Set in 1066 England and written in a “shadow tongue” of Old English, making the novel stylistically complex yet offering a reading experience that conveys the otherness of 11th century England, this vivid first person narrative recounts the Norman invasion of England from the perspective of an Anglo-Saxon man named Buccmaster of Holland. Upon the Norman invasion and the destruction of Buccmaster’s hamlet and all he has, he flees to the holt and gathers a group to drive out the foreign invaders of his land. He also, in contrast to many in the story, views Christianity, which has become the dominate religion in England, as another foreign intrusion that must be driven out. Rich in historical detail and descriptions of what religion and life was like for an Anglo-Saxon follower of “the old gods,” this bleak narrative is a gripping tale, which I would highly recommend.
"It was written in what might be called a shadow tongue--a pseudo-language intended to convey the feeling of the old language. . ."
When I heard that the debut novel by Paul Kingsnorth, a poet and former journalist, was written in a homage to Old English (he calls it a "shadow tongue"), I was immediately intrigued. Kingsnorth (kind of a perfect writer name) imagines the chaotic, violent world of England after the Norman conquest. You can appreciate its Joycean linguistic inventiveness while still having trouble following it. It actually makes more sense to read out loud. No doubt this will appeal to anyone who had to suffer through "Beowulf" or "The Song of Roland" in English class. Pairs well with mead.
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