Excellent Historical Fiction from Britain's Dark Ages: Oswiu King of Kings

I love well-written historical fiction. Good historical fiction doesn’t just stick characters into a historical setting. It transports the reader to that time and place and lets the reader get to know it through the characters’ stories.

A few years ago I reviewed a book titled Edwin: High King of Britain by Edoardo Albert. This was truly excellent historical fiction set in the dark ages of Britain. I loved the book and later reviewed the second in the series- Oswald: Return of the King. Oswiu: King of Kings is the culmination of this series.

Review of Oswiu King of Kings

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The books are set in Britain around the 600s AD. In this time period, individual kings and kingdoms struggle with one another for power. In this time, a few hundreds of years after the life of Christ, the Romans are withdrawn from the island of Britain. The Germanic tribes known as the Angles and the Saxons pushed the native Britons back and ruled the island. It’s also a time when kings and people alike are transitioning from the worship of the ancient gods to the worship of the one God in this new religion from Rome.
Edwin, Oswald, and Oswiu were real historical kings that ruled during this time. The author of this book- Edoardo Albert- takes the time to write a brief history in the back of the book to clarify the known historical people and events and to show how the fiction story lines up or perhaps differs from what we know from history.

Synopsis of Oswiu: King of Kings

This is one series that is definitely necessary to read in order. Giving as few spoilers as possible, I’ll give a brief synopsis. (One thing I’ve loved about the second and now the third book is that the author has taken time to review what has happened in the previous books at the beginning of the book. This means that people like me who read voraciously and tend to cross stories and characters can remember what has happened.)
At the beginning of this book, Oswald, Oswiu’s brother and the former king, is dead. His remains supposedly have powers to heal and even bring back from the dead. Oswiu’s family and advisors agree that he should bring Oswald’s remains back from the lands controlled by Penda- the evil king who has been battling for control since the first book.
Despite fear of his own capture or death, Oswald does this. Unfortunately it doesn’t solve all of his problems. And the story continues with Penda’s struggle to overthrow Oswiu with finality so that he can truly be the high king.

Review of Oswiu: King of Kings

This book, like the others before, was fascinating to me. The characters are so well-developed that I feel as if I get to know them, despite the fact that there is truly a large cast of characters. The time period is so well-portrayed that I can envision the way the people are living in the small, independent kingdoms that gradually come to acknowledge Penda as high king.
Deep themes run throughout all of the books- love, friendship, family, religion, power. But within each of these it’s the great character development that I think truly makes the stories come to life.
The books have given me an interest in and fascination with this historical time period, one I honestly haven’t considered very closely before. Since I began with Edwin: High King of Britain, I’ve looked for other books set in the time period.
As with the first two, this is a book I can highly recommend- especially if you have an interest in good historical fiction. You can find the book on Kregel here and on Amazon here. You can also read a sample of the Kindle book below.

Review of Oswiu: King of Kings

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