Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Warrior King by Sue Purkiss reviewed by Karen Bush

My Dad might have kickstarted my fascination with history back when I was still a kid, but it was books that fuelled and sustained it … I gobbled my way through all the historical fiction I could find – and I’d have gleefully snatched this one off the shelves too if it had been around then. I loved reading this as an adult, and I’m pretty certain that I’d have loved it just as much back in more youthful days: it’s exactly the sort of book that I used to ransack libraries and bookshops for.

Set in the Dark Ages, it chronicles Alfred the Great’s fight to defeat the seemingly unbeatable Viking invaders and to create a united kingdom … It’s a great story - after all, what isn’t there to like, or to capture the imagination, about one of our most famous of kings, and the only one to have ‘Great’ appended to his name? And improved no end by the tale starting in Alfred’s childhood, and as it progresses, being taken up by his daughter Fleda – an equally important if often overlooked historical character in her own right.

The story will keep your attention, but there’s also a lovely sense of place too: as with all the best historical fiction, it educates at the same time as entertaining, but done with such a deft and light touch that you don’t realise it – in fact watching a documentary on Alfred and his times recently I was surprised at just how much I already knew, and due in large part to having just read this.  I’m now off to find out what else Sue Purkiss has written …