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Reviewed by Shannon Trenton
Charles the Hammer died in 741, starting a war between brothers and between faiths that would shape the future of the realm forever. J. Boyce Gleason’s Anvil of God is the story of Charles’ children – three sons who would face off over their shared leadership and a daughter determined to gain her freedom from political games.
The mayor of the Franks is bound to raise a Merovingian king to oversee the entire realm, but Charles Martel has higher ambitions for his family. He chooses to divide the kingdom between his three sons: Carloman, a fierce warrior whose skill on the battlefield is only outstripped by his devotion to the Church; Pippin (or Pepin), a proven knight who languishes in his older brother’s shadow; and Gripho, the son of Charles’ second wife Sunnichild and newly installed in the knighthood.
Daughter Trudi has never felt comfortable with the ladies of court. From a young age she has trained with the knights and found company with the men, but as she awakens to her femininity she seeks help from stepmother Sunni to harness her power and take control of her life. When she learns of her betrothal to a Lombard prince she leaves her home in pursuit of her true love.
Gleason’s depiction of the early Carolingian dynasty is an exciting adventure that takes the reader across a historic realm in upheaval. He weaves historical fact (well cited in the Author’s Note at the end) with new characters, taking creative license with some details to close gaps and carry the plot. In a stroke of brilliance he elevates the religious turmoil between the early Church and Pagan regions from an historic footnote to a key component of the battle for control.
The story is further bolstered by a cast of characters who are complex and who are connected to one another in various, often unexpected ways. Even third-tier characters show personality and are far from simple names on a page.
Anvil of God is a gripping novel of history, family, faith, and war. History fans and lovers of adventure will find hours of enjoyment with this excellent debut, and will be eagerly awaiting the second installment of the Carolingian Chronicles.
Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, son, and two cats. When she isn’t reading, getting paid to play on social media, or running her own business she enjoys playing with her baby and cooking.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by iUniverse. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.