Reviewed: Kin of Cain by Matthew Harffy


AD 630. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical tale set in the world of The Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Winter grips the land in its icy fist. Terror stalks the hills, moors and marshes of Bernicia. Livestock and men have been found ripped asunder, their bones gnawed, flesh gorged upon. People cower in their halls in fear of the monster that prowls the night.

King Edwin sends his champions, Bassus, Octa and band of trusted thegns, to hunt down the beast and to rid his people of this evil.

Bassus leads the warriors into the chill wastes of the northern winter, and they soon question whether they are the hunters or the prey. Death follows them as they head deeper into the ice-rimed marshes, and there is ever only one ending for the mission: a welter of blood that will sow the seeds of a tale that will echo down through the ages.

An interesting short story, written as a companion to the Bernicia Chronicles, by the same author. Readers of that series might be interested to note that it acts as a sort of prequel, featuring many of the characters from the same series, and also Octa, the older brother of Beobrand, who dies early on the first book, and is remembered only in the memory of the other characters.

I would not say this one was entirely according to my taste: I borrowed it mostly because I requested it on NetGalley a long while back, but forgot to download it. The style is fairly typical of a lot of books like this: basically, a bunch of badass warriors in armor go off to fulfill their destiny or right some great wrong. Lots of violence, gore, masculine camaraderie and gritty heroism: plus a helping of drinking and banter. Nothing wrong with those things, per se, it’s just its, not the type of matter I care to read on a regular basis.

It was above all else, an original take on the story of Beowulf. Even though I don’t entirely accept the Northumbrian setting and think it was inspired by the landscape of East Anglia.

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