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Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army

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Member Reviews

I really liked the premise of "Conrad Monk" but the humor and writing style just wasn't for me. The plot itself was really interesting and I liked the different historical characters that showed up, but the weird humor just ruined it for me.
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Brother Conrad is exactly the picture of monastic virtue to put it mildly. When the invading Danes attack his abbey he finds himself fleeing with a naive and virtuous monk and a jewel-encrusted copy of the Gospels. As Conrad and Odo flee from the Danes they have many adventures as Conrad tries to save himself and cash in on the material wealth of the book.

Conrad is a delightfully vicious rogue and the book is a ton of easy-to-read fun.
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... medieval hustler vs the Great Heathen Army

The travails of an opportunistic monk with a chequered past who rises in the church through lies, misdeeds and an eye for personal advantage. Conrad is a despicable rogue. A knave, whose rapid rise to importance is owed to his incredible self seeking antenna geared towards his own survival, his silver tongue and ability to turn dross into gold, metaphorically speaking. 
When the marauding Danes come to call, Conrad looks firstly towards his own survival (most often at the expense of others), and then to lining his own pockets with a share of the loot.
His Machiavellian machinations made my head swim, let alone those he was shafting. He's accompanied by Brother Odo, a gentle foil to Conrad, without artifice who seems to survive all by the grace of God. I am never sure if Conrad's success is ultimately owed to some cosmic joke being played on him, or the otherness of the devout Odo.
A tongue in cheek, hilarious march through Anglo Saxon England, with a not so loveable rogue and his innocent sidekick.
History should always be this enjoyable.

A NetGalley ARC
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I would define this book as picaresque. It's a fun to read and engaging book with an interesting anti-hero.
The historical background is well researched, the book is well written,  and Conrad's antics will surely make you laugh.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Endeavour Quill and Netgalley for this ARC
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The Great Heathen Army has been ransacking Saxon,England. The Vikings, led by by Ivarr, Ubba, and Halfdan, the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok, lust for gold and other hidden treasures. This tale begins with the marauding Danes pillaging a monastery. The monks have a designated place to hide themselves and the church's wealth. Of greatest importance is the "Gospel Book of Life". This three hundred page tome, bound with gold clasps and covered in garnets and emeralds, must be protected no matter the cost to life or limb.

Two unlucky monks have been unable to get to the hiding place. They are hiding in a pig sty. A drunk Dane falls into the sty hitting his head. The perfect cover, the garb of this Dane, will enable Conrad to execute his plan of escape from the Danes. Conrad is a self-serving, wayward monk installed in the monastery through his twin brother's trickery. Conrad's every word is taken to heart by his devoted, selfless companion, Brother Odo, not the "brightest bulb". Now disguised as a Dane, Conrad presents himself as a slave trader explaining that he will sell the captured, chained monks at the slave market for the best price ever. The Danes agree to let Conrad broker the deals. Meanwhile, the "sold" monks are led to believe that Conrad has a "plan" to get them released after the sale. With docility, they leave with their new masters. According to Brother Odo, Conrad can do no wrong. But, where is the "Book"? Oh,no! Abbot Flory, before being sold at market, had sent the "Book" with a three courier guard to Edmund, King of the East Angles.

In comedic style, Conrad and Odo must quickly journey to East Angles before the onslaught of the Danes. When Conrad's horse shows signs of distress, he tells Brother Odo to carry him on his back. Before long, Odo is a beast of burden first trotting, next cantering and finally galloping. Seeing Odo gallop, the horse gallops alongside him. Odo is not as tired as the horse so Conrad stays on Odo's back!

"Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army" by Edoardo Albert is a well researched, very enjoyable book about Saxon England and the Viking Invasion as seen through the eyes and actions of despicable, entertaining Conrad and hilarious, bumbling Brother Odo. A fun read of historical fiction.

Thank you Endeavor Media and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army".
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I thoroughly enjoyed this humorous romp through Saxon England! I have previously read Edoardo Albert's serious historical novel, Edwin, so already knew of his impeccable research and great ability to evoke historic period in his writing. I wasn't prepared for his deft comedic touch and enthusiastic sense of fun though. Our hero (who is anything but heroic) is a dastardly character. Always out for himself and with a keen eye for personal profit, Conrad Monk is the type of person I shouldn't approve of at all. However, in following his journey across the country, I found myself willing him to escape each life-threatening situation.

Having recently watched the TV adaptation of The Last Kingdom which is set in the same period of Viking invasion, I was familiar with the main real characters and the general historic narrative. I think even if I hadn't been though, Albert gives enough detail to easily understand what is going on in the wider country. I recognised genuine people such as Ivarr and Ubba, King Aethelred and his younger brother Alfred. Conrad and his much put-upon companion, Brother Odo, are of course completely fictional, but the places they visit on their travels are real so I was interested to read Albert's brief essay explaining some of his inspirations. This novel is an entertaining mix of laugh-out-loud slapstick and deviously clever plotting. A delight to read!
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Historical fiction with humour, what's not to love? This drew me in right away with all the tension of a Viking raid on a monastery and a protagonist who never wanted to be a monk. Conrad is funny in his totally mercenary reaction to the situation and consistently along his further adventures. I do love an intelligent character with a good sense of survival.

It's set against a fairly accurate backdrop of history of the Viking invasions of England. Exactly what's based on fact is explained well in a note after the story and holds some real surprises as some details that seemed unlikely turned out to be based on archaeological finds! I may have a couple of locations to visit on my travels.

The story keeps a good pace and despite his perpetual self-interest, Conrad is actually a likeable character. How he came to be a monk gets explained in the curse of the story and it's easy to sympathise with him on that particular downturn of his constantly changing fortunes.

Best of all, the story puts believable faces to groups of people from history. Personalities among the Danes as well as historical figures bring the setting alive and I did laugh out loud at a few all too human foibles along the way.

I highly recommend this story for anyone who likes a Pratchett-like laugh, even if they don't normally read Historical Fiction. My only complaint is the overt way in which the author lets us know there will be a series. I will be interested in the next book despite my usual disinterest series that use this tactic.
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A refreshing break from the Uber- serious historical fiction that dominates the genre.  A fun, well crafted tale that will remind the reader of the simple joys of picking up a good book.
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