Warriors of Ethandun by N M Browne
|Warriors of Ethandun by N M Browne|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Tremendously satisfying conclusion to this time-slip trilogy, focusing on King Alfred's historic battle against the Vikings. Historical and supernatural elements blend perfectly, and there's great thought given to the climax and resolution.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: May 2009|
Unable to live happily in the magic-free twenty-first century, Dan and Ursula slip through the Veil for a third time. They find themselves in England at the time of King Alfred the Great. The Vikings are marauding and Alfred is holed up in the marshes, planning one of the greatest comebacks British history has ever seen.
Separated by Ursula's desperate need to access the magic within her, the two teenagers find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. Ursula is held captive by the Danes and revered as the goddess Freya, while Dan struggles to contain his inner violence as he attempts to help the Saxons. Both have desperately testing times; Ursula must try not to lose herself to the magic which threatens to overtake her and Dan finds that, in this land and time, his murderous instincts can actually cause him to shape-shift.
If they don't win these battles, Ursula and Dan may never see home again.
This has been a wonderful fantasy series. The magic constantly shifts and changes to take account of the historical period, which is full of accurate and sophisticated detail. But while readers may emerge with a good sense of the politics and societies into which the central characters are propelled, they will also find themselves out of breath and absolutely satisfied because nothing is sacrificed to the rip-roaring adventure. There are fights and displays of courage aplenty, and Browne keeps them hanging right until the end for an heroic denouement full of noble sacrifice.
Ursula and Dan are very different, but they are both well-drawn and winning central characters. Sparks fly between them, but their bond is absolute and this, I think, is what makes you root for them so much. Like much fantasy for young adults, their story is a metaphor for coming-of-age and what a coming-of-age it is. History and magic rise equally vividly from the pages and the underlying themes of growing up, honour, love, and doing the right thing slot in perfectly. The supporting cast is fully-fleshed and I really liked it that we have Taliesin the bard instead of the too-obvious choice of Merlin for the morally ambiguous role.
My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.
Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer is an equally wonderful time-travel adventure, this time with its junior heroes visiting the eighteenth century. Warrior King by Sue Purkiss is a straightforward piece of historical fiction about Alfred the Great, while Raven: Blood Eye by Giles Kristian is a rollicking adventure with Vikings aplenty and set just a little bit earlier. The Owl Service by Alan Garner is, of course, the classic blend of magic and fantasy.
You can read more book reviews or buy Warriors of Ethandun by N M Browne at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Warriors of Ethandun by N M Browne at Amazon.com.
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