This is a promising start to what should be an engrossing series. Those who enjoy dramatizations of history, especially those with a particular interest in the turbulent fifth-century history of a pretty far-flung Northern outpost of the Roman Empire en route to becoming The British Isles, will find much to hold their interest in this short first novel in the Light in the Dark Ages series.
When the Roman garrisons made an orderly withdrawal from their province of ‘Britannia’ in 409-410 to help defend their home city against marauding armies of Goths getting ever nearer to the gates of Rome, the island was beset by invaders from the northern fringes of what we now know as Europe, while warring tribes of Britons struggled either to protect or to expand their borders. Tim Walker has ably researched the period, and his story is full of convincing incidental detail.
His intention is that the series will cover three generations of a family that must use its wit and skills to survive such a precarious and violent period of British history. Of course, he has only just begun to create his cast of characters, and is in the early stages of honing his craft as a writer who, like Hilary Mantel, is capable of bringing his landscapes to life, peopling them with believable, complex human beings struggling with occasionally divided loyalties and with different tribal and cultural affiliations, making them speak dialogue the reader always finds convincing.
The author has recently addressed the issues highlighted by one reviewer about the length and structure of some of the sentences in his first edition, the occasional difficulty a reader might have experienced when coming across the same pronoun more than once in a particular paragraph referring to different people, and the very occasional use or non-use of punctuation leading to unintended ambiguity. He has now uploaded a revised version, and there is plenty of evidence that his writing style will only become more assured and polished as the series progresses.