Title: Wolf of Mercia (The Eagle of Mercia Chronicles #2)
Author: M J Porter
Map illustration: Flintlock Covers
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Genre: Historical fiction
Book format: Digital pre-publication copy
Description: As a lone wolf inside a Wessex stronghold, Icel must ensure his own and Mercia’s triumph.
Icel is becoming a warrior of Mercia, but King Ecgberht of Wessex still holds the Mercian settlement of Londonia and its valuable mint.
King Wiglaf of Mercia is determined that the last bulwark be reclaimed from his sworn enemy to complete his rehabilitation as Mercia’s rightful ruler.
In the heart of the shield wall, Icel suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the battle and thrust into the retreating enemy stronghold where he must take on the pretence of a Wessex warrior to survive and exact a cunning plan to bring down the Wessex force cowering behind the ancient walls.
His allegiances are tested and the temptation to make new allies is overwhelming but Icel must succeed if he’s ever to see Tamworth again and bring about King Wiglaf’s victory, or will he be forced to join the enemy?
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: Oh wow, what an amazing and exciting book and a brilliant second instalment in the series. After swearing an oath to the king and fighting for him, Icel now finds himself and the rest of the Mercian forces fighting against Wessex to take back the city of Londonia which the Wessex king has tried to take for himself. The battle is fierce but when the enemy begin to retreat to the safety inside the ancient Lodinium walls, Icel finds himself suddenly among the Wessex forces and has to find a way to escape and help his Mercian allies, without anyone suspecting him of being the enemy.
This is such an exciting story, I just couldn’t put it down from the first pages! I loved the first book in the series, Son of Mercia, so I was excited to see what happens next for young Icel after the events of the last book. This one begins with the Mercian forces heading towards Londonia, what is known as London today. I love what happens and how the two sections of Londonia are explained, both the ancient Roman Londinium and the market settlement of Lundenwic. There is a map at the start of the book which shows you these two parts of Londonia and I liked seeing this as it shows all the areas where the action takes place and where Icel spends a lot time in the story.
I love the twist that happens when Icel finds himself suddenly among his enemy. It was brilliant and I enjoyed what happened next when he finds himself amongst all the Wessex men and has to be careful not to give himself away as a Mercian. What happens during his time in Londinium is interesting, the encounters he has with certain characters, and I loved the descriptions of the place feling old and a little eerie. It’s interesting to get a sense of the old Roman building from the perspective of someone living hundreds of years later.
As the story moves on, Icel finds himself trying to escape the place. I love what happens and the eventual route of escape that’s chosen. I won’t say how it happens, but there are some funnier moments in the story, like when certain characters are trying to get in and out of places. The story never stops being a page-turner, every moment exiting, even when Icel is using his healing skills on others. There are lots of interesting moments where I didn’t know what would happen, great twists and a brilliant final battle which is exciting but didn’t finish the book off quite as I’d hoped.
The ending is a good one, however the last chapter is the ending of a battle and then the story just ends. It’s a decent ending but I was hoping for another chapter or page to shows us what happened to some of the other characters like Icel’s friend or just another chapter to help calm down the story after that final exciting battle scene, like with the first book, but the story just ends there. There will clearly be more in the series but I would have liked a final chapter just to see more of some characters. The book has author’s notes at the back which is interesting to read, especially about the mint at the time.
This book is more fast-paced than the last one which made it really exciting to read, but it’s also a lot more gory. There’s a lot of fighting and pretty detailed descriptions of the violence, blood, other bodily fluids including a lot of vomiting. There is one use of the f swear word and occasional uses of the s words too. The story was good for me, I like Icel’s narration of what’s happening and how things go, but for me this book was edging on a little too gory for me, and I just wish I knew what happened to a couple of characters at the end. No doubt there will be a third book in the series though, and I’m looking forward to reading it. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction set in the ninth century, which is fast-paced and exciting, and who doesn’t mind some pretty gory battles and deaths.
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About the Author
MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, and in Viking Age Denmark. Raised in the shadow of a building that was believed to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia, meant that the author’s writing destiny was set.
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What do you think of this book? Have you read any books set in early medieval times? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