltrude," she said, "mostly I find that men's stories tend to be about men. I do love your father. And if truth be told, I chose him. Women are not powerless, despite what you think. I wasn't powerless when I met your father any more than you are powerless now."
"What do you mean?" Trudi turned abruptly.
"Rarely do men tell you anything about the role that women play in their stories."
"No. Why do you say that I'm not powerless?"
"Because you are not."
"You of all people should know my plight," the girl said.
"Women are never powerless," Sunni said. "Perhaps when you are better prepared to listen and less prepared to judge, I will tell you about it."
Sunni started for the stairs. She could feel Trudi's stare follow her.
"If anyone is interested," Trudi called down after her, "the army has arrived."
Back on the rampart, Sunni saw Boniface raise a green and red signal flag to let Charles know there was urgent business to discuss. She groaned inwardly. To Charles, matters of state always took precedence over his family. She and Trudi would have to wait until Boniface had his say.
She turned her attention to the approaching army and saw Carloman's bold red banner with the white cross and the lion of St. Mark. Charles's eldest, at least, was safe. Although, she had never been close to Carloman, Sunni liked the serious, young man he had become. Her only reservation was Carloman's rabid devotion to the Church. Boniface had been named godfather to both Charles's older boys, and the bishop had taken the role to heart. He had taught them the catechism and imbued in them a strong foundation of faith. Of the two, he was closest to Carloman. The young man willingly accepted the bishop's counsel and shared the man's passion in Christ. At twenty-seven, Carloman had grown into a formidable warrior and a clever politician, but it was Boniface who pulled his strings. And that made Sunni nervous.
Charles's second son, Pippin, was another matter. In many ways, the young man was a mystery. He had spent six years being educated on the Roman peninsula in the court of King Liutbrand and become so close to the Lombards that Liutbrand had formally adopted him as a son.
Sunni took solace in the fact that Pippin was very much like his father. Pippin looked like him, swaggered like him, commanded troops like him. And much like Charles, there was a sullenness that clung to Pippin that oft times made him combative and cruel. Sunni enjoyed a closer relationship with Pippin, but she had to admit that the young man could exhaust her. One Charles in her life was more than enough.
Pippin's green banner with the white eagle flew alongside the blue hawk of Charles's stepbrother, Childebrand. Carloman's son, Drogo, flew his banner next to Charles, as did Gripho, her son by Charles. Sunni at last let herself smile. Gripho was safe. All the heirs were safe.
Sunni descended to the main hall, but, as she suspected, Charles chose to meet with Boniface to discuss the priest's urgent news. The two disappeared with Carloman into Charles's private chambers off the main hall. Never one to be left out, Sunni went up to her quarters and stole down the back stairs into the servants' quarters. She snuck through the kitchen, stopping to taste the evening's stew, and stepped into a closet that bordered the room where Charles and Boniface met. Years ago, she had bored a small spy hole into the wall.
Through it, she could see Boniface to her right with Charles and Carloman facing her. The bishop appeared to have just finished relating his news. Silently, Sunni cursed her tardiness.
She heard Charles reply, however. "Tell him, no."
"It is a tremendous opportunity, worthy of a great deal of consideration and debate," Boniface said.
Charles dismissed this with a wave of hand. "We're not going to Rome."
Sunni's mind raced. Rome?
"It's a perfect opportunity," Boniface pleaded. "By aligning your house with the pope, you elevate it above all other families. It grants you stature with churches in every region. The pope is in a desperate place. The Lombards threaten him from the south. The emperor in Constantinople won't help. His ancient ally Eudo of Aquitaine is dead. You are the only power who can come to his aid. He's offering you the protectorate of Rome."
"We may not get this opportunity again," Carloman said.
"We're not going, Carloman. We just returned from war in Provence, and there's trouble in Burgundy."
"We crushed Maurontus and the Saracen," Carloman said. "We plundered half of Provence. And it will only take a small force to handle Burgundy. We could do it with half our troops."
