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Review of The Amber Treasure by Richard Denning

The Amber Treasure by Richard Denning
ISBN: 978-1-84914-023-2
Paperback: 411 pages
Publisher: Completely Novel

Set in 6th century Northumbria, The Amber Treasure is told from the perspective of Cerdic, the nephew of a once great Anglo-Saxon war hero, Cynric. Cerdic lives a peaceful life in a small village, and he dreams of one day becoming a legendary warrior like his uncle.

His dreams are realized when the Welsh (or Britons) come and attack the village. The Welsh are seeking to regain their former lands before the Anglo-Saxons arrived, and with the attack, Cerdic loses one of his brothers, his sister, and his uncle’s sword. But war is not as glorious as Cerdic imagined as a boy. He is immediately thrust into manhood, where he must avenge the death of his brother and rescue his sister from captivity.

Denning does a nice job with the historical setting. He seems to have researched the period well, and as a reader, you get a real sense of early post-Roman life in Britain. The author re-creates village life, the social organizations, and the grim realities of war with firm conviction. His battle scenes depict in full detail the fear and chaos and carnage of war. Denning also does a fairly nice job with the characters. It is apparent he has a real understanding of who his characters are.

The areas where I felt the book could have been improved were in certain scenes of dialogue, grammatical components, and in Cerdic’s transition from boyhood to manhood. At times, the dialogue seemed a bit forced and unnatural, and there were places where grammar needed correcting. Also, since we first meet Cerdic as a boy, I had a difficult time seeing him as a warrior and not the same young child who used to run around with his friends and play mock sword fights, one day dreaming of their chance to be like the heros they heard about in sagas. I never really felt a complete maturation of Cerdic’s character.

I believe The Amber Treasure is the first book in a series with more to follow. I’m not sure when the next book will be released or what the title will be, however.

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