Following Guthrum’s crushing defeat at Edington, Alfred’s kingdom is enjoying a rare period of peace. Alfred is ageing. Bouts of his old illness are increasingly frequent, and he prays that his final years will be free of Viking raids, allowing him to concentrate on expanding his kingdom’s boundaries and improving its standard of learning. Scholars are summoned from near and far, amongst them a certain Welsh abbot named Asser.
Ongoing peace is no certainty, however, and Alfred continues to improve his defences. An attack on Rochester proves that Wessex is still far from safe… whilst also confirming the effectiveness of Alfred’s newly fortified towns and mobile armies. The arrival of a huge Norse army puts those defences to the test. Its devious leader does not easily give up and the conflict becomes a trial of will and wits between him and Alfred’s staunch ealdormen, one of whom is Eadwulf’s son, Aethelred.
While Aethelred pursues his role as Lord of the Mercians, Eadwulf settles back in Aros. Old friendships are rekindled, new ones are formed, and a situation in al-Andalus takes Eadwulf, Bjorn and their comrades on another dangerous quest across the sea.
But will this new life be enough to stop Eadwulf missing his children and friends back in Mercia?
5 star review for King of the Anglo Saxons
For those, like me, who have followed the story of these two men from the beginning, this final volume is a very satisfying tying up of all the threads. Ms Thom’s knowledge of this turbulent time in history shines through and her characters, as always, come across as rounded, real people. I was very sad to say goodbye to them but their story arcs have all been completed perfectly. Alfred’s reign was not all about the Danish wars and we see again the man, not just the king, as he interacts with his growing family. A fitting end to a fine series. ~ Whitey, Amazon Reviewer
Eadwulf isback on the Sea Eagle with Bjorn and his crew on a quest to discover if Eadwulf’s father, King Beorhtwulf of Mercia, is still alive after twenty years as a slave. Bjorn’s great dragonship carries them down to the searing June temperatures and strict laws in the Moorish lands of al-Andalus. But searching for Beorhtwulf proves more difficult than they’d expected, causing them more trouble than they’d bargained for…
In Wessex, King Aethelred is now dead, leaving his twenty-one-year-old brother, Alfred, to succeed to the throne. Though his succession was agreed by the witan, Alfred must now prove himself worthy of the kingship, or lose it. But Wessex is in turmoil, besieged by Viking Danes intent on subjugating the kingdom – and knowing that the new king is young and inexperienced. Alfred must use all his wiles if he is to outthink and outmanoeuvre Guthrum, the Dane who nearly becomes his nemesis.
Alfred’s victories and defeats take him on a journey of learning, during which he gains experience and strength. We share his highs and his lows, and how he rises from the depths of despair to save his beloved kingdom from total conquest.
And at his side in his greatest time of need is his new ally and friend, Eadwulf of Mercia.
Here are some of the 5 star reviews for Wyvern of Wessex:
As an avid watcher of The Viking series on TV, this series was an awesome fill in. Very well-written and kept my interest throughout the entire series. I sure hope there will be another book to tell of Eadwulf’s next phase of his life. ~ Amber Carrow Amazon.com
I have fallen in love with the characters in this book. Ms. Thom breathes life into these great people from our past. The different cultures coming together at this pivotal point in history is fascinating. ~ Sonora, Amazon.com
Sons of Kings Books 1, 2 & 3 are very well put together. Following the life of Alfred the Great, Millie has added history with fiction into 3 good reads. I liked the Norse/Mercian connection and enjoyed them so much I read one after another and looking forward to Book 4. Talented author and excellent compiler of historical & fiction. ~ Howard Riach Amazon UK
A very well written and researched book series. I thoroughly enjoyed and can’t praise the author enough. The amazing journey from Book 1 to Book 3 just keeps you reading! ~ Mark Evans Amazon UK
The lives of Alfred of Wessex and Eadwulf of Mercia continue to unfold against the ever-increasing threat of Danish raids. Now back in his homeland, Eadwulf sets out on his determined quest for revenge, whilst Alfred’s leadership skills develop at the courts of his successive brothers. Before long, those skills will be put to the test.
The Danish invasion of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in 865 is merciless and relentless. Every year more Norse ships come to join their comrades in a quest to plunder for wealth and gain domination over the people. The Wessex king is now Aethelred, Alfred’s last surviving brother, and Alfred becomes his trusted second-in-command. Whilst the Danes take kingdom after kingdom, the brothers wait with baited breath for them to set their sights on Wessex.
By 869 their worst fear is realised.
Some of the 5 star reviews of Pit of Vipers:
If you like Bernard Cornwell’s Uhtred series, you’ll like this … BJ Kitchen, Amazon.com
If you like spellbinding historical fiction with plenty of grueling action, you’ve got to read Pit of Vipers. Fans of the Dark Ages and The Vikings will love this book. Highly recommend! N.N. Light Amazon.com
Anyone interested in the time of the Vikings and their addition to the creation of the English will thoroughly enjoy this book. For those of us who enjoy Griff Hosker, Bernard Cornwall and Jerry Autieri, try this new series by Millie Thom…Excellent! ~ Sue Merritt Amazon.com
A great find for historical fiction fans … SPR editorial review
The names we choose for the characters in our novels may come to us in a blinding flash . . . or we could spend days, weeks, or even months dredging them up from the bottom of the fish pond. Alternatively, we might have already chosen our main characters’ names before we even start writing the book. Then again, we might have known for years we would write about a particular character or characters.
