Happy Friday and welcome to my blog tour review of Wolf of Mercia by MJ Porter!
It has been a little while since I last took part in a blog tour and provided a review as part of that. I’m really excited to jump back in and share my thoughts on Wolf of Mercia with you today. As always, before I get into my thoughts on the book, I like to take the opportunity to say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour… and thank you to MJ Porter as well!
Wolf of Mercia isn’t the first book I have read by this author. I took part in a blog tour and provided a review of the first book, Son of Mercia, earlier this year. If you want to get up to speed with that first book before jumping into today’s review, you can find a link here!
And now, onto today’s review!
Wolf of Mercia – MJ Porter
As a lone wolf inside a Wessex stronghold, Icel must ensure his own and Mercia’s triumph.
Icel is becoming a warrior of Mercia, but King Ecgberht of Wessex still holds the Mercian settlement of Londonia and its valuable mint.
King Wiglaf of Mercia is determined that the last bulwark be reclaimed from his sworn enemy to complete his rehabilitation as Mercia’s rightful ruler.
In the heart of the shield wall, Icel suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the battle and thrust into the retreating enemy stronghold where he must take on the pretence of a Wessex warrior to survive and exact a cunning plan to bring down the Wessex force cowering behind the ancient walls.
His allegiances are tested and the temptation to make new allies is overwhelming but Icel must succeed if he’s ever to see Tamworth again and bring about King Wiglaf’s victory, or will he be forced to join the enemy?
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One of my favourite things about this series is the unique perspective of our protagonist. Icel is a young man in a world full of strife. Thrust into a war he has no desire to take part in, we get to see Icel battle with his own internal conflict and his loyalties in this book. In this kind of time period it’s typical for men like Icel to become warriors. It is the expectation.
However, Icel is a man who likes to heal. Having spent his childhood learning how to mend hurts and treat wounds… he does not enjoy inflicting such on others. This is particularly prevalent in the first book, and I really enjoyed his perspective. What I have also enjoyed through reading Wolf of Mercia is that we get to see a lot of character development that has taken place. Icel still does not relish hurting people, however he has stepped up in his duty to defend his country and he will do what is necessary, even if he doesn’t enjoy it. He has grown up from the cowardly boy he used to be.
Even though he can step up and do his part as a warrior, Icel maintains his authenticity in not wanting to do what he has to do. Although we’ve seen a marked change in him, his core principles have stayed the same. It is a challenging angle to take with a character, but MJ Porter has done this very well. She has enabled this development whilst keeping the character fundamentally the same in terms of his root beliefs and values. As one of the biggest selling points for me for this book and series, I’m really glad this has been done so well!
There is a lot more action in Wolf of Mercia than the first book of the series, and through the perspective of Icel, we are quite literally thrown into the middle of it. From the first battle in a shield wall in the opening chapters to the subterfuge of hiding amongst the enemy, there is never a dull moment. It took our main character completely out of the context we have seen him previously and gave him the opportunity to grow. I feel like events like these can either make or break a character… And it certainly made Icel. he is one of my favourite book characters.
I flew through this book in just a handful of days. The narrative and storyline are so immersive that it is easy to get lost in. It is the kind of book you can lose track of time in. The chapters are just the right length to convey what is going on, without being too lengthy either. It is just the perfect balance to justify telling yourself that it’s okay to read just one more chapter… Just one. But it never is!
On the whole, Wolf of Mercia, compared to the first book of the series Son of Mercia, exceeded my expectations and it is a very easy five star rating from me. This is a fantastic sequel to the series and personally I can’t wait to see what happens next!
MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, and in Viking Age Denmark. They were raised in the shadow of a building that they believed housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia – so their writing destiny was set. The first novel in their new Anglo-Saxon series for Boldwood Son of Mercia was published in February 2022.
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