BOOK REVIEW: Edric the Wild
Author: Jayden Woods
Review by: Sandra Sadowski
Edric the Wild continues the family saga of Edric Streona and Godric Godwinson by introducing Edric Godwinson’s story on the eve of the Norman Conquest. The book focuses on two main protagonists: Edric Godwinson an Anglo-Saxon, and his nemesis, Osbern FitzRichard, a Norman. The two grow up together and Edric makes a point of making Osbern’s life miserable because he resents the Norman presence and Osbern’s viewpoint that the Saxon’s should just submit, thankful for the cultured Norman lifestyle bestowed upon them. The book starts off by establishing their life-long animosity with a bar fight and a tragic incident. In the beginning of the book, Edric appears to be the easy victor over a clumsy, arrogant and disabled Osbern but as the story progresses, the tide turns against Edric and Osbern emerges ahead when he becomes a powerful lord who earns the local’s disgust.
The book jumps back and forth between Edric and Osbern and their experiences during the time of the Norman Conquest. In spite of their efforts to dispose of each other or avoid one another, their stories are intricately intertwined. Osbern realises he needs Edric and Edric is indebted to Osbern – an uncomfortable situation for both to say the least. Osbern suffers from prophetic visions that he believes foretell the future and dictate his actions. When he acts on these ‘messages’, the consequences can be sinister and dangerous. He is accompanied by Geoffrey, a knight who has dark predilections for violence and an unquenchable bloodlust that causes even Osbern to be wary of him. I enjoyed Geoffrey’s character – he’s very bad, very dark, and very scary = very good. He’s a secondary character but he’s given a lot of “screen time” in the novel. I appreciated that Woods touched on this type of character – one not usually seen in novels. Geoffrey isn’t just your typical violent knight or an unsavoury brute who rapes and pillages – he’s intelligent, observant and just downright creepy. I found some of his scenes and what his persona insinuated chilling. He is not someone you would ever turn your back on or want to be alone with for even five minutes. He is one of the more interesting characters of the book and oddly enough, one of my favourites.
Edric is a fairly typical hero. He’s conflicted and likable and an over-all ‘good guy’ who’s trying to find his way. I’ve read his kind of character in many other novels. He plays a “Robin Hood-esque” character and unsurprisingly, wrestles inner demons and grows as a person. He has interesting adventures and exciting things happen to him over the course of his struggle with the Normans and Osbern but on the whole, I found Edric to be rather stereotypical. This isn’ to say he was a bad or poorly written character, it’s just he didn’t evoke much reaction or attachment the way Godric (his father), Geoffrey or Osbern did.
Osbern was intriguing and complicated. He is tormented by visions that he believes are the voices of angels and saints giving him instructions. At times, his vision scenes were long but I delighted in hating and cheering him on at the same time throughout the book. You could despise Osbern and at other moments, you could really sympathise with him. He tries very hard to make things ‘right’ in his worldview but always ends up being foiled in some manner. He is definitely not one dimensional and his conflicted persona makes him a character the reader gets invested in. Edric on the whole is more “likeable” but he’s certainly not as interesting as Osbern.
The women in the novel, Mae, Nesta, Osgifu and Audrey are secondary players but have important roles to play as love interests, major influences and spectacular plot twists in Osbern and Edric’s lives. Woods also peppers her novel with figures like William the Conqueror, and Edgar the Aetheling to set the historical tone of the story.
The writing, as in previous works, is reminiscent of a YA/fantasy style and there’s nothing wrong with that. It makes for rather quick and fun reading. It’s replete with action, adventure, plotting and sexy encounters! The novel isn’t ponderous but it is very detailed. This leads to my one complaint; the book is long, 700+ pages. It was enjoyable but it could have been condensed. If you’re looking for a fun romp in the Anglo-Saxon period Edric the Wild provides just that as well an enjoyable history lesson. The book is available in paperback and Kindle October 2, 2012 on Amazon.com.