Top positive review
Historial Fiction at its best
Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2020
The Serpent Sword is, in my mind, a great piece of historical fiction that deserves the attention of every fan of the genre. Taking place smack-dab in the middle of the European Dark Ages in early 7th century Great Britain, the author succeeds in transporting me to this chaotic and violent world, where warlords vied for supremacy and the people struggled to survive. Focusing on a likeable and complex main character, Beobrand of Cantware, I felt that the character developed a fleshed-out personality over the course of the story that made him feel like a real human being. With this debut novel, Matthew Harffy has shown an ability to weave together a story that can stand alone and as part of a saga. He joins my list of other favorite historical fiction authors such as Adrian Goldsworthy, Harry Sidebottom and Eleanor Cooney.
Rather than risk spoiling the story, I will list the pros and cons of this story below:
*Atmospheric and immersive writing
*Mostly fleshed out characters
*Riveting plot of revenge (if a little derivative)
*Bloody action scenes (described in vivid detail)
*Attention to historical accuracy and detail
*Main character felt a little overpowered in his fighting ability
*Villain should have been more rounded out and less derivative, given a better motivation for their actions. It has been said that the greatest and most fascinating villains are those that you can understand and empathize with on some level.