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Anvil of God

Anvil of God

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book for free in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post
as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
Anvil of God
By
J. Boyce Gleason

Publisher: iUniverse
Pub. Date: July 26, 2013
ISBN1475990197

Pages440
Genre:
Historical fiction

Source: Received
from the author through
Historical Fiction virtual book tour

Goodreads

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This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

   books-on-france-14 2014 historical fiction New author challenge

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

Rating system

Even though I did read recently The Cross And The Dragon, there are not that many historical novels set in 8th century France. So I jumped on the occasion when Amy at HFVBT contacted me for Anvil of God, and I am sure glad I did.

When Charles Martel, or the Hammer, knew his death was coming, he divided the different areas of his rather vast kingdom between his three sons, and that was the beginning of a very chaotic and messy situation in what is now France, with somewhat enlarged borders.
This is historically a very fascinating and key period though, for the future of the country.
It is full of inner conflicts and conflicts with other neighboring kingdoms. Politics and religion are also together in the mix, and the situation is doubly complex as Christian and pagan rites still tend to  cohabit together.

I really enjoyed a lot how the author managed to convey the messiness of the situation.
This is not recent history, and so there are lots of gaps that the author had to fill in. He explains his choices at the end of the book, and I believe his choices are consistent with the context of the time. They made total sense to me.

The book opens when Charles is still alive. It is good at setting up the scene for what will happen later, with presentation of the key characters, mainly Charles, his 2nd wife Sunni (Sunnichild), their sons and daughter, Trudi (Hiltrude) and bishop Boniface.

Sunni is originally a pagan from Bavaria. She basically faked being Christian to marry Charles and in that way try to insure safety to her own country. Her place between Christianity and paganism is central to the development of the story.

This is a very strong woman, as strong as her step daughter Trudi (Trudi’s mother is Charles’ first wife, Chlotrude). Also for strategic and political reason, Charles is arranging Trudi’s marriage with the son of the Lombard’s king, but Trudi is not the type to let her father decide who she will marry. We find her escape and flee during the whole book, in the direction of Odilo, the one she loves, and who happens to be a Count in Bavaria! All her adventures give great momentum and suspense to the book, with really neat escape scenes.
I also enjoyed the description of the various landscapes she went through.

In her journey, she will meet key people in this complex geopolitical situation.
Is there room for love in this, or is it all a question of power and influence? Does Sunni really wants Trudi’s happiness, or is she using her also for the sake of Bavaria?

Meanwhile, what’s Sunni’s aim when she organizes a major defense preparing for the siege she knows is inevitable? Sorry for being a bit vague here, I don’t want to give out too much.

As for religion, well, bishop Boniface and the Roman Catholic Church of the time definitely do not come out in a positive light. Did they really aim at the salvation of people, or again had just power in mind? What they did to pagans is quite revealing…

There are great descriptions of pagan rites. At the end of the book, the author explains he found this information in manuals written for the Catholic priests of the time to help them when they had pagans come and confess to them. I thought that was really neat.

The map, the list of characters, the Carolingian dynasty family tree, and the author’s final notes on what we do know about these characters and what he himself had to fill in were extremely helpful.
I can’t wait for volume 2!

To sum up, I really enjoyed how the book was suspensefully alternating between the different key areas of this troubled time, and how it highlighted all the mixed political and religious motives at stake. With a very solid historical information, full of suspense, this book will delight readers interested in early French history, in military campaigns, in strong women characters, and all historical fiction aficionados ready to open to new horizons.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

It is 741. After subduing the pagan religions in the east, halting the march of Islam in the west, and conquering the continent for the Merovingian kings, mayor of the palace Charles the Hammer has one final ambition-the throne. Only one thing stands in his way-he is dying.

Charles cobbles together a plan to divide the kingdom among his three sons, betroth his daughter to a Lombard prince to secure his southern border, and keep the Church unified behind them through his friend Bishop Boniface. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles’s death is chaos. His daughter has no intention of marrying anyone, let alone a Lombard prince. His two eldest sons question the rights of their younger pagan stepbrother, and the Church demands a steep price for their support. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles’s daughter flees his court for an enemy’s love.

Based on a true story, Anvil of God is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal that follows a bereaved family’s relentless quest for power and destiny. [provided by HFVBT]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J. Boyce GleasonAfter a 25-year career in crisis management and public affairs,
J. Boyce Gleason began writing historical fiction and is publishing his first novel ANVIL OF GOD, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles. With an AB in history from Dartmouth College,
Gleason brings a strong understanding of the past to his historical fiction.
He is married, has three sons and lives in Virginia.

For more information please visit www.jboycegleason.com.
You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE NOVEL SET IN 8TH CENTURY?
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