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C. P. Gordon Clark (Brecon, Wales, GB)
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The Traitors' Pit: (Wulfgar 2)
The Traitors' Pit: (Wulfgar 2)
by V.M. Whitworth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.94

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Anglo-Saxon Dilemma, 22 Feb. 2013
V M Whitworth has followed up her first Anglo-Saxon novel, The Bone Thief, with an even more original and exciting sequel. She knows a very great deal about England in the years following the death of Alfred, but never makes you feel that she is just showing off how much research she has done. (Even Lindsey Davies falls into this trap, especially when she takes Falco and Helena to distant parts of the Roman empire!) Her cities are extremely credible, especially Winchester, Leicester, and York; she makes you feel that Anglo-Saxon thought patterns and spirituality were probably as she describes them. Wulgar's dilemma is very real; is his first loyalty to his accused brother or to the Lady of Mercia? In carrying out both tasks he comes on scenes of shocking killings which are not just there to titillate, and has to navigate through a mesh of personal relationships which themselves add to the dilemma. The swift moving action culminates in a finely visualised enactment of one of the most puzzling aspects, to a modern mind, of Anglo-Saxon legal process. Enough loose ends are left for us to look forward to Wulfgar 3!
Charles Gordon Clark, Bromyard, Herefordshire


Murder at Mansfield Park
Murder at Mansfield Park
by Lynn Shepherd
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Come-uppance for Fanny Price, 1 April 2012
As a pastiche of Jane Austen's style, this beats P.D. James's similar attempt hollow. And it's much more fun to have had Austen's characters given twists in their family relationships, rather than ploddingly carried on as they were. As a detective story, it's thoroughly satisfying, taking into account how much more difficult the process of detection was before fingerprinting, blood analysis, and so on. I thought the "thief taker" whom the family hire a convincing character. I look forward to reading Lynn Shepherd's other reworkings of classical 19th century novels.


The Bone Thief: (Wulfgar 1)
The Bone Thief: (Wulfgar 1)
by V.M. Whitworth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.74

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Anglo-Saxon Quest, 13 Mar. 2012
This is a great age for historical fiction, and it's good to welcome another writer of the genre, and a really promising one. V M Whitworth has chosen a fascinating period, when the old certainties of Anglo-Saxon England - Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex - had been thrown into confusion by the Danes, but (in the period immediately after the death of Alfred) when the Danes too were changing, some still in the old ways, some feeling their way towards a future settled state in England, even perhaps as Christians, or as prosaic traders and farmers. The quest on which the sub-deacon Wulfgar embarks takes him from Worcester, still Mercian, to Leicester, now a border town, and on into the wild East, to Lincoln and beyond. The settings are very skillfully drawn, suggesting a precise period. The touchy relationship between intact Wessex (where Wulfgar comes from originally, and his heroine the Lady of the Mercians), and the rump of Mercia, is at the core of the book and fascinating to this reader who's recently come to live just west of Worcester. The book invites comparison with Ellis Peters's first Cadfael novel, also about a quest to remove relics to a new shrine, and I have to say that Whitworth feels more authentic and less sentimental. No soppy romances either between pin-up noble lads and emerald eyed maidens! The characters, from bishops and rulers to the most humble folk of town and country, feel genuine. Wulfgar sets out with one companion on his quest, and acquires two more - and he grows up on the journey as heroes often fail to. I shall certainly hope to hear more of him during the years when the lady and her brother King Edward of Wessex brought all England south of the Humber under Anglo-Saxon control again. Charles Gordon Clark, Bromyard.


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