Dragon in the Mist
by Tom Caine

"'This may be an ending, but we are sailing towards a new beginning, my lord.'"

Wolfric is a young man approaching adulthood in 9th century England. His father is Earldoman Hrothwulf, a respected landowner in the coastal areas of Wessex, and so Wolfric grows up familiar with power and privilege while still remaining kind and considerate. Norse raiders arrive in the nearby port of Oxtun under the leadership of the jarl’s son, Alrik, and havoc ensues when the war leader goes rogue and decides to loot and pillage the town. This singular decision sets in motion a series of events that will define the political landscape of the country. Hrothwulf and his men arrive to defend the survivors and drive the raiders off, while Wolfric meets Alrik and learns the true reason of the Norsemen’s arrival: to negotiate a treaty with England that trades land and protection for a Navy to use against invaders.

Using actual history as a backdrop, Caine weaves through multiple perspectives in the same scene to tell a riveting tale of historical fiction. While the story primarily follows Wolfric and his peers, the narrative quickly jumps from storyteller to storyteller to fit the setting and action. There is plenty of historical detail that will engage and delight any history buff, all of which blends seamlessly with the fictitious characters, events, and locations. Unlike many books that deal with similar content, the story here is largely political and interpersonal, focusing on history at an individual level rather than providing a bird’s-eye view of battlefield carnage. In this approach, even the moments that involve bloodshed do so in a way that gives each soldier’s life and death a sense of gravity. Giving life to events that took place over a millennium ago is a challenging prospect, but with strong characters and intriguing tension, this accomplished novel draws the reader in immediately.

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