"If the Saracen are committed to campaigning on this side of the Pyrenees as they did with Maurontus," Charles said, "we will need the Lombards' help ourselves. Or are you so anxious to become a follower of Muhammad?"
Carloman looked insulted. "We could split our armies. Leave Pippin at home, and I'll ride with you to Rome."
"I think you underestimate the threat, Carloman. The Lombards are formidable."
Sunni couldn't agree more. Liutbrand was a strong and clever ally, but if Charles marched on Rome, the king would become a strong and clever enemy. Charles spent years cultivating relations with him.
"If we turn up in Rome," Charles continued, "Liutbrand will unite his cousins against us as a common foe. No, they won't be so easily mastered. It will take more than a title like 'protectorate of Rome' for me to turn on them."
"How about 'king'?" Boniface asked. Sunni held her breath.
Charles squinted. "Did Pope Gregory say that?"
"Without a Merovingian on the throne, and with you controlling all realms of the kingdom, it's the next logical step."
"Did he say that?" Charles insisted.
"The subject can be raised."
"Then there will be too many strings attached."
"Father, this isn't like you!"
"We're not going, Carloman."
Sunni turned to go. She had known Charles long enough to know this conversation was over.
* * *
Trudi ducked under the sword and spun right, away from her attacker. The thrust had been clumsy. She positioned herself to his right, where he could do the least damage. Ansel, she knew, was better with his right arm. She would have better luck defending against a backhanded blow.
He came again. This time she parried, feinted right, and spun left, going for the back of his right knee. He dropped his shield to take the blow and chopped downward with his sword toward her shoulder. Again, he was too slow.
Trudi had been training with the warriors since the age of eight. She had started a year later than most of the boys because it had taken her a year to convince her father to give his permission. Ultimately, Charles had relented and given her a sword made by the Saracen. It had a curved blade that was lighter and more flexible than the broadswords the boys used, though it had only one edge and tended to break against the larger blades.
Her armor too was different. She didn't wear the heavy chain mail the older boys draped over their torsos. She favored the Saracen leathers protected by small armor plates strapped to her chest, shoulders, legs, and arms. She could move more quickly than they could and had developed a number of spinning moves that gave her an advantage over them. The boys liked to challenge her because she presented a different kind of swordplay. It required more than brute strength to beat her.
She and Ansel often sparred at the end of the day on the practice grounds, choosing to compete again after the others had finished. Today, the air was so thick and hot that her armor felt like it weighed three stone, and her leathers stuck to her skin like tar. Waving for a rematch, Ansel stripped to his waist and grabbed a lighter practice sword. Trudi almost wept with relief and doffed her small plates of armor to fight in her leathers. At nineteen, Ansel was massive, his muscles shining with sweat in the heat of the day. Trudi noticed that he was smiling—not at her, but to himself. Clearly, he was doing more than staying cool; he was trying to limit her advantage.
Ansel picked up a small shield. Trudi picked up a second but shorter practice sword. A shield would help her little against Ansel. He was so strong that he'd break her arm if she tried to withstand one of his blows. Speed was her only ally.
They circled inside the practice ground wall, each looking for an opening. After several feints, Ansel rushed her, hoping that the force of his larger body would unbalance her. She spun to her left. As he lumbered past, she tried but failed to trip him. They circled once more.
Trudi feinted and kicked to make Ansel overreact. The slightest opening could be exploited when fighting with two swords. Ansel blocked each legitimate threat and refrained from reacting to her feints. Trudi swore under her breath. He knew too many of her moves. They circled again.
