Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dreaming the serpent spear

There's an advert in today's Guardian declaring (and I'm trying to replicate the colour and the size of the font):

Her final battle consumed three cities

Her story will consume us all

The epic tale of Britain's rebellion against the super
power that was Rome

Oh. OK. Since one of those consumed cities is my home town, I have mixed feelings about this :-)

The book in question is Boudica: Dreaming the serpent spear by Manda Scott.

From the outset, I couldn't get into the books. Frankly, at times, to me, they read like New Age psychobabble. But just occasionally I would get caught in the moment - such as when the Romans imprisoned Boudica's family. This was in the third book, and such catchings were few and far between. There's much in the way of dreaming or shaman-type stuff (see Scott's website on this) and sometimes the Iceni seem to be more like Native Americans than Britons. I'm a little tempted to go on a dreaming course to see what it's all about. You never know, it might change my life!

is the fourth and final book. I'm waiting to see how Boudica justifies killing Roman and British civilians in such a brutal manner, i.e. consuming three cities. Anyway, there's an excerpt from the first chapter online at Bantam. The book cover is not the one in Britain; it can be found here. I gather Scott will go back (forward?) to the present for her next book, but I wonder if she will go back to a historical after that? At one point she mentioned thinking of doing her take on Hamlet.


At 5:17 pm GMT, Blogger Gabriele Campbell said...

I'm not going to read those books. I've read several reviews that made me cautious before, and the excerpt you linked did nothing for me.

I don't mind slow beginnings per se, but there must be something to capture my interest, if not the characters, then the world or a problem. But there's nothing here, I don't care about Breaca and the dying man and that shamanism stuff is so not down my alley.

I liked Cornwell's druids in the Warlord trilogy a lot better, they are more realistic with their spitting and pissing. Because that's how people back then thought: fluids that came out of the body had power, and part of a body could give someone else power over you (thus the burning or burying of hair and nails, a practice also mentioned in Norse sagas).

At 5:46 pm GMT, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

That excerpt is very typical of Scott's style. It's actually very similar to the start of the last book. btw, she tends to write 'long' as you might expect. The mystic elements really do not appeal to me; I find them unconvincing, to say the least.

At 6:03 pm GMT, Blogger Carla said...

You can almost hear that gravel-voiced man who does the film trailers intoning those lines, can't you?

I read Books 1 and 2 and thought they were all right in places, but the mysticism lost me too. It's the sort of thing that puts me off epic fantasy. I'll read Books 3 and 4 to complete the set, but I'll wait until the queue for them at the library has died down.

At 7:23 pm GMT, Blogger Sarah Cuthbertson said...

LOL. I remember getting off the train at Gatwick station about this time last year and being metaphorically bludgeoned on the platform by a poster for Boudica III which said something like this in big letters:


The more I thought about it, the sillier it sounded.

I've just finished reading Boudica IV for review. In the Author's Note, Manda Scott says she's thinking of prequelling in Alexandria and Mona, going forward to Rome after the rebellion, and then to the end of Rome-in-Britain to pick up the seeds of something Arthurian that were planted in Boudica I. I must have missed those...

At 8:01 pm GMT, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

Wot! Oh no! Please don't let her come into the Arthurian era. Mercy! Mercy!


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