To any authors/publishers/ tour companies that are looking for the reviews that I signed up for please know this is very hard to do. I will be stopping reviews temporarily. My husband passed away February 1st and my new normal is a bit scary right now and I am unable to concentrate on a book to do justice to the book and authors. I will still do spotlight posts if you wish it is just the reviews at this time. I apologize for this, but it isn't fair to you if I signed up to do a review and haven't been able to because I can't concentrate on any books. Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time. I appreciate all of you. Kathleen Kelly April 2nd 2024

09 May 2023

Pagan Warrior by MJ Porter Audiobook narrated by Matt Coles Blog Tour! @coloursofunison @cathiedunn : @m_j_porterauthor @thecoffeepotbookclub

 #PaganWarrior #TalesOfMercia #TheSeventhCentury #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Book Title: Pagan Warrior

Series: The Seventh Century

Author: MJ Porter

Publication Date: 25th May 2015 (new cover from January 2022)

Publisher: MJ Publishing

Page Length: 294

Genre: Historical fiction/Action and adventure

From bestselling author, MJ Porter comes the tale of the mighty pagan king, Penda of Mercia.

Britain. AD632.

Penda, a warrior of immense renown, has much to prove if he is to rule the Mercian kingdom of his dead father and prevent the neighbouring king of Northumbria from claiming it.

Unexpectedly allying with the British kings, Penda races to battle the alliance of the Northumbrian king, unsure if his brother stands with him or against him as they seek battle glory for themselves, and the right to rule gained through bloody conquest.

There will be a victor and a bloody loser, and a king will rise from the ashes of the great and terrible battle of Hædfeld.

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In which king Edwin of Northumbria learns more about the alliance forming against him and from an unexpected source.

Chapter 18 

AD631 - Edwin of Northumbria

‘Father,’ Eadfrith sits beside me, calling my attention to a man who’s been shown into my hall. He brings the wind and rain that shroud the palace at Yeavering, protecting it and making it an almost mythical place.

‘Who is he?’ I demand. I don’t recognise him at all.

‘I don’t know, but he wears the clothes of the Dal Riatans,’ Eadfrith confirms. Suddenly I’m vigilant; my meandering thoughts are entirely forgotten. Although I try not to, I hope this man brings news that will compensate for my disappointment with Eadfrith’s journey to the north earlier in the year.

I signal to my servants that the man should be brought before me. As he walks closer, he removes his soaking-wet cloak and his layers of furs. He’s come from the north; there can be no denying it. The men there know how to dress to keep warm.

I squint at his face. Something about him is familiar. At my side, Eadfrith gasps in recognition. I turn to him, waiting for him to say something. Only he doesn’t, his face turning quizzical again.

‘My lord Edwin,’ the man says, his voice lilting and soft, his face reminding me so vividly of someone that I feel uncomfortable not knowing the man’s name or how I know him.

‘Eanfrith,’ Eadfrith says beside me, but the man turns his hazel eyes on him and shakes his head. 

‘No, My lord. But he is my brother.’

And now I know who this man might be, another of my nephews, my sister’s son. He looks like her. It’s almost uncanny to see her face on the body of a man.

‘Oswald, my lord Edwin, or should I say, uncle Edwin.’ He says the phrase with no animosity, and I’m surprised. He’s come here unarmed. Yet I killed his father and banished him to the north. As I understand it, he lives not with the Picts but within the kingdom of Dal Riata, the realm separated by the sea.

‘Well met,’ I say, standing and reaching out to offer him an arm clasp of friendship. I’ve not seen the man since he was fourteen or fifteen. Another fifteen years have elapsed since then, and he’s a man now, not a child.

He returns the greeting, his hand firm and steady on my arm. Close up, he looks even more like my sister.

‘Your mother?’ I ask. I’ve often wondered how she survived what happened. It was King Rædwald of the East Angles who insisted on their exile; at least, that’s what I tell myself to assuage my grief at some of my actions. It was probably for the best. I might have had to kill her myself if she’d stayed.

‘Dead, my lord,’ he says without flinching. ‘She succumbed to a contagion about five years ago.’

I close my eyes briefly in grief, an image of her as a young girl flashing before my eyes. She was a pretty thing, although as her younger brother, she tortured me as only sisters can do to their brothers.

‘My sympathies,’ I offer, but he shrugs them aside.

‘She heard of your great victories. I think she hated you a little, but she spoke well of you at the end.’ 

That doesn’t fill me with remorse for her death, but at least it’s honest.

‘Did you come to tell me of this?’ I ask. I’m trying to understand why the man is here after all this time.

‘No, my lord. I’ve come to call on your family honour and ask you to reinstate me to the family. To give me land that I can control and use to support myself and my warriors.’

Ah, he doesn’t come alone, after all. As he speaks, a steady stream of fierce-looking men begins to make their way into my hall. I try to count, but a movement before me distracts me as Oswald flicks his wrist towards me. I tense, waiting for some sort of blow, but he’s simply removing fabric that wraps his arms. He sees my undertaking and glances at me with interest. I assume he doesn’t know of the attempt on my life five years ago because he offers no words of apology but does show me the length of fabric he’s undoing.

‘A device to keep the rain from going up my sleeves,’ he offers as he works on the other wrist.

I’ve not yet offered him food or drink, but Eadfrith must have done so because a servant appears and hands him warmed mead. He drinks deeply from the hollowed-out drinking horn. No doubt it came from a stolen Pictish cow. 

‘A chill day,’ Oswald confirms. ‘Although nothing to what I’m become used to in the north.’

Silence descends. I don’t want to say anything further whilst I consider the implications of his words. I can almost hear my cousin Osric telling me to let this man into our family again, to give him the power of my word and the ability to act in my name. Osric badgers me, saying I need more allies tied to me personally and through fear of what I might do if they err.

‘I’d be honoured to welcome you into my family,’ I finally say and realise I might mean it. ‘I could gift you some land, some small part of your patrimony. You could use it to support your men and fight on my behalf.’

A chair has appeared behind him, and he sinks to it gratefully, the fire now at his back so that I feel cold whilst he must be warm. I shake my head with irritation at the blast of cold air over my body. He must witness my action because he shuffles along a little, the scrape of wood on wood.

‘What would you give me in return?’ I ask. I don’t tend to do anything unless there’s some gain involved.

‘Details of King Cadwallon’s plans and the alliance forming against you,’ Oswald offers, and when I don’t immediately jump at the opportunity, he adds something further. ‘Who your enemies are and who your allies really are. There are traitors everywhere,’ he says ominously, and I know there and then that I’ll have to give him what I promised. I need to know what he knows. 

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to 
Eleventh-Century England, as well as three twentieth-century mysteries. Being raised in the shadow of a building that was believed to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia, meant that the author's writing destiny was set.








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  1. Thank you so much for hosting MJ Porter today, with Pagan Warrior.

    Cathie xo
    The Coffee Pot Book Club



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