British History Book Club

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This topic contains 62 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  anonymous 5 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #15514

    anonymous
    Participant

    I hadn't heard of Stephen Lawhead.  I too love to learn through reading historical fiction.  I saw someone else in the forum suggested some kind of book club.  I like the idea of reading a book a month, tied to where the podcast is, roughly.  I wonder if it would be fun to try one of the Lawhead books you recommended.  Of the two trilogies, do you have a favorite?  I am a big audible fan, so will likely find something to listen to.  I already found the Lawhead novels on Audible.Any takers for a British History Podcast book club?  We could read either historical fiction or a non-fiction book.Laura

  • #17705

    Jamie
    Keymaster

    Do you want me to advertise this on Facebook for you?

  • #17706

    anonymous
    Participant

    Sure.  Thanks.

  • #17707

    Tim the Enchanter
    Participant

    I'd be in for the non-fiction books.  Not a big fan of historical fiction books…

  • #17708

    Jamie
    Keymaster

    Ok, I'm advertising this on Facebook.  Laura (or someone) might want to start putting together a list of potential books and set a start date for club.  That's my two cents, anyway.

  • #17709

    anonymous
    Participant

    I'm in. Paul Doherty is good for general medieval. Also Bernard Knight for early Norman. Susan Gregory does the Matthew Bartholomew and Thomas Challenor series – worth a look.

  • #17710

    JJ
    Participant

    Great idea! I just picked up a copy of Melyin Bragg's book The Adventure of English, I haven't started it yet but I nominate it as one of the books for the book club.

  • #17711

    anonymous
    Participant

    I think that the adventure of English sounds good.  I am hesitant to start the book club since I don't have ideas for books, like others.  Perhaps we could rotate responsibility.  That is, if you nominate s book and enough like tht idea, then you can be in charge for tht month.  That way, the workload is evenly distributed.How does that sound?Laura

  • #17712

    Jamie
    Keymaster

    I think that's a great idea. Do we have a consensus on The Adventure of the English? My thought is that once a book is picked, I will announce it so that book club gets a little more involvement. Do that sound good?

  • #17713

    Chris
    Participant

    I like both historical fact and historical fiction. I love the idea but I never get enough time to read what with working on my own websites in my spare time.If I actually read quickly like my girlfriend who can read, for instance, all of George R. R. Martin's books on the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series in just 2 weeks then I would definitely be in but I have a feeling I would lag behind all you fine folks.

  • #17714

    anonymous
    Participant

    Do we have buy in from the person who recommended the book, Adventure in English.  I, too, have very little time to read, unfortunately.  I will see if there is an Audible version of the book.  I suggest we make it a book a month club to give people ample time to read the selection.  I also think we need to pick a date in which to try to have the book read and to begin discussion.  We might pick something random like the third Saturday of each month.  Also, I think people should be encouraged to participate even if they haven't read all or even some of the book.  Folks might learn something, anyway.How do those ideas sound?

  • #17715

    Jamie
    Keymaster

    Those all sound like excellent ideas to me!

  • #17716

    anonymous
    Participant

    One other idea is to alternate between a work of fiction and a work of non-fiction.  That way, we can appeal to a wider audience.Laura

  • #17717

    Anonymous

    For those of you who don't have time to read, try audio books, either through Audible or the public library.  You can download and listen for a period of 2 or 3 weeks.  Great for commuting, housework…all the brain numbing tasks that we have.

  • #17718

    Chris
    Participant

    Another good idea Laura. I am happy with either. MLS, as I walk to work each day and a good half hour each way, getting the audio version would be perfect for me. I looked into audible a while back but decided against it as I thought I wouldn't really use it that often for the subscription charges. Might have to rethink if everyone is going to go ahead with the book club.

  • #17719

    anonymous
    Participant

    Audible is my main source of “reading.”  I didn't find an Audible version of the first selected book; Adventures in English.  Do we want to try only books that have both a print and audible version to be the most accomodating to members?  I would prefer that, myself.I have a suggestion, but it is fiction and is Tudor:  Hillary Mantel's latest; "Bring Up the Bodies."  I already checked and see that it is an Audible book.Laura

  • #17720

    oiseaugrande
    Participant

    Hey, I'd love to get into a book club, especially if it's tied to the podcast!Would certainly prefer non-fiction, but I'd also be open to fiction!

