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This review is from: Credo (Paperback)
They say don't judge a book by the cover but I did with this one. I saw the cover, liked it, picked it up, read the back and thought I'd give it a go. I was probably in need of something meaty to read having just read something less than challenging (well, one has a tendency to romanticise) and I wasn't disappointed.
This epic work tells the fictionalised tale of Bega (latterly St Bega) and the torments she faced between choosing the man she loves and her calling to serve the Almighty. It's set during the Dark Ages in Ireland and England and Mr Bragg uses his superb talents to bring those brutal times vividly to life. The sights, smells and sounds of the events seem very real and I don't think I'll be the only person to find myself itching when reading the scenes set in Carlisle!
While the book does have some slow sections (especially where Bega is wrestling with her conscience) it has some superb moments where it fair rattles along. The battle scenes and times of conflict are brilliantly written if somewhat nerve-shredding. For example, there is a violent rape scene in the early chapters that, although brief, is one of the most jaw-dropping scenes I've ever read. Don't get me wrong, it's not there for gratuitous titilation but to highlight the brutality of the times and the status of women as possessions and will leave the reader feeling a bit rattled.
The finale is executed on a grand scale and provides a suitable climax to the action, while Bragg deftly ties up the loose ends with the other characters. The characters have depth and are flawed and virtuous at the same time, while the events of the times are brought magnificently to life.
I'd recommend this to anyone wanting a good read that will stretch you a bit. My only criticism is that it's a bit overlong in places but that doesn't happen too often.