Hello everyone! Today’s post is a book review for a book tour hosted by @WriteReadsTours/@TheWriteReads for the book The Chronicles of Iona: Exile by Paula De Fougerolles. A story about two of the men that laid the foundations for Scotland, Saint Columba and Áedán mac Gabráin, in the 6th century. It’s a great story for any Historical Fiction lover.
Title: The Chronicles of Iona: Exile
Author: Paula De Fougerolles
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page count: 394
Published: 25th May 2012
The Chronicles of Iona: Exile tells the story of the Irish monk and Scottish warrior, Saint Columba and Aedan mac Gabran, who would band together to lay the foundation of the nation of Scotland. They were a real-life 6th-century Merlin and King Arthur and their story has never been told.
The book begins in 563 A.D. The Roman Empire is long gone, freeing the region of Scotland from the threat of imperial rule but opening it to chaos from warring tribes vying for control. Columba, a powerful abbot-prince, is exiled from Ireland to the pagan colony of Dal Riata on Scotland’s west coast for an act of violence. There he encounters Aedan, the down-and-out second son of the colony’s former king, slain by the Picts.
Together, this unlikely pair travels the breadth of a divided realm, each in search of his own kind of unity. Their path is fraught with blood feuds, lost love, treachery, dark gods and monsters, but also with miracles and valor. Beset on all sides, their only hope is to become allies—and to forge a daring alliance with the pagan Picts.
How Columba overcame exile and a crisis of faith to found the famous monastery of Iona (one of the greatest centers of learning in Dark Age Europe) and, from it, the Celtic Church in the British Isles; and how Aedan avenged his father’s death and became, against all odds, the progenitor of Scottish kings and the greatest warlord of his age, begins here.
For both, what begins as a personal imperative becomes a series of events that lead to the foundation of Iona and the kingdom of Scotland—events that literally change the world.
I initially was interested in reading this book after read in the synopsis that it is “the story of the two men who laid the foundations of the Scottish nation, an Irish monk, Saint Columba, and a Scottish warlord, Aedan mac Gabra”. Instantly I wanted to know more.
This book was a fun (well not fun, but entertaining) take on the lives of these 6th century men and their story.
Columba’s tale is before his saint hood and Aedan begins as a lost soul, looking for what is missing to give meaning to his life. Together Columba and Aedan’s journey is filled with adventure, miracles and is highly entertaining. As they travel the breadth of a divided realm, their path is fraught with blood feuds, lost love, treachery, dark gods and monsters. The land is unstable after the Roman Empire is gone, giving them the opportunity start a new nation. Or at least set it in motion through the foundations that they lay.
I really liked the characters and I thought that they were all really well fleshed out. They were all really intriguing and unique, even when I didn’t necessarily like the character.
The world building was really good. I’ve not read much set in the Dark Ages but I did feel like I was transported to that time because it was so well written.
This is the first of three books and I do wonder where the rest of the books will go. I’m not familiar with the legends or stories about Columba and Aedan so this is all new to me and I don’t really know what will happen. But I’m definitely excited to see what will happen next.
I would recommend reading this book if you are a fan of The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell (or the show based off the books), and TV shows; Vikings and Britannica. This is definitely a great choice for history lovers and lovers of Historical Fiction.
About the author: Paula de Fougerolles
Paula de Fougerolles has a doctorate from the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge, and has taught and published in the field. She has lived and traveled extensively throughout Scotland and Ireland, including a prestigious year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in which she criss-crossed Europe in search of the physical remains of the so-called Dark Ages–research which ultimately led to this award-winning historical fiction series. To learn more, visit www.pauladefougerolles.com.