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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(3 star). See all 62 reviews
on 1 November 2013
I came across this book by way of a metal album based on it called `Dreamweaver' by Sabbat when I was a teenager. I then eagerly hunted down the book and read it in one session.

At the time I was a bit disappointed. It was a lot shorter than I expected, and didn't seem to go into much detail about where it was set, but I was enthralled by the concept of wyrd, and with the story which served to illustrate it.

Years later, and I still have the same copy which I have read several times now. On reflection the Way of Wyrd is both better and worse than I first thought.

On the one hand, I still think it is a good story, and am no longer bothered by the broad-brush approach to the setting as what is of importance is the spiritual journey of Brand under the tutelage of Wulf the Sorcerer. Also, I am more familiar with Nordic mythology now and appreciate references I did not recognised first time round.

Like others, I also think it is a strength that Brand was not converted to paganism at the end, but was able to reconcile his Christianity with what Wulf had shown him. This added depth to his character and avoided an ending that would have been too pat.

On the other hand, I do think that after all the ordeals along the way, Brand's illumination came too easily at the end.

More seriously, I also wonder if Brian Bates has read too much into the concept of wyrd, importing beliefs and practices from shamanism and Taoism where they don't belong.
Outside of New Age or neo-pagan sources, I've seen very little about wyrd from `proper' historical sources which suggests that wyrd was any more than a form of fate that could be changed by someone with a strong will.
It may be that Brian Bates is right and wyrd was seen as an all-embracing web which connected and acted on all living things, but if so I haven't seen the evidence for it.

That may be my fault, but as I have also read Brian Bates's `Real Middle Earth', and seen how he played fast and loose with historical accuracy, even conflating the Celtic and Nordic worlds in it, you can see why I'm cautious.

As a novel I would give this 4 stars, but as an explanation of what wyrd was to the Anglo-Saxons, I would give it 3. If you are interested in the concept of wyrd, I would read around the subject, particularly from more impartial sources.
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on 31 January 2015
I don't think anyone would read this book for "entertainment". It certainly isn't entertaining as there is no real narrative/story drive. In fact, the story is very dull. Its only point of merit is that it aims to bring to life Anglo-Saxon pagan spirituality.
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on 25 February 2013
Not as good as I expected it to be, perhaps I expected too much. But couldn't fault your excellent service
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on 14 August 2014
I did enjoy the book as I was reading but was horribly disappointed by the weak ending.
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VINE VOICEon 8 January 2012
This rather odd and slightly pointless novel, ostensibly historical fiction, feels much more like fantasy with a mild tinge of horror. The author Brian Bates is claimed to be "leading the movement to recover ancient Anglo-Saxon tribal wisdom and to bring it to the forefront of 21st century inspiration". He apparently teaches an award-winning course in Shamanic consciousness at the University of Sussex. He has also written a non-fiction work on magic and mystery in the dark ages, so I am not sure what this novel adds to that. It is no doubt an interesting facet of the Anglo Saxon worldview, but presented in this all-encompassing form in a novel with only two characters, it does, as I say, feel like fantasy and vaguely annoying, though Bates is an atmospheric writer. Slightly to my surprise, the leading character did not reject his Christianity and embrace paganism at the end of the book, but seemed happy to live by a fusion of the two. 3/5
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on 17 May 2015
Good thankyou
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on 3 February 2006
This is one of those irritating books, something like The Da Vinci Code, which could be enjoyed as a simple fantasy novel except for the lofty claims of the author to be basing his work on 'historical fact'. There isn't actually much real history in this book, and as Bates is a psychologist cum anthropologist in the Jung/Campbell mode it is hardly surprising that the real historical roots of the Anglo-Saxons don't figure much in this book. The book claims to redress the balance for the English against the modern overemphasis on Celtic mysticism, which is ironic as the Celtic past has also suffered from the fantasies and imaginations of modern romantics.
The book is polemical and doubtless aimed at neopagans, as the storyline makes early Christian beliefs look ridiculous whilst the pagan appears wise.
As a history book it tells us nothing much about the past, and actually includes points that may mislead.
As a fantasy novel it sits alongside Tolkein's and will please romantic neopagans.
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