I was fortunate enough to meet the author of the above book at the recent TDN conference in the West Midlands at the end of November 2010 and he generously gave me a copy of his work. Unfortunately and probably much the same as most people at this time, my time has been severely restricted over the last few months which meant I did not have much opportunity to read it. However, I set aside time this weekend and I have now read the book.
The first thing to note is that the author is not a full time author but has various other interests which are listed on the site he has created for the sale and publicity of his book.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and the author has obviously done much research into the subject matter. I must confess here and now that I was unaware of both the evidence and circumstances of this battle and it’s far reaching consequences of placing Athelstan as a unifying ruler before the Normans, even for such a limited time span. There are things I think may have enhanced the book, for example, the likes of Bernard Cornwell and Caiseal Mor tend to use the place names and the specific language of the times they are writing about and as such, present an appendix before the start to explain what these are. I found the use of modern shire names therefore, to distract a little from the atmosphere of the book, but this is a personal thing here, as I find if I have to work around the language used from those times, it actually helps set the scene better in my mind. I can though, understand why the author has chosen to use the modern names, probably so as to appeal to the widest span of the general public, so my comments are entirely of a personal statement and should not distract from the book itself.
My only other slightly negative comment would be the main battle scenes appeared a little disjointed for me, they didn’t flow as well as some written by more accomplished authors, however, saying that, these battles could hardly have been a smooth and continuous affair so therefore, the style would be entirely in keeping with the “reality” of these actions.
Coming from the immediate area this book is primarily set in, it is obvious to me that the author has spent a great deal of time and effort researching the subject matter. For that he is to be applauded and although the book is not written by an “accomplished” author as such, what it may lack in polish, it makes up for in logical sequencing. Therefore I have no reservation in recommending this book to anyone. The fact that it is a result of an amateur investigation, to my eyes, does not detract from it and I applaud the effort and time taken to complete this project.