KING ALFRED’S DAUGHTER

King Alfred is dead and the achievements that made him great are in jeopardy. Rebels challenge the succession of his son Edward to the Wessex throne, and his old ally in Mercia is sick. The Vikings in the Danelaw sense the time has come to complete their conquest of England.

It falls on Alfred’s firstborn, his daughter, Æthelflæd, to unite the Anglo-Saxons. Reluctantly, she takes up the challenge. But can Æthelflæd rebuild ruined towns and lead men into battle against hardened Viking warriors? And can she fulfill her father’s dream of uniting England?

Based on contemporary sources and archaeological evidence, King Alfred’s Daughter is rich in drama, family conflict and historical achievement.

Caroline P, Reviewer

An amazing and wonderful story of a woman too often forgotten in the history of her famous father, and the nephew she raised to be the first king of a United England. This isn’t the story of a young woman learning to be a Queen, but a Queen at the heart of an emerging kingdom.

Kathryn M, Reviewer

this was a great historical fiction novel, it had what I was looking for from the description. The concept was smart and I enjoyed how good everything was. The characters were unique and worked with the story, I enjoyed getting to know this world and their characters. David Stokes does a great job in telling the story and I can’t wait to read more from him.

“It made me blush to think of Edward’s raving over my alleged part in Æthelwold’s deception. My concession to foster his son in my own court troubled me more than ever. Whenever I looked at Athelstan sitting on his pony beside me, I was immediately taken back to the irritating outings I had endured as a young girl with my little brother dragging along behind me when all I wanted to do was to canter off with my friends.”

Ashley S, Reviewer

I enjoyed this book. I love historical fiction and I am a huge fan of The Last Kingdom. The research was very well done, it was nice to see Æthelflæd’s side of things. I am also so glad to have seen the The tv series based around Utrid and her father which allowed the reading to go smoothly for me. It helped me develop better accents to the names in the story as well as being able to pronounce the names without a struggle.

Æthelflæd as a woman her story was overshadowed by the males in her life so it was nice to bring forth the story of a Queen who is often forgotten. Well Done. Unfortunately in history such as these men get away with a lot of things and immediately we see that. Her brother taking away her right to be at her father’s funeral by rushing it so he can claim king rights faster and treating her and everyone else as lowly. You can’t help but be so angry for the woman in these stories even if they are strong and make history. The fact they went through what they do is terrible.

Emily W, Reviewer

I was hooked on this novel from the prologue alone, which provided the necessary introductions to the story, while creating a sense of both historical context and immersion.
Aethelflaed was an enjoyable protagonist to share the story with, she is observant, but to the point. The writing style was authentic and the story had great flow and the pacing was perfect, sometimes I find in historical fiction the pacing can be a bit slow, or we spend a lot of time in the characters youth and I get frustrated and bored, this didn’t happen here. Furthermore, Aethelflaeds thoughts and memories were so well described, that at times I thought this would make a really good film or mini-series, as these scenes felt like they were playing out in my head as I read them.
My only (and incredibly minor) issue, is as it is written as a reflection, there was very little opportunity for a twist or surprise in the story, with Aethlflead musing “I would come to regret it in the end” throughout. It was great foreshadowing, but it made the story feel a bit predictable at times.
This book is great for fans of The Last Kingdom and Vikings, an engaging trip through time, told from a feminine perspective. Aethelflaed is so often a footnote in tales from this period, is was satisfying to read about her being the power player that she was. It is clear that this book has been incredibly well researched and it puts forward events of the past in an entertaining and accessible manner.
Thank you NetGalley and The Book Guild Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read and share my thoughts about this book in exchange for an honest review.

Cynthia G, Reviewer

Thank you to NetGalley for the eARC. Im a lover of all history and this was no different! I loved this story. It’s about time a woman got her recognition. And I’m glad her story was told!

Cheryl P, Reviewer

This is a really beautifully written book about the Lady of Mercia, Æthelflæd. I had a vague idea of who she was and got a better sense of her through The Last Kingdom, where I find her character to be fascinating so I was intrigued to read this book.
As expected from the era, Æthelflæd’s life is a complicated and cautious one. Very often the chess piece to be moved at others will, she treads a fine line between family and loyalty.
The book is easy to read, almost snippets of journal entries, however if you are brand new to this era of history and are not prepared for the amount of Æthel’s you are about to face, then the information lists at the start of the book of invaluable!

This is a brilliant book, highlighting the life of a wonderfully brave woman, who has been largely lost to history until very recently. Thank you to the author for writing her story.

