‘Always buy British!’- Dark Age awaits!

Defender of the Realm Dark Age 

Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler
(Scholastic)

Defender of the Realm was a breath of hoof-hitting fresh air. I counted the days until the release of ‘Dark Age’, the second of the series. I read it in one go, only drawn away for a little research in support of the book’s incidental history and geography (rather like Alfie’s GCSE revision).

From the Houses of Parliament, to Kings College Chapel, Cambridge, Wimbledon, Suffolk farm lands, Thames swans, London buses, York’s Jorvik Viking museum, Britain is celebrated and visited unlike any other children’s book I’ve read.

To do this, within a fast paced, brilliantly written, action adventure book shows truly skilful writing! 

I love the padding out of Alfie’s character; we know he is vulnerable and sensitive, but we see the future king emerging, albeit with an over-dazzled 18-second royal handshake. I love Hayley’s impatience; her bravery, decisiveness and determined loyalty to those she values.

The Black Dragon returns, but Alfie understands more about him, and less about Brian, supposed loyal defender, and even less about his twin brother, Richard. As Defender, he is joined by the mysterious Red Robe and a Hogatrolla, in support of his quest to keep the long dead Vikings at bay.

I cannot recommend this title more. Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler accelerate the pace, build a hero fit for our times- complex and empathetic- while tapping into a relevant world-wide conflict of duty over success. ‘Dark Age’ is assured, rollicking, meaningful story writing. It’s time to click the spurs and come on board! You’re in for a read that is pure GULL!- (‘gold, in Old Norse). Bronnie http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/defender-realm-dark-age/

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