Author: Annie Whitehead
Type of book: 874-918, Mercia, Wessex, King and Queen, battles, vikings, daily life, royalty, ruling, gardening, bee-keeping, marriage, partnership, peacekeeper, family
Year it was published: 2015
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.
Main characters include AEthelflaed "Teasel" one of the oldest daughters of Alfred the Great who fears vikings greatly and who seems to be more tomboyish and fearless despite her fear of vikings. Teasel is all too human and has to make a lot of tough decisions. She does end up overcoming some of her fears as well as learning a lot of valuable lessons along the way. Ethelred is Teasel's husband who is sort of an informal king of Mercia and who is fighter and is passionate about the nation and people he guards. Edward is AEthelflaed's younger brother who becomes king of Wessex and who also has to make a lot of tough decisions in order to achieve his dreams. There are other characters there as well as such as the cousin who desires Edward's crown and vikings who dare to raid England and Teasel's and Edward's family members and those who are loyal to them.
Growth and overcoming fears can happen
The story is in third person narrative from AEthelflaed "Teasel"'s point of view, although from time to time Ethelred's and Edward's points of view are also mentioned in the story. Despite the constant warfare that surrounds Teasel's life, we see the physical battles very little. But psychological and emotional battles as well as the scars they impart on the characters are much more difficult to ignore. The story focuses more on the daily life of Teasel's family as well as Teasel trying to overcome her fears and becoming an amazing queen. Teasel is also shown as a human being who errs and makes mistakes just like anyone else. I found the story to be amazing and extremely detailed as well as vivid.
I often imagine the glamour and glitz that royal titles have had on people, little knowing that in the past the life of royal is far more than just scheming and politics and gaining power. Previously I've read a lot of books that dealt with royalty, although to be fair those took place in 1600s to almost 1800s, and its a big difference between the two. Royalty in 1600s to 1700s focused on wealth, glamour, trendsetting, trickery and being on top. In this book, however, being a royal means doing what is right even if your heart is against it, always being there for the people you are in charge of through good and bad times and always being a helpmate to your love. If you're looking for a non-stop action novel, then this is not the right story, but if you are seeking a story that faithfully recreates the daily life of late 9th to early 10th centuries in England and where one watches the growth of a young girl to a mature woman who will do whatever she can for her adopted people and country at the cost of her own family and happiness and who truly grows and shines as a star in the sky, then you've found the right book.
This was given to me for an honest review
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.)