Oswald: Return of the King

Oswald: Return of the King

by Edoardo Albert


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781782641162
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Publication date: 07/27/2015
Series: Northumbrian Thrones Series , #2
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Edoardo Albert is a writer and historian. His biography of King Alfred, In Search of Alfred the Great: the King, the Grave, the Legend was published by Amberley Books in 2014 and his features have appeared in Time Out, History Today, and Minerva.

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Oswald: Return of the King 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
wordsandpeace More than 1 year ago
Fascinating evocation of the life of Oswald, in the violent times and conflicts that gave birth to the England we know today. Before telling you more about this second book in the series, admire the beauty of the book cover, in the same style as the first book. Very classy, and the raven is actually an important character in the book. The history of 7th century England can be quite complicated. It was a key period, where you have gathered together all the elements at the source of what England is today, with people coming from different countries, with a diversity in religion, mainly Christianity versus paganism, and all the small lords and kings fighting to get the power over bigger lands and kick out invaders from different latitudes. So I really appreciated that the author started by recapitulating what happened in volume one. The detailed list of who is who, with the family relationships, was also extremely valuable. This is actually for me the type of things hard to follow only on an ebook, so I ended up printing a copy of the genealogy and was constantly looking at my paper while reading the ebook. This book is basically the life of Oswald. Edwin, King of England, (who had killed Oswald’s father) was just killed by Cadwallon of Gwynedd and Penda of Mercia. So the throne should now be Oswald’s, or Oswiu’s, his brother (much younger), or even Eanfrith’s, his half-brother, but he would much prefer enter the monastery. As Cadwallon and Penda keep ravaging and plundering the country, the abbot thinks Oswald’s duty is for now to defend his people, so through Oswald’s friendship with the monk Aidan, he manages to convince him to fight for his kingdom instead. But Cadwallon is powerful and intense – he thinks he is the new King Arthur. Will Oswald be able to retake the crown and bring safety to the land? In those violent times, where it’s difficult to know who will join whom to fight, nothing is really assured. We actually know very little about Oswald, only a few lines in Saint Bede‘s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. So it was fascinating to see how we could fill in the gaps. Edoardo Albert does it with mastery, especially in the context he recreates around the plot. His characters are so well defined, you think you have met them in real life. A bit like in some Shakespeare’s tragedies with couple of secondary characters, the cute and sometimes hilarious relationship between the pagan priest Acca and Coifi, the Christian one, helped release the tension. I also enjoyed a lot Oswald’s raven… If you are interested in this period of English history, you definitely need to read this series, so well written, a worthy supplement to Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles (set 2 centuries later). Volume three is available.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's about time someone has done a story about the early kings of England!
WhisperingStories More than 1 year ago
This is the second in Albert’s series of Northumbrian kings, and it’s a cracker. From the first paragraph to the last, I was totally hooked. It’s one of those books you race through, and then have to slow down, because you don’t want it to end. The novel opens on the island of Iona where Oswald, a thoughtful young prince, is living peaceably in the monastery with his impetuous young brother Oswiu. A quietly spiritual man, Oswald is drawn to the monastic life, but his hopes of staying on the island are shattered when news reaches him that his half-brother, Eanfrith, has been killed by King Cadwallon. Family honour is now at stake, and a reluctant Oswald is persuaded to revenge Eanfrith’s death and take the throne. Cadwallon is duly killed, and through no desire of his own, Oswald becomes the undisputed king of Northumbria. And an extraordinary king he was. His idealism, his sense of justice and concern for the poor, his commitment to peace, marked him out as a giant among his peers. But kingship in those days was a poison chalice. Your lands, your riches, your people, were considered fair game by neighbouring kings and nobles determined to extend their own land and power. Life was lived out against the constant threat of invasion, of battles and bloody skirmishes. Oswald himself was finally killed defending his kingdom, but not before he had brought peace and stability to a land once riven with violence, and made a huge contribution to the spread of Christianity. This is the very best sort of historical novel because it’s less about facts and more about people, their loves, their fears, their struggles for survival, for understanding and purpose, all sensitively imagined within the bounds of historical reality. Right from the start, Albert introduces us to a whole range of richly drawn characters, including Bran, Oswald’s pet raven, who was both talisman and protector. That Albert can make this relationship between man and bird – based as it is on an ancient myth – seem not just plausible, but hugely attractive, says much for his skills at story telling! But what really marks Albert out, I think, as a quite extraordinary writer, is his ability to take us back in time to an era so utterly different from our own, and yet bring it so vividly alive that you almost feel you are living there yourself. We’re talking here about the mid 600’s. A time when the old pagan gods were still worshipped, when people’s understanding of reality, of life and death, of the afterlife (largely horrendous) was rooted in myth and magic. An alien world to us now, and yet, in the context of this story, credible and real. As were his descriptions of the landscape, in those days deeply wooded and, at times, darkly threatening. The author is so embedded in the mindset of the period that he manages to evoke a sense of hidden threat, of angry gods, of unseen spirits. He makes you feel as if you’re walking alongside the characters, looking over your shoulder, alert, disquieted, unsure. I also found his handling of the new converts understanding of Christianity particularly fascinating – how they misunderstood so many of the basic tenants of the faith, fluctuating, as many did, between their old gods, and the new. Although Albert is a serious historian, you never once get the feeling you’re being ‘told’ stuff. All his knowledge is expertly hidden behind the skills of a superb storyteller. I found this an exciting read. Normal life did not return
