Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Outlander King (The Aetheling's Bride Book 1) by Hilary Rhodes - Review

 The Outlander King (The Aetheling’s Bride, Book 1)
by Hilary Rhodes

Publication Date: June 1, 2015
eBook; 476 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

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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 the mysterious “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.


My Review

4 out of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction set in the time of William of Normandy (later known as William the Conqueror). The main story follows a commoner girl, Aislinn, as she is taken away from her home and goes through various personal and historical events to becomes a strong yet flawed woman. Aislinn and her family are fictional characters but most of the rest of the people surrounding her are in fact historical characters, and I really liked the mix of the two. Most of the secondary characters were also well fleshed out and interesting. There were a couple of Aislinn's actions that had me shake my head and wonder why she would do it, but on the whole, it was a strong and captivating story.

The other part of the book is about Selma, an American graduate student studying at Oxford, on a search of the “Aetheling” manuscript, presumably written by Aislinn herself. In honesty, I could have done without that part. I felt like taking a sharp break from the medieval story for Selma's part took me out of Aislinn's story and did not add much value to it. I also didn't connect much with Selma's story and didn't find much of a connection between her story and Aislinn's (it's possible there will be more of an explanation in the next book).

Minus the modern day part, I loved the novel and would recommend it for any historical fiction aficionado. I will also pick up other novels by Hilary Rhodes.

Hilary Rhodes is a scholar, author, blogger, and all-around geek who fell in love with medieval England while spending a year abroad at Oxford University. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in history, and is currently preparing for doctoral studies at the University of Leeds, fulfilling a years-long dream to return to the UK. In what little spare time she has, she enjoys reading, blogging about her favorite TV shows, movies, and books, music, and traveling.
For more information please visit Hilary Rhodes’ blog.




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