4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great history, great fiction 4,5 stars,
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This review is from: Alfred the Great (Paperback)
This is the life of a long dead king, who lived and died in the "dark ages", when everything was terrible, and suffering was the daily bread of most part of the population. As the author makes clear, much of our knowldege about those days is partial, broken and biased. What we have are records written maybe one century after those people lived, and then based on indirect witnesses, or percolated for propaganda.
However, the author makes a vivid portrait of the king, is able to extract brilliantly the information that can be known or glimpsed from those days. And Alfred emerges not so dark, not so alien to us: a generation of people that went to Rome on pilgrimage, that were aware of culture, that desired to read and write, to take wisdom and learning into their everyday life. Of course, west saxon life in the IX century is completely alien to us, but somehow we share the king' suifferin among familial disputes, dinastic struggle, the viking exploits, the difficulty to rule and be accepted by the under lords... Surely Alfred was a clever man, and knew how to choose people loyal to him and clever. Perhaps it is a bit far reaching to name him the founder of the British Nation, but surely he made a great effort to win that name.
Some of Alfred's life is clearly branded into the Lord of The Rings: the king as "Ring giver", the Seven Kings of men under the Sun, Rivendel the last Home House (Athelney, hid among the marshes, where Alfred hid from vikings to come back victorious summoning the saxon loyals), the "wild men from the East"... No wonder that such eventful epoch led to such a great work of fiction.
I'm not giving it four stars because the style is a bit muddled sometimes, and because some more maps would be welcome. Also a name directory would be helpful, all those names Athelsomething are terrible.
As I said, this is much better than many novels I have read.
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Initial post: 31 Dec 2014 16:41:56 GMT
Ulrike Brand says:
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