How do we actually go about the name-choosing process? For example, why did we call the pretty and very feminine young lady ‘Daisy,’ or ‘Poppy’ – or any such flowery name – whereas, for the older strait-laced woman we opt for Gertrude, Beatrice or Penelope?
Of course, the abbreviated form of these formal-sounding names (e.g. Gertie) could be used for a less prim and starchy figure.
Often, we pick names we feel suit the characters so well, or even their professions. Or perhaps, the name is so inappropriate to the character that it’s comical – which is, undoubtedly, the author’s intent. How many times has a tall, brawny man acquired the nickname of ‘Tiny’?
There seem to be a whole list of things to take into consideration, including ethnic origin of the character(s) and/or where the story is set. Then there’s simply that gut feeling that the name is just right.
Certain names are definitely more prevalent than others at particular periods. Many names used in novels set in the Victorian era include names we associate with that time. A few examples could be Albert, Ernest and Frederick, and Minnie, Florence and Bertha. Many Victorian names have had a big ‘come-back’ in recent years, although many tend to use the shortened versions – Sam for example, and not the complete, Samuel. My mother’s name, Millicent, is now used quite a lot for girls in the UK, but generally as Millie (or Milly).
When writing historical fiction, unless the complete cast of characters is fictional, many of our characters’ names are predetermined. We can hardly call Henry VIII, Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great anything other than those names. Right?
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
My books are set in the mid 9th century, and one of my two protagonists is King Alfred of Wessex (later known as Alfred the Great). Alfred is an easy enough name to get your tongue around (although it was originally in the form of Aelfraed, which oddly enough means, ‘Elf counsel’).
But most Anglo-Saxon names are extremely difficult to pronounce, and to spell. There seem to be letters stuck in places which look quite out of place to us. For example, Alfred’s grandfather was called Ecgberht. What’s with the extra ‘c’ and ‘h’? For pronunciation they mean little; we simply say Egbert.
I can’t change real historical people’s names. In my book, I have lots of Anglo-Saxon and Danish/Viking names, but the A.S. ones are the most confusing. Alfred himself is one of six children, their father being King Aethelwulf of Wessex. Like Aethelwulf himself, five of his children have names beginning with the prefix ‘Aethel’. Only Alfred is different, which is quite convenient, really! Even Alfred’s only sister is called, Aethelswith.
Perhaps readers could just drop the ‘Aethel’ part and just remember the last syllable. It would be easy to think of Aethelstan as Stan, or Aethelberht as Bert!
Confusing names can put people off – but what can the poor historical fiction author do about it? I have a list of characters at the front of the book and hope readers will use it. And I don’t really think that pronunciation matters so much, as long as a reader knows which character is which. One reviewer on Amazon.co.uk said that they enjoyed my book once they’d got used to all the difficult names. An honest opinion, and obviously valued as such. But I could name many novels with difficult-sounding names – many fantasy novels, in particular.
Anglo-Saxon place names are equally difficult, in many cases they are nothing like the names of English towns today. I know that some authors have used these A.S. names and added a list at the back/front giving their modern equivalents. I decided to call the towns and villages in A.S. England by their modern names, simply not to complicate things further. It’s easy enough for anyone to find a webpage of comparative lists.
A few interesting quotes about names:
“Now you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.” -Neil Gaiman, Coraline
“Emilie. A beautiful name for a beautiful girl.” -Marissa Meyer, Scarlet
“Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
By the mid ninth century, Danish raids on Anglo-Saxon kingdoms have escalated. Several bands even dare to overwinter on the coastal islands, particularly those at the mouth of the Thames, where the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia border each other. The kings of these lands must put past hostilities aside and take the first steps towards unity; steps they see as vital in the face of this newfound threat to their lands.
Alfred of Wessex and Eadwulf of Mercia are the sons of kings, whose futures have been determined since birth. But the turbulent events in their childhood years change the natural progression of things and shape the characters of the men they will become. Their roads to manhood follow vastly different routes, but both learn crucial lessons along the way: lessons that will serve them well in future years.
Discovering that the enemy is not always a stranger is a harsh lesson indeed; the realisation that a trusted kinsman can turn traitor is the harshest lesson of all.
These are some of the five star reviews for Shadow of the Raven:
A fantastic, well written story – Tammy L. Nesheim: Amazon.com
…truly a remarkable historical fiction… J.L. Hutchisson: Amazon.com
…a beautifully crafted and seamlessly linked tale… Tricia Preston: Amazon.co.uk
You know those authors that write in a way that the reader can basically smell the soil just from the description? Well, Thom nailed it: Emmeline (The Book Herald)TOP 50 REVIEWER. Amazon.com