Dreamwalker: The Ballad of Sir Benfro Book 1


I read  Dreamwalker: The Ballad of Sir Benfro by James Oswald on my Kindle.  It has since been published by Penguin as Dreamwalker by J D Oswald.

So far there are three books in the series and there will eventually be five books published by Penguin. See James Oswald’s website for more information.

Synopsis from Amazon UK:

In a small village, miles from the great cities of the Twin Kingdoms, a young boy called Errol tries to find his way in the world. He’s an outsider – he looks different from other children and has never known his father. No one, not even himself, has any knowledge of his true lineage.

Deep in the forest, Benfro, the young male dragon begins his training in the subtle arts. Like his mother, Morgwm the Green, he is destined to be a great Mage. No one could imagine that the future of all life in the Twin Kingdoms rests in the hands of these two unlikely heroes.

But it is a destiny that will change the lives of boy and dragon forever …

My view:

I enjoyed this book, inspired by Welsh folklore. It’s very readable, each time I picked it up I just wanted to carry on reading this magical tale of the young dragon, Benfro and the young boy, Errol, born on the same day. I was drawn into their fantasy world.

But I wasn’t prepared for the ending – when you get to the end of the book it is not the end – it’s only the end of the first instalment! The tension builds throughout the book as both Benfro and Errol approach their fourteenth birthdays, Benfro in the dragon community, learning their magical powers and Errol,growing up thinking his mother was the village healer and then taken from his home by Melyn, the Inquisitor to train to be one of the warrior priest. Then there is the wicked Princess Beaulah, who is keeping her father the king alive until she reaches her 21st birthday.

And as the tension built I was eager to find out how it would end, only to be faced with the words ‘To be continued in The Ballad of Sir Benfro -Volume Two‘. I was so frustrated, as it just came to a full stop after a catastrophic event, that I couldn’t really believe had happened – a real cliff-hanger! I wish I’d realised before so that I’d been prepared – it was a complete let-down. So, if you are going to read it be warned!

Dreamwalker is followed by The Rose Cord and The Golden Cage. J. D. Oswald is also the author of the Detective Inspector McLean series of crime novels under the name James Oswald. In his spare time James runs a 350-acre livestock farm in North East Fife, where he raises pedigree Highland Cattle and New Zealand Romney Sheep.

Read more about Dreamwalker on the Penguin website.

Reading ChallengesDreamwalker is the perfect choice for Once Upon a Time IX. As it’s been on my Kindle since 2012 it’s also perfect for the Mount To Be Read Challenge and as James Oswald lives in Scotland it fits into the Read Scotland Challenge too.

This Week in Books: 8 April 2015

My week in booksThis Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.


I’m currently reading The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. I have mixed feelings about it, alternating between thinking it’s good, not so good, and just about OK, so I carry on reading. It’s historical fiction based on Freud’s visit to New York in 1909, accompanied by Jung, when a young woman is brutally murdered and a second is attacked and left unable to speak. A mixture of murder mystery and psychoanalysis with an interpretation of ‘Hamlet‘ thrown in. I’ve nearly finished this book.

I’m also reading Dreamwalker: The Ballad of Sir Benfro Book One by James Oswald on my Kindle. This is fantasy fiction, not the sort of book I read very often, so it makes a refreshing change. This is inspired by the language and folklore of Wales, following the adventures of a young dragon, Sir Benfro, in a land where his kind have been hunted near to extinction by men. I’ve read about 25% of the book so far.


I’ve recently finished reading Dacre’s War by Rosemary Goring, a new book which will be published in June. My copy is a pre-publication review copy courtesy of www.lovereading.co.uk. I loved this book, historical fiction set in the Scottish and English Borders and London between 1523 – 1525, full of political intrigue and personal vengeance. My review will follow soon.


There are several books lining up that I’m keen to read next. I’m not sure which one to choose. It’s been a while since I read an Agatha Christie, so it could be The Moving Finger, a Miss Marple mystery. Or it could be Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, or Nora Webster by Colm Tobin, or The Last Girl, the third Maeve Kerrigan book by Jane Casey. Or something completely different!

The Hangman's Song by James Oswald

The Hangman’s Song by James Oswald is the third in his Inspector McLean series set in Edinburgh.

DI McLean, seconded to the Sexual Crimes Unit (SCU) by Acting Superintendent Charles Duguid (nicknamed Dagwood) finds himself working on two separate cases – one for the SCU  investigating a group of prostitutes and the subsequent death of their pimp, Malky Jennings, who was beaten to death – and the second, two suicides, which he and his DC, MacBride consider to be suspicious, and continue to investigate against Duguid’s instructions.

I think you need to have read the first two books in the series to fully understand the background or at least have read their synopses, as I found some elements of this book confusing – a small example being the name of the Acting Superintendent and his nickname, as it is not clear that Duguid and Dagwood are one and the same person. At times both names were used within a few paragraphs, making me think they could be two people.

The Hangman’s Song is a dark, tense book; crime fiction with elements of the supernatural  and parapsychology thrown in. The police force is undergoing great change as it prepares for unification as Police Scotland, adding to McLean’s own difficulties with his colleagues, most of whom dislike him, regarding him as a pain in the arse and a troublemaker. He views them as incompetent, lazy and in some cases corrupt. I did get a bit tired of his constant battle with Duguid, which detracted from the story at times. All is not well in McLean’s private life either. His girlfriend Emma (who was nearly killed in the previous book, The Book of Souls) comes out of a coma, but she has lost most of her memory, regressing to an eight-year old. She moves into McLean’s house to help with her recovery.

It is a complicated book with three storylines to keep in mind, and a large cast of characters, not all of them clearly distinguishable. It’s not a book for the faint-hearted or the squeamish as there are details of some gruesome deaths, murders and beatings that the characters go through. At times I had to read with my imagination turned down – a bit like watching something gory on TV from behind my fingers.

Having said that, it was still a compelling, if disturbing, book (particularly the last chapter) that kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next.

James Oswald runs a 350 acre livestock farm in north-east Fife. In addition to his DI McClean books he has also written a fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro, set in Wales. I have the first book in the series, Dreamwalker, which I have yet to read.

Thanks to www.lovereading.co.uk for the uncorrected advance proof of this book for review. The published book will be available in February 2014.