A Day of Reckoning is the third volume in the A Time for Swords series and continues the tale of Hunlaf – once a peaceful, naïve monk and now a true warrior. Familiar characters meet new friends and foes in a stunning new setting to prove once again that Matthew Harffy (Bernicia Chronicles) is a master storyteller.
A Time for Swords and A Night of Flames both highlighted Harffy’s brilliance for historically authentic adventures full of danger and intrigue with a band of characters facing difficult situations and pulling together to overcome them. A Day of Reckoning ramps up the danger and places Hunlaf, now a more confident warrior, into the distant land of Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus in AD 796). Hunlaf’s bonds with his crew and the friendships formed throughout the series are the threads that shone through the whole series and A Day of Reckoning is no different. Drosten, Hereward, Gwawrddur, Ahmad, and my personal favourite, the brutal but caring Runolf Ragnarsson all help Hunlaf to grow as a character from the young, innocent monk that he started the series as. Harffy is brilliant at drawing on the idea that people from different backgrounds can become fast allies when given time to understand one another and identify a common cause and this is a message that is relevant throughout all history.
Whether Hunlaf fights Norsemen, Picts, or Pirates, the battles ring true and pull you deep into the intense action at the heart of the story. Though Hunlaf is telling the tale from a point of view at the end of his life (similar to Anthony Ryan’s brilliant The Covenant of Steel Series), there is still a lot of tension to be found as Hunlaf fights for his allies and knows that the decisions that he makes will have profound impacts on those around him. The prose is as brilliant as ever with a fast pace full of heart and brutality. Previously, I have compared Harffy’s work with Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories but at this point, I feel that the comparison is not needed. With A Day of Reckoning, Harffy proves that he stands atop of the mountain of historical fiction and both new and old fans to the genre will be delighted.
A fresh setting, deadly foes, and a violent story full of heart. A Day of Reckoning is a stunning story with numerous characters you can root for. If this is the final book in the series, then it is a fantastic way to go. However, I hope that there are more tales to tell by Hunlaf of Ubbanford and I know that I will not be alone in saying that.