Wednesday, December 7, 2011

History, mystery, fidelity and faith

I've been reading some wonderfully thought-provoking novels this last week--three historical novels from Knox Robinson, plus one very contemporary novel with seriously historical underpinnings. Not the sort of thing I could put down very easily, though I was re-reading my own novel at the same time (and finding so many more mistakes as I read it on paper instead of on the computer).

First is Harald Hadrada: the Last Viking, by Michael Burr. What's not to like about Vikings--well, there's all the raping and pillaging I suppose, but Viking's must be amongst the most fascinating peoples of European history. The thing is, I never quite understood how they got involved in 1066 and all that, but this novel brings a completely new side of that era to vivid life and I just couldn't put it down. Drink a 5-star bold intense coffee as you enjoy this excellent weave of plot and adventure.

Moving forwards in time, the next novel is  Evan Ostryzniuk's Of Faith and Fidelity. It's interesting how important faith turns out to be in history. This novel follows the misadventures of a young squire in the time of two Popes as alliances shift and politics tries to snatch the reins of church. There's a nice counter-play between the lives of rich and influential vs the life of a nobody, and the whole is researched and portrayed in fascinating detail, from weapon to clothes to pack of cards. Drink a 4-star rich complex coffee with this complex tale.

Next we reach the early 1800s and one of Britain's earliest detectives, Stephen Lavender in Karen Charlton's Catching the Eagle. A robbery in Northumberland brings Lavendar rushing from Bow Street to Kirkley Hall where a farmworker is accused and jailed and brought to trial. The details of 1800s policing, courts and life in farm and village are vividly retold, and the farmworker's plight is nicely matched with an eagle's attempts to stay free. Enjoy a 3-star well-balanced full-flavored coffee with this pleasingly balanced tale.

And finally, in the present day (or near future), John Wijngaards' Amrutha: What the Pope's man found out about the Law of Nature, brings that topic of faith and fidelity to the modern world's questions of Catholicism, women and morality. I put off reading this because I didn't like the cover--what a feeble excuse! Once I opened it I loved the story. Definitely thought-provoking, shades of Life of Pi, touches of church history and the fact that rules do change, curious humor and innocence, gentle spirituality and genuine curiosity, this one pushes many boundaries but never quite steps over them. Enjoy with a 4-star complex coffee and be prepared to be inspired.

Okay, back to re-reading my own novel and making sure those edits all happened correctly without my deleting the wrong sets of words... There's many a slip betwixt keyboard and 'script.


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