Sunday 16 May 2021

Bloodlines (The Shadow of the Raven Book 4) - Chris Bishop


As the threat of yet another Viking invasion looms over his troubled realm, Alfred, King of Wessex, reviews and strengthens his defences. Among his many concerns is the fate of Edward, his stable boy, who he believes to be the bastard son of revered warrior Matthew, who died serving the Saxon cause. If his heritage can be proved, Edward is not only heir to vast fortune but, more importantly, he has the blood of a warrior in his veins, something the Saxons are likely to need in spades.

More worryingly, Alfred fears that if Edward’s true lineage ever became known, there would be those who might seek to exploit him or, worse still, use him to usurp Alfred’s rule. He confides in just two of his closest advisers and they conspire to send Edward to the relative safety of Wareham on the pretext of having him train Governor Osric’s magnificent black stallion, a horse thought to be all but unrideable.

Edward is treated with disdain when he reaches Wareham and regarded as being too puny to be a warrior. However when the barely-trained members of the fyrd find themselves outnumbered, isolated and confronting a dreaded Viking warband, it is Edward’s quick thinking and extraordinary courage that leads them to victory, leaving no doubt about his true bloodline.

What did I think?

The Shadow of the Raven is one of my favourite historical fiction series so I was delighted to find that Chris Bishop had extended it from his original trilogy.  You don't need to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy Bloodlines as it comprises a new cast of characters (and some familiar faces for series fans), however, I think it will definitely make new readers intrigued enough to pick up the earlier books.

The first three books in the series cover the life of Matthew, a monk turned warrior, and the bloodlines in the title of this book refer to Matthew's offspring - a son and a daughter born of different mothers.  As a further layer of intrigue, Matthew's daughter is a fraternal twin so her brother is not Matthew's son but rather the son of a Viking.  With the twins' mother prophesising on her deathbed that they must be kept apart in order to survive, you can see why Chris Bishop just had to continue his story.

I've said it before and I'll say it again (not just because it's on the cover), this is an outstanding piece of historical fiction.  Chris Bishop's writing is so vivid and authentic that you can't help but immerse yourself in the period.  Although it took me a little while to get into the book (as I was missing Matthew terribly), once I got to know Edward I was completely engrossed.  Edward is definitely a mini-Matthew and I loved his affinity with horses that shows his gentle nature but underneath he has the heart of a warrior.  

The whole story is woven together beautifully with vivid scene setting and strong, memorable characters.  My heart was in my mouth at times with the threat of Viking invasion and danger lurking closer to home that is a thread left tantalisingly dangling with three magical words at the end of the book: To be continued...

Chris Bishop brings Saxon history to life with his stunning writing and Bloodlines is a wonderful addition to an outstanding series.  I simply can't wait for Book 5: The Prodigal Son.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:

No comments:

Post a Comment