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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Monday, 26 June 2017

"Alric of Bedanford" by Veronica Sims

When I was a kid (in the 1960s) I loved this sort of book. It is a classic boy's adventure story set in the time of the Saxons. It might not have been quite so gritty as the brilliant tales of Leon Garfield but it reminded me strongly of stories by Cynthia Harnett such as The Wool Pack and The Load of Unicorn and stories by Geoffrey Trease such as Cue for Treason, Clive King's The 22 Letters. These were wonderful stories which I as a pre-pubescent boy devoured.

Children's fiction has become more realistic and darker these days but I am sure there is still room for simple escapist adventure of this type.

The plot follows the adventures of a Saxon lad who is sent for help to the King of Mercia shortly before his home town of Bedanford (Bedford) is destroyed by Vikings. Fatherless he grows up in the Mercian court training to be a warrior. Then he is sent on a mission to Witancaester (Winchester) and subsequently sent to spy on the Danes in Grantabrycge (Cambridge). Throughout the placenames are written in the old Saxon; the book benefits from a lot of research which supports but never intrudes on the story.

The plot device by which the adventuring boy spies escaped their hostile escort was audacious to say the least.

The ending is abrupt but it promises a sequel.

There were some brilliant lines:

  • "The land of dreams and dragons" (Chapter 3)
  • "With this sun you'll leak sweat like an old leather bucket" (Chapter 4)
  • "The solid stone of sadness that seemed to be lodged somewhere in the middle of my body." (Chapter 7)
  • He "drank his ale as if the supplies were about to fail" (Chapter 17)
  • "The shadows started to creep out from behind the trees" (Chapter 19)

Great fun. June 2017. Kindle.

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