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The first book in the Chronicles of Iona series, Exile, is both exciting and tragic. Paula de Fougerolles pens a story based on real events that are still relevant today. Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore history. I especially love history in a story format. This book delivers a great deal of history about an era I know very little about, and it is outstanding.

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  • Title: The Chronicles of Iona: Exile (Book 1)
  • Author: Paula de Fougerolles
  • Publisher: Careswell Press on May 25, 2012
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 394
  • Formats Available: Paperback & Digital
  • Rating: 4/5

Trigger Warnings: Graphic Violence, Christian Religion, Pagan Religion

Many thanks to Paula de Fougerolles for providing me with a digital copy of The Chronicles of Iona: Exile with a request for an honest review. Also, thanks to The Write Reads Tours for inviting me on this tour and providing the materials for this post.

Some of the links on this blog are affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Order The Chronicles of Iona: ExileNowAmazon US | Amazon UK

About The Chronicles of Iona: Exile

The Chronicles of Iona: Exile tells the story of the Irish monk and Scottish warrior, Saint Columba and Aedan mac Gabran, who would band together to lay the foundation of the nation of Scotland.  They were a real-life 6th-century Merlin and King Arthur and their story has never been told.

The book begins in 563 A.D.  The Roman Empire is long gone, freeing the region of Scotland from the threat of imperial rule but opening it to chaos from warring tribes vying for control. Columba, a powerful abbot-prince, is exiled from Ireland to the pagan colony of Dal Riata on Scotland’s west coast for an act of violence. There he encounters Aedan, the down-and-out second son of the colony’s former king, slain by the Picts.

Together, this unlikely pair travels the breadth of a divided realm, each in search of his own kind of unity.  Their path is fraught with blood feuds, lost love, treachery, dark gods and monsters, but also with miracles and valor.  Beset on all sides, their only hope is to become allies—and to forge a daring alliance with the pagan Picts.

How Columba overcame exile and a crisis of faith to found the famous monastery of Iona (one of the greatest centers of learning in Dark Age Europe) and, from it, the Celtic Church in the British Isles; and how Aedan avenged his father’s death and became, against all odds, the progenitor of Scottish kings and the greatest warlord of his age, begins here.

For both, what begins as a personal imperative becomes a series of events that lead to the foundation of Iona and the kingdom of Scotland—events that literally change the world.

Provided by The Write Reads Tours for Tour Use

My Review

The abbot, Columba, stands trial for murder, and the court finds him guilty. Ordinarily, a death sentence would follow. But, Columba becomes exiled to the Scot isle of Caledonia. This island is where Columba meets Aedan mac Gabran. Aedan is a great warrior, also called “The Shadowed One,” due to a prophecy told at his birth. After this initial meeting, Columba and Aedan find themselves together on many adventures that take them right into the heart of enemy territory. The threat of death hangs over them both. Will they both make it out with their lives?

Aedan is one of the best characters I’ve ever read. His strength, coupled with his intensely good character, makes him a man for people to love. Though, he doesn’t accept love because he can’t see his goodness. He feels guilty about the prophecy, which causes him to shut people out. Columba is an interesting character as well. He is very perceptive and finds it easy to read people. Their partnership made for a good story.

One thing that bothers me is that the blurb compares Aedan and Columba to King Arthur and Merlin. This comparison is why I chose to read this book, and for me, there is nothing alike between these pairs. There is something incredible about King Arthur and Merlin, and I don’t feel that magic with Columba and Aedan. This feeling comes from Columba’s “powers” being from the Christian God. I have a difficult time reconciling anything good from the Christian religion. So these miracles felt contrived. I couldn’t take my biases out of my opinion of the story, which is not the author’s fault. It is something inherent inside me.

On the whole, this novel is incredible. It is a bit dry, I admit, but the story itself made me feel like I was part of the history as it was happening. I adored learning about this period and will be reading the rest of the series to learn even more. I’m excited to watch the isle of Iona become extraordinary. And follow Aedan’s tale as it becomes even more involved. I want to learn more about the Dark Ages and the formation of Scotland, the land of my own ancestors.

I award The Chronicles of Iona: Exile 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend this book to anyone who has a love of history. While the story feels a bit academic, it is still interesting, and it drew me in. I encourage you to pick this one up.

4 star review

About the Author – Paula de Fougerolles

Paula de Fougerolles Author Image - The Chronicles of Iona Exile
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Paula de Fougerolles has a doctorate from the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge, and has taught and published in the field. She has lived and traveled extensively throughout Scotland and Ireland, including a prestigious year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in which she crisscrossed Europe in search of the physical remains of the so-called Dark Ages – research that ultimately led to this award-winning historical fiction series.

Author’s Contact Links: Website | Twitter

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