Book Jacket


rank 2637
word count 17612
date submitted 16.09.2008
date updated 10.05.2010
genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Histor...
classification: moderate


Robert Else

The story of how two seventh century Anglo Saxon princes win back the kingdom of Northumbria.


After the fall of the Roman Empire, Christian Europe becomes a very dangerous place indeed. God's punishment for the sin of hubris, how can such a shattered world be repaired?

The children of King Aethelfrith of Northumbria (hammer of the north) have to flee for their lives on the death of their father in an ambush. Their mother; a formidable woman in any century; takes them to the monastic island of Iona, where they are to be brought up as Christians. Political pawns of Irish and Dalradian Scots chieftains. A special teacher for these boys is called for. He must knock the paganism out of them, yet teach them warcraft and how to be kings. A young Irish monk, a prince in his own right, is dispatched to Iona as tutor. Aidan, later to become Saint Aidan, and without doubt the architect of a European renaissance.

First however, the boys have to win back the kingdom of Northumbria. Not an easy task when it means doing battle with the likes of Cadwallon and Penda.

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7th century, anglo saxon, battles, historical fiction, love, northumbria

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Gruffling wrote 507 days ago

I have been enjoying this, although I am only a few chapters in. My own writing is largely based in the Dark Ages and Early Middles Ages and you have captured much of the spirit of the times. I am pleased that you have given Oswald and Oswy such different characters, and I think you have got them right.

I will not go into detail on the grammar, as others have been more than helpful on this score, but in general you need to look very carefully at your use of commas, capitalisation of words and the way you report speech.

Words like ealdormen and princes do not need to be capitalised. A good way to think about this is to ask "Is it a prince or The Prince?" In almost every instance you will find in is only a prince. Conversely you have not capitalised Roman, as in "roman roads." Roman is an adjective relating to a place and places are proper nouns, so they are always capped.

When you report speech, you should always remember that the speaker's new sentence should be a new sentence for the reader. For this reason, if you have introduced the speaker with your own prose, you will need either a full stop or a colon and a capital letter for the first quoted word.

Another review mentions "realpolitic" as being out of time, but that is a value call. From my POV you can take a stand and only use terms relating to the time or you can take the view that you are addressing a 21st century audience and use any word that you wish in the prose. After all, if you could only use idioms current in the 7th century, very few of your intended audience would be able to understand a word. That said, the word is realpolitik, not realpolitic.

If, on the other hand, someone uses an obviously modern word like "realpolitic" in speech, then that is definitely beyond the pale!

If you could have a look over my book "Cædmon: The Lord's Poet" I would be very appreciative. You will find Oswald and Oswy there from section 3 through to section 7 (there is a prologue, so the chapter numbers are different). As these chapters are written from the Welsh perspective I have used the names Osuelt and Oswiu.

Good luck, and keep up the good work!


jrapilliard wrote 816 days ago

A very interesting story, well researched, worth backing which I shall do presently.
Will you have a look at mine, Penrose - Princess of Penrith, which is set 2 centuries later?
Best wishes,

kiddies wrote 858 days ago

Dear Mr. Else, Sorry it has taken me so long to get back; have been swamped. Am still very much enjoying Bretwalda. History is excellent. But I do have some crit on Ch 3 (and I sorry to have to eke this out one chapter at a time, but if I did any more than that, I wouldn't do my jobs that are outside of Authonomy).

Roman Road:
*2nd paragraph: "Eenfrith's duties...for possible delays,..." -- -- Possibly a semi-colon or period after "delays" would let it flow better.
*3rd paragraph: "They want back..." -- -- Shouldn't this be "They want to be back..."?
*Ditto: "His real Aethelfrith, the action..." -- -- I think you need a semi-colon after "Aethelfrith".
*Diitto: "Coifi's skill...realpolitic" -- -- I'm prettey sure they didn't have the word "realpolitic", and I don't think the average reader would know what it means.
4th paragraph: "...the men take lend of you." -- -- Not sure what you meant here, unless it was "take heed" or something similar.
*Ditto: "...take some horse..." -- -- Shouldn't this be "horses"?
*Ditto: "Most of that...himself, he..." -- -- I think a semi-colon or a period would be better here.

