Welcome to the opening day of the blog tour for Lord and Land by Matthew Harffy, the eighth book in his Bernicia Chronicles series. My thanks to Jade at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my digital review copy via NetGalley.
About the Book
Greed and ambition threaten to tear the north apart. War rages between the two kingdoms of Northumbria. Kin is pitted against kin and friend becomes foe as ambitious kings vie for supremacy.
When Beobrand travels south into East Angeln to rescue a friend, he unwittingly tilts the balance of power in the north, setting in motion events that will lead to a climactic confrontation between Oswiu of Bernicia and Oswine of Deira.
While the lord of Ubbanford is entangled in the clash of kings, his most trusted warrior, Cynan, finds himself on his own quest, called to the aid of someone he thought never to see again. Riding into the mountainous region of Rheged, Cynan faces implacable enemies who would do anything to further their own ends.
Forced to confront their pasts, and with death and betrayal at every turn, both Beobrand and Cynan have their loyalties tested to breaking point. Who will survive the battle for a united Northumbria, and who will pay the ultimate price for lord and land?
Format: Hardcover (480 pages) Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 1st July 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find For Lord and Land (The Bernicia Chronicles Book 8) on Goodreads
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For Lord and Land is the fourth book I’ve read in the author’s Bernicia Chronicles series featuring the exploits of Northumbrian warrior, Beobrand. Having not read the entire series from the beginning or even read the ones I have in the right order, I think I’m well-placed to reassure readers new to the series that this latest instalment can be read perfectly well as a standalone. The author comes to the reader’s aid as well because, once the intriguing and dramatic prologue is done with, the opening chapters introduce the key characters you need to know.
Chief amongst these is, naturally, the man himself, Beobrand, whose strength, speed and skill with sword and spear has brought him the reputation as ‘one of the deadliest adversaries in all of Albion’, and as a man who rarely backs down from a fight. However, this all comes at a cost as Beobrand is frequently plagued by nightmares of the dreadful scenes of violent death he has witnessed on and off the battlefield. And then there are the members of the Black Shields, Beobrand’s warband of gesithas, whose oaths of loyalty to him Beobrand never takes for granted. Amongst them is a young man, Cuthbert, who dreams of being a great warrior but may be destined for other things.
Throughout the book, the author weaves into the unfolding story brief recaps of significant events from previous books that help to explain relationships – friendly or, more often, the opposite – between characters. And, as the reader soon learns, family ties don’t always mean closeness or affection. It’s a particular sadness for Beobrand. As he reflects, ‘All he had ever wanted was peace and a family to call his own. But however he tried, he could not cling onto love’.
Cynan, the subject of the parallel storyline, has other problems as he sets out on a quest to prevent an injustice to a woman he once knew (and who first appeared in an earlier book in the series, Warrior of Woden). Not only does Cynan put his own life in danger in doing so but he also risks the ire of Beobrand: not something to be taken lightly.
Those familiar with the author’s books will know the action comes thick and fast with battle scenes so vivid you could believe yourself part of the shieldwall and itching to respond to Beobrand’s rallying cry of “Onward, my brave gesithas!”. It’s on these occasions, and in one-to-one combat, that Beobrand releases ‘the tethered beast of his battle-ire to do its work’. Is it Beobrand’s wyrd (fate) that he live to fight another day? Wait and see.
For those who like to know how much of their historical fiction is based on fact, you’ll be pleased to know the author provides just this information in his Historical Note. And, although it wasn’t in my digital proof copy, the book also contains a helpful map.
In For Lord and Land, Matthew Harffy has once again delivered an action-packed adventure, immersing the reader in a tumultuous period of history in which ties of friendship and loyalty are constantly tested, and treachery may lie in wait around every corner.
In three words: Action-packed, immersive, pacy
Try something similar: The Serpent King (The Whale Road Chronicles #4) by Tim Hodkinson
About the Author
Matthew Harffy grew up in Northumberland where the rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline had a huge impact on him. He now lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.