Tuesday 19 December 2023

Oscar's Tale - Chris Bishop

'For is it not the wish of every man that his son will achieve more in life than he did?'

OSCAR'S TALE is the story of a Saxon boy who sets out to find and rescue his father who has been taken by Viking slavers. 

Set in 877 as the people of Wessex are forced to fight not just for their very lives, but for their freedom, their religion and for their right to live as Saxons, Oscar relates all that which befalls him on his all but impossible quest. This is set against the backdrop of King Alfred's desperate attempt to regain his kingdom which culminates in a victory at the Battle of Edington which is very much against the odds. 

But this is not just a story about bloody battles and fearsome warriors, it's about a boy struggling to live up to his father's reputation as a warrior and trying to find his place in a turbulent and uncertain world. For that, Oscar is forced to confront many dangers, earn the respect of others far above his station and even find love - albeit the cost to him is far higher than most men would have been willing to pay. 

What did I think?

I am a huge fan of Chris Bishop's Shadow of the Raven series so I was delighted to read an advance copy of his new standalone novel, Oscar's Tale.  This wonderful novel is a virtual walk in the footsteps of the Anglo Saxons and I absolutely loved it.

It's a difficult time in 9th century Wessex with the constant threat of Viking invasion and families trying to survive by living off the land.  Teenager Oscar witnesses a Viking invasion on his home and as if that wasn't bad enough, he sees his father captured and taken prisoner.  Oscar struggles with his guilt of not rushing to defend his father but with a wise head on such young shoulders instead makes his way to the Ealdorman's Vill to plead for help.

Oscar is such a plucky young lad and I really enjoyed reading about his adventures that takes him on a journey that brings him to the attention of King Alfred himself.  I love Oscar's whole commitment to defend his family and his king and he has to do a lot of both as the Battle of Edington draws near.

After reading Oscar's Tale it's almost like other books are written in monochrome as Chris Bishop writes historical fiction in glorious technicolor, magically bringing history to life in front of my eyes.  Vivid, immersive and compelling; it feels like stepping back in time when you read Oscar's Tale and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Many thanks to Chris Bishop for sending me a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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