- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Solaris (12 Sept. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1781081360
- ISBN-13: 978-1781081365
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 42 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 998,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Saxon's Bane Paperback – 12 Sep 2013
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'Once there was a great classical tradition of rural British horror from MR James to The Wicker Man. Now Geoffrey Gudgion has revived the style and modernised it to great effect, proving there's still nothing as creepy as the countryside.' --Christopher Fowler
About the Author
Geoffrey Gudgion was the scholarship boy who never realised he'd have been happier as a writer than a businessman. Until, that is, he had a spectacular row with his boss and stepped off the corporate ladder. Prior to that epiphany, he made his first attempts at writing fiction during long deployments in the Royal Navy, and consistently failed to reconcile writing with being CEO of a technology company.
Top customer reviews
Well, allow me to put your mind at rest dear reader. This book actually resolves mostly all of the plot lines, clues, conflicts, hints and suggestions in a reasonably satisfactory manner. You should feel free to enjoy all of the odd and unnerving moments as they appear, because your diligence will be rewarded and you will not be left scratching your head and wondering if there is a missing final chapter that didn't get downloaded to your reader.
So, dive in and enjoy this harrowing and well told tale.
Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
The crash and the archaeological dig seem linked, and it's up to Fergus and archaeologist Clare, to discover the truth. Just what is going on with the residents of Allingley and how do events in the present day connect with what has happened centuries past?
I've always liked the idea that places can retain echoes of past events. Call it whatever you want, a ghost, a presence, a shadow, it doesn't matter. The suggestion that something gets left behind is an intriguing one. Couple this with the notion that certain individuals, particularly those who have survived a traumatic event/been close to death, are more in-tune with these places and you have the building blocks of an absorbing mystery.
The fantastical elements in this novel are actually quite subtle and are handled with a very delicate touch. Some of the characters are utterly dismissive of the weird things that are going on while others embrace them entirely. I rather like this approach, as I'm sure different readers will almost certainly take different interpretations from the events that unfold. It's always interesting to read a novel that has that kind of ambiguous quality. This is the sort of fiction that when you finish you want to talk to other readers about.
Not unsurprisingly, the scenes set in the Saxon era are often violent and dark. The writing certainly doesn't pull any punches when it comes to describing in visceral detail how warriors die in the heat of battle. Based on the evidence of these chapters alone, I'd love to read an entire historical novel written by Gudgion. I'd imagine it would be brutally evocative stuff.
The only, very minor, issue I had was with the villain in the modern chapters of the novel. All the other characters felt rounded and realistic but the villain came across as little under developed. Fergus and Clare are so well observed I think it would have been nice to have had that same level of insight into the motivations of their nemesis. I just got the impression that there was more going on behind this character's actions that were never fully explored.
Geoffrey Gudgion's dark fantasy is a melting pot of many ideas. Elements from comparative theology, folklore, horror and historical fiction all blend together to form a compelling narrative. This novel pleasantly surprised me, it's far more contemplative and thoughtful than I expected. This is an impressively solid debut from an author I'll be looking out for again in the future.
I should start by saying that I did like this book. It certainly draws the reader in, and it keeps you reading on to the conclusion. Gudgion's mix of history, modern day mystery and (perhaps) the supernatural is nicely judged and we're always left just that little bit short of being sure what really happened - was it all rationally explicable, as, at the end, the Vicar claims - or not? So, this is a good read. However while I hope this will be a success and that Gudgion will write more, I do think it has flaws.
The story focuses on Fergus, a computer sales engineer. Racing to a presentation one wet Autumn day, he and a colleague are involved in a nasty car accident. Fergus barely survives, and the experience changes him. Months later and recovering from surgery, he gives up his high pressure job and returns to the village of Allingley, where the accident happened, to recuperate. Here, he runs across the enigmatic Aedlin Stodman, mistress of horses and archaeologist Clare Harvey, who is excavating Saxon remains which were discovered the same day as the accident. Over the next few weeks, they, and others in the village, will begin to act out a sequence of events eerily similar to the village's early history - which Clare is rediscovering, painfully, both in her dig and in increasingly haunted dreams. This isn't just a matter of what happened in history; there are forces in the present which want to use history for dark purposes, to establish power through fear.
That all makes for a great story. Two aspects detracted from it, for me, though. I'll repeat my warning about spoilers now, because they are coming along.
The first - and to me, most problematic aspect - was the threat (in the present) and occurrence (in the Dark Ages past) of rape of a central character. I should stress that isn't described, and I accept that as an adjunct of a battle between "Celts" and "Saxons" it is perfectly credible - but still, I just don't like it as a theme.
The second, and less significant point, was that the "villain" in the present was rather poorly drawn, a cardboardish, almost gleefully chuckling, antagonist. Gudgion does a very good job with his other characters so it's a shame that such a key one lacks credibility.
What Gudgion does very well, I think, is to weave together the strands of his book - the history and spirituality, with varying takes on "paganism" or an "old religion" seem from different perspectives, alongside Christianity and human nature in both pleasant and unpleasant forms - to create a convincing whole. I enjoyed his use of history (although I strongly doubt that a Druid would have been found in Britain at the time of the Saxon arrival - but that was the only historical glitch I could see and it's not a large one in the context of the story).
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Most recent customer reviews
I would not picked this book up because of the cover but as It was for my book club I went for it and I have not been disappointed.Read more
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