Thank you also to Netgalley for the chance to read and review this ARC.

Olivia E, Librarian

A phenomenal historical read where the girl finally gets the recognition she deserves. The love my students have mythology is about to get a new addition.

Ellie K, Reviewer

This is a beautifully written story about Æthelflæd and how she became a beloved leader of the Mercians. When you start with a prologue like this you are instantly drawn into the story.

‘Do not read on if you prefer living quietly by the rules and staying out of trouble. Our lords do not want you to hear this story. It tells of a woman who brought the Angles and Saxons together to create England. Yes, it was a woman. Not a king, nor a warlord, nor a magician. A woman.

There are men who want her story to remain untold so they can take the glory. Have courage. Turn the page. Read the truth.’

This book was written almost like journal entries format which helped with the flow of the story and kept you turning pages. It was really well researched and the battles were written extremely well. We follow Æthelflæd as she has to step up as leader after her husband falls ill to her becoming the queen of Merica bringing up Æthelstan who would go on to become the first king of England.

It tells a story that so many times has tried to be re-written in history to involve men instead of showing the true strength of Æthelflæd and everything she did and how pivotal her decisions were to making England become a reality.

I loved reading this book and will definitely be reading more books by David Stokes.

John

History brought to life

I loved this book! I always know within a few sentences whether a book is well written or not.
It’s a real page turner and I had to keep slowing myself down so I could attend to all the historical detail. The mix of historical facts and fiction kept me absorbed and all the diverse characters spring to life on every page and it’s very easy to relate to the main character.

Jinx

Wonderful

This is a really beautifully written book about the Lady of Mercia, Æthelflæd. I had a vague idea of who she was and got a better sense of her through The Last Kingdom, where I find her character to be fascinating so I was intrigued to read this book.
As expected from the era, Æthelflæd’s life is a complicated and cautious one. Very often the chess piece to be moved at others will, she treads a fine line between family and loyalty.
The book is easy to read, almost snippets of journal entries, however if you are brand new to this era of history and are not prepared for the amount of Æthel’s you are about to face, then the information lists at the start of the book of invaluable!

This is a brilliant book, highlighting the life of a wonderfully brave woman, who has been largely lost to history until very recently. Thank you to the author for writing her story.

Kindle customer

Great account of one of the most important heroines in British history

A fictional description of the life trials battles and tribulations of one of England’s greatest female leaders. Ethelflaed Lady of Mercia, Alfred’s daughter has to rule Mercia in the face of Danish and Norwegian invaders but also against her brother Edward’s ambitions as King of Wessex.

Through her efforts the way is paved for a united England finally realised by Athelstan Alfred’s grandson Athelstan whom she guides and tutors.

A great read closer to history than Bernard Cornwall’s Last Kingdom.

Should be appreciated by followers of Mathew Harifly, Simon Scarrow and Bernard Cornwall.

Kept turning pages from cover to cover.

HILARY A B

Perfect for fans of the Last Kingdom

This was a brilliant book I am a huge fan of The Last Kingdom books and TV series and it was nice to get Aethlfleds story. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Bernard Cornwell or in fact any fan of historical fiction set in the 10th century I have purchased another book by this author as I loved this one.

Margaret Cain

The most famous Saxon leader you’ve never heard of

This marvellous novel is a must-read for anyone interested in Anglo-Saxon times or who has perhaps watched the Netflix series ‘The Last Kingdom’.

Aethelflaed is the most famous queen of the Saxons you’ve never heard of. I’m embarrassed to say that even in studying Old English for three years at university, I never encountered her.

We are told in the afterword that while the Mercian Anglo-Saxon chronicle records Aethelflaed’s building of the burhs, towns that are still significant centres to this day: Gloucester, Worcester, Shrewsbury… Wessex commentators merely note the year of her death. Natural partiality on the part of the Mercians or a wiping out of his sister’s legacy by Edward, King of Wessex? I think we know. Sibling rivalry on a royal scale!

Aethelflaed was an intelligent strategist, wisely opting to invest in and build the Mercian defences, rather than always being on the back foot against the invaders or making forays into the enemy territory of the Danelaw.

David Stokes takes the still sketchy records to recreate a fully rounded character. He is to be applauded for bringing not only Aethelflaed vividly to life, but the courts of Wessex and Mercia, the jostling for power, and the family dynamics (Aethelflaed was foster-mother to Edward’s first son, whom he rejected on remarriage: Aethelstan who was the first king of all the English). Even the Nordic invaders are fully fleshed out, rather than being one-dimensional stereotypes. And, interestingly, even the bit-part female characters are given ‘agency’.

