Friday, October 11, 2013

Historical Fiction: The Middle Ages Edition

I have recently come to the conclusion that I don’t want to read a novel unless the story takes place at a minimum of fifty years ago. I really, really don’t want to read about people talking on their cell phones. I believe characters should communicate via galloping stallion, mail wagon, homing pigeon, or smoke signal. At the very least they must have to use a rotary phone and talk real loud.

One of my very favorite cell phone-free settings is medieval England. I know that to have lived there during that time basically meant a lifetime of cold, hunger, and social injustice, but seriously, some great legendary material rose out those miserable ashes! (See Beowulf, King Arthur, and Robin Hood.) While there are some perennial classics well worth reading in this realm of fiction (e.g., The Name of The Rose, The Brother Cadfael Mysteries, The Mists of Avalon, and The Once and Future King), I want to highlight three recently published books set in Merrie Olde Engelonde that would be perfect fireside reads this winter.

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell 
Prior to the Norman Invasion of 1066, Emma of Normandy is joined to King Aethelred II in a miserable marriage made worse by her deepening love for his eldest son. An absorbing beginning to a planned trilogy.

Something Red by Douglas Nicholas 
Nicholas is a renowned poet, a fact made evident by his lovely prose filled with evocative descriptions of everyday medieval life. The story centers on a group of travelers who are revealed to be much more than they seem when they encounter a violent evil stalking the snowy Pennine mountains of Northwest England.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen 
Chosen as a 2012 Amelia Bloomer book, Scarlet tells the story of one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, Will Scarlet, who is actually a young woman in disguise. Scarlet can fight and steal with the best of ‘em in this entertaining retelling of an old tale.

Come visit us to pick up these and other great titles! (I promise that no one will look down on you for grabbing something set after the year 1200.)

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