Excerpted from ANVIL OF GOD by J. Boyce Gleason. Copyright © 2013 J. Boyce Gleason. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
So, do you enjoy 24 hours of continuous travel on three flights with two extended layovers? No? How about watching Dumb & Dumber five times in a row or struggling through a French-language romantic comedy with syntaxially-challenged subtitles...in Russian? Really? Well, if you want to make the hours melt away, at home or on the road, you need your very own copy of Anvil of God. Tell that leggy flight attendant you don't need no stinkin' champagne and canapés; give the condescending purser with the vintage bourdeaux the heave-ho! And as for that meal - chateaubriand.... AGAIN!? if you like sex & violence (but not at the same time), drinking & swordplay (tankard in one hand and sabre in the other), comely women in various states of undress demonstrating, well, spoiler alert - you'll have to find out for yourself! It's a terrific story of familial & political intrigue laced with romance, religion, epic battles and a welcome dose of historical perspective. Keep your genealogical charting software handy and a Latin dictionary wouldn't hurt but this is historical fiction that may be a historical first - a page turner, cover to cover. I know you'll agree that Monsieur Gleason has done a bang-up job.
I love historical books. This book has a even amount of releigion and fights. I was suck led in from the beginning. Trudi is such an amazing female character. Even though the age this story takes place she is still so strong and sure of who she is. I like how it was written so that even someone who hasn't read much historical can understand what is being said. A must read if you love historical reads! I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When Charles Martel, or the Hammer, knew his death was coming, he divided the different areas of his rather vast kingdom between his three sons, and that was the beginning of a very chaotic and messy situation in what is now France, with somewhat enlarged borders. This is historically a very fascinating and key period though, for the future of the country. It is full of inner conflicts and conflicts with other neighboring kingdoms. Politics and religion are also together in the mix, and the situation is doubly complex as Christian and pagan rites still tend to cohabit together. I really enjoyed a lot how the author managed to convey the messiness of the situation. This is not recent history, and so there are lots of gaps that the author had to fill in. He explains his choices at the end of the book, and I believe his choices are consistent with the context of the time. They made total sense to me. The book opens when Charles is still alive. It is good at setting up the scene for what will happen later, with presentation of the key characters, mainly Charles, his 2nd wife Sunni (Sunnichild), their sons and daughter, Trudi (Hiltrude) and bishop Boniface. Sunni is originally a pagan from Bavaria. She basically faked being Christian to marry Charles and in that way try to insure safety to her own country. Her place between Christianity and paganism is central to the development of the story. This is a very strong woman, as strong as her step daughter Trudi (Trudi’s mother is Charles’ first wife, Chlotrude). Also for strategic and political reason, Charles is arranging Trudi’s marriage with the son of the Lombard’s king, but Trudi is not the type to let her father decide who she will marry. We find her escape and flee during the whole book, in the direction of Odilo, the one she loves, and who happens to be a Count in Bavaria! All her adventures give great momentum and suspense to the book, with really neat escape scenes. I also enjoyed the description of the various landscapes she went through. In her journey, she will meet key people in this complex geopolitical situation. Is there room for love in this, or is it all a question of power and influence? Does Sunni really wants Trudi’s happiness, or is she using her also for the sake of Bavaria? Meanwhile, what’s Sunni’s aim when she organizes a major defense preparing for the siege she knows is inevitable? Sorry for being a bit vague here, I don’t want to give out too much. As for religion, well, bishop Boniface and the Roman Catholic Church of the time definitely do not come out in a positive light. Did they really aim at the salvation of people, or again had just power in mind? What they did to pagans is quite revealing… There are great descriptions of pagan rites. At the end of the book, the author explains he found this information in manuals written for the Catholic priests of the time to help them when they had pagans come and confess to them. I thought that was really neat. The map, the list of characters, the Carolingian dynasty family tree, and the author’s final notes on what we do know about these characters and what he himself had to fill in were extremely helpful. I can’t wait for volume 2! To sum up, I really enjoyed how the book was suspensefully alternating between the different key areas of this troubled time, and how it highlighted all the mixed political and religious motives at stake. With a very solid historical information, full of suspense, this book will delight readers interested in early French history, in military campaigns, in strong women characters, and all historical fiction aficionados ready to open to new horizons.
