C.J. Adrien’s lead character Hastings is based on an historical figure, a disadvantage to him, I think, compared to Uhtred in Bernard Cromwell’s Saxon Tales. Uhtred has free rein to develop more plausibly than Hastings, at least in “In the Shadow of the Beast,” second in Adrien’s medieval history series.
Hastings comes across as a man driven by a destiny here, but not competent enough to shape it. He’s more entertaining as a warrior than a lover or occasional Christian votary but the shifts in his roles and personality feel schizophrenic There are even painful pages where the Viking sounds like he’s just driven in from Palo Alto, complaining about “social constraints” and “meaningful relationships,” and deciding to “leave the island in search of myself.” Beowulf, he is not.
But Adrien knows so much about the historical period that I look forward to the next book in this series. The author is daring greatly.