02 June, 2013

The Bone Thief by V. M. Whitworth [Joyce, New Lynn Library]

I was drawn to the  debut novel by V M Whitworth The Bone Thief  by its cover and is set in 900 A.D. in  Anglo Saxon England, a culturally diverse land divided into many different kingdoms and on the brink of change.

The plot is a fine balance  between fact and fiction and  is a compelling tale of  a  naive young cleric called Wulfgar who has led a sheltered life in Winchester Cathedral. He is sent on a mission of great importance to the kingdom by Lady Athelfled  who is King Alfred’s eldest daughter married to the ailing Lord of Mercia.  Don't be put off by the mission as the book has believable settings and a plausible story for the period and has a authentic feel as you walk with Wulfgar. He struggles with his ideals in what was a dangerous and culturally diverse kingdoms and meets some  interesting characters who are instrumental in him changing  his naive view of the world.

England was divided into many small kingdoms and loyalties could change overnight with all the  political ramifications that this brings to any  power game when creating  a united and whole nation. The battles are very real though thankfully without  the detailed descriptions of   Bernard Cornwall's Warrior/Saxon series

The Traitors' Pit takes up the tale some months later and is about loyalty and rivalry and you feel for Wuffa, as he is known to his friends, as he has to divide his attention between loyalty to family when his brother is accused of treason and faces a traitors death, his own needs and allegiance to his Kingdom.

The main complaint about both books is that a map is really a necessity and you can now find this at www.vmwhitworth.co.uk/news/2012/03/map-bone-thief.
The author specialised  in Medieval Literature at Oxford with a M.A and M. Phil from York University and the glossary alone is worth reading especially if you are interested in the development of language.
I was delighted to discover  that “Gossip "  is Old English god-sip (as in sibling) - someone to whom you are related through baptism  and with whom, presumably, you would want to exchange the important news of the day”.

Title: The Bone Thief and The Traitors' Pit
Author: V.M. Whitworth
ISBN: 9780091947217 and 9780091947187
Published: 2012 and 2013
Publisher: Ebury Press

 - Joyce, New Lynn Library

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