The first book in the Carolingian Chronicles series, Anvil of God is a sweeping tale set in 8th century France. Mystical, full of suspense, action and family intrigues, J. Boyce Gleason weaves a fascinating tale much of which is based on true events. Historical fiction aficionados are in for a great treat ruffling through the pages of this compelling book. In Anvil of God, Charles Martel, the Hammer, is dying and wanted to ensure the continuation of his legacy by dividing his kingdom among his three sons: Carloman, Pippin, and Gripho. The older two brothers are Christians while the youngest is a pagan. But his wish remained a pipedream. Consequent upon his death, what seemed to be a farsighted move proved disastrous as a fierce battle broke out among the sons for consolidation of power. Charles Martel also had assured the hands of his only daughter, Hiltrude known as Trudi, in marriage to a Lombard prince to secure his borders. But she has a mind of her own. Sunnichild, the widow of Charles Martel, also has her own ideas. When the fight ensued among his brothers, Trudi, along with her second brother, Pippin, flees to the east in Bavaria. But the plan went horribly wrong as she is abducted on the way. Gripho, the youngest brother takes control of the city of Laon. In a bid to stamp his authority and dominion, the oldest brother, Carloman, lays siege to it. Anarchy and confusion is reigning in the kingdom. J. Boyce Gleason writes a truly well-researched book peopled by memorable and unforgettable characters. The author has painted vivid pictures of the battles, virtually taking you to the scene, and making the characters come alive. The book is simply fantastic and immensely enjoyable.
Terrific. I'm a big fan.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author does a splendid job of character development while keeping the readers attention from beginning to end. I couldn't put it down and am already looking forward to the authors next tale.
I really enjoyed the book. Excellent research behind the history of the period. I can't believe this is J. Boyce Gleason's first book!
I was so glad to be offered this book for review because I have not read any historical fiction surrounding the Carolingian dynasty. I am pleased to say that Anvil of God was a terrific introduction to the era. Gleason's impeccably researched novel takes us into the heart of the time period and tells us an exciting and interesting tale of a time when Christianity was striving to quash Paganism and warfare was a constant. Struck with the reality that he is dying, Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer) devises a plan for his sons to rule the kingdom and to make an advantageous marriage for his daughter to achieve political stability. However, his offspring are not so ready to cooperate. Having different views on religion and wanting to choose marriage for love over political advantage, his sons and daughter have designs on choosing their own paths in life. What we are left with is a story of the bonds of family and what factors can cause those bonds to break. Gleason has written a fantastic historical novel. This being the first book in The Carolingian Chronicles, I am looking forward to the next book.
Anvil of God is a must read for all fans of historical fiction. J Boyce Gleason does a masterful job of providing keen insight into this mysterious period in time, and wraps it in a compelling story. Kudos to J Boyce for an excellent job on his first novel
J. Boyce Gleason is a really good writer, and this first novel is a cracking good read stuffed with bloody battles, political intrigue, brutes, beauties, pagans and priests. But no dragons. Well, we don't need no stinking dragons. (Apologies to the film classic, "High Sierra") Because this is history! Anvil of God is a page turner with the history of the Carolingian Dynasty at its heart. You know: Charlemagne and his family, beginning with Charles Martel. Who knew there could be so much fun in the Dark Ages! Mr. Gleason brings this history of the making of modern Europe to stark, violent, sexual life imbuing all his characters - both real and fictitious - with believable human qualities. There is no simplistic good and evil in his telling. How refreshing. If all of history were written this well, we'd all be studying history.
