I don’t read historical fiction all the time, but when I pick up a book that not only chronicles a specific time in history, but brings me closer to the people, I can’t put it down. I’ve just finished The Wolf’s Banner by Paula Lofting, sequel to Son’s of the Wolf, set ten years before the Norman Conquest when the British Isles were in a state of chaos, as earls and thegns battled to keep hold of their piece of England…
‘I enjoy reading historical fiction for the same reason I enjoy watching Time Team, not just to immerse myself in the historical era, but to get close to the people and Ms Lofting describes her characters and their relationships with skill and an artful touch. Details of clothing and daily tasks help paint a picture of life from 1056AD in Horstede.
Where the first book in the series, Sons of the Wolf, is mainly about Wulfhere, a real thegn from the Doomsday book, The Wolf’s Banner begins and ends with Wulfhere and his family, but chronicles the trials, victories and setbacks of Burghred, son of Afgar, who goes against his father in support of his king. He wishes to uphold his grandfather’s name, rather than gain back his Mercian kingdom at the expense of the English throne.
There’s battles and blood feuds, family disputes and coming of age trials, set against the political maelstrom, ten years before the Norman Conquest. Even though these are violent times, the author doesn’t shirk from describing the outright fear and seeming futility of hacking your opponents to death in a shield wall as they breathe their last breath in your face, before another victim treads over his kinsman to receive the same brutal punishment.
I loved reading of Wulfhere’s children growing up, and the inevitability of the destruction of his relationship with his wife, Ealdgytha made me sad. Burghred’s ambitions and clever use of tactics to end a siege and the coming of age of Winflaed were two highlights of the book for me, and I felt for both of them, living their lives as pawns at a time of chaos and political uproar.
Three tumultuous years take their toll on Wulfhere, but he lives to fight another battle, and there’s hope at end of the book, that he will be restored.’
If you’d like to read historical fiction by Paula Lofting, check out her Amazon author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paula-Lofting/e/B007IWFIIM/ref