7th century Northumbria seen through the eyes of four leading historical women: "Saxon Heroines" by Sandra Wagner-Wright

Seventh century England is a hodgepodge of warring Anglo-Saxon states filled with shifting alliances and treacherous grabs for royal power. Kings rise and fall, depending on Woden's Luck. Northumbria, the damp kingdom north of the River Humber, is a state riven with rivalries and kings determined to expand at any cost. 

Women have no obvious role in a warrior society, but by using their wits, four women—two queens and two abbesses—make monumental changes. One woman marries a pagan king and successfully converts him to Christianity before he dies in battle. One becomes the most powerful abbess in Northumbria and holds the Great Synod at Whitby Abbey, which brings the kingdom back to the Roman Church. Another becomes queen and keeps political alliances strong despite different religious denominations. The fourth woman ushers in a new age by negotiating with kings and churchmen to establish one united church in the Northumbrian kingdom. 

(Source: Netgalley website)

I have to warn you this novel does not read as a novel but more as a historybook seen from the perspective of those four women. But I am interested in history.

As I do not know a lot about this era of English history I thought it an interesting book to read. Us continental Europeans were converted to Christianity by those Irish and English monks. But we have no knowledge of the fact that the Celtic church as followers of apostle John had different ways of practising. 

This is the time after the Romans abandoned their province Britannia and before the warhammer of the Vikings descended on it. It is surprising how much history of this era survived.

Reviewed for Netgalley. Four stars out of five


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