J. Boyce Gleason’s first book of The Carolingian Chronicles ‘Anvil of God’ brings the birth of the Carolingian dynasty to epic life. It is 741 AD and Charles Martel’s life is coming to an end and he must divide his holdings among his three sons. His daughter, Hiltrude, has been promised to the Lombard prince, but she turns to her stepmother to regain her own power. Charles the Hammer’s eldest son is a pawn of the Church, his middle son would like to spend more time with his girlfriend, and his youngest son, secretly pagan like his mother, is looking forward to claim his father’s power. Mr. Gleason’s book breathes life into historical figures and the religiopolitical struggle of this time period. He easily shows readers the unrest and fragility of Europe in this time period through stellar characters, intense emotion, and game-changing action. Graphic, bloody, and sinfully entertaining, ‘Anvil of God’ will be a treat for any lover of historical fiction.
Imagine you're under water; swimming low, along the bottom of a pool. You push off the floor, slowly rising till you break the surface and you take that first breath, filling your lungs to capacity. That's how I felt finishing Anvil of God... like I'd been released from another world. Honestly, this is the kind of book I dream about stumbling over. An engaging narrative, J Boyce Gleason's startling debut brought 741 brilliantly to life, capturing my imagination in its recreation of an all but forgotten empire, drawing me into a whirlwind of intrigue that, even after days after reading, refuses to let me go. For the record, my knowledge of this period was and to some extent remains overwhelmingly vague. I'm not exaggerating, before reading this piece I couldn't have differentiated Charles Martel from Charles Garnier which leads me to one of the more remarkable aspects of this book. Gleason has a deep comprehension of and obvious affinity for this particular era, but he doesn't take that familiarity for granted. Exercising great care, he carefully reconstructs the political playing field, fleshing it out with vividly atmospheric descriptions and imaginative details that make the narrative easy to follow, even for those encountering the material for the first time. Like most political epics, Anvil of God incorporates an extensive cast, but here again, Gleason exhibits a flawless mastery of his craft. Charles, Carloman, Pippin, Gripho, Boniface, Childbrand, Liutbrand, Odilo, Bradius, Sunni, Trudi, Greta, Bretrada... each has an individual personality, distinct emotional makeup and unique motivation. Independently dynamic, Gleason's characters are universally well-rounded, multidimensional and authentic. Fast-paced and fluid, Gleason hits the ground running, but what amazed me is how deftly he was able to sustain that momentum for all four hundred plus pages of the book. I'd intended to read Anvil of God a few chapters at a time, but quickly realized doing so was a practical impossibility. A compulsively addicting fiction, I simply couldn't put it down. Heartfelt romance, religious conflict, convoluted family dynamics, contrasting gender roles, political power struggles, violently gritty battlefield combat, Gleason fits it all in a single exciting volume. A spellbinding tale of valor, rivalry, and ambition, Anvil of God isn't to be missed.
Historical fiction at its best... The 8th century --- I know it well... NOT! But after reading J. Boyce Gleason's exciting new novel, Anvil of God, I feel much better informed of that distant and mysterious time in European history. Much like the Shaaras' writings of our Civil War period, Mr. Gleason uses the genre of the novel to bring historical figures to life for our reading pleasure. The depth of his research is apparent, but it is his use of poetic license in fleshing out the characters that makes this such an interesting read. And there is so much more to the book than strong and compelling character development. First, there is the role of the Catholic Church and the political intrigue of the day. Second, the competing but faltering presence of paganism throughout Europe is interwoven throughout the story. And his descriptions of battles, starting on page one with the defeat of Maurontus and the Saracens by Charles The Hammer, and later during Carloman's siege of Laon, offer a vivid view of the brutal nature of 8th century warfare. I strongly recommend J. Boyce Gleason's remarkable first novel, book one of a trilogy. And I suggest you read the Author's Note at the end of the book before reading, and again after you finish. It provides valuable insight as well as an excellent summary. (Reviewed by Hoss Rogers)
Excellent historical fiction from a new author. Knights and horses and swords and sieges. Can't wait for the next book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author does a splendid job of character development while keeping the readers attention from beginning to end. I couldn't put it down and am already looking forward to the authors next tale.