In Aethelflaed’s reflections on her own upbringing, we also learn a lot about Alfred’s struggles, his flight into the Somerset levels and his love of learning.

A note for fans of ‘The Last Kingdom’: in this version of the story, Aethelwold, nephew of King Alfred, is not the weasley villain he is depicted in the series. Rather he has justifiable cause for feeling disinherited.

In short, I loved this novel, which I was lucky to be given a digital galley proof of in exchange for an honest review. I have already recommended it to my WEA Old English study group. Indeed, I’m sure anyone with even a passing interest in the origins of our nation would enjoy it, too.

Laura

The fascinating story of Æthelflæd, daughter of King Alfred the Great

This fascinating novel describes the life and achievements of Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, a celebrated ruler in the early 10th century. Æthelflæd was the daughter of King Alfred the Great and sister of Edward the Elder, King of Wessex. A great visionary and key player in pushing back the Vikings, she led armies into battle, built fortifications, and established new towns during a period of political turbulence. She was a skilled diplomat, building alliances between Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Based on historical sources this is a great engaging read and to be recommended. I knew little about the Anglo-Saxons beforehand and found the plot enlightening and informative and the characters believable. Æthelflæd is brought to life as a strong, brave and determined woman. I now have a far better understanding and appreciation of early medieval England.

P. Moren

Great Story!!

This was a fascinationg story of history more than 1000 years ago with the names of many towns the same as they are today. I enjoyed reading about the way they lived and the battles they fought, to unite England.as one country,Also the appeareance of a woman as a leader of armies and being accepted in that role but not recognised for her achievemets.. Something which was lost in the annals of history. Great story!!

Musicitus

Bringing history to life

Loved reading this book. The immense historical detail is brought to life in a captivating and engaging way and we fall in love with the central character. Fast paced and dramatic – looking forward to reading other works by this author.

T. Carney

a good engrossing read

This is a well written historical novel filled with facts centred around the main character. From the start it was a good read and difficult to put down, keeping the reader captivated until the end. Highly recommended for the occasional reader, as well as those who have a deep interest in this period of history.

RedReviews4You S.

As someone who loves history and the Anglo-Saxon Era I was thrilled to find a book about Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians. David Stoakes has clearly done his research because at times I could almost smell the air in his writing. Although much of the knowledge of this period is based on the official chronicles of kings and battles, of which sadly the Lady Aethelflaed is not part of, Stoakes has created in this book a woman that reflects the values and visions that I have learned about in this era. It was helpful to have an index of names at the front of the book, and even in my Kindle edition I had a very well used bookmark for this page because so many of the names reflect their lineages and oftentimes fathers and sons can be confused. But this does not take away from Stoakes’ authorship and style. His prose style was engaging, and the voices of these historical figures jumped off the page. This was a great book that enabled me to be an armchair time traveler to the Anglo Saxon Era and see the figures that I have read in dry historical documents come to life.

If shows like The Last Kingdom or The Vikings appeal to you, take a moment to visit with the Lady Aethelflaed and see the often hidden world of personal conflict and court intrigue through a woman’s perspective that history books of this era did not include for a long time.

Elizabeth R, Librarian

Aethelflaed, daughter of King Alfred and Lady of the Mercians, ensured the independence of Mercia, with her husband the king and in his illness under her own authority. She negotiated Mericia’s place under the overall authority of her brother, somewhat unwise heir of Alfred of Wessex, and kept the Vikings at bay. This biography is a great retelling of her story and of the position of women in 900’s. Read and enjoy.

Carol S.

A well written page turner. For fans of historical fiction and for those who loved the series The Last Kingdom, this book is a must. The book begins in 899 with the death of Alfred the Great and the succession of his son Edward. Æthelflæd is the daughter of Alfred and sister to Edward. She was married off to the much older King of Mercia, Æthelflæd comes in to her own. She leads Mercia intelligently, builds up Mercia’s defences against the Danes and her brother Edward’s expansion plans. Æthelflæd takes Athelstan, Edwards first born son who was discarded on Edwards remarriage in favour of a second son. She leads her armies into battled, founded new towns, was an excellent diplomat.

Our titular character is well fleshed out by the author, bringing her to life by using contemporary sources and archaeological evidence.. She was a trailblazer who the first woman to govern an Anglo Saxon state.An excellent blend of history and fiction. The information lists at the start of the book are invaluable of keeping track of who is who. Particularly with names that are similar. The historical notes at the end give a timeline of events that helps put the story into the historical context. as is the map showing England at the time of Æthelflæd and showing the places of battle.

