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Reviews - Bears in the North

An engrossing book which sheds light on the Dark Ages

It takes exceptional intelligence and imagination to shed light on Britain’s Dark Ages. Shrouded in mystery and legend, with unreliable narrators abounding, the Dark Ages often seem as impenetrable as their name suggests. But talented Yorkshire historian Alistair Hall, who has had a lifelong fascination with post-Roman Britain, is undaunted by the task of trying to shed some meaningful light on this darkness and has just published his second book on the period. It is excellent. His first book - The Battle of Mount Badon, Ambrosius, Arthur and the Defence of Britain - was well received and received national publicity with bold, yet well-researched, new information about the life and times of King Arthur. Despite his success of his first book, which was grounded in truth, Hall has become convinced that historical fiction is a more effective route to popularise history subjects and he has now published a paperback which he hopes will draw attention to our local heroes from the Dark Ages. This book is the engrossing Bears in the North. It tells the story of Coel Hen, the last Duke of Britain, and his dynasty; war lords deserted by Rome but who maintained a northern army of Britons to defend against not only the Picts and the Scotti but also the mounting threat of the Saxons. He hopes that his exciting tale of adventure which threads through known events will stimulate more interest in a period so often misrepresented and distorted by myths. Bears In The North is the story of warlords who became kings and the kingdoms they built to defend their religion and their culture. These protectors had a hand in shaping modern Britain and their legacy remains relevant today. Hall, with well-drawn and likable characters, evocative descriptions of fifth century Britain and believable and accessible dialogue, brings the warlords and their friends, families and enemies, alive. Highly recommended.

Its as good as, or better than,  Wolf Hall ( Thomas Cromwell) by Hilary Mantel.

It comes down to a detailed knowledge of the subject matter, one’s own interpretation of events and people, and being a good writer.


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