The First King of England

By Stuart Hill

Young Quills reviews

The First King of EnglandWill’s review
If you like adventure with heroism this is the book for you. This book has an amazing story with true historical facts. This would be great for younger people around 8 – 12 years old, as it has easy words to read with big lettering but for older children, although it’s easy, it has a good story.

This story has a very quick start so if you do not like having to wait for the brilliance of the main thrill, you will like this book.

To me, I loved this book as it was just right for me as it had a big character in it, the first King of England (Athelstan). It revealed secrets about the past as how they fought in battle and who people were.

Overall, although I said this book was best for 8 – 12 years, I could see anyone enjoying it as it is a good read. I would happily read this again.

Claudia F’s review
My favourite character was Athelstan because he was relatable for he was kind but wasn’t soppy. I didn’t really like the character Aethelflaed because it was unclear if she was good or bad. I learnt who Athelstan was by reading this book. This was an interesting time period to set it in because lots of the plot points revolved around war. It inspired me to think more about monarchs in this time. The plot was very random with several main plot points/conflicts instead of one, however it was interesting. My main problem with the book was how fast paced it was. One second one thing would be happening and the next, something else. I think there needed to be more description and emotion. Because of this, when certain characters lost or gained something you didn’t feel for them because you didn’t have a connection with them.

Star rating ★★★★★

Anne-Marie’s review
The plot in one sentence: Edwin was a bodyguard of King Athelstan but he failed to protect him.

It is a good read and has good historical content and factual information. History is a proper part of the story and it inspires people to find out more about the historical period.

I learnt that during the battle of Tettenhall they had war dogs like wolf hounds and mastiffs.

Olivia’s review
The First King of England tells the story of Athelstan and his journey to becoming King through the eyes of his body-servant. It was a gripping book while still being very informative and taught me lots I didn't already know about the time period. It shows how Edwin goes from being someone who just helps in the kitchen to fighting in battles alongside the king.

I love how the book is relatively short but still teaches you loads. I also like how it tells the story of a lesser known period of history and still manages to make it really interesting and addictive even for young people. Another thing that is really clever about the book is that it shows the normal family aspect of the king’s life. I really enjoyed the book as it was a good plot and lets you know more about the Anglo-Saxons.

Rating out of ten for the book: 8 out of 10.

William’s review
This is a book review for The First King of England: The Story of Athelstan. This story is a fiction/non-fiction account about Athelstan, a king of England from 927AD – 939AD. The story begins with the character known as Edwin, the shoemaker's son. He works as a kitchen boy until he encounters Prince Athelstan, accompanied by his aunt Lady Aethelflaed. Edwin is then made to be the prince’s boy servant but the boys become good friends. The boys then go on a campaign after a couple years of training where they almost master sword art. After the campaign has finished they take a Danish boy Olaf as a hostage. The trio become good friends all together but say goodbye after Athelstan frees him against Aethelflaed’s words.

The story then continues as King Edward and Aethelflaed die, passing the crown onto Athelstan.

This book is overall very relatable and accessible to most people of the world. The characters are imaginative while classic, and the story line is both enjoyable by fiction and informative by non-fiction. It is a very good read and I recommend it to people of ages 10+. This is because it has mild mention of blood and flesh being everywhere, especially at the end battle. The words used can be read by most people at young ages from 8 and above but it could possibly be too much for a child of that young age. The author clearly has looked up the history for this story. And a lot of it is accurate. So this book can also be read as a historical read. The book has most genres in it, action and adventure, humour and is altogether a brilliant read. It takes the reader hostage and pushes them through a gripping story, that grabs you in the first chapter.

So my overall opinion the book is a breath holding short story that has a great story, it takes you on an informational but enjoyable journey, and how the author has put these two genres together is astounding. I highly recommend this book for its historical integrity as well as it being an enjoyable read. Thanks for reading this book review.

Josh’s review
The character I found most interesting was Athelstan, this is because even though he was from royalty he could relate to his people and his army.

I liked all the characters.

I learnt about how the Vikings were expelled from England by the kingdom of Mercia and also how England was unified and maintained by the rulers. Finally, I learnt about how the army and the ranking system of the Mercians worked, with the housecarls being closest to the king etc.

The time it was set in interested me because we hadn't been unified yet so it made every battle count as if Athelstan had died during any of those battles we would not have been unified, instead there would have been more struggle for power.

In my opinion the plot was exciting toward the start and end, but in the middle things got a little boring and i lost my motivation to read on, this made me enjoy the book a lot less than I normally would have, also nothing much of note happens before you get to the unification of England. The part of the book that stands out the most is the rebellion of the Scottish and Welsh after the unification of England as they believe that England is weak and they can control it. This make the book more interesting as it adds another conflict into the storyline.

I would not recommend this to other pupils as I found it boring and repetitive because every key point followed the same sequence. This makes everything that happens before the final battle boring and repetitive.

Lucy’s review
I found the character Edwin interesting because it showed how his lifestyle changed when he became the prince’s body-servant and how different it was for him. I learnt a lot about England and the wars fought between countries to make England today. I found this time in history very interesting because it made an impact on today and everyday life. The plot was exciting and serious because many wars were fought and you wanted to find out what would happen but many people were killed and you realised how many people died. I would recommend this book to other pupils for an interesting but easy read where you can find out more about the history of England.

Jenna’s review
This story is based in the Medieval Era, how no one has ever ruled over all of England and this young boy, Edwin the son of a shoemaker is then made the bodyguard of the King who was going to “make one nation from the kingdom of many people...”. The way the author had written this mind-gripping story is like a diary entry but wherever he was, it was all based in the present tense. Edwin was the boy writing this story/diary and was always unsure of what he was really doing. The King, Athelstan and Edwin start to grow a very strong relationship and fight side by side in many battles. I found Athelstan’s aunt, the previous ruler of Mercia, really interesting because normally ladies would rule with a king but she is also fighting in battle. How they describe her reminds me a bit of the great British Celtic warrior, Boudica. I would definitely recommend this to my friends for a grossly intense read.

PJ's review
I was surprised by this book because Edwin didn’t know he had punched the future king in the face until his Auntie (queen Aethelflaed) laughed. I also thought it was strange because he was chosen as a body guard / body servant.

My favourite bit was when Edwin met the fat fat little dog Bumble. I’m glad that when it died, he found a replacement to bring more happiness.

It has made me want to read the prequel, called Shield Maiden. I don’t understand why the Saxons think they can take over England by fighting while they say the Danes shouldn’t be fighting, they are as bad as each other.

Eddie W's review
I really like this book. At first, I was reluctant to read it, but I found that it is AMAZING! I also like the period it’s set in (Anglo Saxon times), which just gives it bonus points. It follows Athelstan’s life from being a young boy through to becoming the first King of England.

The battle of Brunanburh was my favourite part. I could see it happening right in front of my eyes! Another thing I liked was Aethelstan’s dog, Bumble. I basically imagined him as a pug. It was really sad when he died. I also liked the way that the author skipped a couple of years after the battle of Tettenhall where basically nothing happened.

My only problem with the book was that it was in the present tense. It kind of felt like Edwin (Aethelstans’s servant) was writing the book as he was experiencing the events.

Anyway, I don’t think you have to like the Anglo-Saxon period to like this book. It’s really good and I would give it 9.5 out of 10.

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