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A Thane of Wessex

Charles W. Whistler

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published : 2014

Copyright : Charles W. Whistler 1896, 2005

ISBN-10 : PB 1-4952-9300-9
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-4952-9300-9

Publisher's Write-Up

The whole of my story seems to me to begin on the day when I stood, closely guarded, before my judges, in the great circle of the people at the Folk Moot of the men of Somerset gathered on the ancient hill of Brent. All my life before that seems to have been as nothing, so quiet and uneventful it was compared to what came after. I had grown from boyhood to manhood in my father's great hall, on the little hill of Cannington that looks out over the mouth of the river Parret to the blue hills beyond. And there, when I was but two-and-twenty and long motherless, I succeeded him as thane, and tried to govern my people as well and wisely as he, that I too might die loved and honoured as he died. And that life lasted but three years. Maybe, being young and headstrong, I spoke at times, when the feasting was over and the ale cup went round, too boldly of the things that were beyond me, and dared, in my want of experience, to criticize the ways of the king and his ordering of matters - thinking at the same time no thought of disloyalty; for had anyone disparaged the king to myself my sword would have been out to chastise the speaker in a moment. But, as it ever is, what seems wrong in another may be passed over in oneself.

Betrayed And Exiled! 845 AD. England. Heregar son of Herewulf lived a privileged existence as a thane on his lands in Somerset until he was arrested- accused of conspiring to murder the King! The accusations were a lie; he expected his neighbours would support him and he would be exonerated-but the main accuser was his neighbour Matlegar, father of Alswythe the girl he loved! He was tried... found guilty... declared an outlaw and sent into exile. Every man's hand was against him. His one chance of survival was to flee to the port of Watchet and seek passage into Wales, and join the Danish Vikings. But when he reached the coast. Watchet was in flames. The Vikings were already there. So now he must choose - join the enemy killing his people and ravaging his land, or go back and warn the thane whose lands would be attacked next - his accuser Matlegar! But how can an outlaw make anyone listen to him?

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Review by Paul Lappen (290216) Rating (9/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
Set in Saxon England, in the 9th Century AD, Heregar is a nobleman, with lands of his own, in what is now the county of Somerset. Out of the blue, one day, he is arrested, and thrown into solitary confinement. After a couple of months, he is brought before a grand council, called a moot, where he is charged with treason against the King.

Heregar freely realises that with the impetuousness of youth (he is in his early 20s), he occasionally says some stupid things, especially when the ale is flowing. But there is a huge difference between that and treason. He is confident that his friends will exonerate him, but they are the ones who condemn him. They are led by Matelgar, the father of the fair Alswythe, the love of his life. He is found guilty, declared an outlaw, stripped of his lands, and told to leave Somerset, permanently.

His only option is to head for the coast, and join the Danish Vikings. When he reaches a town on the coast, it's in flames. The Vikings are already there. Heregar knows that Matelgar's lands, formerly his lands, will be next, so he manages to warn the people, while staying out of the way. He runs into a messenger, who gives him a war arrow. It means that all able-bodied men are called to fight, immediately. A person does not ignore a war arrow. Heregar walks up to Matelgar, and, returning the arrow, says, in effect, "I am reporting as ordered, and now I'm leaving."

The Saxon authorities feel that the best thing that Heregar can do is to get Alswythe, and her maidens, out of the way. Meantime, Matelgar falls in battle, and Heregar has a couple of visions of Matelgar apologising for the way Heregar was treated. Heregar becomes a senior adviser in the counter-attack, led by the local bishop. A major problem for the Danes is that, during low tide, their ships are literally stuck in the mud. Does the counter-attack succeed? Do Heregar and Alswythe live happily ever after? Is Heregar's punishment lifted?

This one is surprisingly good. The author, an Anglican priest who lived in the early 20th Century, does an excellent job with this book. It really feels like it was written more than 1000 years ago, and recently discovered, and republished. Very few authors of any kind of fiction can do that. It has heart, and adventure, and is well worth reading.
Paul Lappen (29th February 2016)

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