I feel especially privileged to bring you a review of Sword of Vengeance on both publication day and for the opening leg of this blog tour!
I’ve had the pleasure to feature two out of the three previous books in the series as part of tours – Warrior and Protector and Brothers of the Sword. I would have featured the second book in the series, Storm of War as well, if not for my oversight of missing the tour invite! This is a great historical fiction series to pick up if you love your Viking era literature.
Before we get into my review, I always take the opportunity to say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, and to the author, Peter Gibbons for the opportunity to review the book as part of the tour.
Sword of Vengeance – Peter Gibbons
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: 02 Feb 2024
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
In the aftermath of the great battle of Maldon, justice is demanded and vengeance will be served!
King Aethelred’s the Unready’s army has been defeated at the historic Battle of Maldon by Viking invaders led by Olaf Tryggvason and King Sweyn Forkbeard.
The strategic turning point of the battle was when Godric, an East Saxon Thegn, fled the battlefield taking with him the Saxon army, leaving behind his brothers to be massacred in a welter of blood and Norse axe blades.
Saxon warrior Beornoth emerges from the ashes of defeat with his heart aflame with vengeance and when King Aethelred sends for Bernoth with orders to punish those traitors responsible for the crushing defeat, he heeds the king’s call.
With a small band of loyal warriors, Bernoth embarks on an unforgiving journey across the perilous landscape to seek out Godric and exact his bloody revenge. They must fight their way through a world teeming with political intrigue, shifting alliances and the ever-present threat of the Vikings.
Can Beornoth triumph over insurmountable odds in this pulse pounding quest for retribution?
If you enjoyed The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell, you’ll love Beornoth’s Quest for Vengeance!
Sword of Vengeance is a fact-paced and action-packed narrative. That’s hardly surprising as the precedent was set from the get-go in this series, Warrior and Protector.
Events of the book pick up immediately after the conclusion of book three. I’m not giving away any spoilers here, so rest assured. What I can say is that the consequences of that battle, and the drama, are the driving forces of events in this book.
Beornoth and his brave warriors demand vengeance, and these bloodthirsty men have no qualms in seeking it out themselves! As with previous books though, there is an element of underlying politics and a wider plot which still touches on this very personal narrative. As a prominent warrior, Beornoth cannot wholly serve himself, and his ties to some of the most powerful men in the country ensure his actions have both impact and repercussions across the country.
The narrative of Sword of Vengeance is a very personal one in nature. Through this, we find ourselves investing heavily in characters such as Beornoth and Brand. They are the favourites we have come to know throughout earlier books in the series. In particular, I love their individual intricate stories and relationship with each other.
I never quite know or trust what will happen to characters in these books. Peter Gibbons doesn’t spare characters from rough treatment and puts them in the firing line time and again. After the events of previous books, I cannot be sure that the characters we have come to know and love will come unscathed. It’s both terrifying and exhilarating!
Beornoth and his band undertake a fair degree of travel in the book. New settings are beautifully and vividly described. If you are the type of reader visualise such things as you read, you will not find the narrative or descriptions wanting.
Although the main focus of the plot centres around Beornoth and his quest for vengeance, we still get to enjoy the wider setting of turmoil and conflict. Vikings continue to plague the Saxon peoples. The solution presented by the church to deal with this problem is to try and pay off the Vikings. Naturally, this harbours resentment from those who ultimately end up paying the bill. The people. Warriors like Beornoth know that this is only a temporary solution, and will likely beget a larger problem once word of Saxon riches gets out.
On the whole, the depth of the narrative and setting in which events take place makes for full and comprehensive immersion in the storyline.
What I’ve found really helpful when reading Sword of Vengeance is that main plot points in the earlier books recapped as the narrative goes along. They serve as a great reminder of what has gone before, so if it has been a while since you’ve picked up the series, or indeed, if you haven’t picked up those books yet at all, you still know what’s going on. The only reason I wouldn’t recommend reading Sword of Vengeance as a standalone is because you would miss out on three fabulous books before this one. You absolutely could though, if you wanted to. But why would you want to do yourself dirty like that?
Despite plenty of action, Sword of Vengeance is very easy to read. The action compels you to read on, and the narrative style itself is approachable for all readers. I love historical fiction, especially about this time period. As a result of this, and the ease of reading, it was a book I found myself easily getting lost in!
Peter Gibbons strikes up a great balance in these books between chapter length and descriptive detail. Neither one compromises the other, and we can appreciate both in equal measure. Some people love action in their books… others are more character driven. Sword of Vengeance brings both together in a healthy balance, meaning there are elements of this book for all readers.
If you love action-packed narratives full of conflict and detailed battle scenes, Sword of Vengeance will not disappoint! As a huge fan of the genre and time period of both this book and the wider series, it is very much what I hoped for!
I’ve enjoyed this series every bit as much as other books I’ve read by both big names like Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden, as well as upcoming authors like M.J Porter and J.C. Duncan. If you have read any of my reviews of books by these authors and are looking for something similar, then I cannot stress enough how much you should pick up books by Peter Gibbons.
Although I haven’t read his Viking Blood and Blade series myself, I will share that it comes highly recommended to me by a work colleague of mine. Either of these series are great for fans in the genre, and I’ll be picking up that second one in my own time. If that isn’t testament to how much I enjoy Peter Gibbons writing, then I don’t know what is!
Peter Gibbons is a financial advisor and author of the highly acclaimed Viking Blood and Blade trilogy.
He comes to Boldwood with his new Saxon Warrior series, set around the 900 AD Viking invasion during the reign of King Athered the Unready. The first title of the new series, Warrior and Protector, will be published in October 2022. He originates from Liverpool and now lives with his family in County Kildare.
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