An often muddled take on an intriguing era of clashing cultures.



Debut author Marshall offers a historical novel set during the time of Alfred the Great, the Anglo-Saxon king of Wessex in the late 9th century.

When a group of Vikings aims to lay siege to the village of Gains in what is now present-day Lincolnshire, England, it seems like a great pillage is about to take place. After all, the Vikings are fearless warriors of Odin, and what chance does a settlement have against such men of violence? As it turns out, the villagers manage to stage quite a routing. With the aid of a boy named Herd, who commands his dogs to harass the intruders, the townsfolk ultimately defeat the Norsemen with arrows and eggs filled with quicklime. As the Vikings fearfully flee back to their homeland, the victors back in England celebrate. A Welsh monk brings the news that King Alfred will soon be coming to the village to speak with the leader of Gains, AEthelred. Marshall goes on to weave a plot that includes King Alfred’s wedding and the rule of Viking king Harrad Bluetooth, shedding light on an oft-neglected period of European history. He frequently provides information on unfamiliar words, such as “Holliwells is Lincolnshire for a ‘holy wells,’ ” and details, such as an explanation of the process for turning goose eggs into weapons. However, the book’s bizarre penchant for question marks and awkward phrases (“Within any tribe, there’s only an infinite number of warrior class, from the group?”) makes for difficult reading. The author is clearly passionate about the period (“Historians force-feed students to believe Lincolnshire, was overrun by Vikings. Not so, both our folklore and the Viking Sagas, tell a different tale”), but that passion often translates into peculiar prose.

An often muddled take on an intriguing era of clashing cultures.

Pub Date: July 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5150-1766-0

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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