Monk turned warrior Matthew marches ahead of King Alfred to Exeter, to herald the King’s triumphant return to the city, marking his great victory at Edington. It should have been a journey of just five or perhaps six days but, as Matthew is to find to his cost, in life the road you’re given to travel is seldom what you wish for—and never what you expect. Chris Bishop deposits readers into the middle of Saxon Britain, where battles rage and life is cheap. An early confrontation leaves Matthew wounded, but found and tended by a woodland-dwelling healer he survives, albeit with the warning that the damage to his heart will eventually take his life. Matthew faces many challenges as he battles to make his way back to Chippenham to be reunited with King Alfred and also with the woman he wants to make his wife. This is an epic tale of triumph over adversity as we will the warrior with the pierced heart to make it back to those he loves, before it is too late.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Taking a trip back in time Chris Bishop transports readers into the heart of Saxon-era Britain. Roving bands of Viking raiders roam the countryside clashing with Saxon warriors and torching and pillaging farms, homesteads and settlements as they go. On his way to bring news of the victorious return to Exeter of King Alfred Matthew leads his forces on a shortcut through the forest which quickly turns into a bloody and fatal Viking ambush. Left for dead, Matthew survives the wholesale slaughter of the men under his command. Found by a Pagan healer, he is taken away to be cared for and nursed back to health.
His recovery is blighted by strange Pagan happenings and capture by a ragtag band of Viking slavers. This early pace whetted my appetite, raising my expectations of a bloody battle-filled tale across the Saxon-British landscape. As events unfold the potential for action is never far away. Unfortunately it never quite materialises. The story moves along well, and definitely gives a taste of what the world was like during the Saxon/Viking times. But I didn’t feel like it moved beyond a flavour.
Matthew, through the course of events in the story has a crisis of faith, calling upon it to help him through the dark times he encounters. His moral compass and his faith certainly seem to guide him through his troubles. Matthew and those he meets along the way find themselves in a variety of situations before he reunites with the King to whom he is fiercely loyal.
While The Warrior With The Pierced Heart is an entertaining enough read, I hoped for more in the way of descriptive, emotive battles where the prose transports the reader right into the thick of things. The ending brought more questions than answers. Presumably these will be cleared up in future books, but as this book worked as a stand alone book, it is a real shame that things were left unanswered.