The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria


The King of the North: A stunning recreation of the life and times of Oswald of Northumbria: Christian warlord, founder of Lindisfarne monastery, and the first great English monarch

Oswald Whiteblade lived one of the most influential and colorful lives in early English history. Before his death in battle against the pagans of Mercia cut short his reign as king of Northumbria (634-42), he remodelled his north-eastern English homeland as a Christian kingdom, founded the monastery of Lindisfarne, introduced a culture of learning which influenced all Europe, and became the most powerful ruler in Britain. Max Adams’s thrilling account rescues Oswald from Dark Age obscurity to reveal an unjustly forgotten English hero, a king whose return from exile to reclaim his birth right was the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien’s Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. But this is more than just a biography of the first great English monarch; it is a stunningly researched, wide-ranging, beautifully written, and revelatory portrait of early medieval England in all its aspects.

Editorial Review

Max Adams’ “The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria” is a captivating exploration of a pivotal figure in early medieval Britain that transcends the boundaries of traditional historical biography. This meticulously researched and eloquently written book offers a multifaceted journey through the life of Oswald, the Christian martyr and Anglo-Saxon warrior king who played a vital role in shaping the landscape of his era.

What sets Adams’ work apart is his ability to seamlessly interweave Oswald’s personal journey with the broader historical context of seventh-century Britain. Rather than a straightforward biography, “The King in the North” immerses readers in a vivid and complex world, meticulously recreating the post-Roman, tribal, and often enigmatic societies of the time. Adams paints a rich tapestry of this period, drawing from the writings of medieval historians such as the Venerable Bede and Nennius, offering a level of detail rarely seen in historical accounts.

Adams’ narrative style is both engaging and educational. He masterfully guides readers through the intricacies of Oswald’s life, from his early exile and upbringing in the Irish Christian tradition to his triumphant return to Northumbria and his lasting impact as a Christian monarch. While delving into Oswald’s story, Adams also illuminates the broader transformation of British society, showing how it evolved from a fragmented and mythological system of tribal rule to the establishment of Christian states with rudimentary administrative structures capable of enduring beyond individual rulers.

While “The King in the North” may at times seem to veer into tangential topics, it eventually becomes apparent that these diversions serve a greater purpose. They provide a comprehensive understanding of the era and enhance the reader’s appreciation of Oswald’s role in the larger historical narrative. This approach distinguishes Adams’ work from conventional historical biographies, making it a remarkable and enlightening exploration of early medieval Britain.

Max Adams’ “The King in the North” is a must-read for anyone interested in the transformation of European society following the fall of the Roman Empire. Whether you are a history enthusiast or a newcomer to the subject, this book offers an exceptional window into a period of history that remains shrouded in mystery. It solidifies Max Adams as a historian who brings history to life and encourages readers to think beyond the confines of traditional biography.

The King in the North The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria by Max Adams
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 4.3 stars
Publication Date: 1st August 2013

Author: Max Adams

Max Adams

Max Adams

Max Adams is a versatile and accomplished writer whose work spans various genres, showcasing his talent and expertise in the literary world. With a keen interest in history, archaeology, and nature, Max has a remarkable ability to bring the past to life through his compelling narratives.

Born with an insatiable curiosity, Max Adams pursued his passion for storytelling and history, leading him to become a prolific author, known for his in-depth research and engaging writing style. His literary journey is characterized by a commitment to unraveling the mysteries of the past and shedding light on hidden narratives that have shaped our world.

Max’s works include historical non-fiction, captivating novels, and thought-provoking essays that have garnered critical acclaim and a devoted readership. His ability to blend historical accuracy with vivid storytelling has earned him a reputation as a masterful historical writer.

With a deep reverence for the natural world, Max Adams also explores themes of ecology and the environment in his writing, reflecting his commitment to the preservation of our planet and the importance of understanding our relationship with the Earth.

As an author who weaves together the threads of history, archaeology, and the environment, Max Adams continues to captivate and educate his readers, offering them a profound insight into the past, a richer understanding of the present, and a hopeful vision for the future. His work is a testament to the power of storytelling and its ability to connect us with our shared human heritage and the world around us.


Source: (Our History, 2023)


  • Our History. (2023). The Life Of Oswald: The Saint Who Fell In Battle | Our History [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, September 27). Max Adams. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation.‌

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