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THE CUNNING OF THE DOVE by Alfred Duggan Kirkus Star



Pub Date: April 6th, 1960
ISBN: 0753818280
Publisher: Pantheon

With the death of Canute, the 11th century English succession passed to Edward, son of Canute's wife by her first marriage to Ethelred, and the ancient dynasty of the house of Cerdic was presumed to be re-established. Here, in the words of Edgar, Edward's page, chamberlain, cupbearer throughout his life, is the story of Edward's reign which left no lineal successor, for Edward had taken a vow of continence- and kept it in his marriage-from his arrival, at Winchester, at the age of 40, to his death in the 60's, in which, in spite of internal strife, he won a country with his goodness, the power of his grace, the abolishing of the war tax, and the vitality of his religion. Constantly at odds with the great Earl Godwin, he marries the young Edith, Godwin's daughter, and in so doing is able to deal with the man who did not wish to be king but who fought to master the king until Edward outlaws him and his family. For the short time of Edward's complete power the miracles of his healing bring him a saintly reputation and, with the return of Harold, Godwin's son, Edward is content with the privileges of his years to leave the country in Harold's hands, with the throne to go to Duke William of Normandy on his death. As in his previous books, the landscape here is often a battlefield, and the sorties of the Viking-pirates, the blood feuds among the nobles, the tensions between church and state, and Edward the Confessor's own, darting, querying and argumentative mind come to life for the present day readers. Most satisfactory.