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Oswiu: King of Kings by Edoardo Albert
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Oswiu: King of Kings

by Edoardo Albert

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ISBN-10: 1782641181
ISBN-13: 9781782641186
Kindle ASIN: B01M98VW5A
Goodreads: 29066000
Misc: 1.3 MiB, epub

In the third entry chronicling the rise of Christian kings in Britain, Oswald dies and the great pagan king Penda becomes overlord in his place. To stand against the increasingly powerful Penda, Oswiu, king of Bernicia, tries to unite the smaller neighboring kingdoms by marrying a daughter of Deira. But the struggle for power leads Oswiu to order the assassination of the king of Deira. He wins the throne but loses the approval of the people. In atonement, he establishes a monastery at the site of the slaying. What will happen when Oswiu and High King Penda at last meet in battle? Though the kingdom may become politically one, both the Celtic and Roman strands of Christian faith vie for supremacy, mirroring the king's own struggle for power. ( )
  ii | Oct 4, 2018 |
The story of Oswiu reads like the best of fiction but is rooted in history. It is a beautifully told story, most enjoyable to read, exciting at times, and has expanded my knowledge and understanding of the ‘Dark Ages’. Oswiu brings to a conclusion The Northumbrian Thrones Trilogy in which Edoardo Albert has brought the past alive for me in a way that nothing has before. Reading the trilogy has been like eavesdropping on the lives of those who lived in the north of Britain in seventh century AD. Each book is complete in itself and enhanced by being part of a trilogy.
Edoardo Albert is a great story teller, has a delightful turn of phrase and uses metaphor brilliantly to capture the atmosphere of the times and events. The people, conversations, habitations, travel, countryside, weather, clothes, battles… he might have been there himself. The dialogue is convincing and I love the subtext in some conversations.
I found it interesting to read about the introduction of Christianity and the conflict with believers in the old gods. Similarly the lives of women of high birth and those people kept as slaves were a natural part of the story and described as they were without judgements based on modern values of feminism and freedom.
This trilogy has opened up my mind to the value of historical fiction. It is set at a place and time about which I knew nothing but have now gained a small understanding of what it was like and I have been left wanting to know more.
I don’t have Edoardo’s facility with words and story but I have done my best to do Oswiu justice as it such a good read and I enjoyed the whole trilogy enormously. I hope there will be more of similar ilk.

The Northumbrian Thrones 0n Edoardo Albert's Blog is most interesting if you want to know more about the history.

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy as the author sent a copy to my author husband.

( )
  thewriterswife | Mar 26, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Oswiu is the final chapter in the Northumbrian kings trilogy. Oswiu is full of adventure and intrigue; a real game of thrones. There are 4 sections. The first cover Oswiu's unlikely recovering of his brother's body, and the second covers his marriage to Eanflaed. The real action and intrigue unfolds in the last two sections as Mercia and Bernicia come into conflict. The historical note at the end is excellent, explaining what we know, and from where. There isn't much to go on, but many of the events in the novel are taken from the historical record. ( )
  al.vick | Jun 29, 2017 |
A year after the death of his brother, Oswiu carries out a daring raid into enemy territory to reclaim his body. Coming into conflict with Penda of Mercia, Oswiu succeeds in his quest and returns Oswin's remains to his family. However not all Oswiu's advisors are true and, on advice, his sets aside his wife to make a dynastically advantageous marriage. Meanwhile Penda grows ever more strong and a final reckoning between the two is due.

This is the third in Albert's trilogy about the three brothers who became High Kings of Bernicia and many of the areas of Anglo-Saxon Britain. Weaving together history and a certain degree of spirituality, the books have been a guide to actions in the 'Dark Ages'. having enjoyed both previous books I looked forward to the final instalment but I did feel that it fell a little flat. The narrative dragged at times and seemed to be about a series of set pieces, rather than a coherent longitudinal study.
( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The final volume of The Northumbrian Thrones trilogy is the story of King Oswiu of Bernicia as recounted in books three and four of Bede’s A History of the English Church and People. Albert divides his novel into four sections roughly corresponding to four major events in Oswiu’s reign.

Part One: King Oswiu of Bernicia is having a difficult time uniting the kingdoms that had wholly supported his brother Oswald. When Oswine of Deria refuses to acknowledge his authority, Oswiu has little recourse. His mother suggests that he mount an expedition to bring the body of his brother Oswald, murdered by Penda, back to Bernicia. Since there have been many miracles reported at the site of Oswald’s murder and more where his bones have been nailed to a tree sacred to Woden it would be a real achievement for Oswiu if he succeeds. The recovery of the bones of his brother, a king and a likely saint, would hopefully unite the kingdoms and prove Oswiu’s worthiness to sit on the Northumbrian throne.

Part Two: To strengthen his position in the seemingly endless war against Penda of Mercia, Oswiu puts aside his first wife and the mother of his two children to marry the Christian daughter of the king of Kent. The section covers mainly the journey of Eanflaed and her entourage from Kent to Northumbria, with miracles enroute.

Part Three: Penda escalates the war against Oswiu with the help of allies including King Oswine of Daria. The siege of Bamburgh Castle and the lifting of the siege with the help of a prayer by Bishop Aiden is the highlight of the section.

Part Four: Finally meeting in battle, Oswiu and Penda fight to the death. Only one can prevail.

In the first book of the trilogy Edwin High King of Britain, Albert adhered primarily to Bede with very little deviation from Bede’s storyline. Only a few scenes were fiction, but very plausible interpretations of the actions of the characters. The dialogue was very like a literal translation of the Latin. In the second book Oswald Return of the King, again Albert depends heavily on Bede’s account but humanizes the characters and makes the language more contemporary.

By book three Albert uses Oswiu’s entire story from Bede, but greatly changes parts of it and adds a lot of imagined scenes. The language is very contemporary. (The children call Oswiu “Daddy”, for example). These are not bad choices, necessarily. But Oswiu reads much more like a modern historical novel and less like the source material. When I was reading Edwin I was so impressed with it that I could see it being used in a history class as an example of how to use a primary source to make the period come alive. With Oswiu I felt that it was a great piece of writing but there was so much license taken with the source material that the story was not as true to the spirit of Bede. They are very different books by the same author in the same series.

I did enjoy Oswiu for different reasons. The imagery is wonderful, especially in scenes like the description of Woden’s tree where Oswald’s body parts are displayed and the final confrontation with Penda. (Oh, I do hope it happened that way, but there is not a word in Bede. It is all Albert).

Albert was right on target about the tidal wave of change caused by the acceptance of the Christian religion. No longer is dying in battle the only acceptable way for a king to die. Oswiu remarks at the end of the book that it would be quite appropriate if he were to die peacefully in bed. Good works by the king to atone for his sins are replacing the giving of gold to insure a loyal following.

I hope Albert continues to write in the period. Whether he is sticking closely to his source or filling in blanks with his wonderful narrative he is an asset to his chosen field. ( )
  Liz1564 | May 16, 2017 |
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"In the third entry chronicling the rise of Christian kings in Britain, Oswald dies and the great pagan king Penda becomes overlord in his place. To stand against the increasingly powerful Penda, Oswiu, king of Bernicia, tries to unite the smaller neighboring kingdoms by marrying a daughter of Deira. But the struggle for power leads Oswiu to order the assassination of the king of Deira. He wins the throne but loses the approval of the people. In atonement, he establishes a monastery at the site of the slaying. What will happen when Oswiu and High King Penda at last meet in battle? Though the kingdom may become politically one, both the Celtic and Roman strands of Christian faith vie for supremacy, mirroring the king's own struggle for power." -- Goodreads.com… (more)

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