  • #17721

    JJ
    Participant

    One other idea is to alternate between a work of fiction and a work of non-fiction.  That way, we can appeal to a wider audience.

    Do we want to try only books that have both a print and audible version to be the most accomodating to members? 

    Both ideas sound fair. I'm a slow reader as well but I'll try my hardest to finish whatever book we decide on. The reason I'm a slow reader might be because I'm alternating between two books at the moment, not including my emergency book I keep at work (in case I forget my other books at home and have nothing to read. ;D)

  • #17722

    anonymous
    Participant

    One idea is to start with the Very Short Introduction to the Anglo Saxons (I don't have the exact title with me and I have a needy cat on my lap).  It is a short book and very readable.We could try that and if we want a historical fiction book to tie into the podcast we could try Bernard Cornwell's the Last King.  He has a series of the Anglo Saxon period.  I just started it last night on my kindle.

  • #17723

    Chris
    Participant

    ……we could try Bernard Cornwell's the Last King.  He has a series of the Anglo Saxon period.  I just started it last night on my kindle.

    Laura, did you mean The Last Kingdom, book 1 from The Saxon Chronicles]? I am glad you mentioned this because I just started listening to this a few days ago. I love the work of Bernard Cornwell, especially his writing style and his use of descriptive detail (not too long, not too short) of the characters and how he builds upon them throughout the stories. I have already mentioned in this post that I liked the Arthur trilogy:  'The Winter King', 'Enemy of God' and 'Excalibur' and the 'Sharpe' series from Cornwell. As you mentioned audible I thought I would give it a go and The Last Kingdom seemed like a good place to start considering where we are up to in the podcast (well, the story as you know starts in 866, some 350-400 years from the current time frame in the podcast where Saxons are the locals and the Vikings are the invaders. The Winter King is much closer to the current dates in the podcast). It has been enjoyable to this listen to walking to work and I have about 2hrs of narration left; this is the abridged version as audible doesn't have an unabridged version. Somehow I feel like I am being cheated.....I would like to have heard the book in its entirety.Enjoy the book  ;)

  • #17724

    anonymous
    Participant

    I see that Audible has only an Abriged version of The Last Kingdom.  I don't usually like abridged books, but I will give it a listen.  I am not sure we have enough interest in the book club idea to get this off the ground.  I will read/listen to this book, anyway.  I am also looking forward to trying the first of the Arthur series.I have been enjoying the Modern Scholar lecture series on Anglo Saxon history, too.

  • #17725

    Chris
    Participant

    Maybe we need Jamie to mention the book club (and movie club) again in a little more detail at the start of another episode to see if that gains some more attention. If it doesn't, there's nothing stopping a small group of two or three people giving it a go and maybe, as part of natural progression, other interested folk might join in as it develops.Laura, I would only go for the abridged version if you are really stuck for time to read it. As I am on a Sharpe book at the moment, I decided to go for the audio version of The Last Kingdom but it looks like maybe a good half of it r more missing as it is only five and half hours long. As I said in my previous post, I feel cheated if I miss out on that much story even if much of it is descriptive with not a lot happening....I like to read/hear the whole thing if I can.Regarding the Arthur series, I don't think you will be disappointed. It is quite different but uniquely so and gripping at the same time. They are Cornwell's favourite books!What is the modern scholar lecture you have been listening to?

  • #17726

    JJ
    Participant

    One idea is to start with the Very Short Introduction to the Anglo Saxons (I don't have the exact title with me and I have a needy cat on my lap).  It is a short book and very readable.

    Is the title The Anglo-Saxon Age: A Very Short Introduction by John Blair? I can pick up a copy of The Last Kingdom today and that can be the first book, how does that sound?

  • #17727

    Jamie
    Keymaster

    Maybe we need Jamie to mention the book club (and movie club) again in a little more detail at the start of another episode to see if that gains some more attention.