Sutton Hoo Gipeswic:

*1st paragraph: " in the roman style..." -- -- Think you need a comma after "style".
*Ditto: "...great servant of god." -- -- "god" should be capitalized.
*3rd & 4th paragraphs: -- -- several places -- -- "latin" should be capitalized.
*5th paragraph: "...hardly one to let to let..." Typo here.
*6th paragraph: "From this he took four pieces of map of Britian,..." -- -- "a" needs to be inserted after "of".
*Ditto: "Pointed out East Anglia..." -- -- Should be "Pointing".
*Ditto: "The real Bretwalda, is of course Aethelfrith." You need commas after "is" and "of course".
*9th paragraph: "They've go to back to bring..." -- -- Do you mean "They've got to to bring back in" or "They've got to to bring in".

Still a very worth read. Good luck, and God bless,

kiddies, a reader

kiddies wrote 866 days ago

Hello, Mr. Else, Am very much enjoying Bretwalda. Love the atmosphere. On my bookshelf, and 4 stars, right now. However, I do have some crits for your consideration on Ch 2:

"His plan was take the fight..." insert "to" after "was".
"Everywhere there was polished brass...". Something is missing here; comes off awkward.
"Not that everyone...well dressed." Needs re-wording; sounds awkward.
"Thrill of sneaking in past the, not..." Unnecessary comma after "the".
"Merely the shield wall." Something wrong or missing here; seems awkward some how.
"It was almost impossible...outrage to convention." Either there is an unnecessary period after "this" or "most" needs to be capitalized.
"Oswald and Oswy...beating." Unnecessary period before question mark.
"He now feared that hi..." What's "hi" in this sentence?
Very next sentence: "he grabbed..." "he" needs to be capitalized.
Last line: "...jape" Needs period.
I have been reading HF, and doing genealogical research, almost all my life, so this next one is not a problem for me; even though Oswald and Oswy are historical names, are these two historical characters? (I haven't come across them in my genealogical research.) Their names might possibly be too similar for the modern reader to keep them straight.

kiddies wrote 869 days ago

Dear Mr. Else, So far have read ch 1, Description is good; have no trouble seeing the scene; did find a couple of typos, but those can be easily taken care. However, if you are trying to stay with the phraseology of the time, "voting with their feet" had not been coined yet. Also, if the two Prince Aethelings missed all the various preparations for coming war, then why would they look at their brother "in mock total amazement" -- --shouldn't that be "total mock amazement"? But, regardless, "mock...amazement" would imply that they knew of the preparations, and therefore the coming war, but were choosing to act ignorant, out of a desire to tease. Will be back for me, and to rate.

strachan gordon wrote 1067 days ago

Hello I've tried writing about this period with the Viking attack on Lindisfarne in 793 , I must say you've done a much better job than I did of re-creating the Anglo-saxon , which for some reason , I found very difficult. The milieu you have created is convincing and interesting . Would you have the time to read the first chapter of my novel 'A Buccaneer' which is about Pirates in the 17th century, best wishes , Strachan Gordon

AnneEvans wrote 1151 days ago

I love this time period and your description sounds very real. I kind of wish you could open with a bit more tension right at the start. Noah Lukeman's "The First Five Pages" and all that fun stuff.

Sandy Mackay wrote 1253 days ago

I looked at your prologue and like the idea for the story. have added your book to my watch list and will return later. could you perhaps spare the time to have a look at When The Earth Moved. If you like the story I would appreciate any comments or feedback. backing would be a bonus. I will return all backing. Thank you in advance for your support. Sandy McKay

Andrew Burans wrote 1390 days ago

You have written a very interesting and unique historical storyline, which I do like. Your story is character rich and your use of imagery is excellent. The dialogue is realistic and well written and the pace of your story flows well. All of this along with your descriptive writing makes your work a pleasure to read. Backed.

Andrew Burans
The Reluctant Warrior: The Beginning

CarolinaAl wrote 1397 days ago

A masterfully crafted, spellbinding historical. Taut. Compelling characterizations. Brisk dialogue that evokes the era. Quick paced action. Cunning writing. An addictive read. Backed.

Big E wrote 1475 days ago

I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and happily read all 10 chapters, good work and i'm very happy to back it.

zan wrote 1502 days ago

Robert Else

This is exciting, interesting and well written in a way which brings your scenes and characters to life. Impressed by the amount of research you have undertaken to write this so competently and confidently.
The scene with Oswy and the little girl is beautifully done. The writing flows naturally and makes reading a pleasure. I like your use of language - "you're too stupid to think of anything worth a spit." The longer it takes for me to find an agent/publisher, the more this statement shall haunt me!! Very realistic dialogue. Entertaining so far and I would love to return to read more when I have some more time to spare. Happy to have given this a spin on my bookshelf.

