Thursday, July 31, 2014

G371 Book Review of Anvil of God by J. Boyce Gleason

Name of Book: Anvil of God

Author: J Boyce Gleason

ISBN: 978-1-4759-9019-5

Publisher: iuniverse

Type of book: Charlemagne, France, 741, Medieval Ages, Knights, paganism, brotherhood, wars, defenses, christianity, true love vs duty, civil war, succession, mayor

Year it was published: 2013


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.


The characters are all distinct and not once have I wondered who's who. Charles the Martel is one who is best known as Charlemagne? A bastard son who splits his kingdom for his three sons: Carloman, Pippin, and Gripho. Carloman is the fanatically religious christian son that lets others control him. Pippin is the middle son and I guess is more likable. I would best describe him as voice of reason, while Gripho is the youngest son and is extremely spoiled and for him pride is more important than consequences. The women characters include Sunni who is deft and tries to control things behind the scenes. While outwardly she is christian, inwardly she holds on to pagan rituals. Trudi is the only daughter and she is very tomboyish and isn't aware of her sexuality until Sunni helps her out. She is one of the more interesting characters. Bertrada is also a strong female character, but I feel that I see very little of her, and wish I could have seen more of her.


Everything is double sided.


The book is written in third person narrative from multiple characters' points of views such as Sunni's, Carloman's, Gripho's, Trudi's and so forth. Somehow the author carefully balances these stories, never letting them get dull or boring. I constantly ended up shocked at how many pages I read without noticing. Although I'm a history major, I have to admit that I'm mostly interested in daily life rather than politics, thus my grasp on politics is sketchy. The author has done a good job in mapping out the political scene as well making sure I understood the possible consequences of what's going on and what will happen.

Author Information:
(from the kit)

With an AB degree in history from Dartmouth College, J. Boyce Gleason brings a strong understanding of what events shaped the past and when, but writes historical-fiction to discover why. Gleason lives in Virginia with his wife Mary Margaret. They have three sons.

His latest book is the historical fiction, Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles.

Visit his website at

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I guess if I did half stars, it would be 4.5 stars actually. This is a classic case of don't judge a book by its cover and don't be intimated by the size. In fact, I found the book to be, well, short. Yes, its excellently written as well as detailed, and its something I'll definitely recommend to those who are curious about historical fiction because it has a comprehensive character list of all characters, plus a map of the area. Also he mentions what's fact and fiction and why he ended up making decisions that he did. There is something in the book for both men and women; detailed defenses on the castle plus battle scenes that never got boring and memorable characters. The story also contains extremely strong female characters in terms of Sunni and Trudi. I also liked that the story was fair both to christianity and paganism and that it didn't paint paganism as evil. The story is also accessible in terms of language and for me it was easy to read. I did feel that some minor things sounded a bit modern, but they didn't take away from my enjoyment.

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5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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