I first “met” Paula Lofting, author of Sons of the Wolf, in a Facebook history group several years ago. While I recall little more than that she was a writer who balanced her writing career with a “real” (aka paying) job, one impression did form which left a lasting impression on my memory of her: she cared deeply about the integrity of historical accuracy in written works. Time progressed and Ms. Lofting published her first book, Sons of the Wolf. I purchased a copy, and like many avid readers, promptly relegated it to an ever-unwieldy to-be-read pile.
More time passed, and I myself took up the mantel of author. I joined more online communities to gain the mutual support of independent authors in the dog-eat-dog world of publishing. In this peer-supported author community, I also uncovered a passion for promoting the works of my fellow independent authors. I made a vow to skip best-seller lists in lieu of these lesser-known wordsmiths, certain that there was far more quality to be found amongst these gems than most people realize! And it was in this community that I reconnected with Ms. Lofting. As a result, Sons of the Wolf moved up to a more prominent position in my TBR pile, but it still remained unread. It wasn’t until I was asked specifically by Ms. Lofting herself to read and review her book that I finally dove in. Now I am only left to wonder why I waited so long!
While I am a relative newcomer to reading books set in pre-Norman Conquest England, I have made my way through several different authors, all of whom I would recommend. Paula Lofting’s Sons of the Wolf is a worthy addition to the ever-growing offering.
The book follows the trials and fortunes of two families, one of these being the Godwinson family (whom history remembers mostly because of a little battle at Hastings in 1066). The very first pages introduce us to an event that happened in earlier days, an event which planted the seeds of contention for the Godwinsons. These are the seeds of contention which propel their motivations, causing more and more tensions to build through the story.
The other prominent plot line follows the family of the king’s thegn, Wulfhere of Horstede. Whenever I start reading a book, I actively look for a reason to care about the characters. I will take a skeletal plot filled with well-drawn characters over a superficial action/adventure with hollow characters any day. These characters can even take their sweet time to warm to me, but eventually they do have to come around. This was the case for Wulfhere. Initially I was indifferent to him, though with time and patience he grew on me.
Well-drawn does not mean perfect. In fact a perfect character quickly becomes tepid, because flaws make a more interesting life. Wulfhere succeeded for me because his life and choices wove a delightfully flawed tapestry with each failing. Again and again he proved this to be true with one emotion-induced tantrum after another, each step seemingly making his life and future more and more difficult. Yet in his mistakes, his humanity became readily recognizable. No matter how often he failed, I cheered for him to do better, to make right choices. The same could be said for the rest of Wulfhere’s family — his wife, sons, and daughters.
Because I know the history, I know what will become of the Godwinsons. As for Wulfhere and the sons of the wolf, I’m more uncertain. While this book leaves the reader hanging because of the unfinished business left for the characters, it is only the first book in a series, and the necessary ground will be covered in future books. I eagerly look forward to discover what is in store for these colorful, vividly drawn people. The Wolf Banner is due out in June, 2016. Undoubtedly Wulfhere’s children will take said banner and run!
Paula Lofting was born in Middlesex and grew up in South Australia, returning to the country of her birth when she was sixteen. She currently works as a psychiatric nurse as well as writing in her spare time. She now lives in Sussex with two of her three children and is an active member of Regia Anglorum re-enactment society. It was always her ambition to write a novel but found that life led her on other paths until, in her forties, she began the journey that has led her to her first book. Sons of the Wolf is Paula’s debut novel and the first in a series of books about the Norman conquest of England.
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