I was gifted a copy of this book by Netgalley for an honest review. Opinions are my own.

Lily A.

In King Alfred’s Daughter, David Stokes brings Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, to life in this fantastic historical fiction novel. Following her life after the death of her father, King Alfred, and the accession of her brother Edward as King of Wessex, Stokes brings the politics of Anglo-Saxon England to life and brings Aethelflaed’s story to the forefront of the period. Focusing on her political and military leadership, Stokes highlights the complicated relationship between Aethelflaed and Edward, Mercia and Wessex, and their uneasy coexistence with the Danelaw and the Norse raiders. Bringing in historical figures and elements as the narrative demands, Stokes’ focus on Aethelflaed allows him to highlight and expound upon her role in these historically masculine environments. Highlighting her contributions to creating an united England, Stokes uses the historical fiction style and format to educate his readers about an unknown, powerful Anglo-Saxon woman. The novel is brilliantly written and action-packed, and the first-person narrative allows Stokes to prescribe thoughts and feelings to Aethelflaed as well as her perception of other characters she interacts with. Supplemented by a broad cast of allies, enemies, and relatives, Stokes allows the reader to explore an understudied historical era through one of its most formative individuals.

Kelsie J.

This epic novel explores the life of Æthelflæd, The Lady of the Mercians, in a narration based on historical events, analysis, and fact. You meet Æthelflæd on her way to her father, King Alfred the Great’s, funeral, and are plunged immediately into political intrigue, family drama, and secrets with her. As she is forced to take on more power in defense of her country and family you see the phenomenal strength in the woman so many tries to bury and pass over.

As someone who has studied the history surrounding this time period I can say this brought that world to bright life. Such a testimonial to the research and painstaking attention to detail the author took.

Steven M.

A fictional description of the life trials battles and tribulations of one of England’s greatest female leaders. Ethelflaed Lady of Mercia, Alfred’s daughter has to rule Mercia in the face of Danish and Norwegian invaders but also against her brother Edward’s ambitions as King of Wessex.
Through her efforts the way is paved for a united England finally realised by Athelstan Alfred’s grandson Athelstan whom she guides and tutors.
A great read closer to history than Bernard Cornwall’s Last Kingdom.
Should be appreciated by followers of Mathew Harifly, Simon Scarrow and Bernard Cornwall.
Kept turning pages from cover to cover.

Trina G.

I love discovering books that open up a period of history that I am not overly familiar with, that inspire me to carry on reading, so pleased I read this book

Judith S.

I do love a story that incites me to Google for more information, that educates me, that gives me a thirst for more knowledge and this story certainly does that! I had never heard of Aethelflaed! How dreadful that I had not – such an incredible woman of her time! The story begins after the death of her father King Alfred and her brother, his son becomes the king of Wessex and overlord of what was left of Anglo Saxon Mercia. Aethelflaed is married to the much older Aethelred of whom she is very fond. He is a good and ruthless leader but always been kind to her but as he ages and is affected by the palsy she begins to take over his role as Leader and then Lady of the Mercians. She becomes. a force to be reckoned with against the Danes and helps her foster child Athelstan become the man and leader he will need to be in later life. It is not always easy for a man to write as a woman but David Stokes achieves this magnificently! Aethelflaed was a woman who knew her capabilities, her strength and her weaknesses. She was not afraid to learn from men who would often scorn the weaknesses of a mere woman! I found the story hard going at first but as I became accustomed to the writing and the characters so I became lost in Aethelflaed’s quest to unite the territories of the country and create an independent England. The battle scenes took my breath away, so vivid were the descriptions. A wonderfully educational and vivid historical tale told with excellent attention to detail and character!

Jean Luc E, Librarian

Brilliantly plotted and hugely entertaining King Alfred’s daughter is historical fiction at its best. The author gives us a superbly embroidered medieval fictional tapestry of a period in English history that I personally didn’t really know too much about.

The vast ensemble cast is exquisitely drawn and the storyline is magnificently choreographed. It was a little tough at the beginning to get used to the Saxon and early Celtic personal names but I managed to come up with a solution in order to avoid becoming too overwhelmed with the Æthelflæd and other strange looking first names. Then it was smooth sailing all the way through the end!

A really captivating novel that deserves to be discovered and enjoyed without any moderation whatsoever!

Many thanks to The Book Guild and Netgalley for this terrific ARC!.