Customer Review

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a good holiday read, 8 July 2012
This review is from: River of Destiny (Hardcover)
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The quote on the front cover of this book says "Barbara Erskine's storytelling talent is undeniable", and having read the book, I can whole-heartedly agree.

This is a compelling time-slice story set in:
- 865 - where we meet Eric, blacksmith and maker of a beautifully crafted sword which he calls "Destiny Maker"; Eric lives in an Anglo-Saxon village at a time when small villages on the East Anglian coast lived in constant risk from Viking invaders
- 1865 - where we meet Dan, blacksmith and farrier who works for the Crosby family, whose Hall is built on the site of the original Anglo Saxon hall from Eric's time
- present day - where we meet Zoe and Ken, who have opted out of the rat race and relocated from London to Suffolk; their home is the barn conversion where Dan worked; their immediate neighbour, Leo, lives in what was originally the forge and Dan's cottage.
The three stories are linked together by sightings of a ghostly Viking warship.

There are a host of interesting characters, including footpath diva Rosemary (who gets the whole village at loggerheads over her insistence on a footpath going across a farmer's field rather than round it), and Sharon and Jeff, the neighbours from hell and their tearaway children.

I found that the book flowed well and it is an easy and enjoyable read. If you like a book that isn't too demanding and has a compelling story line, then you will enjoy this book.

So why only 3*s. Well for me, character is all; I really want to identify with the main characters and see that their attitudes shape their actions, and that in turn drives the story line. However, I found Zoe weak as a character, and the burgeoning relationship with Leo seemed trite and predictable. The other characters, even major ones like Ken & Rosemary, seemed very one-dimensional - just there to hang the story off really. The most interesting character in the book was Jade (the 12 year old feral child)! I also thought the ending wrapped up all the relationships just too neatly and easily - real life is far more messy and painful!

All in all, not (in my opinion) one of Erskine's best. But still an enjoyable read.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Jul 2012 11:59:06 BDT
Last edited by the author on 30 Jul 2012 12:11:17 BDT
ruralbuyer says:
I agree that the some characters let the book down. For me, Ken and Zoe acted like a middle class couple with no money worries who just didn't know what to play next. Ken is selfish and wrapped up in his boat and surely Zoe could have found something to do apart from mope and have an affair! Otherwise the book was as good as the others. I still remain a fan of Barbara Erskine and was delighted and pleasantly surprised to be able to snatch the last copy of this one off the shelf of my local supermarket, as I didn't realise it was on sale yet.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jul 2012 13:23:53 BDT
H. Ashford says:
Thanks for commenting - it's always nice when people have something to say about a review.
Yes, Ken was very superficial as a character wasn't he. And Zoe was irritatingly wet and wimpish. I also thought Leo was too nice to be true. Everything just went far too easily, really!
I do agree with another 3* reviewer here that the most interesting part of the book was the Anglo Saxon bit. But I don't think it's a bad book - just not one of her best - and it won't stop me reading more by her.
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