Rusty Bernard wrote 1515 days ago

Hi there,

If I have given you my backing I have read the pitch, loved it and then at least two chapters of your very fine work.

Then, if you do not help me with my Psychiatric Evaluation it will be partly your fault that I am stressed out and can no longer spend time on this site.

Lots of writers may than suffer breakdowns because of this!!!

olga wrote 1537 days ago


This is a great plot. Great characterisations. Your writing conveys the setting well.

Your punctuation needs attention as I found commas in the wrong places. Just a few nits below...
'Oswy was ing reat pain...' I would suggest this be omitted as it takes out one of the 'pain' words and the next para better describes the pain.
'The young girl....better view...' POV now with the girl. This is intrusive as it is better to leave the POV with Osway as it's his chapter. You could change this to read ... The young girl leaned forward. Osway guessed it was to get a better view.... That way the POV is still with Osway.
'His reverie was broken....' This is were the reader sits up and takes more interest as we have something happening here. I would suggest you start the chapter here and fill in the pain stuff where you can.
I hope this helps.
Cheers Olga

Splinker wrote 1537 days ago

Backed. I didn't get a chance to read it, but Jesus told me to back it.

A Knight wrote 1557 days ago

Historical novels are always a delight, especially ones where the research shines through so clearly. This could only be improved by a quick polish to smooth out the occasional clunky sentence or repeated word. Otherwise, it's brilliant stuff, a leader in the field.

Abi xxx

Sheila Belshaw wrote 1565 days ago



I enjoy historical novels and from the pitch this one looks as though it could be a winner.

A fascinating concept, and a fascinating story. Very well told. Prose full of life and energy. But it will not attract an editor unless you fix the punctuation. Commas where there should be full stops, and full stops where there should be commas. The best advice a published writer ever gave me when I started writing was: Read your work out loud. That sorts out all errors.

Younger boys than fourteen, would read better as: Boys younger than fourteen . . .

You've clearly done a great deal of research, so I'm happy to back this, as the punctuation shouldn't be allowed to mar the effort that has already gone into your novel, and can be remedied to produce a smoothly flowing manuscript.

Sheila (Pinpoint)

Sheila Belshaw wrote 1565 days ago



I enjoy historical novels and from the pitch this one looks as though it could be a winner.

A fascinating concept, and a fascinating story. Very well told. Prose full of life and energy. But it will not attract an editor unless you fix the punctuation. Commas where there should be full stops, and full stops where there should be commas. The best advice a published writer ever gave me when I started writing was: Read your work out loud. That sorts out all errors.

Younger boys than fourteen, would read better as: Boys younger than fourteen . . .

You've clearly done a great deal of research, so I'm happy to back this, as the punctuation shouldn't be allowed to mar the effort that has already gone into your novel, and can be remedied to produce a smoothly flowing manuscript.

Sheila (Pinpoint)

bonalibro wrote 1565 days ago

That first sentence broken up the way it is would never make it past a professional Reader doing triage on his daily stack. Suggest you clean up your punctuation and awkward sentence structures.

Godbout wrote 1567 days ago

I have to say that I love the subject matter and the atmosphere, but I have to cry comma abuse. Try reading your pages aloud to yourself. Do you pause for breath at every three words? Try to write the way you would talk if you were telling a story to your family or something at a campfire. Read your work aloud to yourself as you write to see if it sounds natural. That's always really helped me.

I want to see your book succeed! I'll be watching for it.


Mooderino wrote 1579 days ago

The first line threw me a bit. the construction felt awkward.

In the second paragraph the word 'pain' gets repeated a few times, which was distracting.

These two things broke up the flow for me, which, at the start of a book, isn't good. Might just be me though.

The beautiful, kissing the waves, dance...
again took me moment to get it. Maybe consider making it kissing-the-waves?

It feels very authentic and a lot of it is intersting but I think the start could be smoother. I do want to know more but the occasional awkward phrasing is enough to pull me out of it.

Overall though it is well written and an engaging story.

best of luck with it.


kenwyn wrote 1581 days ago

Just read your first chapter and as always I am in awe of anyone who is able to write in a style that somehow captures the essence of the period by the use of language and carefully constructed description.

The trick is that none of us reading your story have any idea of the vernacular, but seem to know when something DOESNT sound quite right. You seem to have nailed it, and so the reader is not constantly faltering over an ill considered word or phrase.

