Hengest’s Tale

Hengest's Tale (Puffin Books)Hengest’s Tale by Jill Paton Walsh
A grim but great tale. One of the best things the author does is put you into that world: the ways of speaking, the motivations, the feeling of things, the comforts and discomforts, a glimpse at the long winters. It isn’t easy to make such a remote world come alive, but she does, and without disconcerting lapses–at least to someone like me who is familiar but no expert.

It is like E.R. Eddison’s Styrbiorn the Strong in making the world of the pre-Christian northern peoples come alive. And ruthlessly troubled about its ending in that it only offers pagan solutions. That’s one of the most compelling things about the book: the dilemma of the pagan outlook is squarely presented.

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