I had, over many years, read all of the books of the Last Kingdom series, but in random sequence. I took advantage of my enforced layoff to correct that, reading the books in chronological order. I’m a careful reader, always armed with pen and paper and search engine. Sometimes I spend more time on research than reading. You present a greatly satisfactory blend of tale and truth but you show me, more than ever, that western history is a lie.
In America they administer oaths using the term “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, thereby recognizing that any truth which is not whole in its entirety is a lie. Omissions, deliberate or dismissive, render the tale as told to be without merit.
Nowhere is this any clearer than the deliberate, patriarchal dismissal of the role of women from our past – indeed, our present. In the world of Bishop Asser and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles women are to be kept silent, well-stocked for whelping and whoring and sequentially replaceable after death in the birthing bed – having, hopefully, left a son behind.
Take, for example, Aethelflaed – a towering hero, a warrior/queen for the ages, her deeds barely recorded in her own time. How wondrously would Olivier have played Shakespeare’s Aethelflaed – if she were a man? What immortal portrayals would Shearer or Blanchett have given us as “Queen of Mercia” – the untold epic? Or, Crawford as Aelswith, the spine behind the throne?
What/when/who/why? Who knows? Between the obsessive, patriarchal prejudices and deliberate lies of Bishop Asser, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and their like in currying regal favour while dismissing half the world, I hold the understood history of these times to have the credence of a Mickey Spillane novel.
I urge you to read Wolves at the Door, the story of a one-legged American woman who was arguably the most important single combatant the US had in WW2. She is the only American woman ever to win the Distinguished Service Cross. They gave it to her in a cloak room.