The ninth book of The Bernicia Chronicles continues the adventures of Beobrand as readers are transported back to Frankia in AD 652. Beobrand has been ordered to lead a group of pilgrims to the holy city of Rome. He plans to journey quickly and return to Northumbria without delay, but as always – nothing is that simple for Beobrand and the road is long and perilous…
Matthew Harffy is an absolute master of the historical fiction genre and at this point in the series, nine books in, you know what you are getting and that is a well-researched historical novel full of thrilling twists and turns. Forest of Foes finds Beobrand ill, in a foul mood, and far from home. As always, he gets caught up in the rivalries between various powerful players in what is a volatile and chaotic time in history for Europe. Harffy weaves fact and fiction with effortless ease. In both The Bernicia Chronicles and A Time for Swords, he has shown an almost peerless ability to delight history buffs whilst still nailing down what is necessary to draw in and engage readers with no knowledge of such time periods. Nine books in, most readers would have spent a lot of time with Beobrand and Harffy is able to display how well he understands the character in how he continually grows and develops with each adventure and Forest of Foes is another brilliant example of this.
It is not just Beobrand who we focus on in Forest of Foes. Cynan shows excellent growth throughout the novel. He acts a lot like Beobrand and some of the mistakes that he makes remind me of a younger Beobrand and I found myself really enjoying the time spent with him in Forest of Foes. There is a lot of depth to many of the characters and it adds tension in those moments where characters are caught in perilous situations and uncertainty over whether they will make it out alive. This book made me hope for an adaptation of The Bernicia Chronicles in the vein of the excellent The Last Kingdom. Epic, bloody, and so well-written – it’s ripe for an adaptation at a time when The Last Kingdom is coming to an end.
Forest of Foes is another thrilling tale in The Bernicia Chronicles. An absolute delight for fans of the Dark Ages and for readers who love their stories full of blood, gore, and brutality all shining through a stunning historical lens. Another brilliant tale from Matthew Harffy and I can’t wait for more.