ChatWithVera More than 1 year ago
I read the first book in this series, Edwin High King of Britain, and you can read my review by clicking here. In Oswald Return of the King Edoardo Albert writes about the early shaping of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. The land was peopled by clans and kingdoms constantly contending through conspiracies and war to maintain control. Families of high rank called forth loyal men to follow them into war to claim or reclaim lands previously belonging to their own kings or lords. Oswald, eldest son of a deposed and slain king, wants to remain on the Holy Island as a monk spending his time in prayer, worship, and quiet but the Abbot of the monastery sees the need for Oswald to claim his right to be king because in doing so, Oswald will have the opportunity to bring Christianity to the pagans. So Oswald and his younger brother Oswiu leave the Holy Island and begin to rally their army to go forth and claim his kingdom. The book is subtitled Return of the King. The entire story is moving toward the goal of Oswald and his kingdom. As it unfolds, the author's writing skill and strong knowledge of history is evident. While it is difficult to follow the roaming of the characters and to grasp their strange names, it is none-the-less a good read and pleasant. The subtle humor in spots and the turn of a phrase that brings speech authenticity to the characters makes the story enjoyable. This was a brutish, pagan, harsh people to whom death and war were close companions. The world is termed "middle earth" by the people as it is between heaven and hell (or the lower regions). The religious beliefs flux between whatever god the religious leader (each clan called their religious leader by a different term) claimed was favoring them at the time. Edoardo Albert has given us another look into what life was probably like in the mid-600s AD. The land area had been settled as far back as memory allowed and long before the Romans arrived or before Christianity arrived. The characters in the story mention large stones from the old people who were giants (Stonehenge?) and of the large wall (Hadrian's Wall?) from the "time before." Of note, the cover features a stylized raven. The raven plays a major role in the story. There is a raven that is a "pet" of Oswald's. For a raven to "friend" a king, it bespeaks special powers for that king. The people are very superstitious and believe that raven's foretell what is to come. And of course, the ever present dead on the battlefields being ravished by ravens. A good read. There are bits of information online that the interested reader can pursue: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/... http://www.ancient.eu/britain/ DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Kregel to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of OSWALD: RETURN OF THE KING by Edoardo Albert from Kregel Publications. Once in a while there is a book that leaves you saying “wow.” Then you flip back through, shocked it Is over. You reread a few of your favorite parts, put the book down somewhere special – for me it was the trunk in my room – and then you return to it in a few days. It keeps calling you back. OSWALD did that for me. It is the second installment of the Northumbrian Thrones series. Christianity and kingship unite; love is tested and good values shine through. If you enjoyed the first book in the series about Edwin, this one is just as great. Oswald picks up where Edwin fell. The tales focus on a period of history that is not always covered in today’s historical fiction, and that makes it all the more rewarding. I recommend reading this outside on you handmade porch swing. Okay, that’s how I read it, with the sun baking down and the excitement sweeping me away. Or, you can read it in your favorite spot. This is definitely a book not to miss. I’ve already recommended it to many of my reading buddies.
Mazzou More than 1 year ago
Oswald: Return of the King is Edoardo Albert's second book and follows his previous work Edwin: High King of Britain. Both are historical fiction works which are packed with historical details which the learned author discovered in the writings of the historian Bede. At first, since it had been over a year that I had read the prequel to this book, I was a little confused by the characters and settings. However once I discovered the historic notes at the end of the book and the list of characters at the beginning (two crucial and wise aspects to include in such a deep and historic-fiction work!), everything fell into place, I remembered much of Edwin: High King of Britain and was set to enjoy and profit from the remainder of Oswald: Return of the King. As the author's first work, this novel is fascinating and hard to put down once begun! Rarely have I seen historical accounts so well fancied and wrought out! The author is superb; his works worth the read! I will point out that I am not a skilled historian although the topic is one of my favorite subjects. Specifically, I am not a master of knowledge concerning the kings of Northumbria or any region in 7th century England. However, judging by the author's honest afterword and historical notes I feel I can trust his extrapolation of the scarce historical accounts given by the ancient Bede. Critically, I find that although Edoardo Albert's books are excellent for adults there are some points which I personally wouldn't recommend for younger readers. Ever true to the time period, the author includes jokes/riddles the people make concerning the wedding night, brief mentioning of the age of prospective brides (concerning whether or not she was old enough to have chidren)....you judge whether your child can or cannot read such things. Like I said, it is an excellent book for adults! Especially worthy of note are the tense, exciting, complex moments in this historical novel. The author does wonders in describing everything from arguments, threats and cunning plans to actual violent battles which culminate in death or victory. I am amazed by how real the action portions of the book are! I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”