    I'd be happy to do so.  I think all we need of a firm decision on a book.  Did you want to go with The Last Kingdom?  As soon as a book is picked, let me know and I'll announce it at the start of the next episode.  :)

  • #17728

    anonymous
    Participant

    Let's pick The Last Kingdom.  It is available (abridged from Audible) as well as being a Kindle book, for those who read ebooks.How about we give people about a month to read the book and plan to start discussion on the 16th?Jamie,I don't think I can manage a Facebook level discussion.  I rarely use the site (I only check things) since I am a psychologist and don't know enough about setting security levels to not have my information searchable by everyone.I am not sure how to handle the discussion if we open it to Facebook unless someone else wants to manage that.

  • #17729

    Jamie
    Keymaster

    Ok, I'll announce The Last Kingdom abridged by Bernard Cornwell on this week's episode.  I'll also mention it on Facebook.  I think that a FB discussion would be a little unweildy.  So lets keep the discussion of the book on the forums and I'll use FB to announce the book selections etc.  Does that work?

  • #17730

    anonymous
    Participant

    That works for me.

  • #17731

    Anonymous

    I'm in, but this is my second book club and the movie club and the all of the English podcasts and my dog….Hope no one wants me to actually work or anything.

  • #17732

    Anonymous

    FYI:I found an unabridged edition of The Last Kingdom on audio books at my public library.Description 11 sound discs (12 hr., 58 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.Playing Time 125800Note "Sound Library." Unabridged.Performer Read by Tom Sellwood.Author Cornwell, Bernard.Title The last kingdom [sound recording] / by Bernard Cornwell.Publication Info. Hampton, NH : BBC Audiobooks America, cp2005.

  • #17733

    anonymous
    Participant

    I wonder why it is not on Audible.  I will double check my library, but I didn't see it on initial perusal.

  • #17734

    Chris
    Participant

    I definitely couldn't see an unabridged version on audible.I have finished listening to the abridged version of The Last Kingdom just by walking to work and back this week and I'll just say this.....it is short. At five and half hours it does seem to be missing quite a bit so I would suggest that if anyone is interested in this book and they can get through it before the 16th, then read it, or at the very least, try and get the unabridged version instead. While you get the gist of what is happening quite easily, I felt there was much more important detail left out of the abridged version.Jamie, if it isn't too late would it be possible to mention in the next episode (if you decide to announce it) that the unabridged version would be better if anyone can get their hands on it? Failing that the kindle or paper version instead. Cornwell's writing should be read in it's full context as he adds a fair amount of interesting historical detail throughout his books.I don't think I will get time to read this before the 16th (not if I take people's advice about reading GoT) as I wanted to start Cornwell's Harlequin or in the US The Archer's Tale, the first of three books about an English archer set in the 14th century during the Hundred Years War and the search for the Holy Grail.

  • #17735

    anonymous
    Participant

    I was able to find an unabridged version at our local library in a downloadable version.  I wonder why Audible fails to carry the complete version.  I am just getting started on it. 

  • #17736

    Chris
    Participant

    Unfortunately, audible doesn't seem to provide an answer why they have abridged titles in their library only saying that: We try to provide unabridged audio in our catalogue of titles whenever possible. However this is not always possible so we will occasionally have some abridged audiobooks. Thanks audible, that was really helpful!!  ???I personally would prefer the unabridged version in any case so I think the next book we choose (if there is an audible version of it or I can obtain one from elsewhere) should be the full thing as I don't want to miss anything out......unless it's really boring  ::)Anyway Laura, enjoy the book. I did even though my version was short.

  • #17737

    anonymous
    Participant

    The Harlequin trilogy is worth reading – can't remember the Grail in it. As to the The Last Kingdom series – they're on iTunes in book form. Just bought the six for a tad under £28

  • #17738

    Chris
    Participant

    As I haven't read them I don't know but it definitely says so, all be it briefly, on Cornwell's lovely new website (big improvement on the old one) about the Grail Quest series: http://bernardcornwell.net/series/the-grail-quest/.Thanks for the heads-up about iTunes, hadn't occured to me to look for books on there  :)

  • #17739

    anonymous
    Participant

    I think that is a good rule, in general, for the future; find a book with an unabridged Audible version.  My bad for not checking it out further before recommending the book.  I hadn't thought to check iTunes.

