OSWALD: RETURN OF THE KING, by Edoardo Albert. Published by Lion Fiction (01865-302757). £7.99. Softback.
THE second book in the series ‘The Northumbrian Thrones’ follows the young Prince Oswald’s return from exile on the island of Iona to regain the throne once held by his father King Ethelfrith of Northumbria.
This ‘imaginative history’ based on the brief facts recorded in the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People is, says the author, “as near a true story as I could write”.
When news reaches Iona that Oswald’s half brother, Eanfrith, has been killed by Cadwallon, King of Gwynedd, who is seeking to expand his rule into Northumbria, Oswald sails to the Northumberland coast. At the head of a small army, he seeks out Cadwallon and defeats him at the Battle of Heavenfield.
This fast-paced story then follows the eight turbulent years of Oswald’s reign and his friendship with Aidan, to whom he gave the island of Lindisfarne as a base. But Penda of Mercia, the last great pagan king in England, is raising troops against him…