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Today’s post is my review of chronicles of Iona:Exile for the blog tour hosted by @The_WriteReads (thank you so much Dave) and a thank you to the author and the publisher.
“Exile”, the first novel in the historical fiction series “The Chronicles of Iona”, is the story of the two men who laid the foundations of the Scottish nation, an Irish monk, Saint Columba, and a Scottish warlord, Aedan mac Gabran. They were a real-life sixth-century Merlin and King Arthur and their story has never been told.
It is 563 A.D. The world has been plunged into chaos by the collapse of the Roman Empire and barbarian invasions: civilization holds on by a thread. Columba, a powerful abbot and prince of Ireland, is exiled for a violent act to the pagan colony of Dalriada on the west coast of Scotland. Awaiting him there is Aedan mac Gabran, the down-and-out second son of the colony’s previous king, slain by the bloodthirsty Picts.
Together, this unlikely pair travels the breadth of a lawless, divided realm, each in search of his own kind of unity. Their path is fraught with blood feuds, lost love, sacrifice, miracles, dark gods, and monsters. Beset on all sides, their only hope is to become allies—and to forge a daring alliance with the pagan Picts.
How Columba overcame exile and a crisis of faith to found the famous monastery of Iona (one of the greatest centres of learning in Dark Age Europe) and, from it, the Celtic Church in the British Isles; and how Aedan avenged his father’s death and became, against all odds, the progenitor of Scottish kings and the greatest warlord of his age, begins here.
For both, what begins as a personal imperative becomes a series of events that lead to the foundation of Iona and the kingdom of Scotland—events that literally change the world.
Historically authentic yet told with a bold fictional sweep, “The Chronicles of Iona: Exile” plunges the reader into the world of sixth-century Scotland and Ireland, the veritable Dark Ages—a world on the brink of either collapse or creation, poised between myth and history.
I was drawn to this book as soon as I read the synopsis and I was not disappointed! Just the time period alone was enough to draw me in as I hadn’t read anything set during this time, in fact I will say right now that there are not enough books set during this time period!
Aedan and and Saint Columba were two exceptional characters to follow, in my opinion, they made the story for me and even the characters that I didn’t like, were well done and really stood out in my mind.
The world building was also great. Yes, there were a few chapters that I had to trudge through, but it payed off in the end because I understood the world so well. I also liked the way that the author described the setting, I felt like I was there with these characters in this world.
Overall, the culmination of all these things, the setting, the characters, battle scenes, adventure, brilliant intricately woven history and Fougerolles storytelling, made this book something everyone should have on their radar, especially all of those who are history buffs. I highly recommend this book, an excellent start to a series.
4.5 stars! 🌟
Paula de Fougerolles has a doctorate from the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge, and has taught and published in the field. She has lived and traveled extensively throughout Scotland and Ireland, including a prestigious year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in which she criss-crossed Europe in search of the physical remains of the so-called Dark Ages–research which ultimately led to this award-winning historical fiction series.
Don’t forget to check out the other reviews and blogs on the tour!