  • #17740

    anonymous
    Participant

    There is some odd conspiracy going on between Audible and iTunes as neither carry the Unabridged version.  If it were not for my library, I would conclude that no unabridged version exists.  (Head scratching!?)

  • #17741

    Antimarkovnikov
    Participant

    I'm not sure how you guys missed it but I was able to find an unabridged copy of The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg on Audible.  Available right here.  I knew I'd listened to it before.  And I found it to be quite the excellent read/listen!So I would like to throw my vote for The Adventure of English at least for the first non fic we do!-Peter

  • #17742

    anonymous
    Participant

    I think that the Adventure of English sounds good.  The problem with abridged vs. unabridged was for the current book; The Last Kingdom.  I like the idea that the person who suggests the book chosen by the book club take the lead in discussing the book.  Would you be willing to take the lead with the Adventure of English?  Like Chris proposed for the movie club, we need some time lines for the book club.  Since it takes longer to read/listen to a book than to watch a movie perhaps we would want to open discussion up for a week or so on the book for the next cycle (while the current book is being discussed) so that when we finish with one book, we have already decided on the next book.  I set a somewhat arbitrary date for the current book as June 16th, partly so it wouldn't conflict with another book club I am in (that meets the fourth Thursday of each month) and because I will leave June 29th for two weeks in Scotland.  I like the idea of beginning discussion of a book by the 2nd Saturday of a month, but still giving folks a month to read/listen to the book.What do folks think?

  • #17743

    Antimarkovnikov
    Participant

    I'd be willing to lead the discussion for The Adventure of English.  So, which are we going to do first?  If we decide on The Adventure of English today then we will have 3 weeks to read it.  So we'd best get cracking if we want this to be the book!  We'll also have to choose the new book by the 16th however I'm sure that we'll have it decided soon anyway.Just as a warning I may be rubbish at leading this discussion but I'm willing to give it a go!-Peter

  • #17744

    anonymous
    Participant

    The current book is The Last Kingdom since Jamie announced it on the website and put a link to the book.  Let's have the Adventure of English as the second book.  We could discuss it starting mid-July (the 14th, perhaps).I have just started the Last Kingdom and am hoping to listen to the unabridged audio version as I don't have much time to read, right now.

  • #17745

    JJ
    Participant

    The current book is The Last Kingdom since Jamie announced it on the website and put a link to the book.  Let's have the Adventure of English as the second book.  We could discuss it starting mid-July (the 14th, perhaps).

    I have also just started The Last Kingdom and I have a copy of The Adventure of English ready to go.

  • #17746

    Chris
    Participant

    As I have already finished my abridged version of The Last Kingdom I guess I am ready to start on the next book, which by all accounts from the reviews I have seen seems like quite an interesting read/listen.

    The current book is The Last Kingdom since Jamie announced it on the website and put a link to the book.  Let's have the Adventure of English as the second book.  We could discuss it starting mid-July (the 14th, perhaps).

    If mid July is for discussing The Adventure of English when are we starting to discuss The Last Kingdom, mid June? Can you just clarify please, thanks. Don't want to jump in too soon.....you know, spoilers etc. etc.  :)

  • #17747

    anonymous
    Participant

    Yeah, my thought was to start discussing Last Kingdom in mid-June.  I hope to finish it by then.  I suffered a set back today as my first library-download CD quit working after 13 minutes.  I am going to try to re-download it tonight.  I might have to do the Abridged version, though I would hate to have to.

  • #17748

    Chris
    Participant

    Ok, thanks Laura. I might have to re-listen to parts of the book again to refresh my memory before then. I hope you get the unabridged version working again otherwise you'll have the same problem as me when we come to discuss it; people will discuss things you didn't hear in the abridged version, which will make contributing that little more difficult.

  • #17749

    anonymous
    Participant

    Well, no luck re-downloading the first disc (of 11).  I was able to listen to some of it on my computer, but had to abort that when a whacky hail storm came through.  Oklahoma in the spring always keeps one jumping.  We were fortunate not to suffer significant hail damage.  The same cannot be said for many others in the area (numerous broken windows – in cars and homes – plus power outages).  Tonight is supposed to be worse.  I am hoping that the other discs are not similarly corrupted.  It is not easy to bring one's laptop places to listen to a book.  I really wish I had time to read the book. 

