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STARRED REVIEW

The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland
Michael Eging and Steve Arnold
iUniverse, 317 pages, (paperback) $19.95, 9781532020209
(Reviewed: November 2017)

Knights, battles, treachery, valor! No story set in the Middle Ages is complete without such elements. Much to the reader’s delight, The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland provides them all.

Authors Michael Eging and Steve Arnold have clearly done their homework on the period surrounding the bloody battle of Roncevaux, which erupted after King Charlemagne destroyed the city walls of the Basque capital of Pamplona and the Basque retaliated. The authors’ believable fictional tale centers on the king’s right-hand man Roland and his exploits leading up to and during the battle.

Students of the medieval era will be familiar with La Chanson de Roland, an epic lyric poem that outlines the heroics of Roland and provides the springboard for this tale. But even those unfamiliar with this piece will find themselves caught up in the saga and rooting for Roland as he swashbuckles his way through the Pyrenees Mountains, fighting for the honor of his Frankish King against not only the marauding Saxons, but also against the ploys of his treacherous stepfather Ganelon and other opponents.

Throughout, he is aided by his dead father William’s trusty sword Durendal, and at times the chimera of William himself. The eponymous silver horn Oliphant hangs by his side, ready to be blared in triumph.

This is a virile book, and as such, the women in it may be a bit two-dimensional. The men are fully-fleshed, however, and there’s no difficulty in deciphering the bold, brawny heroes from the sniveling, dastardly foes. The authors have a knack for narrative, and their in-your-face descriptions of the blood, guts, and sweat of battle bring the story to life. In addition, the summary of how William the Conqueror uses Roland’s story to inspire his own victory decades later enhances the prologue and epilogue.

Those who relish getting lost in a tale of heroics and derring-do will surely enjoy this read, as will history buffs of the Carolingian era.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.
 

Clarion Review

This excellent historical tale is driven by action and heart-pounding heroism.

The Silver Horn Echoes by Michael Eging and Steve Arnold is a sweeping historical epic that is rich in its characters, plot, and legend.

Built around the exploits of its hero, Roland, around 801 CE, the novel explores how the Franks, under King Charles, fought on two fronts. The Saxons represented pressure from the north, while the Saracens pushed up through Barcelona, planning to conquer their way through the kingdom. Religion and faith are at stake as well as land and human conquests, pitting Christianity against both Norse paganism and Islam.

Charles isn’t safe within his own enclave, either. Roland’s stepfather, Ganelon, a descendant of the king of Clovis, is determined to unseat the king and take the throne, believing that Charles is a usurper. Roland suspects that Ganelon murdered Roland’s father, William. William’s specter haunts Roland and his mother, and Roland counts on his ghost for advice.

Roland is the type of glorious hero who is capable of stirring deep loyalty in his followers. Intelligent, with a sense of humor and a sense of compassion, handsome, and graced with superior fighting skills, Roland commands his father’s former marchmen (in spite of Ganelon’s machinations) and becomes Charles’s champion and trusted advisor.

Roland is not a perfect lead; he has a temper, he can be impulsive, and diplomacy is not his strong suit. Yet he is as loyal to his followers as they are to him, and he is willing to die for what he believes. His flaws support his strengths, making him an interesting, engaging character. His friends are equally complex and interesting, and it makes sense that they are drawn together, trusting each other with their lives.

Roland’s story is framed by Joachim, William the Conqueror’s bard, singing the Song of Roland in 1066 CE on the South Coast of Britain, prior to the battle that earned him his fame and title. The authors are skillful enough to make the device work as a support rather than an intrusion.

The writing throughout is bright and crisp, integrating action with history in a way that is informative without slowing down the story. The “silver horn” of the piece is the Oliphant, the horn Charles blows for his victories, given to Roland as he defends the rearguard one last time against the Saracen invaders and which finds its way over the centuries to William.

War’s brutality and its human cost are detailed. Sensory detail, both in and out of battle, makes the text visceral and immediate.

The Silver Horn is an excellent historical tale driven by action and heart-pounding heroism.
EVA SCHEGULLA (November 21, 2017)

 

Kirkus Review

A historical novel follows a medieval knight who defends a monarch from one betrayal after another.

In their second collaborative work, Eging and Arnold (Annwyn’s Blood, 2013) tell the tale of Roland, a famed knight of the Middle Ages. The book opens in the year 1066 as William, Duke of Normandy, prepares his soldiers for battle against the Saxons. In order to motivate and inspire his soldiers, William demands they listen to the story of one of history’s noblest warriors. With the frame thus set, the narrative then shifts to the year 801. Young Roland, a knight of the Breton March and nephew to the famous King Charles, is enjoying a courtly meal along with friends and family. His mother, Gisela, who is sister to the king, is also in attendance at the feast, rubbing her hands over her belly and the baby inside it. She has been impregnated by her new husband, Ganelon, the man whom Roland suspects of killing his father. It becomes apparent early in the story that Ganelon is as much a villain as Roland believes. Ganelon vows to destroy both
Roland and the king, in hopes of clearing his own path to the throne. When war breaks out with enemy kingdoms, Roland repeatedly proves himself a champion in battle and a valuable asset to the monarch. Unfortunately, the crafty Ganelon has double-crossed the king and threatens to destroy all that Roland holds dear. Through a narrative that peeks inside the minds of many different characters, the authors provide a fresh retelling of the legend of the great knight Roland. But with a lengthy cast of characters and complicated political disputes, the story can sometimes be hard to follow. Even so, this action-packed saga offers many detailed fighting scenes, providing a play-by-play of several battles and examining various aspects of military strategy. The emphasis on combat throughout the work makes up for what it lacks in emotional depth. The allure of intense conflicts and divided loyalties should keep readers turning pages straight through to the novel’s surprising conclusion. The lively story should especially appeal to fans of medieval history.

A high-energy tale of battles, bravery, and treachery.

 

READER’S FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS

Fiction – Historical – Personage
302 Pages
Reviewed on 11/25/2017

Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers’ Favorite

The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland by Michael Eging and Steve Arnold is a book for those who are into well-crafted and tightly plotted historical novels. Set against a turbulent period in the Dark Ages, readers follow compelling and memorable characters in a world where intrigue and stabbings-in-the-back are frequent. Roland is heir to the Breton March, but while the Frankish kingdom is preparing for an impending war, he is given the most unlikely of tasks — to serve as a guard. When he learns about a new threat to the kingdom, he must do everything in his power to save his people. But this isn’t an easy task, as he is faced with ruthless enemies within the kingdom itself, and he must unveil the plots of a murderer who could be setting himself up for the most powerful position in the entire kingdom. Does Roland have what it takes to protect the kingdom, founded by Charlemagne, from being torn apart?

I have always been fascinated by the Dark Ages, by its rule of power, and by the intrigue that is witnessed in high places. This book explores this age in vivid detail and with forensic clarity, and the reader falls in love with the compelling characters without knowing why. The writing is beautiful and it features linguistic elements that reflect the setting. The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland is a work of great imagination, nourished by history, a story with a powerful conflict, laced with intense action and twists that are as surprising as they are delightful. Michael Eging and Steve Arnold bring readers great entertainment, taking them on a whirlwind journey back to the Dark Ages, and putting them alongside some of the most memorable historical characters.

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/the-silver-horn-echoes