Blurb for Edwin: High King of Britain

Here’s the publisher’s blurb for Edwin: High King Of Britain. What do you think? Would you be inclined to read the book after reading this and looking at the cover?

Edwin, the deposed king of Northumbria, seeks refuge at the court of King Raedwald of East Anglia. But Raedwald is urged to kill his guest by Aethelfrith, Edwin’s usurper. As Edwin walks by the shore, alone and at bay, he is confronted by a mysterious figure – the missionary Paulinus – who prophesies that he will become High King of Britain. It is a turning point. Through battles and astute political alliances Edwin rises to great power, in the process marrying the Kentish princess Aethelburh. As part of the marriage contract the princess is allowed to retain her Christian faith. But, in these times, to be a king is not a recipe for a long life …This turbulent and tormented period in British history sees the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon settlers who have forced their way on to British shores over previous centuries, arriving first to pillage, then to farm and trade – and to come to terms with the faith of the Celtic tribes they have driven out.

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New Blog Post – Elsewhere

I have, I know, been a little lacking on the blogging front lately, but we have been away, in Northumberland and Scotland. To see the odd photo of our adventures there, see my Facebook page. But I have not been entirely quiet on the writing front, it’s just I’ve done it for the kind, and very tasteful, people at Penumbra magazine. To see my guest blog there, go here!

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What’s more, ‘When Animals Spoke’, the story that inspired the blog, is now available in Penumbra’s Revolution issue. Go here to buy it for a piffling $3.99.

Review of Boneland by Alan Garner

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I went back and re-read Weirdstone and Gomrath, then read Boneland a second time to see if it worked as a sequel and culmination to the first two books. On first reading Boneland, before Christmas, I thought it did work but now, having refreshed my memory of the previous books, I don’t think it does. As a stand alone book, relying on vague memories of books read years ago, and telling the story of a middle-aged man dealing with mental illness it is quite brilliant. But, with Weirdstone and Gomrath fresh in mind, there are too many loose ends for it to work as sequel and culmination.

Spoilers!

What seems to have happened is that at some unspecified point after the end of Gomrath, Susan rides off on Prince. The horse is found on an island in Redesmere (said island having been unknown to all including Gowther in Weirdstone but now apparently common knowledge) but no trace of Susan is ever found. Colin, in a frenzy to find her, goes to the Edge and attempts to wake the Sleepers (quite how knights supposed to fight a final battle against evil could find a sister who’s ridden off into the stars is not perhaps obvious, but let’s grant that Colin is distraught). Presumably to stop Colin doing this again, Cadellin makes him forget everything that happened before his 13th birthday, but then makes him guardian of the Edge, unable to ever leave. Colin, as an adult, then undergoes psychotherapy with Meg, who appears to be a considerably more attractive and much kinder version of the Morrigan. No mention is ever made of what happened to Colin and Susan’s parents, and a pair who were previously siblings, with Colin the elder, suddenly become twins. Gowther and Bess die off stage in the gap between books.

Another problem, with respect to the first two books, is the pre-human shaman who sings upon the Edge in prehistory. I can see how this shows the antiquity of the Edge, and how its stories play out through repeated epochs, but, as a sequel to the first two books, it would have been better to counterpoint the present with a magician/shaman from the pre-history that figures in the Weirdstone and Gomrath, namely the early British (Celtic) legends and lore of this land, before the Romans came.

I do not see how these actions can be squared with what we know of the characters from the first two books. So, Boneland I would classify as a brilliant book on its own, and even better when it draws upon the distant memories of stories read in childhood, rather as childhood itself disappears into revisited and rehearsed memories and photos, and the life stuff that is completely lost and gone. But when read in sequence, so that the previous books are fresh in memory, Boneland seems a failure as a sequel, since it does not follow, embroider or flesh out the first two books, but rather contradicts them in too many ways.

I would be interested to hear other people’s thoughts.

Review of Imam al-Ghazali

Authors, being thin-skinned creatures with an unstable sense of the worth of their work, generally don’t subscribe to the view that any publicity is good publicity when applied to reviews. So, I’m delighted to get a good review from Publishers’ Weekly for Imam al-Ghazali: A Concise Life.

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As the reviewer likes the format, it also bodes well for my upcoming book on Ibn Sina for Kube: Ibn Sina: A Concise Life.

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Rejection Notes – no.7 in a series

Dear Edoardo Albert:

Thank you for sending us “Brothers”. We really enjoyed this piece, but we didn’t feel it was right for xxx xxxxx.

We hope that you will continue to send us your work.

Sincerely,

The Editors

(This ranks quite highly on the irritating rejection note scale – if they liked it so much, why didn’t they publish the blessed thing?)

Blogged Elsewhere

I’m not exactly the most zealous of bloggers, so it is with a slightly shamed face that I admit I’ve been unfaithful; I’ve blogged for someone else. Still, the someone else is the excellent Penumbra magazine, and a single click, right here, will take you to my guest blog slot, where I ask the question, why are there no jokes in speculative fiction?

It’s Here!!!!

Now, pdfs and all the other technological and digital whizz bangs that allow files and pictures to be shared between computers and tablets and pills and potions and what not are all very well, but, believe me, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to compare with holding the first paper copy of the book you’ve spent the last three years working on in your hands.

There it is, pictures, words, the whole blessed shebang: a real, actual, frankly all-but-breathing thing! You can take your Kindles and your iPads and all the other devices that depend on moving electrons around and shove them. Give me paper, give me vellum, give me inky fingers and pages you can flick through marvelling at the pictures, the design, the way the words sit upon the page.

So, here it is, Northumbria: The Lost Kingdom, held in my slightly shaky hands!

In my hands.