  • #17750

    anonymous
    Participant

    My favorite phrase “There is an app for that” came to the rescue.  I thought to check my library's website.  I was able to download the Overdrive Media Console app to my iTouch and download the complete 11 disc, unabridged version straight to my device.  Only problem is I have until the 6th of June to finish it before I think it disappears.  I can always recheck it out if I have to.  Those who are having trouble finding an unabridged version of The Last Kingdom might check their libraries to see if they have the option of checking out the unabridged book through electronic means. 

  • #17751

    JJ
    Participant

    Those who are having trouble finding an unabridged version of The Last Kingdom might check their libraries to see if they have the option of checking out the unabridged book through electronic means. 

    Libraries to the rescue!

  • #17752

    anonymous
    Participant

    I am enjoying the library version.  The narration adds a lot to the story.  I have already had some “cringe” moments.  I am somewhat squeamish, even listening to violence.  I love it so far, though.

  • #17753

    anonymous
    Participant

    When we next read Adventure in English there is a series by the same name by Melvyn Bragg.  It is a Netflix offering (DVD only).

  • #17754

    Chris
    Participant

    I am enjoying the library version.  The narration adds a lot to the story.  I have already had some "cringe" moments.  I am somewhat squeamish, even listening to violence.  I love it so far, though.

    Glad you are enjoying the book so far Laura, it is a good listen and there are some great moments, which will be interesting to discuss in a couple of weeks....should be fun  :)If you start discussing parts I don't remember, that could be because of my (at times) terrible memory or I didn't get to listen to those parts in my abridged version  :(

  • #17755

    anonymous
    Participant

    I finished the book Tuesday as it was going to disappear back to the library.  I really enjoyed it.  The narrator was great.  I am blanking on his name now.  I am curious how many folks are reading / listening to the book.  I have to try to hold the info in my head as I move on to other listens.

  • #17756

    Chris
    Participant

    I finished the book Tuesday as it was going to disappear back to the library.  I really enjoyed it.  The narrator was great.  I am blanking on his name now.  I am curious how many folks are reading / listening to the book.  I have to try to hold the info in my head as I move on to other listens.

    I have trying to hold on to the book in my head for a couple of weeks now. I did say I would re-listen to it (or at least parts of it to refresh my memory) but haven't managed to yet. I don't know how many people have read/listened to it, hope it's more that just you and me  ???Jamie Glover is the narrator's name. He read with a lot of energy but that is something we can talk about in a separate discussion topic about the book. When do we start that?

  • #17757

    anonymous
    Participant

    I do hope it is more than you and I.  Actually, the unabridged version is narrated by another man.  I noted that he only narrated the first three.  It is Tom something.  I am blurring his name with Tom Sellick, but it is more like Sellwood.  I thought he was great.  I will look it up at some point when a free minute bubbles up in my schedule.If no one else has read it, you and I can start talking about it so that our foggy memories don't become even more clouded.  I am enjoying listening to Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island.  I read it years ago, but in prep for our trip to Scotland/London at the end of the month, I am re-reading/listening to it.  What a great writer he is!

  • #17758

    JJ
    Participant

    I have started on The Last Kingdom but I haven't gotten very far, sorry, I got sucked into Terry Pratchett's/ Neil Gaiman's book Good Omens. I would be happy to discuss what I have read so far.Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island is also a great book, with Bryson's books I like to first read the book and then listen to the audio version. A bit obsessive, I know.

  • #17759

    anonymous
    Participant

    Tom Sellwood narrated the unabridged version of the Last Kingdom ( not Tom Sellick).  Great narrator.  I don't know his nationality or why he only did three of the 5 books in the series.  I gather that you and I may be the only ones to have gotten through the book, at this point.  That's OK. I thought it would be fun to try a book club, but I know people are very busy (including me).  If it wasn't for audio books I would be a deprived reader.I will try to think of some questions to generate a discussion of the book.  Our city's basketball team begins the NBA finals tonight, though, so I will be focused on that.  Go Thunder!

  • #17760

    JJ
    Participant

    It would have been awesome if Tom Selleck was the narrator.

