Wolf of Wessex by Matthew Harffy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 400 pages
Published: 14th November 2019 by Aria
A great self-contained historical fiction novel.
If you’re into historical fiction and Bernard Cornwell’s work, you probably have heard about The Bernicia Chronicles series by Matthew Harffy. I wasn’t ready for another commitment to a long historical fiction series at the moment, but at the same time, I also wanted to try Harffy’s work. Seeing that Wolf of Wessex has been praised by many of his readers as one of his finest work—and it’s standalone—I decided to start my journey with Harffy’s books here. And the book met my expectation.
“…there were only two things you could ever be sure of in life: the passage of time and the unexpected. Today, he had been reminded of both.”
The year is AD838, deep in the serene forest of Wessex, Dunston’s solitary life turns chaotic when he stumbles upon a mutilated corpse. Accused of the murder, Dunston has to keep Aedwen—the dead man’s daughter—alive while finding the truth surrounding the brutal murder. The story is as simple as the premise implies; there weren’t any notable surprises or twists to the plotlines, and there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to predict how the story starts, progresses, and ends. However, don’t let this opinion fool you into thinking that Wolf of Wessex isn’t worth checking out; it does, especially if you’re a fan of a self-contained historical fiction novel with well-written characters and action sequences.
“Men always strive for what they do not have. But to reach the object of their desire does not make them content. When a man attains his goals, he merely looks further to the horizon, for the next prize. It is why men will never be happy and why we will never know peace.”
I’m sure I have mentioned this somewhere before, but I enjoy reading stories about a parent figure—with no blood relations—that suddenly has to do everything in their power to protect their newfound daughter/son. This is pretty much the main strength of Wolf of Wessex’s narrative. Dunston is almost 50 years old, and although he has Odin—his one-eyed dog—by his side, he continues to long for the past. This is why I loved Aedwen’s sudden and unpredictable emergence into Dunston and Odin’s life; witnessing the relationship developments with each other gradually being strengthened amidst their journey of survival felt wholesome. Plus, Harffy has a writing style that shows his knowledge of what he’s writing about is real. The atmosphere of the forest, the weapons-handling, and the battles felt real to me.
“How quickly the years washed by, sweeping away loved ones and youth and leaving only fading memories.”
I haven’t started Harffy’s supposed magnum opus, The Bernicia Chronicles series, yet and I can already see why many readers mentioned him to be the next successor to Bernard Cornwell. Wolf of Wessex is a gripping and satisfying standalone. The story may not surprise you, but if you’re looking for a well-told historical fiction story to read, you can’t go wrong with choosing this one. It probably won’t be soon—I still need to finish reading The Last Kingdom series first—but I definitely will look into reading The Bernicia Chronicles eventually.
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)
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