Sunday 20 September 2015


As I am gearing up for the release of book 2 of the Bernicia Chronicles, THE CROSS AND THE CURSE, I have started to send out the manuscript to other authors in the hope they'll like it enough to give me a review and some quotes for the cover and the website.

Well, the first to respond has been Martin Lake, the great author of books such as Land of Blood and Water and The Lost King series. To receive a nice review from anyone is a great feeling, but to get a review such as this from a writer of Martin's skill and stature is just wonderful. I am extremely thankful to Martin and hope other readers feel the same way as him once the book is released!

Martin Lake's review of THE CROSS AND THE CURSE

One midnight several years ago I sat at the Great Sphinx listening to love poetry written five thousand years ago. I felt the ache of lost and found kinship with ancient forebears. I feel the same when reading Matthew Harffy’s work.

The best historical fiction enables the reader to simultaneously live in the here and now and the then and there. Matthew Harffy has this skill in abundance. He peoples his work with everyman and everywoman, allowing a bridge across the centuries, a meeting place.

His hero Beobrand is heroic and fallible, his wife Sunniva has the fears and longings of any woman whose young husband is called to battle. Other characters are also very much part of their time while being the sort you might bump into on the street today. King Oswald, for example, has the charisma of a mighty monarch even though his kingdom is a sparsely inhabited, tiny parcel of land. The reader believes Oswald leads a mighty war-host until the author deftly reveals it is made up of merely two hundred men. It is, of course, only two hundred men. Yet at the same time it is a war-host.

While reading The Cross and the Curse I was with the people of seventh century Bernicia as they split timber to make new homes, watched anxiously alongside them to see if the fire would flame enough to send a sacrifice to the gods, felt the terror and thrill of the shield-wall and the disgust and exhilaration of killing while escaping death.

Matthew Harffy’s first novel, The Serpent Sword, was superb. The second book, The Cross and the Curse, is every bit as good. He is one of the most accomplished and exciting voices in the field today. I love his novels and recommend them to you.


  1. Great review, Matthew! I know someone else who would be more than willing to read and review.

  2. Thanks! I just finished The Serpent Sword and really can't wait for this one. I'd already finished all of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales/Warlord Chronicles series and stepped away to another genre. When I wanted more of Cornwell, I searched around and stumbled upon The Serpent Sword. I'd rank you right up there with Cornwell for writing about the Anglo-Saxon period of Britannia. I'm really looking forward to the next one.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Jack! I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed The Serpent Sword, and to be compared favourably with the master of historical fiction himself is wonderful and humbling.

      Reviews of the book such as yours on Amazon and/or Goodreads really help the book do well (hint, hint!). ;-)

      Watch this space and THE CROSS AND THE CURSE should be available reasonably soon.