Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Edge of Faith by Marissa Campbell

Avelynn #2 – The Edge of Faith
By:  Marissa Campbell
Publish Date:  September 26, 2016, Indie Published
Genre:  Viking Romance, Early Medieval
Pages:  302

It's the year 871. Charges of treason, murder, and witchcraft follow Avelynn into exile as she flees England with Alrik. Arriving in Wales, they find refuge among Alrik's friends in the Welsh nobility. Cast out by his half-brothers, Alrik seeks to regain his honor and earn favor with the gods. When war threatens, Alrik embraces gold and the opportunity for his crew to become mercenaries, aiding the Southern Welsh kings in their fight against Rhodri the Great.

Desperate to return home, Avelynn seeks to find a way to prove her innocence, but she is pitted against Alrik as their desires for the future clash. With battle looming, Avelynn's faith in their relationship is further tested through a bitter struggle with Marared, a jealous lover from Alrik's past. Marared's threats turn deadly, and Avelynn runs afoul of magic and sorcery, causing her to question her beliefs and role as priestess.

When Avelynn and Alrik are betrayed, Avelynn is captured and Alrik is charged with regicide. The two become separated, a chasm of greed, deceit, and ambition driving them apart. In an act of harrowing faith, Avelynn will stop at nothing to find her way back to Alrik and break them both free from Wales's bloodthirsty grasp.

The Edge of Faith is a crispy written medieval action tale that draws you right into the fast-paced sequel to Avelynn 1.

Avelynn is determined from the start to remain true to her people despite the fact that she’s had damning accusations thrown at her in the previous book that she’s escaped from and is working to clear up. Luckily she has Alrik, her Viking lover, and his boatload of warriors to support her, but they are faced with powerful hidden forces that are determined to undermine them.

The major theme is underhanded ambition and the many threads it weaves through the plot and characters. This is really well done by the author and many times I was surprised at the turn of events and wondered how Avelynn was going to come out ahead. She’s an excellent female MC as she’s very determined, independent and courageous. She’s also very experimental sexually!

I like how the author shows that although women of the time didn’t appear to wield much up-front power, through their use of intelligence, secret herbal knowledge (avoiding pregnancy, or poisoning problem people), various types of magic, and selective secretiveness (the men don’t have to know everything), they nevertheless managed many things to their liking and advantage. Avelynn herself is very clever in uncovering the truth about how she was defamed.

Avelynn is pagan and her faith is not well accepted at the place/time. She’s however very dedicated to the Goddess and even goes to make a dangerous offering to her at a special site. I thought her pretty brave to do the ritual all night all alone. I really liked the old nature magic, though not particularly blood sacrifice.

The story reveals many social conventions of the times and I was interested to see that they used a type of automatic fire starter of sorts. You get a good sense of how people dressed, and what their homes and meals were like. I’m reminded of shows like The Last Kingdom, and to some degree, The Vikings, as they share common threads and even historic persons. If you enjoyed these shows, be sure to check out this series.

The ending is a very exciting crescendo as we learn the truth of several things through an unexpected twist I didn’t see coming at all that ties into all the characters. I found the outcome really satisfying, even though there will be a book 3. The extensive use and explanation of pagan rituals and witchcraft portrayed through the book also makes this a great medieval Halloween read. Medieval historical fiction fans will love this. 4.6 Stars!

Marissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day. She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7. When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!
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