Shadow of the Raven

Sons of Kings Book 1

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
438 Pages
Reviewed on 04/19/2016
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Author Biography

Millie Thom is a former geography and history teacher with a degree in geology and a particular passion for the Anglo Saxon and Viking era. After completing a teacher training course in Liverpool in 1968, she moved to Yorkshire to take up her first teaching post at a secondary school in a small mining village. She also met her husband-to-be at this time, a teacher at a rival school.
In 1970 Millie and her husband moved to Wantage for six years, the town believed to be the birthplace of King Alfred the Great. It was at this time that Millie had the first inklings of an idea for writing a novel about this ‘great’ king. Yet six children and a teaching career meant that the idea was put ‘on hold’ for far too long. Millie now lives in Nottinghamshire with her husband, midway between Lincoln and Newark. Their grown-up children all live nearby.
Since retiring from teaching, Millie has been writing the trilogy about King Alfred that has been screaming to be born for so many years. Book 1, Shadow of the Raven and Book 2, Pit of Vipers are both published on and and Millie is currently writing Book 3.

    Book Review

Reviewed by JJ Phillips for Readers' Favorite

Millie Thom wrote a historical fiction story around the Vikings in Shadow of the Raven (Sons of Kings Book 1). Thom starts the story in the mid ninth century and explains how two kingdoms share a border near the mouth of the Thames. The two kingdoms are the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. The Norse lands cover Denmark, from the Arctic Circle to the Baltic Sea. The story also journeys to Rome, the holy city, and gives accounts of the Court of Charles the Bald of West Francia. Alfred of Wessex and Eadwulf of Mercia are the sons of the kings. Therefore, they know what is expected of them when they mature and become men. But a series of events during their years of growing up teach each of the boys invaluable lessons, lessons that promise to help them when the time is right.

I really enjoyed Millie Thom’s historical portrayal of kings and their sons in Shadow of the Raven. Many of her characters were historically based and I liked that blend of true and fictionalized characters. The Vikings are an interesting people and Thom did a great job of bringing her characters to life. They felt so real, as if they were really in that time period. I also loved the setting of this story. Again, Thom’s attention to detail was superb. I really felt as if I were there with the characters. She must have done an amazing amount of research to make her story so accurate (or be part Viking herself)!

Janelle Fila

Shadow of the Raven (Sons of Kings Book 1) by Millie Thom is a historical fiction story that takes place during the time of the Vikings. In the mid ninth century, at the mouth of the Thames, are two kingdoms that border one another; the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. As the sons of kings, Alfred of Wessex and Eadwulf of Mercia have predetermined futures. They are expected to follow a certain path, but their childhood events will shape a future that changes them in certain ways. Events that teach them harsh lessons: that an enemy might be someone known and a trusted ally could easily become a turncoat and traitor. Their adventures run throughout the Norse lands, which stretch from Denmark north to the Arctic Circle and east to the Baltic Sea. Throughout their journeys, both boys move closer to manhood and their true destinies.

Shadow of the Raven is a well-written story that is heavy on history. Thom obviously knows this era well and has done a tremendous amount of research. I really enjoyed how many of these “characters” were historical figures of that time. I love when an author can incorporate a fictionalized tale with real life people from history. I find that fascinating and love the educational element this brought to the story. The writing was strong, the setting was beautiful and brilliantly described, and the characters were well thought out and realistic. I loved the depth that Thom was able to create with each of the sons of kings, and was happy with the action that escalated throughout the story.

Lit Amri

Shadow of the Raven (Sons of Kings, Book One) by Millie Thom is a historical fiction with a mixture of Norse mythology, following the early years of Alfred of Wessex and Eadwulf of Mercia. Their stories unfold during the tumultuous events of the mid-ninth century, when Danish raids put Western Europe into a state of panic and dread. This situation called for cooperation between the formerly rival kingdoms. Young Alfred and Eadwulf will learn crucial lessons which will shape their futures.

The classic theme of princes, duties and destinies is well developed into the intricate plot. Millie Thom’s writing has enough flair to capture the mid-ninth century atmosphere without being too laden with old terminologies that might confuse readers. On the other hand, the story started slowly for me – which was expected – as I was familiarizing myself with the settings and the characters (especially their names). However, Thom has provided a necessary aid with a list of characters in the beginning of the book, as well as maps of the Anglo Saxon kingdoms and the Norse lands. As readers become accustomed to these aspects, the story will become more engaging and fast paced, aided by its descriptive narrative, rich details and well crafted dialogue.

On the whole, Shadow of the Raven is a great debut for this series. Thom’s knowledge about this ancient period is evident and she has successfully turned it into an engrossing story. I look forward to see how the story continues in the next installment.