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The Long Pilgrimage is just that. Forced to flee Northumbria or become bondslave to his enemy, Sygwald Oricsson of the Low Fell takes a message to Karl, king of the Franks, for the holy Alcuin; joins Karl's host on the march into Spain; survives the ambush at Rankesdal only to be made galley-slave by the Moors; escapes on a Greek dromond to Sicily; pledging service to the Benedicts, carries a message from the abbot in Palerma to his counterpart on Sinai, thence to their fellow-conspirator in the Jorsala minster; starts for home with his man Hui on the assurance that he'll be safe; frees the lady Aelfritha, a Saxon captured in a pirate raid, from bondage on a Middle Sea island; marries her during a winter at Narboni, where he also acquires two runaway Italian serfs as servants; reaches home with his party after thirteen years; settles in comfortably until a Viking raid requires that he, ""the Far-Traveled,"" lead the resistance. A far go that gets nowhere, really, but takes in some fascinating terrain from a Frankish hospice at Parisii to a Jewish household in Bethlehem. Imbedded also are observations on the proclivities of kings and the forces of history. Some of these are more opportune than anything else (so is Aelfritha) but the book hardly suffers: Mr. Finkel is a master of the long-ago moment whose weakness is that he amasses too many.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1969
Publisher: Viking