Walter and The Resurrection of G: A mysterious & dramatic novel in which the medieval world confronts our own by T J Armstrong
|Walter and The Resurrection of G: A mysterious & dramatic novel in which the medieval world confronts our own by T J Armstrong|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A 12th century German musician travels from adventure to adventure while under surveillance by something sinister. A good historical fantasy with a short modern day tie-in added to the end which is interesting even if a little short.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 490||Date: November 2015|
|Publisher: Ignsia Books|
12th century Germany: Walter is a cartwright's son who has an eerie shadow. As he grows up, throughout his monastery education and beyond, he feels watched, catching glimpses of mysterious shadows. The quest to find out who the watchers are takes him across Europe and beyond to Constantinople. Meanwhile in the 21st century an Oxford academic has more than a passing interest in Walter. On his sudden death he passes his research and a strange affinity is formed.
Teacher and writer T J Armstrong won the Author's Club Best First Novel of the Year for Walter… when it was first published in hardback in 1995. It's a novel that not only mixes historical fantasy with a modern day twist, its ingredients include something of the author in its inclusion of music and languages.
Walter is a travelling musician although, unlike the author he wends his way across Europe while leading a less than charmed life. Everything he touches seems to end in disaster. At any stage the story could have turned into a litany of misery but Tim Armstrong transforms it into something rather compelling. In fact the intrigue mounts as we wonder who the Brotherhood are and why they dog Walter's every move.
Walter tells his own story in a first person narrative therefore we understand his reasons for not fleshing everyone out. Most of the characters are people he meets on his journeys and so these moments are more about the events than the people. When he does meet someone who means something to him, for instance the two loves of his life (the courtly Hildegunde and his first love, Katrin) we come away feeling we know them.
There are moments of historical insight as we rub shoulders with Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich I, the Cathars and the period's religious intolerance, as well as the delights of 12th century France, Spain, and Germany. Here the language side of the author comes in as we're shown texts and song lyrics in various tongues (all translated for our benefit too) as we watch the lad Walter grow up.
The modern world tie-in promised by the book blurb is the only disappointment for me. It doesn't come as interspersed chapters or in a way that makes the book half-and-half but as a very short appendix at the end. We see what the story of a modern day student mourning the death of his lecturer has to do with the 12th century and wish it was a little longer than less than a hundred pages.
TJ cleverly uses the same tarot card names for the chapters in both sections but the fact that Walter's chapters can go on for pages whereas the modern world chapters are sometimes two to a page again emphasises its brevity. There again, wanting more of a good thing we find within it isn't the worst criticism a book can receive. I definitely wouldn't let it get in the way of reading it again and that probably says more than my whinge does.
(We'd like to thank the author for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you've enjoyed this and would like to read more of the lesser known stories from the 12th century then we highly recommend the hist-fict The Winter Isles by Antonia Senior. If you prefer your history to include a hefty dose of fantasy, then Age of Iron (The Iron Age Trilogy) by Angus Watson comes just as highly rated.
You can read more book reviews or buy Walter and The Resurrection of G: A mysterious & dramatic novel in which the medieval world confronts our own by T J Armstrong at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Walter and The Resurrection of G: A mysterious & dramatic novel in which the medieval world confronts our own by T J Armstrong at Amazon.com.
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