Pit of Vipers: Sons of Kings Book 2, by Millie Thom, continues the exciting story of Alfred of Wessex and Eadwulf of Mercia.
Eadwulf has returned to his homeland and has his heart set on exacting revenge on those who wronged him and his family. When the Danish invaders return, he is put in the middle of fighting for his homeland and the loyalties to the friends he made while a slave. Alfred is honing his leadership abilities at the courts of his successive brothers. Before he desires, Alfred’s abilities are put to the test when the Vikings invade Wessex.
Millie Thom does an excellent job of mixing fact and fiction in this delicately woven historical fiction series. While it’s not an absolute must, it would behoove the reader to read the first book in the series before embarking on the second. Not just for the background information, but because the two books complement each other so well.
The story follows documented evidence chronologically and Thom has decided to sprinkle in Norse sagas and mythology. This is a wise move since it adds such a wonderful layer of fantasy to fact. People back then were ardent followers of their gods and beliefs and to separate the two, fact and mythology, would hurt the authenticity of the characters and events.
The author has crafted such an amazing story and it’s clear that she knows her stuff. Her ability to weave both words from the time period with today’s language shows how much forethought she put into the books. This is a thoughtful and exciting novel that brings history to life. The political intrigues, the thirst for revenge, and the Viking invasion of the English kingdoms are the perfect recipe for an addicting series.
While the reader gets an insightful look into history, Thom also gives them a peek into the lives of her characters. All too often, women are ignored during this time period. But in Thom’s series, women are front and center with the men, rounding out the whole picture of what life was like back in the ninth century.
At times, the scenes are brutal. Vikings did rape, plunder, and decimate towns and villages. Yet, she also shows a different side to the intruders, not excusing their behavior, but showing why they acted the way they did. It might be hard for today’s reader to understand completely, but her honesty enhances the story. And it wasn’t just the Danish raiders who acted barbarically. It’s easy to forget that, but it shouldn’t be. History has plenty of violence and villains from all sides. Telling the truth is crucial in historical fiction adding to the authenticity and making for a more enjoyable read, especially for those who love action.
This novel is not only a fantastic addition to her Sons of Kings series, but it’s a great find for historical fiction fans. Millie Thom knows her history and she knows how to craft a novel that’s impossible to put down. Highly recommended.