  • #17761

    Chris
    Participant

    I do hope it is more than you and I.  Actually, the unabridged version is narrated by another man.  I noted that he only narrated the first three.  It is Tom something.  I am blurring his name with Tom Sellick, but it is more like Sellwood.  I thought he was great.  I will look it up at some point when a free minute bubbles up in my schedule.

    Jamie Glover did books 1-4 of the Saxon Chronicles in the version I heard, all of them are abridged. His narration is brilliant, so full of energy. I am curious to listen Tom Sellwood's version to compare.When I move on to another in the series, I will either have to find an unabridged version or get the kindle version. I don't want to miss anything out. Regarding the discussion, we can wait another week or two and then if anyone else has managed to get through more of the book we can start then.

  • #17762

    anonymous
    Participant

    I don't have much time in the next few weeks to lead a discussion.  I will try to start something this weekend.  I do think there are Kindle versions of the books.  I believe my library has them.  I plan on loading one up for my trip coming up.  I love to read a work of fiction about a place I am in. 

  • #17763

    anonymous
    Participant

    Some thoughts about “The Last Kingdom.”  Below is from a review I found online that I thought summed up the book in a nice way:The author creates a large and twisted tapestry in the tale. Childhood friends and villains show up again and again in Uhtred’s life, and they bring wanted and unwanted changes. One of the most telling events in Uhtred’s young life is when Sven, the son of Kjartan, kidnaps Ragnar’s young daughter and strips her out in the forest. Uhtred and Ragnar’s son save her just in time. Later, though, Ragnar takes his vengeance on Sven by blinding him in one eye. Kjartan is a shipbuilder, an important man in the Viking community, but he’s powerless before Ragnar’s rage. However, that act of vengeance comes back to haunt Ragnar and Uhtred. Nothing is ever forgiven among these people, and they carry long grudges.The battle scenes are particularly harsh and described well. I felt as though I were standing in the shield wall next to Uhtred when he faced battle. I could feel Wasp-Sting and Serpent-Breath in my hand as he used them to defeat and kill his enemies.The rock and roll of the waves against the Viking longships as they journeyed to other lands and fought battles on the sea is amazing. Cornwell brings that whole world to life so easily it’s breathtaking.The The Last Kingdom ends while Uhtred is young and has yet to see his newborn son. He’s on his way there on the last page of this first book, and if I know anything about his life, the way isn’t going to be easy. I can’t waitRead more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-the-last-kingdom-by/page-2/#ixzz1xzoIEEGrI enjoyed reading the book, though it was a bit gorier than I care to read.  I realize that it was realistic for the time period.  Talk about life being brutish and short.  It must have been a scary time to live in England.  Wondering when the Vikings might come and raid your town, kill people and steal valuable things and knowing, at least for some period of time, that you were pretty helpless to do anything about it would have been terrifying.  That is true terrorism.Some things I wondered about and wonder if anyone else had ideas about:1.  Was Uhtred a Dane or a Saxon? At first, I thought he was glad that he had been kidnapped by the Danes, but when he spent time with the Saxons, particularly after Ragnar's death, he seemed to embrace his identity as a ruler of Northumbria and a Saxon.2.  His relationship with Breeder.She seemed more like a sister, but was clearly more than that to Uhtred, yet she readily went off with a group of folks (I am blanking on who she went off with).  I guess that gave Uhtred the chance to find love, at least long enough to have a son, though at the end of the first book he has yet to see this boy.  It seems like many books about war, having someone to fight for and get back to makes the battles more poignant and also seems to ensure that the main character survives to fight another day.3.  Fighting.I wondered how much research Bernard Cornwell had to do to write such realistic seeming battle scenes.  I don't know much at all about the man, other than what I read on his website.  He clearly knows his history.  I get the sense that Cornwell orchestrates some battles in his head.  I wonder how much of the details of historical battles are available to read or did Cornwell imagine the kind of battles that the Danes must have fought.4.  Danish crueltyI thought that the fighting between the Danish clans was interesting.  The incident between Sven and Uhtred that winds up costing Ragnar's entire village's lives was somewhat minor, yet the punishment was pretty harsh (blinding Sven).  Even being a Dane would have been pretty hard back then.5.  AlfredI don't know much about him, but have enjoyed learning a bit about the man through this story.  I found a book review from the Guardian newspaper (2004) in which they note that Cornwell's description of Alfred is certainly not the heroic image portrayed by the Victorians.  When we first meet Alfred he is feeling wretched about having raped a servant girl.  The tension between his piety and his passion is interesting.  The Guardian notes that Cornwell used as a source a biography commissioned by Alfred himself by a Welsh man.  It seems that this would be rather true to the man's life (Alfred's life, that is).Well, those are some thoughts.  I did enjoy the book and will try to find time to listen to the others in the series.  I think Cornwell has 5 written.

