James Wilde is a Man of Mercia. Raised in a world of books, James studied economic history at university before travelling the world in search of adventure. He was unable to forget a childhood encounter in the pages of a comic with the great English warrior, Hereward. Wilde returned to the haunted fenlands of Eastern England, Hereward’s ancestral home, where he became convinced that this legendary hero should be the subject of his first novel. Wilde now indulges his love of history and the high life in the home his family have owned for several generations, in the heart of a Mercian forest.
(The first book in the Dark Age series)
Here is the beginning of a legend. Long before Camelot rose, a hundred years before the myth of King Arthur was half-formed, at the start of the Red Century, the world was slipping into a Dark Age…
It is AD 367. In a frozen forest beyond Hadrian’s Wall, six scouts of the Roman army are found murdered. For Lucanus, known as the Wolf and leader of elite unit called the Arcani, this chilling ritual killing is a sign of a greater threat.
But to the Wolf the far north is a foreign land, a place where daemons and witches and the old gods live on. Only when the child of a friend is snatched will he venture alone into this treacherous world – a territory ruled over by a barbarian horde – in order to bring the boy back home. What he finds there beyond the wall will echo down the years.
A secret game with hidden factions is unfolding in the shadows: cabals from the edge of Empire to the eternal city of Rome itself, from the great pagan monument of Stonehenge to the warrior kingdoms of Gaul will go to any length to find and possess what is believed to be a source of great power, signified by the mark of the Dragon.
A soldier and a thief, a cut-throat, courtesan and a druid, even the Emperor Valentinian himself – each of these has a part to play in the beginnings of this legend… the rise of the House of Pendragon.
Pendragon…. the name just screams Arthur, Genevieve, Lancelot and all that goes with it. Well take that preconception and throw it out the window. Not since Bernard Cornwall took on the Arthur myth has any writer provided such a new and innovative view of the Arthurian story.
James Wilde takes us back to before Arthur, to a time when Rome still clings to power in Britain, but only by its finger nails. The barbarians that have been held back so long by the great wall of Hadrian are probing, looking, change is in the wind, because they can sense a weakness in Rome, a chance to retake the land a chance that has not been there in all the year of Roman occupation.
In a book filled with the history of both Britain and Rome, James Wilde pulls on the tale of Mithras and also the burgeoning power and rise of the Christ religion to provide a back drop of conspiracy and intrigue wrapped around the ever present guidance of the Druids and Myrddin. How can the rise of Arthur be assured, who would be the ones to protect him, who will be his parents/ grandparents. So many questions and ideas are opened up by this story, so many surprises and all delivered with a fast paced action packed book brimming with wonderful characters. If you were making a tv series it has action, fights, love interest, bad guys a plenty, tortured heroes… sometimes mentally often physically, highs, lows, misdirection and utter surprises… so much packed into a book 1.
I love the Arthur myth but always approach a new book with low expectations because there are so very many bad books, this i’m glad to say is not one, its a wonderful tale and i honestly cannot wait for the next one.
Highly recommend this read.
1. Hereward (2011)
aka The Time of the Wolf
2. The Devil’s Army (2012)
aka The Winter Warrior
3. End of Days (2013)
4. Wolves of New Rome (2014)
5. The Immortals (2015)
6. The Bloody Crown (2016)
1. Pendragon (2017)