Doubtless you have researched to get the names and other detail, and I know how hard it can be to stay motiveted and true to your intent when, again the modern reader is unlikely to ever want to verify your sources I congratulate you on a well constructed story and wish you well with it Bob. Cheers. Matt

yasmin esack wrote 1582 days ago

What a wonderful story. Your description and setting has details that are unimaginable and i must say it was a pleasure to read this. Your writing ability excels all and surely this is a winner.

well done and thanks for sharing it.

I love this book.

lionel25 wrote 1586 days ago

Robert, I enjoyed your first chapter. Nothing to nitpick there. Good job.

Happy to back this.

Joffrey (The Silver Spoon Effect)

WendyB wrote 1588 days ago

This is a well written book, but the punctuation! Sometimes not enough, and often much too much. That opening sentence should have no commas at all!
This makes your words stumble along when they could dance. They deserve batter.

It was a nice touch, having Eanfrith kick his little brother's butt on their way out of the hall. It's probably just the kind of humour that would have appealed to warriors at that time.
However: Two eight-year-old boys FORGOT the numerous times that their older brother told them that a war was imminent? Is that likely?

Although I'm a history buff, I know little about this particular era, so I'm going to shelf this now and come back to enjoy it later.

Wendy Bertsch
(Once More...From The Beginning)

TheLoriC wrote 1590 days ago

Your intro chapter is just a fantastic way to delve into this book! I found myself hooked right to its last line! Strong storyline, vivid descriptions, good dialogue. What can I say? On my shelf.

L. Anne Carrington, "The Cruiserweight"

soutexmex wrote 1591 days ago

I normally complain about the length of the intro chapter but here it's brilliant. Of course I am a sucker for a historical novel. I could SEE these characters and FEEL this environment. That shows your ability to write and pull in the reader.

Niggles? Those pitches. Man, you can write. Surely you can do better here in this regard. I threw mine in the forum and had people help me out.

SHELVING for the good storyline and writing capability.

The Obergemau Key
Authonomy's #1 rated commentator

plip wrote 1592 days ago

Everything very realistic and appropriate for the time and place; lifestyles, people as individuals and as a society, the infrastructure and politics.
Tiny niggle-surely any eight yr old resident, familiar enough to play in the hay, would know who Oswy was?
phil 'eland Dances'

Marija F.Sullivan wrote 1592 days ago

Fascinating story, most enjoyable writing style! Backed with pleasure,
M (Weekend Chimney Sweep)

Burgio wrote 1593 days ago

I love stories that sweeep a reader back in time or to a new and novel place. And this story does that well. You're obviously a polished writer. Know just how much detail to add to scenes to make them feel authentic, not too much to bog down the action. Can create likable characters with just a few words description. A good read. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

lizjrnm wrote 1594 days ago

Not normally my genre but so very welll crafted and polished and so ready for publication- PAY ATTENTION AUTHONOMY!! - this should do welll here! Backed!

The Cheech Room

Joss64 wrote 1595 days ago

Backed with pleasure! Joss Morris (A Bore No More)

lynn clayton wrote 1595 days ago

This is a wonderful book. You're hardly aware of its being an historical novel, only that it's full of splendid settings and believable, exciting characters. However, I'm sure there's a lot of scholarship behind it. A lot of literary talent too. Backed Lynn

writer_woody wrote 1595 days ago

Excellently written with a great atmosphere and good characters.

Andy (Fortitude)

Jane Bain wrote 1596 days ago

A wonderful blend of tradition and historical fact leavened with vivid description.
Jane Bain ('Life Script: Developing Your Personal Mythology')

Sandie Newman wrote 1597 days ago

I loved the look of this as I'm passionate about history and love being transported back in time. The opening is excellent, with beautfiul descriptions. I like the way he hides in the barn and watches the birds on the lake. Incredible writing that is a joy to read.

The Crown of Crysaldor

Abhyastamita wrote 1599 days ago

I like it. It makes me think back fondly to my Old English classes. I liked the scene with Oswy, Oswald, and Eanfrith fighting in the barn. And the mead hall scene is cool and feels right.

The only criticisms I have are that you have way too many commas (and if I'm saying that, it means something, because I'm normally very tolerant of comma overuse) and I think you could make the introduction of Old English words a little smoother. I counted at least three different spellings of Ealdormen and wasn't entirely sure you weren't doing it on purpose. I can think of stylistic reasons you might, but I think it's a bad idea. And then there's a place where you have "the two Prince aethelings". As far as I know, aetheling just means prince. If I saw that sentence without having any idea what aetheling meant, I still wouldn't know, but I'd assume something else entirely.

