No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Sunday, September 27, 2015

2015/22: Blood Feud --Rosemary Sutcliff

So Thormod went to Valhalla alone – no, not alone; he went in good company, but without me. It did not come to me until long after, that that must have been the way of it in any case, for if I had died that day on the Thracian hillside, I would have had another road that I must follow – unless, indeed, I had lost that road for ever when I took my oath with the rest of the old Red Witch’s crew on Thor’s Ring at Kiev. [loc. 1818]

Reread: I am very fond of this novel, and had cited it as an example of how to write historical fiction. My argument is approximately this: that details about the characters' meals, or how long a particular style of clothing has been worn, are far less important than the brief bright glimpses of timeless experience. When Jestyn notices the pattern of reflected light on the roof of a boathouse, I recognise that. It brings the past to life for me in a way that infodumps about tunic styles or recipes for fish sauce never will. Sutcliff's knowledge of the period -- and this is tenth century Europe, not Roman Britain -- is clearly extensive, but she doesn't labour that learning. Exemplary.

Anyway: what more can I say? Still just as good as when I last read it [review here] -- and I still respond to the same aspects, though I also picked up some more information about the Varangian Guard this time around, possibly due to reading Tom Holt's Meadowland recently.

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