  • #17764

    Chris
    Participant

    I can only discuss the parts that I heard from the abridged version but first off it was an eye opener to say the least. I am used to Cornwell's descriptive style and so expected no less than what was delivered but I will agree with you Laura that it was quite gory in places but not so much that I didn't appreciate the violence……these were after all extremely violent times and the authenticity that goes with it made the listening that much more realistic. The narration, though it appears we listened to different narrators, was excellent and delivered with energy and passion for the text. There is depth, plenty of character build-up and the story progresses at a comfortable pace, which is integral to keeping your senses sharp and enjoying what it is you are reading or listening to. I can lose interest quickly if certain ingredients are missing and while Cornwell successfully kept me gripped throughout, there were times when it slowed down a little so what it was like in the unabridged version, I don't know. I have found his style easy to read (and now listen to as this is the first audio book I have heard) and slowing the pace down a little is a tool he uses to provide a greater historical context. This, of course, depends on the book your are reading and while you expect some sort of back story to something historical like the Danes fighting the Saxons, you also want plenty of fighting and again this book delivers that effectively with well thought out battles down to every last stab and parry of a sword and thrust of an axe. This is an all-round great start to the Saxon Stories and one I enjoyed listening to.

  • #17765

    Chris
    Participant

    1.  Was Uhtred a Dane or a Saxon? At first, I thought he was glad that he had been kidnapped by the Danes, but when he spent time with the Saxons, particularly after Ragnar's death, he seemed to embrace his identity as a ruler of Northumbria and a Saxon.

    He is both but by blood he is obviously a Saxon, born into a noble Saxon family. And he had a pretty nice pad too, Bebbanburg - now Bamburgh Castle. Cornwell clearly describes Uhtred as having a difficult childhood after the death of his father but over time as his assimilation into Dane traditions, and even though he was a slave to begin with, he ultimately enjoyed his time with them being adopted and brought up as a son Ragnar the Fearless. He is, however, a Saxon and this is never going to leave him. It is who he is, his identity, and as much as he liked being in the Ragnar family the story notches up a level or two when he is introduced to the stereotypical paradigm of where your loyalties lie.

    3.  Fighting.I wondered how much research Bernard Cornwell had to do to write such realistic seeming battle scenes.  I don't know much at all about the man, other than what I read on his website.  He clearly knows his history.  I get the sense that Cornwell orchestrates some battles in his head.  I wonder how much of the details of historical battles are available to read or did Cornwell imagine the kind of battles that the Danes must have fought.

    As fighting plays a huge role in his stories, orchestrating them seems like the most obvious way to follow the natural progression of a battle from start to finish. How he does it exactly is something I would like to know because the amount of detail in the fights, whether one on one or an entire army, he has everything planned with precision and detailed to every swing. He has been writing for years so this is no stranger to him but everyone has to start somewhere so it would be interesting know how he develops the writing when he is choreographing every move to make it as realistic as possible. Cornwell has an author's historical note at the end of the books he write and in it he describes what actually happened, what was fictional and how he went about writing the story. He researches the history well enough to be able to compose a fictional story based on real events so he must be using actual historic records as a base for battles and possibly how those battles were fought. With regards to actual combat, this is most likely fleshed out on top of what he already knows about combat during any specific time in history he is writing about.

  • #17766

    anonymous
    Participant

    Thanks for your responses to my questions and thoughts.  It was a great listen and hope to make the time to listen to other Cornwell books.  I like well researched historical novels.

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