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Blog Tour: The Outlander King (The Aetheling's Bride Book 1) by Hilary Rhodes: A Book Review

04_The Outlander KingThe Outlander King (The Aetheling's Bride, Book 1) by Hilary Rhodes

Publication Date: June 1, 2015
476 Pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:The story of The Lion and the Rose and the Norman Conquest continues in this spellbinding new historical fiction series from author Hilary Rhodes, pulling back the curtain on the lives of two remarkable women connected across centuries: Aislinn, a seventeen-year-old English girl caught up in the advancing army of the “outlander king,” the man who will become known to history as William the Conqueror. Thrust into the center of the new Norman court and a dizzying web of political intrigue and plotting princes, she must choose her alliances carefully in a game of thrones where the stakes are unimaginably high. Embroiled in rebellions and betrayals, Aislinn learns the price of loyalty, struggles to find her home, and save those she loves – and, perhaps, her own soul as well.

     Almost nine hundred years later in 1987, Selma Murray, an American graduate student at Oxford University, is researching the mysterious “Aethelinga” manuscript, as Aislinn’s chronicle has come to be known. Trying to work out the riddles of someone else’s past is a way for Selma to dodge her own troubling ghosts – yet the two are becoming inextricably intertwined. She must face her own demons, answer Aislinn’s questions, and find forgiveness – for herself and others – in this epically scaled but intimately examined, extensively researched look at the creation of history, the universality of humanity, and the many faces it has worn no matter the century: loss, grief, guilt, redemption, and love.

     My Review: Selma, an Oxford University student, is researching the medieval “Aetheling” manuscript. As she is reading, we learn the story of Aislinn. She joins William the Conqueror’s camps alongside her twin brother. When William finally defeats the English, she is forced to become a maidservant to the defeated English king, Edgar. Aislin eventually finds herself swept amidst the danger, treachery, and political intrigue within the Norman court. Realizing that she is a pawn between two English kings who seek the crown of England, Aislinn is forced to fight for her own destiny and to escape the danger surrounding her as she tries to find love, peace, and happiness.

     Aislinn is very strong-willed. She joins William the Conqueror’s camp very reluctantly because the only family she has left is her twin brother. She joins them as a healer. She has a strong dislike for William the conqueror, yet she knows that there is some goodness in him. Aislinn is very intelligent, and I like how she senses the political machinations that are surrounding her. She is very tough and sometimes she has to make hard choices to save those she loves. She can sometimes be cruel and unforgiving to those who hurt her. Another thing I like about her is that she knows she must choose her loyalty carefully, for her choice will bring about unforeseen consequences to her and to her loved ones. She is always trying to shape her own destiny.

     I was really fascinated with Aislinn’s story. It was beautiful, raw, poignant, heart-breaking, and an emotional read. Aislinn was such a strong character that it kept me invested in the story. I did not like how in the middle when Aislinn’s story ended in a cliffhanger, and it jumped to the modern story line. I found the modern story line to be very annoying, and it felt like a long intermission.  It did nothing to enhance the overall plot because nothing happened, and I think it should have been left out. I was so interested in Aislinn’s story that I was eager for her story to be picked up from where it left off .I advise readers who enter the modern story to skip it and return to Aislinn’s story.

     Overall, this story is about love, loyalty, choices, and redemption. The historical epic is filled with fast-paced action with a strong heroine at its center. The story is very well-written, and it is clear that the author has done her research. I am excited to read the next book for I am interested in what happens to Aislinn. I recommend this book to those who are interested in William the Conqueror. The Outlander King is also a feast and a delightful read for fans of historical fiction, for Aislinn’s breathtaking story will enthrall you leaving you hooked from the first page.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



02_Author Hilary Rhodes

     Hilary Rhodes is a scholar, author, blogger, and all-around geek who fell in love with medieval England while spending a year abroad at Oxford University. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in history, and is currently preparing for doctoral studies at the University of Leeds, fulfilling a years-long dream to return to the UK. In what little spare time she has, she enjoys reading, blogging about her favorite TV shows, movies, and books, music, and traveling. For more information please visit Hilary Rhodes' blog.

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