Eadric the Grasper- Sons of Mercia vol. 1
By Jayden Woods
Publisher: Create Space
Release: October 5th, 2010
Eadric the Grasper is a historical novel set in the beginning of the 11th century. It follows the life of Eadric, a former swineherd from Mercia who due to a chance meeting, becomes an important figure, and villain in 11th century medieval history. The books begins with Eadric working as a churl for Wulfric and the Dane, Lord Bram. While running an errand for his Lord, he comes across a crying boy. Eadric’s advice to the young man lands him an audience with King Ethelred and changes his life forever.
The book follows Eadric through his life beside the King as an advisor, and watches Eadric grow in prosperity and power. The book details his battles, journey’s, and controversial political decisions as he tries to ensure peace for his home of Engla-lond by any means necessary (the author uses the name “Engla-lond” for England throughout the book).
Eadric was vilified in historical treatises and Woods attempts to portray his story in a different light by casting him as a unwilling villain who is just trying to make peace with the Vikings invading his homeland while battling his nemesis, The Golden Cross. Eadric was a true historical figure of the 11th century and regarded as the greatest traitor of Anglo-Saxon history. William of Malmesbury once described Eadric as, “the refuse of mankind and a reproach unto the English”. He was of non-noble birth and advanced to the high status of an ealdorman of the Saxon Mercians by obtaining the favour of King Ethelred the Unready. In 1007, he also married Ethelred’s daughter, Eadgyth, further ensuring his rise in status. In the fight for England between the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes, Eadric was a traitor. He supported the payment of the Danegeld, persisted in preventing Ethelred from launching an attack on the Danes in 1009, and deserted Edmund II of England to defect to the side of Canute and the Danes. Canute had Eadric slain on Christmas in 1017. Eadric’s head was said to have been placed on London Bridge and his body thrown into the Thames.
The book is an easy read and flows rather well. Eadric’s character is likable even though his actions may be deplorable at certain points. Eadric is a villain who is hard to hate because you can understand the necessity of his decisions, despite their consequences. His constant political maneuvering and personal relationship turmoil make the book an interesting read. I was never bored and looked forward to reading it.
My only other comment about the book is that it reads more like a fantasy novel than historical fiction. The cover art enhances this feeling. It has a fantasy novel feel and pace to it and while that may not be a detriment to me, as I read fantasy novels and enjoy the genre, it may be bothersome to some readers expecting a higher level of writing. It is simplistic, but good in that Woods explains roles and terms while telling her story without detracting from it.
Woods book is a great first novel. It’s fiction that doesn’t read as heavy historical fiction and it certainly isn’t dry and bogged down by too many details. I enjoyed this novel and look forward to the second book in the series. Eadric the Grasper will be released on October 5th, 2010.