Beval wrote 1600 days ago

A really interesting book about a really interesting period in English history.
I very much enjoyed this.

dave_ancon wrote 1600 days ago

Very interesting period. Not enough written about that era, because (I imagine) it's so hard to get a feel for the life styles people led back then. But, you're descriptive skills bring the atmosphere home. Best of luck with this one. It's on my shelf. Dave

Famlavan wrote 1601 days ago

Before I start I now you have a great setting!

Thought your pitches didn’t do this justice somehow (saying that my pitches are well umm…)

Great story, like your visual and feeling descriptions, however you are a little light in the auditory descriptions in your narrative, I think it would ground the reader even more and make this stronger.

However it doesn’t detract from a great story – Good luck

Famlavan – Museum of Old Beliefs

gillyflower wrote 1602 days ago

You have the material for an exciting and very interesting book here, and you use it expertly. The period itself is a fascinating one, and the events you focus on have all the action necessarily to pull your readers in. I'm impressed by the way you have brought your period and your characters to life. The research you have put in clearly shows, but not in a way which piles information on the reader. Instead, your descriptions are detailed and colourful and interesting. Too often historical novels are spoiled, in my eyes, by an attempt to use a more formal narrative, and to make the characters speak in a style which is meant, but fails, to represent how people used to talk. You haven't fallen into this trap, but instead your narrative flows smoothly, and your characters speak and behave like real people. Owsy is a great central character. You introduce him towards the end of his life, escaping from the boring Bishop Wilfred, being kind to the little girl hiding in the straw, then remembering similar games of his own youth. We already like this man, and when you take us back to his childhood, and to the time when he and Oswald hid in the Mead Hall just before the king marched out to fight, you make him even more real to us. The characters of the king, unable to conceal a smile at his son's escapade, and of Eanfrith, giving Owsy a kick up the backside, half in fun, as he marches him out, are brought vividly to life. I'm enjoying this skillfully written book very much. Backed.
Gerry McCullough,
Belfast Girls.

gilbertmartin wrote 1602 days ago

definitely needs an editor to smooth out the sentences... excellent concept, great story and your research is well done! BACKED! (something I dont do often!)

ellen911 wrote 1604 days ago

Strong narration, attention to detail in both scenery and character, a fun twisting plot. For that I will back this. However, I'd get an editor involved to smooth out some of your sentences and polish up punctuation here and there.
Enjoyed and backed,
(Thoughts of a Teenage Girl)

LintonWood wrote 1604 days ago

Hi Bob. I know you part of the world very well as my partner hails from the North-East and we make a trip up to Bamburgh once a year. It is an awesome place. As for Bretwalda, in the main I liked it (I am a fan of Bernard Cornwall and, for me, he sets the standard to which most of us aspire in this genre). The biggest draw back for me is it feels like there is too much back-story in the first two chapters. I am also guilty of this and have much to ponder in my final edit.

Good luck & best wishes.

Colin Normanshaw wrote 1605 days ago

I like this writing, and it certinly gives the impression of how conversations would have taken place so many centuries ago. Beware of too many commas in your sentences. For example, in your second paragraph "So, he'd managed to excuse himself...." can be "So he'd managed to excuse himself...." You will probably find your work littered with these errors (I know mine is - hence my current extensive editing!) so needs a good review to eradicate. Backed with pleasure. Colin

Butler's Girl wrote 1606 days ago

This is obviously researched to a very high standard. Bob from the north east knows his history!
Highly recommended read .
Conrats Bob on writing a fine novel.
Alison Butler (The Hanging of Margaret Dickson)

Sutekh wrote 1607 days ago

Now this normallu wouldn't be my thing - with the exception of Arthur and George - which is (very) roughly in the same genre, but I found it very engaging. Obviously a lot of research has gone on. Well written and tight. Well done!

Darren Floyd
Match Day

Mairi Graham wrote 1607 days ago

Nobody tells a story like the venerable Bede, but you're giving him a run for his money. I've been reading an 18th century play on Vortigern and the downfall of the anglo Saxons. Gripping stuff, but you've brought them much more to life.
I've put this on my shelf.

DKTD1 wrote 1607 days ago

Change the font. Authonomy doesn't like Courier for some reason... Writing is good, I like the opening, slowly introducing us to Oswy (how do you pronounce that?)... How do you pronounce any of these names :)

Eunice Stubbins, among others...

beegirl wrote 1608 days ago

This is wonderful idea for a story. It needs a fair bit of editing--read this thing outloud to yourself and you will find that. Do a word search for "that" and "was". Also I think the font could be changed to make it more readable.
The Sea Pillow