The Outlander King (The Aetheling’s Bride, Book 1)
by Hilary Rhodes
Publication Date: June 1, 2015
eBook; 476 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
The story of The Lion and the Rose and the Norman Conquest continues in this spellbinding new historical fiction series from author Hilary Rhodes, pulling back the curtain on the lives of two remarkable women connected across centuries: Aislinn, a seventeen-year-old English girl caught up in the advancing army of the “outlander king,” the man who will become known to history as William the Conqueror. Thrust into the center of the new Norman court and a dizzying web of political intrigue and plotting princes, she must choose her alliances carefully in a game of thrones where the stakes are unimaginably high. Embroiled in rebellions and betrayals, Aislinn learns the price of loyalty, struggles to find her home, and save those she loves – and, perhaps, her own soul as well.
Almost nine hundred years later in 1987, Selma Murray, an American graduate student at Oxford University, is researching themysterious “Aethelinga” manuscript, as Aislinn’s chronicle has come to be known. Trying to work out the riddles of someone else’s past is a way for Selma to dodge her own troubling ghosts – yet the two are becoming inextricably intertwined. She must face her own demons, answer Aislinn’s questions, and find forgiveness – for herself and others – in this epically scaled but intimately examined, extensively researched look at the creation of history, the universality of humanity, and the many faces it has worn no matter the century: loss, grief, guilt, redemption, and love.
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William the Conqueror has claimed his right to the English throne after King Harold is killed. He rides through the English villages demanding tribute from each household, usually in the payment of the family’s son. When William reaches one family in Brydley, however, he not only demands their son James, but their daughter Aislinn as well. As Aislinn and James ride with the new King’s company, they both become part of the King’s political web and become engrained in his service; James as a scribe and Aislinn as a healer. Nine hundred years later, Selma Murray, an Oxford grad student finds the Aethelinga manuscript, the story the Aislinn has written of her life. Selma tries to decipher Aislinn’s text while trying to figure out her own life.
From the first page of Outlander King, I felt like I was part of Aislinn’s world. I loved her character and her story; she was strong, smart and decisive. Aislinn’s voice was a little modern compared to the other characters, but I didn’t have a problem with it. I did enjoy learning about William the Conqueror. I didn’t know a lot about him going into the story, but through multiple points of view, the King’s true personality shone through. Now, I do love multiple time stories, and that is what initially drew me into the book, but by the time that Selma’s story began, I was so wrapped up in Aislinn that I almost forgot that Selma should be there, too. I did eventually enjoy Selma’s story, but I obviously think that they could be better entwined.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
For more information please visit Hilary Rhodes’ blog.