The Cunning of the Dove Paperback – 4 Jan 2007
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A classic novel set in Dark Age Britain by a bestselling author - featuring Machiavellian survival tactics by King Edward
About the Author
Alfred Duggan was born in Argentina in 1903. He was educated at Eton
College and Oxford. He worked for the British Natural History Museum
collecting specimens and travelled extensively pursuing his job for the
museum. From 1938-1941, when he was discharged as medically unfit, he served in the London Irish Rifles and saw active service in Norway. His
first book was published in 1950.
Top Customer Reviews
The narrative is provided by Edward's chamberlain Edgar, a rather stuffy, pompous chap who has been raised from his life as the son of a Winchester cordwainer through service in the house of Queen Emma, Edward's mother, to entering the royal chamber. He is perhaps the most interesting character in the novel - certainly the one who comes most to life. Edgar is a party to Edward's many nocturnal monologues (which carry some of the explanatory narrative of the story) where the King ponders aloud upon his thegns and the policies he should pursue with them.
Basically the novel covers all the salient points of Edward's reign in a straight, almost text book style. His power struggles with the Godwin family who often rule the country in all but name, his sterile marriage to Edith, daughter of Earl Godwin, his penchant for all things Norman, his struggles with the Church and his visions and ability to work miracles.
Duggan writes the novel very much like an extension of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles. The style is distant and short of emotional drama and punch. This being almost fifty years ago and all things Norman in vogue, Duggan strongly takes William the Conqueror's part in the story and even has Edith Godwinsson (Edward's Queen) vilifying her brother Harold and colluding to bring William to the throne. I wasn't convinced by this, nor was I ever on the edge of my seat and desperate to turn the pages. It's a digestible read and interesting to a point, but as story telling it's average and not particularly engaging. Duggan never properly gets to grips with his characters and their motivations and they mostly remain two-dimensional. I suspect a lot of it is not good history either.
Three stars - just.