Category: historical Publisher: Abacus, published 3 Mar 2005 ISBN: 0349117411, Paperback, 448 pages Size: 12.6 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm Publisher: Hachette Digital, published 1 Oct 2009
ISBN: B002TZ3EAM, Kindle edition, 448 pages
Book synopsis (The back of the book says)
In 1037, a senior civil servant of the Byzantine empire faces a tedious journey to Greece, escorting the Army payroll. His only companions are a detachment of the Empire's elite Guard, recruited from Viking Scandinavia.
When the wagon sheds a wheel, he passes the time talking with two veterans, who have a remarkable story to tell; the Viking discovery of America.As he records the story, years later, he also considers its effect on the fourth member of the party; a young Norwegian guardsman who went on to become King Harald Hardradi, who died invading England in 1066 ...
The fifth historical novel from the acclaimed author Thomas Holt - an innovative, challenging and wonderfully entertaining writer of historical fiction.
Reviews of this book
After reading this book A.D. Warr wrote this on the 17th October 2011 , and gave it a rating * * * * * (5 of 5)
I’ll preface this with a statement that I’ve never been a fan of history. I have a vivid memory of complaining to a friend about having to learn it in school. These days, I’ve come to terms with its importance as part of the national curriculum, but I still would never come close to counting myself as any kind of “history buff”.
How is it then, that I come to be reading historical fiction? And not just once, but twice (three times, if you count The Walled Orchard as two separate books)! The answer: Tom Holt. The more I read by him, the more I desire to read more of his books. He nestles snugly between my love of
Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams and his books are consistently good. Sometimes so good you just have to put off all those important things you’re meant to be doing (sleeping, eating, getting dressed like a civilised human being) so you can carry on reading.
But this isn’t a normal Tom Holt book. This is a Thomas Holt book. That means he’s reigned in the humour and he’s messing with history rather than reality. In no way is this detrimental to the book. He’s still a master of imaginative metaphors, without having to make them funny. More importantly, he’s still a master storyteller.
The story is framed as being told by two ageing Norsemen, telling it while they wait for their cart to be fixed. The way Tom’s written it, you can feel yourself sat there with them. Their voices are authentic and nuanced; you long to fall into the book and to really be there, listening to the story being told first-hand.
The period(s) of history in question were something I only had passing knowledge of before I picked this up, so I can’t be one to nitpick details. But if there’s anything to really be picked at, you should put it aside and let yourself enjoy this book for what it is; a fantastically told story of an amazing adventure that really happened.
If you have read this book and have written down your thoughts, please mail me the location of your review and I will link it from here.
One view is that mankind has a desperate need to believe in something, preferably something so blatantly absurd that only blind, unquestioning faith will suffice - for example, the belief which sprang up in the late nineteenth century and was still widely current in Jason Derry's time and which held that human beings were not in fact created at all but were somehow the descendants of bald, mutant monkeys. The other view is that there is never anything much on television during the summer.