Anvil of God takes place in a period of history about which I know very little. The time period is pre-Charlemagne and the plot deals with many issues from the fight between Christians and pagans, brothers warring on each other, power, lust and love. It begins with Charles Martel (Charlemagne's grandfather) and his second wife, Sunni. Charles is committed to working with the church and relies on his childhood friend who has risen far in its hierarchy - Boniface - but he does not make his decisions solely based on what is best for the church. Sunni has ostensibly joined the church but she has not left her pagan beliefs behind. Charles feels his death looming so he divides the kingdom up between his three sons; Carloman and Pippin from his first marriage and Gripho from his marriage to Sunni. He has a ceremony where he makes his nobles swear fealty to the boys for after his death but we all know how those promises play out in time. A subplot has Charles' daughter Trudi refusing to marry the man of Charles' choice and running away to marry for love. All I can write about this book is - WHERE IS THE SECOND VOLUME AND CAN I HAVE IT RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW! I found myself lost in this 8th century world populated with fascinating and diverse characters and I was so very sorry when I turned the last page. I am thrilled that this is Book One because that means there will be more to come. Mr. Gleason writes a thrilling story taking what little is left to history and spinning it into a page turning look into the world before the countries we consider Europe were drawn. There are really 7 main charaters, Charles Martel, his three sons, Sunni and Charles' daughter Trudi. There are several very strong secondary characters and they are all distinctly developed and unique unto themselves. It took me a little to sort them out at the start but once I did I had a very hard time putting this book down. It carries some tough scenes as there are battles, scourgings, rape, pillage and all that you would expect in these times. These scenes are handled in a straightforward manner and not exploited. The weakest subplot I do feel was Trudi's but apparently there is some basis in history for it. Mr. Gleason leaves his reader with a detailed Author's Note which I appreciated. It is always a pleasure for me to find one at the end of a historical novel so I can glean fact from fiction. I will anxiously await the next installment of The Carolingian Chronicles.
I have not read anything about this time period before and was a little leary about it - in fact I read what this book was about more than once before I decided to read the book and I was not in the least bit disappointed with it. This is my first book by this author and I have to say that I am impressed. The book itself was very interesting to me. I thought the author did a good job with developing the characters so you could get a real sense of who they are/were. Also for me I really enjoyed the historical detail that was used which to me helped me understand the time period and such. If you like books with religion, action, drama, history, a little romance and so much more than this book is for you. I look forward to the next book in this series.
8th century Carolingian history is unfamiliar to me. I'm glad I read this amazing story. Gleason did his research. The story is unforgettable. Basically, Charles the Hammer dies and leaves his vast empire to his three sons. His has promised his daughter in marriage to a man she wouldn't chose as a husband. Trudi is her name, in my opinion, she was the best of The Hammer's four children. She was a sword yielding, fighting individual- don't mess with her. The three sons, two Christian and one pagan, are fascinating characters. Pippin, is my favorite. Pippin and Trudi are two characters who will grab your heart. As a reader, I became emotionally involved in their lives. In short, this book will just pull you into the plot. It is action packed from the beginning to the end. For those of you unfamiliar with Charles "The Hammer" Martel, he is the grandfather of Charlemagne. He started the Carolingian empire in what is now France. I cannot wait for book two! I look forward to reading more about these characters. For those of you who love reading period pieces, ie- The Tudors, The Borgias- you will love this series.!
If you like Bernard Cornwell, you will love J.Boyce Gleason. His Anvil of God is in the great tradition of historical novels much like Cornwell's Saxon Tales and the Grail Quest Series. Kudos for this debut novel of a young writer with much potential. The plot is well-thought out, the historical research well done and interspersed with intiriguing characters. I wait anxiously for Book 2 of the Carolingian Chronicles.
Well-written and very nicely fleshed out, but not my type of story. I tend to shy away from books where you need a genealogical diagram and map to follow what's going on.