- 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)
The Last Bear Paperback – 29 Feb 2008
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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?
Top Customer Reviews
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.
What will win overall? At what cost?
A fascinating tale, one that I found incredibly hard to put down.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having stayed in Lochinver in the NW Highlands and purchased the book from Mandy at a local craft fair I already had a connection with her
The book draws you in as the story... Read more