Review: The Northern Throne – Steven A. McKay

Warrior Druid Of Britain 3

My version: PDF
Genre: Historical Fiction, Post-Roman Britain, Saxons, Celts
Broadsword Publishing
First published: 2020
Pages: 280

From the cover:
Bellicus the Druid and his friend Duro, a former Roman centurion, have already suffered a great deal in recent years but, for them, things are about to get even worse.
Britain is changing. The Romans have gone and warriors from many different places seek to fill the void the legions left behind. In the south, the Saxons’ expansion seems unstoppable despite the efforts of the warlord Arthur, while north of Hadrian’s Wall various kings and chieftains are always looking to extend their borders.
In Dun Breatann, Bellicus believes the disparate northern tribes must put aside their differences, become allies, and face the Saxon threat together, under one High King. Or High Queen…
Small-minded men don’t always look at the bigger picture though, and, when Bellicus and Duro seek to form a pact with an old enemy, events take a shocking and terrible turn that will leave the companions changed forever.
This third volume in the Warrior Druid of Britain Chronicles is packed with adventure, battles, triumph, and tears, and at the end of it a new course will be set for Bellicus.
But at what cost?

Can you hear that?

No? Nothing?

Yeah, nothing at all, because that silence is the sound of all the Historical Fiction competition – so far behind Steven A. McKay these days, that you can’t hear them! You know the sort I mean, I’ve banged on about them often enough.

Yeah, well…that’s how good Steven A. McKay’s outstanding third post-Roman dark-age novel (following on from the barnstorming opener The Druid and then Song of The Centurion), The Northern Throne is. So good that you’ll want to make some noise of your own – tell your friends, tell anyone who likes Historical Fiction, tell anyone with even a passing interest in great writing, great storytelling and, most importantly at least for the short term, a Kindle, gets hold of The Warrior Druid of Britain series. But you’d best warn them, once they’re in, they’re gone, there will be no turning back.

So, what should all the noise actually be about, apart from the obvious – warriors, Druids, warrior Druids and Britain?

The Northern Throne is set around the area where the kingdom of Strathclyde meets Dalriada on the above map.

Well, the main theme, is concerned with the Celtic peoples of post-Roman Britannia trying to rid themselves of internal tribal bickering while at the same time finding themselves facing the invading hoards from lower Saxony, lower and mid-Jutland. The Saxons, the Angles, and the Jutes – you may have heard of them (of course, as someone who has returned to their ancient roots, so to speak, it is only fair I point out that I live in mid-Jylland and ‘we’ are known as Jysk (yoosk)). I’m pretty sure I’ve suggested it before, but this, for me, is the period in British history when a lot of our most enduring legends were perhaps begun. As the peoples of Britannia, after having a foreign, new, but highly beneficial civilisation thrust upon them for hundreds of years, were then both left behind by the Romans and left to fend for themselves. They had by the end of the Roman-Britain era, become pretty dependant upon the Romans, especially for their defence. Now, they were left exposed to attacks from many sides, especially from the east and needed their bravest men to find their leadership qualities stand up and be counted. To be heroes. These men were maybe mythologised while they were even still alive, but they certainly were after they were gone, and even though they may not have turned the tide and clock back, became talisman for the people. Something to suggest that, if their hero would just return when things look blackest, and with the help of all those who wait for them, they can win.

And times are certainly fast approaching their blackest for Bellicus of Dun Breatann, Duro of Luguvalium and Cai, the fearsome hunting dog, up in the northern lands of Britannia. In Alt Clota, Queen Narina seeks an alliance amongst the nearby tribes, both to consolidate the northern lands under a strong leadership, to counter the potential invasion of the Saxons after their conquest of the lands to the south and possibly even to send warriors to help their southern kinsmen in their desperate fight to turn back the tide of Saxons constantly washing up on their eastern shores. Anyone can see that Hengist and his brother Horsa are not going to be satisfied by merely defeating Arthur and his druidic consultant The Merlin, then leaving a potentially powerful rival power in the north. The stumbling block to the first part of Narina’s plan, is Drest. A Pictish chieftain who, I think it can be safely said, has no love for her, Bellicus and probably not even for dogs either. So, Bellicus goes to try and change Drest’s mind. What could possibly go wrong…?

The Northern Throne is immediately impressive in a way that The Forest Lord series suggested was possible for tales from Steven, but is really coming to rich fruition here. The Warrior Druid of Britain has shown an extra dimension to his writing of both story line and character. The plot is at once gripping, but also more intricate, more involved in fleshing out the sense of place and time, the tension and the threat of the future. Robin Hood might have made Steven A. McKay’s name, but you’d be very wrong to think that’s all there is. The Warrior Druid of Britain balances an immediately gripping plot-line with compelling, just right writing and down to earth, potentially heroic, believable characters.

The old ways that have been forced to hide for centuries, but have never gone away, never been defeated. Old allegiances are being made stronger, new ones forged, to counter a dangerous new threat. Both physically and spiritually, Britannia and its peoples are under attack and their survival could depend on a warrior druid, and ex-Centurion and dog.

Now is the time when Bellicus, Duro and Cai need to find the hero the people need, in themselves.

The Northern Throne is available now and you can buy it from Amazon

The photo at the top is of the Scottish highlands by Bjorn Snelders on Unsplash

The available for your Kindle, now:

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