Joan Wolf is an author that’s been around for a year or two (or thirty) and she’s penned historical novels, regency romances and according to her website she’s now writing Christian romances (not my cuppa). I’ve read a few of her regency romances (fair, but not great) but she has a trio of books set in England’s Dark Ages that IMHO is superb and not to be missed. While these are referred to as a trilogy, they can be read in any order and are independent of one another.
The Road to Avalon
The pageantry and passionate intrigues of King Arthur’s court are expertly recreated in this historical novel–the only Arthurian novel in which all of the central characters are portrayed as intrinsically good people. This realistic retelling of the legend shows Arthur severing the bonds of bastardy, vanquishing the Saxons and loving one woman. As the daring teenage warrior prepares for the throne, he discovers true love with Morgan of Avalon, the youngest of Merlin’s daughters, but fate cruelly thwarts their hopes for a future together. Never before has a telling of the Arthur story made the breathtaking drama of this charismatic king more real or moving.
Wolf gives The Road to Avalon a bit of a different spin on the Arthurian legends as Arthur and Morgan are not blood-related so she’s able to develop a sympathetic love story – and a darn good one at that. Keep your tissue box handy for the ending.
Born of the Sun
In this beautifully executed continuation of The Road to Avalon, her earlier depiction of sixth-century Britain, Wolf tells the story of Niniane, a Celtic princess, and Ceawlin, bastard son of the King of the West Saxons. Eighty years after the death of Arthur, the Celts are disorganized, drifting away from the cities built by the Romans. The vigorous Saxons, on the other hand, have settled down and become civilized, creating in many ways a more viable culture.
I loved loved loved this book and I credit this as the book that got me into reading historical fiction a few years ago. A perfect blend of historical and romance, and I always love it when I can follow a pair on through the years and not just the first blush of youth and HEA. I wasn’t much into writing reviews when I read this, but you can see Daphne’s excellent thoughts on this book here.
The Edge of Light
The beautiful Elswyth, Princess of Mercia, is a woman-child already promised to a lord of the realm. Young Prince Alfred, fifth son of King Ethelwulf of Wessex, never dreamed he would don the crown of Britain, though he was destined to become its greatest king. Two headstrong lovers vow to fight to change the world rather than forfeit their passion–in a grand and glorious saga that explodes with the passions of love and war.
This was just as unputdownable as the first two, and a different look at Alfred than you get in Cornwell’s books – at least that’s what the ladies at Paperbackswap tell me. I also read this one well before I was reviewing much so I’ll refer you to Tanzanite’s review here. These are all OOP, but last I checked fairly reasonably priced used.