As we seen in the first book, the character building is truly excellent and Bishop has a serious talent for making the reader love the characters and really feel apart of the journey. I instantly took a liking to Aelred, who is introduced about a quarter of the way through the book. Aelred is a pretty much an outlaw and had a background that he kept secret making the reader think he has a serious crime over his head. Brother Benedict is another character introduced in the second book. Brother Benedict reminded me of a little brother type of character, annoying but funny and you cant help but like him. Matthew is more grown up and a lot more serious in this book. He takes an arrow early on in the book which pretty much shapes his journey. He is healed by a pagan witch and is basically reborn as the warrior with the pierced heart. This isnt exactly a good thing with most people becoming affraid of matthew thinking he has been sent back from the dead. during this time, Matthew also becomes almost unafraid of death which leads him into danger on more than one occasion. Out of all the characters Torstein was easily my favourite. Torstein is a strong warrior with a reputation amongst both the Vikings and Saxons. He's also very curious about the Christian god and questions Matthew about his god and his faith. The fact Bishop portrayed his Viking characters to be intelligent warriors rather than blood thirsty maniacs was a massive plus for me.
I also found Bishop to be extremely knowledgeable and found myself learning a lot about both the Saxons and the Vikings. This was a huge plus for me. I also liked how bishop didn't use any modern phrases which is a pet hate of mine, instead he used a more realistic approach with the characters speech.
There's not a ton of battles but every battle was brilliantly written and also grotesque at times which made it even better. The ending was perfect in my opinion, Nothing over the top but leaving the reader craving the next book.
I couldn't recommend this book enough, particularly those who are into historical fiction. The Shadow of the Raven series is up there with the likes of The Last Kingdom.