The Serpent“The Serpent Sword” by Matthew Harffy is a great historical novel set in the Albion of the 7th Century A.D.
It is a period full of alliances, warfare, warriors, battles, death and rival kingdoms. I found it particularly rewarding to read because it covers a time that lay foundations for the racial, religious and human future of Britain. The book is informative, well researched and full of fascinating details, authentic (with artistic licences) and convincing in style and language.
Beobrand is a well chosen central character. Out for revenge in war-torn Northumbria he soon questions he soon changes course. The book is about great human qualities, such as honour, love and valour and enjoyable on many levels.
I’m not usually big on the dark ages but this has really captured my imagination and attention.

Link to my interview with Matthew

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Don’t take my word for it. Here is another review from Goodreads:

I’m typically somewhat tough to impress, but I loved everything about this book. The time period, the battles, the twists and turns…everything.

Beobrand is a complex character who struggles to define himself in a turbulent world. Escaping an abusive father only to learn that his brother has been murdered, Beobrand is tempted by the glory of violence himself. This comes as no surprise as the kings of the land that would one day become England use cutthroat methods to grasp at supremacy. I loved watching Beobrand evolve into an honorable, thoughtful young warrior after fighting ghosts of his past and very real physical enemies.

Harffy has expertly recreated the 7th century in this novel, especially the mingling of pagan and Christian beliefs. Though Beobrand becomes close friends with several people in a Christian community, he remains staunchly loyal to the old gods, trusting even more in his own strength.

Though most of this novel is gritty, gory, and not for the weak of heart, there is a touch of romance for young Beobrand. This part of the story was just enough to show Beobrand soften a little, put someone else ahead of himself, and fully push him into maturity.

If you like Bernard Cornwell’s Uhtred, you will love Beobrand. Still not convinced? Matthew Harffy has a recording of the prologue on his blog. (Now I even like this guy’s voice!) You will be powerless to not read more.

Bio:Β Matthew

Matthew Harffy lived in Northumberland as a child and the area had a great impact on him. The rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline made it easy to imagine the past. Decades later, a documentary about Northumbria’s Golden Age sowed the kernel of an idea for a series of historical fiction novels. The first of them is the action-packed tale of vengeance and coming of age, THE SERPENT SWORD.

Matthew has worked in the IT industry, where he spent all day writing and editing, just not the words that most interested him. Prior to that he worked in Spain as an English teacher and translator. Matthew lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.


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