“In the Name of the Mother” by John Broughton

In The Name Of The Mother

John Broughton
Independently Published (2019)
ISBN: 978-1097543366
Reviewed by Lily Andrews for Reader Views (01/2023)

The Anglo-Saxon period in Britain spans approximately six centuries from 410-1066AD. It was a time of war and the breaking up of Roman Britannia into several kingdoms of religious conversion.

It is during this period that John Broughton thrusts readers into his strikingly original second and last installment of the Wyrd of the Wolf series, “In The Name Of The Mother: A Chronicle of 8th Century Wessex (Wyrd Of The Wolf Book 2)”. The year is 689AD and a young widow, Cynethryth, is returning home to Rome after her husband, Caedwalha, leader of the West Saexe, dies. Pregnant with the heir to the throne, Cynethryth meets her father, Aelfhere, King of the South Saexe, who welcomes her home even after having gone against her father’s wishes, allying against him and her people.

However, there are other pressing matters at hand. In a time of unrest and political turbulence, many lay claims to the throne. Cynethryth’s son, Aethelheard has a better claim to kingship than King Ine, the king of Wessex and a ruler who is becoming ever more the tyrant and thirsts for greater power. Her mother knows she has to protect her son, who is at risk of being killed, as his parentage alone places him in danger. Cynethryth is confronted with a difficult choice to make and visits King Cuthred in Dorset, who agrees to raise him as his son without anyone’s knowledge. This alone sets Aethelheard on an insidious path as he grows up around defiant princes, all with an insatiable desire to overthrow the King of Wessex. Thus follows a tale of intrigue, ambition, a mother’s love, and power.

In a period that may seem strange and incomprehensible, John Broughton weaves a magisterial treatise that illuminates a masterful introduction to the origins of kingship, power structures, and government in Anglo-Saxon society. He renders the inner life of the medieval era with an accuracy and contiguity rare in historical fiction. With stellar, pitch-perfect prose and well-fleshed-out characters, the novel ping-pongs rapidly to deliver the right amounts of action and dialogue in equal measure.

“In The Name Of The Mother: A Chronicle of 8th Century Wessex” is an evocative, sharply drawn five-star story of centuries of profound political change, told with adroitness, command, and shrewd historical judgment. The author employs aptly crafted language to paint enthralling imagistic scenes, resulting in an ode rich with history, suspense, beauty, and lyricism. As the text pulls back the veil on legendary characters bringing them to life through a work of fiction, Broughton, a literary minstrel in his own right, awakens a Middle Age period that is rigorously researched culminating into a rich embroidery that connects the dots between the familiar and unfamiliar.

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