Dark Age Review

Dark Age Review | James Wilde

After enjoying Pendragon so much, I’m continuing the series. Full of darkness and grit, it’s the type of book that reminds you there is always hope even when things are feeling overwhelming. Here’s my review on Dark Age, the second instalment.

Publisher: Bantam Press | Date: 2018 | Genre: Historical/Fantasy

Plot: It is AD 367, and Roman Britain has fallen to the vast barbarian horde which has invaded from the north. Towns burn, the land is ravaged and the few survivors flee. The army of Rome – once the most effective fighting force in the world – has been broken, its spirit lost and its remaining troops shattered.

Yet for all the darkness, there is hope. And it rests with one man. His name is Lucanus who they call the Wolf. He is a warrior, and he wears the ancient crown of the great war leader, Pendragon, and he wields a sword bestowed upon him by the druids. With a small band of trusted followers, Lucanus ventures south to Londinium where he hopes to bring together an army and make a defiant stand against the invader.

But within the walls of that great city there are others waiting on his arrival – hidden enemies who want more than anything to possess the great secret that has been entrusted to his care. To seize it would give them power beyond imagining. To protect it will require bravery and sacrifice beyond measure. And to lose it would mean the end of everything worth fighting for.

Before Camelot. Before Excalibur. Before all you know of King Arthur. Here is the beginning of that legend . . .

Book review: Dark Age by James Wilde

Dark Age Review

Pendragon was not a light or easy read, but was enjoyable. It drew me in and made me care about the characters. The second book in the trilogy, Dark Age, was just as enjoyable. Full of character depth, tension and shifting alliances, it kept me gripped from beginning to end – and proved that reaching safety doesn’t mean being safe.


Lucanus takes the main narration again. He grows into his role as the Pendragon, gathering an army and finding a way of resisting the barbarian invasion. But with his heart full of worry for the captured Catia and his head filled with doubt about the mantle he must carry, it’s not an easy task.

Lucanus is a great character. Despite the decisions he has to make and the hardships he goes through, you can relate and connect to his character. He doesn’t shy away from leadership, but he never lets it go to his head either. He’s the hero you’re rooting for from the beginning and want the rest of the world (and war) to give him a break so he can find peace. But Lucanus’ path isn’t an easy one and he eventually learns the price he must pay to save those he loves.

“What makes a king? Blood alone? Or is it, like the sign of the serpent eating its own tail, something more? What makes a king someone who will be heeded, and followed? Belief. Folk must believe that the royal blood has special qualities. They must believe the story.”

Dark Age by James Wilde

You love to hate Corvus. He has no conscience, no sanity, and will do whatever he has to in order to accomplish his end goal, including betrayal, murder and incest. The fact he thinks he is chosen and right makes his actions even more chilling. His actions left me fearful for Lucanus and the legacy he’s building in a way the war-bands intent on killing our heroes never did.

Catia and Amarina prove it is not only the men involved in this war. They find their own ways to fight and anyone who underestimates them pay the price.

The Grim Wolves make me smile: their tight-knit brotherhood offering a release to the tension and being willing to take on and train youngsters helped thread an element of hope through an otherwise hopeless situation.


Dark Age wasn’t as heavy-going for me compared to the first. The pacing was more even: you’re thrown straight back into the war and because you understand the stakes from the first book, you’re never lulled into a false sense of security. It still builds though; the stakes get higher as the book progresses and the threat shifts from murderous hoards of barbarians to scheming maniacs driven by power.

Although the entire book is set in a war, I also didn’t find it as violent, which seems an ironic thing to say. It was larger-scale battles rather than the one-to-one fights that made me squirm previously.

Without giving anything away, it also did not end how I was expecting – talk about a final twist. Just when you think they’ve made it…

Final Thoughts

I’m really enjoying this trilogy and eagerly anticipating the final book in a couple of months. Dark, gritty and character-driven; this is a gripping book about the futility of escaping destiny.

Does this sound like your kind of genre? Have you read this series?

Also in the series:

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7 thoughts on “Dark Age Review | James Wilde

  1. Glad you enjoyed the book! It’s always great when the books we love are part of a series so there’s more to come. I’m not a big dark age reader (didn’t even know that was a genre!) but love strong characters, which it sounds like this book had.


  2. Wow, this sounds amazing! It’s not often that I (or we in the bookish community in general) find well-written books in a unique time period with great characters and plots. Adding this to my TBR!


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