The Walrus Mutterer by Mandy Haggith
Rian has always worked – tending the fire, caring for cattle and learning the healing properties of wild flowers and herbs – but never under so cruel a mistress. When Ussa sells her on to the mysterious Greek we might hope her life will be easier but Pytheas, although he seems gentle, has the same appetites as any man.
But even if her captors were to treat her kindly, life would be perilous on the open seas. A violent storm throws them drastically off course, subjecting them to hunger, thirst and the risk of becoming icebound in the frozen north. And all along, Ussa is on the trail of a man they call the walrus mutterer, determined to recover something she believes belongs to her.
Steeped in myth and story, The Walrus Mutterer is a coming-of-age hero’s journey around the shores of Iron Age Britain. This being the first book of a trilogy, not all questions are answered, but it does lead us to a sufficiently satisfying semi-resolution. Thanks to Saraband for my review copy.
The Legend of Vortigern by Simon Haywood
The new regime doesn’t last, and soon Vortigern is crowned king in his stead. Shored up by Saxon mercenaries, he crushes rebellion in the north until his own sons turn against him. Another bloody battle ensues but, despite Vortigern’s marriage to his daughter, the Saxon Hengest withdraws his support, forcing Vortigern into exile in the countryside. There he builds a tower, and meets a fatherless boy called Merlin, presaging the Arthurian legends where a round table replaces the long tables of the Saxon style.
Never having heard of Vortigern, I was pleased to dip into this slice of British history/legend, although it’s not the kind of book I normally review. Published by The History Press I think it came into my possession over a year ago as a freebie in a conference delegates pack. At around 150 small pages, attractively presented with a decorative border along the bottom, I read it in an evening.