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The Last Bear Paperback – 29 Feb 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Two Ravens Press; 1st Edition edition (29 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906120161
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906120160
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 503,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Synopsis

A haunting and compelling novel set one thousand years ago in the remote northwest Highlands of Scotland, "The Last Bear" recounts a tale of ecological and spiritual crisis from the viewpoint of one extraordinary woman. Taking the story of the extinction of the brown bear as its focal point, a story of love, jealousy, family and faith unfolds as Brigid, the last in a long line of medicine women, tries to live out her life in a time of upheaval without losing her cultural roots. Her personal struggle is set against a transforming world, as powerful Viking families clash with Celts and old pagan beliefs are challenged by Christian faith, changes that reach even into the timeless depths of the forest. Haggith weaves evocative descriptions of the natural world into a narrative that binds the characters ever more tightly into intrigue. Who killed the last bear in Scotland, and with what consequences?

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a poetic, lyrical, haunting and spiritual tale of the last bear in Scotland, 1000 years ago. It's a salutary tale of the damage that man can wreak on the world and it never fails to amaze me how man can treat his fellow creatures of the earth.

This is a tale of Bjorn, the headman of the area, and Brigid, the banished medicine woman, and last shamen of the bear. Once lovers, they are now torn apart by Bjorn's duties and his father's refusal to accept a non-Christian witch as his son's wife. Instead, Bjorn marries Margaret, an Orcadian, in a political move to bring the two areas together, in a time when the north-west of Scotland had norse communities.

Brigid is banished to the forest, but still has links with some of the community, and is called upon on occasions to heal. There are a lot of similarities between her and her sister bear, including the fact that they are both the last of their line, and at one point in the story there was such an intense feeling of connection between her and the bear that it brought tears to my eyes.

It is a shame that prejudices and a lack of understanding in history could cause people to banish so-called witches, otherwise known as healers, with their powers to mend, soothe and calm.

This is a great read, and has an unusual and unique feel to it. I wasn't sure before I read it that it would be something I would like, and the first few chapters are quite slow and I did find it hard to get the story to sink in, but once it did I raced through it and was compelled by it. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
A tale of intrigue as the battle of Christianity and Pagan beliefs confront one another.

What will win overall? At what cost?

A fascinating tale, one that I found incredibly hard to put down.
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Brilliant. This book takes the reader back to Viking pagan times and the life as it changes with the coming of Christianity.
It is an amazing story of genuine love of the countryside and respect for the creatures in habiting the forests.
The characters are marvellously painted with sensitivity and passion making the respect for the old pagan ways of myths and herbal remedies both fascinating and acceptable. The arrival of the insensitive and arrogant "Christian" new laird is rough and altogether awful . Hard to say this as a practising Christian myself, but I truly found him insufferable ! I wanted the pagan ways not to be interfered with and old traditions to be respected properly until genuine love was shown to have merit. Riding rough shod was so unacceptable in the story. It is brilliantly told and I feel sure any other Mandy Haggith book will be well worth reading.
To be recommended to anyone who enjoys reading of far off historic times.
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Format: Paperback
I read The Last Bear for a book club I belong to and expected something about bears. But I guess there's not much to be said about 'the last bear', surviving in the far north west of Scotland, alone and hoping to find a mate. I was not disappointed though! This book is about so much more than just the environment of the last bear. It's about the people who lived there, a thousand years ago, as Paganism was being replaced by Christianity. I loved this book and as one who reads a lot of non-fiction, it was great to have a page turner in my hands again. At less than 200 pages, this book is a mine of information about things we often forget. Go on, treat yourself!
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